Game Changers 2020 Essay Series: What can We Achieve When Great Minds Don’t Think Alike?

What can We Achieve When Great Minds Don’t Think Alike?

lbi Krukrubo, Managing Partner, Ernst & Young LLP

Embracing People’s Native Genius

As leaders in today’s transformative age, we must get more done with what often feels like not enough in talent, time, or treasure. As Liz Wiseman shares in her book, “Multipliers,” extraordinary results can come from embracing people’s native genius – the deep smarts that manifest in different ways. I firmly believe that, in a global economy with evolving disruptive forces and a dynamic social climate, creating a sense of belonging for all is critical to success.

For example, businesses are looking at how people with neurological differences, such as autism, can contribute. Neurodiverse individuals are often technologically inclined and detail-oriented, with strong skills in analytics, mathematics, pattern recognition and information processing.

People with autism approach problems differently, and their logical thinking can spur improvements that increase productivity.

And the need to help neurodiverse individuals feel a sense of belonging is great. According to a Drexel University study, 58 percent of young adults with autism are unemployed. EY and companies like SAP, Microsoft, and HPE are helping to employ more people with autism through a variety of programs. In an effort to leverage the diverse abilities that result from being on the autism spectrum, in 2016 we launched a pilot program in Philadelphia with four neurodiverse account support professionals.

We soon found that their work quality, efficiency, and productivity were similar to those of their neurotypical counterparts, but the neurodiverse professionals excelled at innovation. They quickly identified process improvements, reducing technical training time by half They also learned how to automate processes far more quickly. These teams now are writing code to automate expenses, using data analytics to provide insights, and creating scenarios to explore how blockchain could affect our business.

In addition to optimizing business results by embracing differences, today’s social climate demands that organizations create a sense of belonging for all their employees. To that end, EY recently conducted a Belonging Barometer study to see how more than 1,000 employed adult Americans define belonging and what makes them feel like they belong at work. We found that regardless of background, gender, sexual orientation or race, many individuals are expecting and finding a sense of community within the workplace. Nearly half say that diversity is best represented at work and 34 percent feel they belong most when their unique contributions are valued.

In the context of work, people who feel like they belong are more productive, motivated and engaged, as well as 3.5 times more likely to contribute their full, innovative potential. Diversity also adds to the bottom line, as an organization with 30 percent female leaders could increase its margin by up to six percentage points, according to research from EY and The Peterson Institute for International Economics. With those results, it’s clear that embracing diversity, inclusion, and belonging are critical.

Working to increase belonging for all our professionals has made a difference for both them and EY. When we dedicate ourselves to diversity and inclusion, we reinforce our commitment to our employees, our companies, and our communities.

August 19, 2019