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The Power Of Diversity: Exploring 5 Types of Diversity And How They Fuel Success!

Updated: 7 days ago

Football is one of the most traditional sports in the world. As a player or coach, you may have heard the phrase ‘that’s how we have always done it’ countless times before. This can create a sense of complacency and prevent teams from embracing new ideas or approaches.

Dressing rooms of football clubs consist of players and staff from different nationalities and backgrounds, speaking different languages, with different values, behaviours and religions. Nevertheless, there are still many opportunities to enhance diversity off the pitch.

Diversity refers to the range of differences and similarities among people, including but not limited to differences in gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, ability, age, culture and socio-economic status. It can also refer to the variety of perspectives, experiences and backgrounds that individuals bring to a group or organisation.

Welcome to my new blog where we will explore how 5 types of diversity contribute to a more innovative and inclusive environment and foster sustainable competitive advantage both on and of the pitch.

Cognitive Diversity

Cognitive diversity refers to differences in the ways people think, process information and approach problem solving. The power of diverse thinking is about avoiding the tendency to make decisions only with people that sound like you, look like you or are you.

People with a different educational background, different age, different cultural background or personality type will enrich your thinking and decision making.

According to Matthew Syed, author of ‘Rebel Ideas’ (2019), cognitive diversity is a critical ingredient for success in any field:

“Success is no longer just about talent or knowledge or skill, today it's also about freeing ourselves from the blinkers and blind spots that beset us all and harnessing a critical new ingredient: cognitive diversity.”

By incorporating different ways of thinking, teams can identify and solve problems better, adapt to changing circumstances and make better decisions. This can lead to innovation, more creativity and can help to stay ahead of the game.

Cultural Diversity

Football is a global sport and the game is for everyone. Wherever in the world, in men’s or in women’s football, the rules of the game are the same. It’s a fantastic environment where individuals from diverse backgrounds can learn from each other and can expand their horizon.

Some typical examples of cultural diversity are differences in language, religion, social norms, but even also food and clothing.

The cultural dimensions of Hofstede (2010) provide a framework for understanding and comparing different cultural values and behaviours of different groups, individuals and organisations. This theory identifies six dimensions, including power distance, individualism versus collectivism, masculinity versus femininity, uncertainty avoidance, long-term versus short-term orientation and indulgence versus restraint.

Embracing cultural diversity is important in creating a dynamic and inclusive environment that encourages respect, adaptation and understanding of different cultures.

Gender Differences

Football has traditionally been a male-dominated sport, similar to professions as presentators, analysts and commentators. While the game and its rules are the same, genders are different. And yes, also the brain, physiology and hormones are different between men and women.

Dr. Stacy Sims stated in her book 'Roar' (2016) that 'Women are not small men'. Women should not be treated the same as men when it comes to for example training and nutrition. A different approach is required to optimise performance, health, well-being and recovery.

Gender diversity refers to the recognition, acceptance and promotion of individuals with different gender identities in different settings, such as workplaces and organisations.

Although an increase in the number of girls and women participating in the game, the increase in fandom, attendance and media coverage of women's sport, football still has to take huge steps to further professionalise, break down gender stereotypes and realise gender equality. It is absolutely crucial to create worldwide the same opportunities for girls and women to play, provide equal opportunities for women to work and eliminate the current pay gaps.

"The women’s game is one of the fastest changing sports in the world. Despite the current differences in resources, the men’s game can learn a lot from the women’s game.

As the current international players continue to shape and influence the future of young girls, the football world must keep evolving towards a more inclusive and diverse future!

Generational Diversity

Similar as in life, a mix of different age groups interact with each other in football organisations. In football, there are often multiple generations involved, including players, staff and fans. Each generations has its own characteristics, such as differences towards leadership, teamwork and technology.

A great challenge and opportunity is the changing social dynamic of Gen Z and Gen Alpha. Gen Z are the individuals born from the mid-to-late 1990s to the early 2010s. Gen Alpha is the generation born after Gen Z and includes individuals born from the 2010s to the mid 2020s. These generations are heavily influenced by technology and digital media, Gen Alpha will be even more comfortable with technologies such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

Gen Alpha is expected to be the most diverse generation, but different generations demand different approaches as we are still dealing with human beings.

Generational diversity can lead to a more creative and innovative approach to problem-solving and decision-making, can create a more inclusive culture and the mix of different generations can complement each other to achieve common goals.

Organisational Diversity

Organisational diversity refers to equality and inclusion but also to differences within and between organisations in all its aspects. Diversity, equity and inclusion are essential in any business to promote a diverse workplace and the representation of different individuals, ideas and processes.

It is crucial in creating a more innovative, adaptable and successful organisation that values the perspectives and contributions of all stakeholders (Frost, 2018). The impact of a diverse approach will have positive contributions to general problems such as discrimination, traditional barriers and decision-making processes.

An essential part is the importance of diversity in recruitment where people from different backgrounds, with different experiences, with different knowledge, a different way of thinking (even thinking out of the box) can positively influence organisations in all its aspects.

“With who do you surround yourself with? With the typical ‘yes men’, who simply confirm your thoughts, or are you open-minded to different ideas?”

8 Benefits of a diverse environment

Organisations with a diverse, innovative and inclusive environment can easier and better foster competitive advantage on and off the pitch by benefiting from:

  1. Improving identification of problems

  2. Improving decision making

  3. Improving problem solving

  4. Facilitating adaptation to changing circumstances

  5. Enhancing understanding of different cultures

  6. Promoting learning from others with different backgrounds

  7. Breaking down of traditional barriers

  8. Cultivating a culture of respect


In a sport that thrives on traditions, it is crucial to include different styles in decision-making and problem-solving contexts. Dressing rooms are multicultural, and it is essential to embrace gender differences and increase diversity in leadership roles.

The power of diversity is identified in this post through cognitive, cultural, gender, generational, and organisational diversity.

Diversity is a powerful element that can fuel success in any field, including football. The inclusion of different individuals, ideas, and processes is essential in promoting a diverse workplace and achieving a sustainable competitive advantage on and off the pitch.

“Remember, the chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and diversity can be the key to strengthen that chain.”

#diversity #success #thinkdifferent #inclusion #innovation

References and book recommendations;

  • Frost, S. (2018). Building an inclusive organization: Leveraging the Power of a Diverse Workforce. Kogan Page Publishers.

  • Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G. J., & Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, third edition (3rd ed.). McGraw-Hill Professional.

  • Sims, S. T., & Yeager, S. (2016). Roar: How to Match Your Food and Fitness to Your Unique Female Physiology for Optimum Performance, Great Health, and a Strong, Lean Body for Life. Rodale Books.

  • Syed, M. (2019). Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking. London: John Murray Publishers Ltd.

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