How diverse leadership teams boost innovation

As the business landscape continues to evolve, it’s becoming increasingly clear that diversity and inclusion are not just buzzwords but essential elements for success.
Leadership. Photo; FORBES

Leadership. Photo; FORBES

SIR: As the business landscape continues to evolve, it’s becoming increasingly clear that diversity and inclusion are not just buzzwords but essential elements for success. Every company needs a leadership team that understands and connects with customers from different backgrounds to deliver the best possible service. Today, companies are scrutinising their leadership teams on various criteria beyond education and experience, and having a diverse leadership team has become a necessity to build a successful business that resonates with customers worldwide.
Importance of leadership diversity
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In the workplace, diversity encourages inclusiveness, which fosters innovation. It welcomes and respects the diverse background of each employee. It also creates a positive, supportive, and respectful working environment that encourages all employees to engage and participate freely. The importance of diversity is perhaps well displayed by a quote from Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, “Diversity is the engine of invention; it generates creativity that enriches the world.”

A recent study conducted by McKinsey and Company found that companies with diverse leadership teams are 33% more likely to outperform their competitors in terms of financial performance. Moreover, they are also more likely to be innovative and adapt to changes in the market.

In addition, diversity is not simply a matter of creating a heterogeneous workforce but using it to create innovative products, services, and business practices that can set a company apart and give it a competitive advantage in the marketplace. By fostering diversity in the workplace, we are bringing together various perspectives, experiences, and ideas. When people from different backgrounds and cultures work together, they are more likely to approach problems and opportunities from different angles, which can lead to creative and innovative solutions.
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A business culture that welcomes and supports employees with various perspectives is bound to boost problem solving and increase productivity. Consequently, to benefit from workplace diversity, inclusion must be integrated deeply into its culture. This holds for leadership positions just as much as for entry and mid-level ones.

How Jumia Nigeria is enabling diversity
At Jumia Nigeria, we prioritise diversity and inclusion in all aspects of our business. Over the years, we have implemented policies and practices to ensure everyone in our organisation is treated fairly, feels valued and supported. This is evident across our employee lifecycle from hiring through to exit.

Despite the many benefits of diverse leadership teams, many organisations still struggle to achieve diversity in their leadership ranks. This may be due to unconscious biases or a need for more diversity in the talent pipeline. To change this trajectory, organisations must be intentional in seeking out diverse candidates and creating an inclusive culture that values differences and provides equal opportunities for all.
Oyenuga is a HR Director, Jumia Nigeria.
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