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Diversity and Inclusion: The Innovation Equation

The global pandemic was an epic disaster in terms of its effects on people around the world. But time and again, history proves that those who stay focused and continue to innovate will emerge stronger than ever. It presents opportunities to re-consider, re-imagine and re-work the status quo and innovate a better way.

But…what is innovation?

Think about that for a moment. What exactly is innovation? You can probably ask five people and their answers will likely vary. Is it a new way of thinking? A product like no other? An inventive idea?

Here’s how some innovators define it:

  • “Innovation is taking two things that exist and putting them together in a new way.”

Tom Freston, MTV co-founder and MTV Networks President & CEO

  • “Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.”

Theodore Levitt, Economist and Harvard Professor

  • “A pile of rocks ceases to be a rock pile when somebody contemplates it with the idea of a cathedral in mind.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, French writer, poet, aristocrat, journalist and pioneering aviator

Innovation derives from the Latin innovationem—“a new idea, device, or method”—and was first used by “novators” in the 16th century who were often treated with suspicion because many felt their beliefs threatened to upend the traditional power structure. Clearly someone in 1550 would define it much differently than someone in 2021!

Add different ages, ethnicities, races, educational levels, experiences, beliefs and more and all will result in different definitions—and even those definitions have evolved over time.

Creating a representative environment ripe for innovation

What we can say for certain is that innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Hunter Tura, CEO of a global strategic brand consultancy, gave a talk at the Yale Management School where he outlined “seven laws of innovation.” Innovation, he said, does not appear in a moment of brilliance; rather, the best innovations require dedicated teams to assemble and perfect them.

Moreover, “innovation rarely has a single author.” While an idea may start with one person, the best products are often refined by multiple teams. He cited the example of Superman, which was initially developed for a comic book by two people but grew into a global brand as others added their input.

That’s why it’s important to create an environment conducive to innovation with diverse teams comprised of employees from different backgrounds and experiences. Building representative and inclusive teams not only enables organizations to gain new perspectives and solve age-old problems, but it also helps foster innovation.

“If you look at history, innovation doesn’t come just from giving people incentives,” said science writer and media theorist Steven Johnson, “it comes from creating environments where their ideas can connect.”

The role of the CIO: Driving innovation, prioritizing inclusion

What’s the relation between innovation and diversity? According to IDG’s 2021 State of the CIO survey, 92% of IT leaders defined the CIO role as more digital and innovation focused. In addition, 77% saw a clear connection between the rate of innovation and the diversity of a technology team—a sentiment echoed by 80% of IT leaders at financial services and high-tech companies.

Even without major changes, a significant portion of the companies surveyed felt their existing IT teams represented a mix of genders (77%) and ethnic and racial groups (73%). That’s good news!

Even better? Some 72% of IT leaders say that they are prioritizing diversity and inclusion during the IT hiring process. Now, that’s good for innovation!

Logicalis: Empowering innovation as Architects of Change

At Logicalis, we’re proud of the work we’ve done to be more diverse and inclusive. We’ve got an active Diversity & Inclusion Committee that keeps our initiatives front and center and we’re working closely with our employee resource groups (ERGs), such as the Military Personnel ERG and Women’s Initiative Network (WIN), on recruitment initiatives and events.

We also work closely with our core partners and fellow innovators—Cisco, Microsoft, HPE, IBM, NetApp, ServiceNow and VMware—who also believe in the greatness of us all through their own D&I initiatives.

And, as part of Logicalis Group, we are Architects of Change™. We help you navigate change and we lead the change. We’re also empowering other Architects of Change around the world through education.

We’re proud of our progress, but we’re also a work in progress. And, true to our mission, we’ll always strive to create a representative environment that drives innovation for our customers.

Learn more about our Diversity & Inclusion initiatives. Or contact us for more information.