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Why ingenuity requires inclusivity

Fifty years on from the Stonewall riots and the advent of LGBT+ rights, the recent trend of increasingly polarised views and narrowing attitudes is not just harmful to those in the LGBT+ community but to society at large. Stalled progress fails all of us. Because inclusion in its truest sense – the ability to be open to the full spectrum of experiences, ideas and backgrounds – is about more than tolerance and acceptance. It can unlock ingenuity and offer incredible human and societal value.

History has repeatedly proven that ingenuity sparks when people with diverse views, different experiences and unique perspectives combine and collaborate. Motown became one of the most successful independent record companies of all time by applying principles learned from the Ford production line, and countless inventors and engineers have used biomimicry – for example in trains and planes – to draw inspiration from the natural world in the design of amazing solutions to complex problems.

Expertise is diverse

This culture of inclusivity and diverse thinking tracks all the way back to PA’s early days when we brought in new skills and shifted the working landscape by training women in factory jobs as men went off to war. This continued through the 70s when we opened one of the first ever open-plan offices to promote interdisciplinary working at our Global Innovation and Technology Centre. Since then, our diverse team of experts has used data to reduce patient waiting times, produced consumable seaweed based alternatives to plastic water bottles and developed innovations that protect our troops from improved explosive devices.

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You may have heard the claim that inclusivity and collaboration can lead to settling on the middle ground, losing direction and momentum. This needn’t be the case. You won’t know what mediocrity looks like unless you’re open to the full breadth of potential ideas. You’ll simply be settling for comfort and safety. Ingenuity means risk-taking, embracing differences and reaching for opportunities. It requires reaching outside of your natural habitat. It means balancing thoughtfulness and reflection with being open to new possibilities and unexplored potential. And it means being yourself, unashamedly.

Ingenuity is open

And yet there’s no doubt there’s still a long way to go both across society and within organisations. To unlock ingenuity we must create a culture where everyone can bring their whole self to work. That’s why our Pride, BAME and Women’s networks are so important. Together with the right policies, governance and leadership, these forums and communities enable action from the ground up, empower change and enable individuals and teams to create brilliant outcomes with a mindset of open ingenuity. And it’s why we continue to march with Pride: to give people the courage to be who they want to be; to campaign against discrimination against sexual orientation or gender identity; to include everyone and support the LGBT+ community; to commemorate those who’ve fought for our rights for 50 years; and to celebrate how far we’ve come.

Because while spikes of intolerance in society present a threat to liberal attitudes, we see much to be proud of too. At PA, we’re taking a people-centred approach – empowering our people to make change, providing mentoring and coaching support and setting commitments for managers to build more inclusion and openness in their teams. As we continue striving to meet our Inclusion & Diversity ambitions, we’re eager to ensure we promote inclusivity of both people and ideas.

‘Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance’, the oft-heard saying goes. In fact, true inclusion isn’t waiting to be asked to do anything. It’s collaborating with others at the party on something new and ingenious. That’s why it’s time to reject binary thinking, broaden our mindsets and harness the ingenious possibilities of inclusivity.

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