Celebrate our cognitive diversity this Heritage Month

South Africa is well known as being the Rainbow Nation for obvious reasons. We are not a homogenous people but rather a distinctly diverse group with traditions and cultures rich in Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, Tswana, Ndebele, Khoisan, Hindu, Muslim, Afrikaans and Jewish heritages to name a few. But does our media and marketing reflect our diversity?

Dashni Vilakazi, Managing Director at The MediaShop Johannesburg, says that enhancing cognitive diversity has to be intentional to build and hire teams that are not alike. Teams with cognitive diversity, or a group of people who think differently and that have different values, offer more innovation, better thought-out ideas, and have more room for richly nourished collaboration and innovative contribution.

“In the consideration set of different persona types and mind-sets, cognitive diversity also relates to people’s upbringing and their home culture, which is so important when working with and hiring employees who come from all walks of life, as they offer a wider outlook on customers and what solutions we should be offering,” says Dashni. “This is especially true in a marketing and media environment where teams are responsible for a large portion of communication that is consumed by the general public.

We have to mindful that we don’t become allured into a functional bias, where we gravitate toward those who think or express themselves in a similar manner to us resulting in a media company made up of only like-minded employees.”

A diversity and inclusion strategy coupled with cognitive diversity will complement a business well because they represent the value of unique experiences and show how beneficial individuality can be in the workplace making it good for a company’s success. 

“This Heritage Day we celebrate South Africa but remember the aspects that make up the individual,” she says.