How do you see the unseeable? Despite the apparent paradox, the Event Horizon Telescope team managed to do exactly that, capturing an image of the supermassive black hole at the heart of a galaxy called M87. The Event Horizon Telescope deployed a network of eight radio telescopes to create a virtual telescope as big as the earth itself, but it took the unique, sophisticated algorithm created by Dr. Katie Bouman to turn all that raw data into an image that transfixed the world.1
The Event Horizon Telescope showcases the power of inclusion and diversity in action. Not only is the telescope itself the product of eight different points of view, but the key scientist—a young, female computer scientist—epitomizes the great strides diverse teams can make with full participation and engagement of its members. As Bouman herself said to CNN, “No one of us could’ve done it alone. It came together because of lots of different people from many different backgrounds."2
Bouman isn’t just parroting some politically correct line. Organizations of all types have come to realize that diversity is about more than reflecting the makeup of the communities in which we operate, or the customers we serve. When fully integrated and leveraged, it’s also a competitive advantage, as many analyses and resulting data sets have shown. Big companies with at least one woman on the board dramatically outperformed those without in terms of stock price and profitability.3 In its latest diversity report, McKinsey found that companies with executive teams in the highest strata of ethnic and cultural diversity are 33% more likely to have above-average profitability than peers in the bottom quartile.4
For companies in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, an inclusive and diverse workforce that engages all its employees can be the secret to finding the next society-changing innovation.