Diversity of Thought


To understand whether there are studies that theorize and talk about diversity of thought.

Early Findings

  • For the purposes of this research "diversity of thought" will be defined as the idea that people in a group don't need to look different or identify with an underrepresented group in order to bring varying, diverse viewpoints to the table. While this is technically true, it is a risky concept to find comfort in, according to Rebekah Bastian, Vice President of Community & Culture at Zillow Group. She leads efforts around Equity & Belonging, Social Impact Products and Cultural Engagement and was formerly employed at Microsoft.
  • Diversity of thought has been a player in the diversity space for a while. It’s not to be confused with diversity of thinking, or cognitive diversity, which is the inclusion of people who have different styles of processing knowledge and solving problems. Diversity of thought, rather, focuses on how people’s cultures, backgrounds, experiences and personalities make them think differently or hold different opinions than others.
  • Not long ago, Denise Young Smith, Apple’s vice president for diversity and inclusion, received criticism for making remarks about white men that many considered to be controversial. She said, "12 white, blue-eyed, blonde men could be diverse." Despite the way she framed her statement, Smith may have been on to something. The point she seemed to be making was that you can have 12 different ethnicities of various ages with an equal number of males and females, yet you may not be fully maximizing the opportunities to drive diversity if you are not also considering diversity of thought.
  • According to Employee and Family Resources, Inc., “Reinforce an inclusive culture by integrating both demographic diversity and diversity of thought. By integrating both, your organization will form a mosaic of differences that fuels ideas and new strategies for growth and innovation.”
  • Writing for The New York Times, StubHub's head of business operations in North America, Bari Williams, wrote: "Those of us in the tech industry know that the idea of 'cognitive diversity' is gaining traction among leaders in our field.
  • A Deloitte 2013 publication called Diversity’s New Frontier states, “Diversity of thought goes beyond the affirmation of equality. Diversity of thought can bring an organization three key benefits: 1. Diverse thinkers help guard against group-think and expert overconfidence, 2. Diverse thinkers help increase the scale of new insights, and 3. Diverse thinkers help organizations identify individuals who can best tackle their most pressing problems.”
  • When the word diversity is brought up, most people think race, gender, and religion, but diversity these days includes much more than these criteria, especially for the rising workforce of millennials. A recent study from Deloitte and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative found that when it comes to defining diversity and inclusion at work, millennials see the concepts through a completely different lens.
  • The report found that millennials, who will comprise nearly 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, define diversity as a blending of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives — or what scientists are calling cognitive diversity. Cognitive diversity is defined as the differences in our thought and problem-solving processes, and millennials tend to view it as a necessary element for innovation.
  • Skin color and gender aren't the only measures to consider when building a diverse organization. If business leaders want to leverage the full financial benefits of creating diverse organizations, they also need to seek out diversity of thought.

Summary Of Our Early Findings Relevant To The Goals

  • After exhaustive searching, there are no recent studies that theorize and talk about diversity of thought. In fact, many articles disparage the theory, hypothesizing that it is just a euphemism for white supremacy. The only study we found, which we included, was from 2013 and can be found in the sixth bullet point.
  • Recent studies do exist surrounding diversity of thought as explained by race, gender, and religion, but there appears to be nothing available publicly for the exact parameters given to us to research, which is why the previous research presented the 11 studies surrounding what was actually available.
  • In this round of research, we presented, instead, articles discussing the theory, which were publicly available.
  • Please select one or more of the options provided in the proposed scoping section below.

Research proposal:

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