The Power Rangers, the children’s television staple that launched in 1993, is the story of five young people trained to fight the forces of evil—all while wearing colorful costumes. But for an entire generation, it was much more than that. It was one of the few representations of a racially diverse team on television.
That made an impact. And—while there were certainly aspects of the 1990s television show that feel dated and even insensitive today (did the Asian Power Ranger have to wear yellow?)—the show sent a unique message to 90s kids about the strength that lies in diversity. The colors of their costumes served as a clear metaphor for the racial diversity of the cast. Rangers just wouldn’t have been as strong with five red Rangers. Instead they needed Rangers wearing blue, pink, black, yellow and green.
Since then, studies have shown that they were on to something. In fact, companies with more ethnic and racial diversity in management were likely to have better financial returns, according to a 2015 report from McKinsey.
Why is that? Researchers believe it’s because diverse teams tend to make better decisions than homogenous teams. Multiple studies have shown that, when placed on diverse teams, people are more likely to review facts more closely, make fewer mistakes and correct the mistakes they do make. This might be because people are more comfortable in homogenous groups, and that comfort can lead to easy choices, groupthink and ultimately bad decisions. For example, a 2009 study of fraternity and sorority members showed that groups were more likely to make correct decisions when their team included someone from another Greek house, rather than when the team was all members of the same group.
Diverse teams are also more likely than homogenous teams to be creative and innovative. Experts on creativity say that one great way to spur new ideas is to ask individuals to integrate multiple ideas and points-of-view. That’s why many artists have had their most prolific periods when they lived abroad, and that’s why many new ideas and solutions come out of teams with different points of view. Researchers have seen that it’s not just ethnic diversity that prompts creativity, but geographic diversity as well.
In the quarter century since they hit the small screen, the Rangers have evolved, but their strength still lies in their diversity. This new team of young actors is even more diverse than the original cast, with two women on the team, and actors that represent a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds. It’s a chance to reinforce the value of diversity for a new generation, and a chance to remind ourselves why we’re stronger when we leverage our differences.
Share in the comments section below why you feel diversity strengthens teams.