Diversity Fuels Innovation

By Steve Gilison

There are a lot of places where you’ll find people who look the same, dress the same and talk the same but that’s probably not how you think of Southern California where conformity is more elusive than the endzone in the Super Bowl (ahem, Rams). Unlike some of the other innovation epicenters around the globe, we’re not into just one thing — we’re into exploring the frontiers of personal genomics, the furthest reaches of space, the intersection between content and media, the future of our global food supply — and that’s just to name a few. When you layer in the massive abundance of cultures, nationalities and perspectives that reside in the region, SoCal is arguably the most diverse place on the planet.

There’s some data to support this assertion. Three of the top ten Most Diverse U.S. Cities are located in SoCal (LA, Long Beach, San Diego) according to a recent report from WalletHub which starts with this insight: “Not only have waves of immigration changed the face of the nation, they’ve also brought in fresh perspectives, skills and technologies to help the U.S. develop a strong adaptability to change.” To put it another way, diversity supports resilience and fuels innovation. Add to that observation, McKinsey’s 2015 report Why Diversity Matters found that diverse companies outperformed non-diverse companies. It’s pretty clear that SoCal’s diversity is a key ingredient to its success as an innovation hub.

At the Alliance, we consider this regional competence to be an important competitive advantage to celebrate and nurture, which is why we’re hosting an event on April 30th from 10am — 3pm at the Skirball Cultural Center [register here] that we’re calling “Diversity Fuels Innovation”. We will showcase and promote successful programs to address gaps in diversity, inclusion and equity within SoCal’s innovation ecosystem.

This will be a great opportunity to connect stakeholders across the spectrum of technology companies, government, non-profit, and academia. Attendees will hear from leaders implementing successful diversity and inclusion programs as well as discover resources and programs available to address opportunities to improve D&I representation in their organizations.

We hope to see you on April 30 (event details here)! Please send us suggestions for speakers, topics or best practices at your organization.

If your organization would like to sponsor the event, we would love to speak with you as well. Send all inquiries to info@alliancesocal.org.

Steve Gilison is Head of Programs and Operations at the Alliance for SoCal Innovation. You can also find him on https://www.linkedin.com/in/stevegilison/