For Ariele Brownfield, operations engineer, in Mont Belvieu, Texas, diversity of thought plays a vital role in her project meetings.
"When I present a new project to the facility, it is important that I have a diverse group of employees in the room with me," shared Brownfield. "As an engineer, I may view the project from a technical perspective but lack knowledge in other areas such as operations, safety or environmental. There have been many times when I thought a project was going to work without a hitch, but once we got into the project meetings, the diverse team addressed problems that I would never have thought about if I were working alone."
Pursuing diversity of thought requires bringing together people from different backgrounds – socio-economic, personality, gender, race, culture, etc. – to share ideas and solve problems.
Among those in the company who champion diversity of thought at ONEOK is Ron Mucci, vice president, rates and regulatory affairs.
"Diversity of thought and a culture that allows employees to have their ideas considered is the single greatest thing we can accomplish at ONEOK," said Mucci. "Every employee should expect to have their voice heard and ideas considered, even if their idea isn't the ultimate solution. If we can harness the intellectual talent of every employee, our future will be virtually limitless."
But how do we achieve diversity of thought in the workplace? Mucci offered a simple solution.
"Staff meetings are a great place to start," shared Mucci. "At our staff meetings, I used to spend almost the entire hour talking with the intention of sharing information. As time went on, a suggestion was made that instead of me talking, each person should be given the opportunity to share his or her current projects and raise any issues that needed resolution. We adjusted the format of the meeting to be more productive and continue to do so as employees offer ideas and feedback on how to make our time together more valuable.
"While this is a simple example, I think it highlights how we have created a culture where input is encouraged, and when we challenge the status quo, everyone can contribute and their ideas are implemented."
Brownfield echoed the benefits of thought diversity.
"To me, diversity of thought is a win-win," said Brownfield. "When employees feel comfortable bringing thoughts and ideas to the table, we have the ability to reach our full potential. In turn, our organization is able to operate at peak performance."