3 Short Notes on IT, Diversity, Women in Tech and Collective Blindness

Kamil Stanuch
3 min readMay 28, 2020

In Matthew Syed’s recent book “Rebel Ideas. The Power of Diverse Thinking” he dives into the topic a little bit deeper and focuses on cognitive diversity instead of diversity just for the sake of political correctness to point out the largest threat: collective blindness.

Yesterday I had a pleasure to participate in Girls Up Program Grand Finale. The entire programme has been dedicated to women startup founders who are already running their business as well as females who want to start their journey as startup leaders and have a solid business idea at least in the MVP stage.

So why we decided to support and become a strategic partner of this initiative as Grand Parade?

Diversity is a trending topic and subject of many heated debates both in media and board meetings. During one of our company stand-ups, an interesting question arose regarding our involvement as Grand Parade and William Hill in Women in Tech initiatives: “Do we have a problem with diversity in our company?” Although with more than 15% of our tech workforce being women we are on par with market standards it is still low and leaves a room for improvement. I’d argue that it’s not strictly about a problem, but about being aware of the negative consequences of lack of diversity.

What do I mean by that?

In Matthew Syed’s recent book “Rebel Ideas. The Power of Diverse Thinking” he dives into the topic a little bit deeper and focuses on cognitive diversity instead of diversity just for the sake of political correctness to point out the largest threat: collective blindness.

What is collective blindness? Well, as the old saying goes “birds of a feather flock together” which means that we tend to hire people who look and think like themselves. It’s natural and of course to some extent having people sharing the same value has a positive impact on productivity as we reduce potential frictions. But when you are surrounded by similar people with the same perspective and same approach to solving a problem, you are not just likely to share each other’s blind spots but to reinforce them.

The dangerous part is that homogenous groups are more likely to not only form judgements that include grave error but also to enforce it which forms an ‘echo chambers’ within clone-like teams (if you put 10 people in the room who believes that Earth is flat don’t expect any different conclusion…).

Remember the story of breaking the code of Enigma? As Syed points out, the team led by Alan Turing at Bletchley Park didn’t consist only of code breakers and mathematicians. Quite opposite: solving a complex, multidimensional problem required cognitive diversity so among recruits we could have found professor of German philology, historian and legal philosopher (interesting fact that J. R. R. Tolkien was also tapped up but decided to stay in Oxford).

So the key point is that different perspectives propelled by diversity in teams can enlarge collective intelligence and prevents us from cognitive biases. You know — if you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Instilling diversity into our DNA as an organisation is not about promoting someone up just because of gender, ethnicity or other parameters for the sake of ticking the required quota. We strive to promote diversity and inclusion because we believe that each voice matters and brings a new perspective — and that makes us stronger, better and well prepared to innovate.

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Kamil Stanuch

Angel Investor at RealResearch, EreborCapital & al. | OKRs | Tech | 📈 Newsletter: kamilstanuch.substack.com