Diverse Thought Equals Better Outcomes – A Case for Returnships

It’s not uncommon for leaders to tell their teams that it’s important to “get out of their comfort zones” or “think outside of the box” to achieve success. But it’s not always that easy. Individuals have only their own experiences to draw upon to come up with ideas and solutions to solve business challenges. The answer to creative problem solving is a workforce that has cognitive diversity. 

Diversity of thought, also known as cognitive diversity, basically means that different people think in different ways. And the way people think is significantly influenced by their life experiences in relation to many factors including gender, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and more.

The more diverse the workforce, the more diverse the thought within that workforce.  

Multiple studies, including a study done by Oxford, have shown that diverse workforces are more productive.  And productivity is not the only benefit, there are others, including: 

  • Boost to profits 

  • Reduced employee turnover 

  • Enhanced creativity 

  • Increased productivity 

  • Improved employee engagement 

  • Enhanced company reputation 

  • Better cultural insights 

  • Wider range of skills 

A Solution

Returnships are a great way to increase diversity in the workplace, and thereby increase cognitive diversity. 

Returnships are essentially internships, or work programs, that provide career opportunities for individuals who have taken time off from the workforce for any variety of reasons. While these individuals can be male or female, they are typically women who are experienced professionals and have taken time off to raise children or care for loved ones who may need help or have fallen ill. They are often referred to as “Returners”.   

(Read: A Comprehensive Guide to Implementing a Successful Returnship Program)

According to a study done by Hewlett-Packard, women typically only apply to jobs when they are close to a 100% match to the job description. Making matter worse, the 40% of women who take a career break are even less likely to apply for a job since they have a work gap in their resume.  

This unfortunate fact is true for women across all diversity factors making the “Returner” talent pool rich with diverse candidates. 

If your company is looking for ways to increase cognitive diversity, a Returnship program should most certainly be part of the solution.