How groupthink could undo corporate diversity/inclusion initiatives

With the advent of current events such as the United States’s debate about affirmative action or Indonesia’s own political turmoil (and its repercussions to minorities), diversity has never been a more important subject to bring up today. Not only affecting the 24-hour news cycle, diversity is also attached in the minds of corporations, implemented in these companies by their various diversity/inclusion initiatives, most popularly, company diversity trainings. This has been proven as a useful asset for a company to grow; a study done by MIT engineers show that racially-diverse teams outperform racially-homogeneous teams by 35%. However, a certain bias could undo tireless hours and dollars that a company spend on diversity initiatives: groupthink. Groupthink is a bias concerning groups leaning towards a certain opinion, usually related to only a few people’s interests. These few people are the people who hold the most power in the group. Groupthink is harmful in this context if we take a closer look at the diversity (or lack thereof) in workplaces nowadays.

The current state of the global workplace is still not as diverse as we want it to be. In the United States itself, there are some upsetting statistics: out of Fortune 500 companies, there’s only 5 African-American CEOs; men are 30% more likely to be promoted than women; 41% of managers say they’re “too busy” to create diversity/inclusion initiatives. Since companies are still in a state where people of privileged races/genders/etc hold the most power, groupthink that could hurt diversity could easily happen; these people in power have more agency to voice their opinion towards the group, and if groupthink happens, the company’s employees will just agree on what these people in power say. This could lead to the opinions of employees of marginalised races/genders/etc to be ignored (in favor of the more privileged people in power), therefore backfiring diversity initiatives in the first place. If groupthink happens, it would be futile to create diversity initiatives and expect them to happen, since it would all be undone by the privileged people in power.

Therefore, companies should try their best to combat groupthink, as it could lead to discrimination in the workplace. People in power in these companies should raise the voices of their marginalized employees (who had their voices taken away previously by groupthink), so that everyone has an equal share of their opinion, therefore creating a healthier working relationship. Diverse companies produce more revenue (19%, to be exact); why waste the chance?

This post is written as part of a one-week mini bootcamp in my GO-SQUADS Tech 3.0 internship in GO-JEK. To learn more about my experiences, keep an eye on @lifeatgojek on Instagram.

About the author patriciaksmngtys

Patricia K. is an Indonesian computer science student based in New York. When she's not busy manipulating data structures, you can find her watching movies or talking about them.

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