At first it was gender diversity—an important response to the imbalance of roles and opportunities for males and females. It then became more about diversity of gender, race, and background.
More progressive organisations are starting to focus more on the benefit of diversity, like different kinds of thinking, ideas, and decision-making.
At the heart of diversity is survival. If an organisation is too one dimensional, it fails to adapt and dies.
Now, there’s a newcomer called ‘emodiversity’, a term that describes the variety of emotion you experience.
Research shows that individuals who report a greater range of emotions—positive and negative—also report greater resilience. That is they tend to report fewer depressive thoughts.
Indeed these individuals also have better physical health. One study revealed that individuals with greater emodiversity had fewer trips to the doctor and days spent in hospital, and did not need to spend as much on medical care.
The researchers argue that people with greater emotional diversity could be simply better at adapting to their environment.
Take a team of champions where everyone is super positive all the time. These teams may blindly take risks and downplay issues, leading to overconfidence.
In contrast, a team of highly anxious and conservative individuals could lead to a failure to take any risks. They may, for example, always stick with traditional approaches and feel uncomfortable with anything new or exciting.
Individuals with greater emodiversity, however, can rely on a suite of different emotions to help drive their decision-making. For example, when confronted with a significant issue their concern and fear may deliver a well-needed, conservative approach.
If afforded an opportunity to invest in a new business opportunity these same individuals may suddenly experience a burst of enthusiasm to help build relationships and generate ideas.
Ultimately this research suggests that resilience could be increased by building self-awareness about emotion rather than trying to promote positive thinking, which can have diminishing returns.
Of course, being too diverse all the time can also, ironically, be a bit one-dimensional. A business that diversifies too much can lose focus on its core business. A person who experiences a rollercoaster of emotions can create feelings of uncertainty and apprehension amongst their colleagues.
Perhaps this issue will spawn a new trend called ‘emo-everything in moderation’?