How diversity makes us smarter
Decades of research by organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists and demographers show that socially diverse groups (that is, those with a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation) are more innovative than homogeneous groups. It means being around people who are different from us makes us more creative, more diligent and more hardworking.
It seems obvious that a group of people with diverse individual expertise would be better than a homogeneous group at solving complex, non-routine problems. It is less obvious that social diversity should work in the same way - yet the science shows that it does. This is not only because people with different backgrounds bring new information. Simply interacting with individuals who are different forces group members to prepare better, to anticipate alternative viewpoints and to expect that reaching consensus will take effort.
Diversity of expertise confers benefits that are obvious - you would not think of building a new car without engineers, designers and quality-control experts - but what about social diversity? The same logic applies to social diversity. People who are different from one another in race, gender and other dimensions bring unique information and experiences to bear on the task at hand. A male and a female engineer might have perspectives as different from one another as an engineer and a physicist - and that is a good thing.
The fact is that if you want to build teams or organizations capable of innovating, you need diversity. Diversity enhances creativity. It encourages the search for novel information and perspectives, leading to better decision making and problem solving. Diversity can improve the bottom line of companies and lead to discoveries and breakthrough innovations. Even simply being exposed to diversity can change the way you think.
Adapted from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-diversity-makes-us-smarter/