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Diversity in IT and its workforce helps boost performance, output

Introducing diversity in IT and its workforce is not just about gender or race, according to Bruce Maas, vice provost for IT and CIO at the University of Wisconsin--Madison. Maas spoke with SearchCIO at the recent Fusion CEO-CIO Symposium, produced by WTN Media. In this video, he explains that all forms of diversity in IT and other business departments need to be embraced, because people who think differently are a big asset to organizations.

What are the benefits of creating diversity in IT and its workforce?

We approach it from that viewpoint that diversity has many forms. It isn't just gender; it isn't just racial.

Bruce Mass: There is a body of research that has been conducted over decades that clearly shows that diverse teams outperform teams of people that think alike. We approach it from that viewpoint that diversity has many forms. It isn't just gender; it isn't just racial. It's all of its forms. For example, individuals who have experience working in the military bring a different type of thinking to a team than someone whose background is in a social services organization. People who have private sector experience are different than those who've perhaps spent their entire careers working for non-profits.

I think about risks, about blind spots on my teams. If I have people who think differently, there might be one person who sees a problem a little bit differently and might be the person to flag something that could end up being a major problem down the road. There are benefits from a risk management viewpoint, from a productivity viewpoint … and from a performance point of view. You have a chance to expand your pool of candidates tremendously the wider open you are. Everything points to diversity as something that is a net benefit to organizations. 

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What initiatives has your organization implemented to introduce diversity in IT and its workforce?