Driving innovation through diversity

diversity CSC Blogs

Back in the spring, I blogged about the importance of diversity within organizations, citing research that revealed the linear relationship between racial and ethnic diversity and the financial performance of an organization.

But of course, diversity is about more than gender, ethnicity and race, which is why I recently caught up with my colleague Candace Labelle, who leads CSC’s global diversity program, to find out where disability fits into the equality and diversity agenda.

According to figures from the World Bank, around one billion people, or 15 percent of the world’s population, experience some form of disability, which, as Candace pointed out, can take many forms and is not always permanent.

“The thing about disability is that it’s a very broad spectrum,” Candace said. “When we mention that someone has a disability, we usually think of a physical disability we can see. We picture someone using a wheelchair or carrying a white cane for example, but we need to remember that many disabilities are not visible, but still have a significant impact on an individual’s daily routine.”

Recognition for CSC

CSC has been recognized twice this year for its commitment to disability inclusion. We received the “2016 Leading Disability Employer Seal” from the National Organization on Disability (NOD) and achieved the top score of 100 on the 2016 Disability Equality Index (DEI), receiving the designation of “2016 DEI Best Places to Work.”

I was curious to find out what effect this type of recognition had on the company.

Candace said, “Recognition like this is first and foremost about making sure that we have the right policies and procedures in place for attracting, accommodating and retaining individuals with disabilities.” She added, “As we discussed in the last blog post, there’s great strength in diversity and we need to make sure that as a company, we’re harnessing all the talent available in the market, which of course includes people with disabilities.”

Avoiding group think

And it seems that attracting diverse talent to the business pays dividends, as Candace explains. “As a company, CSC is driven by innovation, which means that the very last thing you want within the culture is group-think. When this happens, creativity and innovation become stifled, so we absolutely need to attract, accommodate and retain talent from as wide a base as possible.”

Step one it seems, is raising awareness within the business and shining a light on some of the conscious and unconscious biases that can lead people to want to work with people who are the same as them.

Candace said, “We do some training to help people recognize their conscious and unconscious biases, but mainly we focus on fostering a culture that values differences.”

“An inclusive company isn’t one that just has all the right policies and procedures in place. A really inclusive company is one in which people feel safe to be who they are, to be different and to know that that difference is valued; allowing them to bring their whole selves to work.”

Having been named one of the NOD Best Places to Work for 2016 and with a perfect score of 100 on the Disability Equality Index this year, my next question was “where do we go from here?”

Candace explained, “The bar is constantly rising, so it’s never enough to stay still, but nor would we want to. Keeping diversity high on the agenda means we have to be engaging regularly with our colleagues so that we can reinforce the message that diversity drives innovation and helps us engage talent.”

RELATED LINKS

Winning through diversity

Exploring cross-cultural aspects of collaborative innovation

The Smart Creative: Key thoughts from ‘How Google Works’

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