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The panelists at the diversity of thought event hosted by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News
The panelists at the diversity of thought event hosted by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News

Diversity of thought as a business imperative

The impact that diversity of thought can make in the workplace holds true in any sector. 

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In an extension of the event hosted by The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, three professionals sat as part of a panel discussion to talk about the importance of being able to leverage diverse thinking within the workplace. 

They were Barbara Rittinger Rigo, a shareholder at Littler Mendelson PC; Peter Jones, director of enterprise learning and development for Independence Blue Cross; and Matthew Aaron, President & CEO of the Pennsylvania chapter of the Special Olympics.

While each of the three esteemed panelists worked in different sectors, each had very adamant approaches regarding the assurance of diversity of thought being a business value.

With her background as a lawyer, Rigo deals with discrimination lawsuit and similar matters all the time.

“I like doing counseling,” Rigo said. “I like being part of the problem solving, and helping employers to really understand the importance of making everyone feel included, making sure you have policies in place, making sure you have managers who understand how to speak to everybody in a respectful way, and making sure you have diversity of thought.”

As one of the largest health insurers in the Philadelphia region, Independence Blue Cross provides insurance for a widely diverse set of people.

In 2012, Independence Blue Cross launched a diversity and inclusion strategy in their efforts to further embrace diversity and inclusion as a core value within the company.

“Part of what we needed to do was to help our employees understand what are some of the critical elements of diversity and how that can impact the business,” said Jones.

The health insurer, as a whole, wants all of their employees to bring their entire selves to work, which includes their ideas, thoughts and perspectives to the workplace.

“That’s what creates innovation, that’s what creates new products, and that’s what hopefully creates new customers,” he added.

The Special Olympics is the largest global public health organization for people with intellectual disabilities in the world. The organization functions as a way to bring people with and without disabilities together in a cohesive manner.

Aaron said that the athletes who are part of the Special Olympics receive worse healthcare than someone who doesn’t have a physical or intellectual disability. As a result, the organization recently launched a leadership program, as well as a new initiative called the Inclusion Revolution.

“The whole message there about our whole inclusion revolution is that the shift in thinking is, it’s not about… those athletes. It’s about all of us,” he said.

The importance of teamwork in the workforce is unquestioned. No matter the sector, the ability for people to bring different ideas and perspectives to the table creates an environment where creativity and innovation can brightly shine through. When the topic of diversity is brought up, diversity of thought is just as crucial to the long-term success of a company as any. 

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