More than 700 attendees gathered on Monday at the Parsons School of Design for the third annual Women in Innovation Forum in New York City (W.IN. Forum NY), where a key topic was the correlation between diversity and innovation.
Speaker Laura Sherbin, co-president at the Center for Talent Innovation, talked about the idea of two-dimensional diversity and why “inherent diversity, “ while valuable, is not enough. According to Sherbin, there are two kinds of diversity — immutable and mutable — both of which are necessary for innovation.
Inherent traits like race, ethnicity, religious background, sexual orientation, and disability fall under the category of immutable diversity. “For a while, diversity was just about bringing people in the door and thinking that magic would happen,” Sherbin said. But a second type of diversity — mutable diversity — also is needed in order to make a palpable impact in an organization, she said.
Mutable diversity refers to acquired traits — anything from cultural fluency and generational savvy to technological literacy and cross-functional knowledge. Unlike immutable diversity, these are learned through personal experience. Together, immutable and mutable diversity form 2-D diversity.
“The power of diversity is huge if leveraged in the right way,” Sherbin said.
According to her research, companies with 2-D diversity are 75 percent more likely to have a marketable idea implemented, 70 percent more likely to see their company capture a new market, and 45 percent more likely to see their company improve market share, than companies without 2-D diversity.