Not Like Me: How Homogeneity Impacts Our Work, and What We Can Do About it
March 3rd | 2016

A few months into my tenure at Zeus Jones, I found myself in a room with a few colleagues discussing Myers-Briggs.

After a brief comparison of our respective results on the popular personality assessment, we realized that not only were we a room full of introverts, but a sizable majority of us were also left-handed introverts. After years surrounded by smooth-talking, bubbly, right-side-prominent co-workers, finally I was amongst my people!

Working with people who are not only unfazed by my sarcasm, but actually laugh at my dry jokes can be pretty rad. But lately I’ve come to wonder how being surrounded by people so much like me impacts the work we do. 

I’m not alone. There’s been a lot of research into the subject, and most of it indicates that incorporating new perspectives can help solve problems. According to research conducted at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School, the presence of diversity in a group of people can be a potential source of conflict, but that tension that brings an upside: “new ideas can emerge, individuals can learn from one another, and they may discover the solution to a problem in the process.” 

I would speculate that similar feelings of conflict and tension — and their benefits — can come from changing our environment, system, processes and other norms that shape a community. 

To say it another way: put me in a conference room filled with other sarcastic, culturally-Jewish women in their 30’s who work in marketing and sure, we’ll have a good time. But will we discover uncharted territory? I doubt it. 

Don’t get me wrong. We have a talent pool of individuals from a wide range of backgrounds here. I’d be remiss to not acknowledge the journalist, teacher, maker, business owner, and anthropologist in our midst. But we have the opportunity to push the boundaries of the perspectives we bring to the table and the environments we create for ourselves.

Luckily, another common trait of ZJers is restlessness. We’re not a community content to rest on our laurels; instead, we explore new ways of tackling the issues we face. Our business model is to modernize other businesses, and that means we need to constantly evolve.

So this year, instead of looking for interns that fit into our current departments, we’re trying something a little different. We’re seeking a small group of individuals with experiences and backgrounds unlike our own.

Rather than indoctrinating this group of individuals into our way of working, we want to learn from them. So we’ll give them a problem that needs solving, and let them have at it. The environment, the process, the product — it’s up to them. Our hope is that this experiment will expand our perspectives and capabilities and ultimately push our business forward.

Check out the application here.