Diversity and Inclusion – Reducing Groupthink

Our Aviva Development Zone Course of the Month for August is ‘Groupthink and Diversity’. But what is ‘groupthink’ – and how does it relate to diversity and inclusion?

Groupthink (a term popularised by Irving Janis in 1971) refers to decision-making that is carried out without critical evaluation by a group of people who wish to maintain harmony and conformity, often to avoid conflict and confrontation. It is based on a desire not to upset the balance of a group.

It can present a serious issue in an organisation if the decision-makers – particularly at Board level – share the same opinions and do not challenge one another. They may be dismissive of outsiders and may ignore or overlook important considerations. The decisions they made may be made the suit themselves, with little or no regard for the needs of others.

Challenge can be helpful, however, and, in the world of work, it should be encouraged, with employees feeling comfortable to voice their opinions or concerns.

Increased diversity in the workplace allows for a wider range of perspectives to be considered. Diversity refers to a wide range of characteristics, including race, gender, age, religious beliefs, and socio-economic background, among many others. A diverse group can help reduce groupthink as there is more likely to be range of experiences and opinions – this will hopefully lead to more balanced and thoughtful decision-making, that draws on multiple experiences.

The FCA has highlighted diversity and inclusion as one of its cross-market priorities in its 2021/22 business plan. The regulator aims to improve diversity at the FCA itself so that it has:

  • an inclusive working environment with diverse teams who are confident to share their experience and opinions;
  • people who reflect the society it serves; and
  • regulation that supports improved outcomes for different groups in the population.

The FCA also wants to see the following outcomes across the financial services sector:

  • regulated firms and listed companies having more diverse representation at all levels;
  • regulated firms and listed companies fostering cultures that are inclusive so that staff can share their diverse experiences and backgrounds; and
  • firms designing and delivering products that reflect the diverse needs of consumers, offer fair value and are delivered in a fair and accessible way.

The FCA’s business plan states that, “Together, diversity and inclusion can reduce groupthink, encourage debate and innovation and so improve outcomes for consumers and across markets.”

Consider your own clients and their needs – a diverse and inclusive workplace is better positioned to adapt to the diverse needs of its clients no matter who they are or what their background is.

Complete our Aviva Development Zone Course of the Month to find out more about groupthink and diversity. If you are not registered on the Aviva Development Zone learning platform and would like a free 14-day trial, visit: https://mydevelopment.zone/#getStarted.

About the author

Lisa joined RWA in 2014 as an e-Learning Assistant and now heads up RWA’s Design and Content Team. Her role as Head of Content and Communications involves managing content creation and curation on the Aviva Development Zone platform and serving as editor of RWA Insight.

Lisa has diverse creative and technical writing experience. She holds a first class honours degree in English and Creative Writing from Swansea University and graduated from Cardiff Metropolitan University with a Distinction in Creative Writing in 2016.

Get RWA Insight In Your Inbox

Regular business news and commentary delivered direct to your inbox each week. Sign up here