Almost 80 per cent of working population considers diversity a business advantage.
TORONTO, September 25, 2007 – The majority of working Canadians believe that Canada’s diversity leads to greater innovation and business success, according to a national survey conducted by the Xerox Research Centre of Canada and Leger Marketing.
The survey revealed that more than three-quarters of Canadian workers (77 per cent) feel that diversity in culture and background contributes to innovation and creates a stronger Canadian business landscape, and nearly four-fifths (79 per cent) of respondents feel that Canada’s cultural diversity gives us a distinct advantage when it comes to fostering innovation.
Working Canadians feel that individual talent and experience have the greatest impact on innovation (38 and 35 per cent), which was nearly unanimously seen by respondents as a necessity for business success (96 per cent). An individual’s worldliness was seen by respondents as more important to their ability to innovate than in-depth job knowledge or even education.
“The findings from this survey validate an approach that’s been the linchpin of Xerox Canada’s innovation success for decades: finding the most talented and innovative research professionals from around the world and bringing them together under one roof,” says Hadi Mahabadi, vice-president and manager of the Xerox Research Centre of Canada. “In the global economy of the 21st century innovation will only thrive with the shared ideas of individuals with different backgrounds, areas of expertise and life experiences.”
Other survey highlights:
68 per cent say that working as a team contributes to their own creativity and innovative thinking.
52 per cent of Canadian workers feel that brainstorming adds to their creativity and innovative thinking
Exposure to different cultures (50 per cent) and working with people from different disciplinary backgrounds (46 per cent) bolsters creativity and innovation.
Ninety-six per cent of Canadians seek the advice of those with a different background when solving business problems
Opinions of those with different work experience (92 per cent), age (82 per cent), and “outlook on life” (82 per cent) are most frequently sought
Scott Cho, associate vice-president of Leger, says of the findings: “The state of our country’s innovation is much discussed among Canada’s industry leaders. While there’s no silver bullet, our findings demonstrate that companies with diverse employee backgrounds tend to focus more on innovation, and those innovation efforts tend to be more successful.”
According to Mahabadi, another key aspect that leads to innovation success in Canada is the freedom and autonomy to foster and grow new ideas. The vast majority of respondents felt their professional knowledge and perceptions were valued (84 per cent). Those Canadians who saw themselves as being somewhat innovative more often felt their opinions and perceptions were valued (90 per cent), than those who saw themselves as being not very or not at all innovative (76 per cent).
The Xerox Research Centre of Canada employs researchers from more than 35 countries of origin. Nearly half of Ph.D. scientists working at the Centre – including Mahabadi, who was born and raised in Iran – are skilled immigrants. More than a quarter of Xerox Research Centre of Canada employees are Canadian immigrants who earned their undergraduate and/or graduate degrees in their country of birth, which has led to notable innovation success at the Centre.