Clients often tell me that they think hiring for diversity of thought is more important than demographic indicators. The problem is that some people use the term “diversity of thought” as a way of not seeking out more people of color and women from different backgrounds. I agree that diversity of thought is essential and, yes, everyone is different.

However, if everyone looks the same you won’t get the diversity of experiences and perspectives that result in the kind of diversity of thought that gives rise to breakthrough products and services.

As we continue talking and I ask more questions, I find that these same leaders and people involved in the hiring process don’t have a strategy to access a diverse pool of candidates and go to the same places they did before. They also don’t have the skills or strategies to develop relationships with people who are different.

If you always recruit from the same places, with the same methods, you will always get the same people who look like you.

In today’s competitive market you need to be creative. You have to know where the candidates are and have a long enough lead-time to get a good selection of candidates.

If you want to be ahead of the competition and bring in more innovation, then think with an expanded diversity of thought mindset.

Here are three winning strategies to ensure you access a more diversity candidate pool, and hire employees that bring diversity of thought, and ideas.

1. Do your research

Research and develop a list of colleges that historically have large numbers of women, people with disabilities, and people from different cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds. Send recruiting teams to those schools.

2. Train recruiters to be culturally intelligent

Train your recruiters to be culturally intelligent so they know how to communicate and develop relationships with people from different backgrounds and dimensions of diversity. It’s always better if you can send out recruiters who are diverse in different ways and can communicate effectively across differences.

3. Venture out

Consider going outside your industry to meet new candidates. Some industries tend to be more mono-culture or overwhelmingly single gender. Identify the skills you need in your organization and determine where else you might find people with those skills.

A CEO of a facilities management company wanted to hire more female managers in a heavily male-dominated industry. He was tired of going to industry events with very few women, so he decided to change tactics.

Instead of recruiting from his industry, he started attending meetings of women in real estate. “I wanted to find women who would bring different experiences so we could get fresh ideas. I looked for women who understood property management from the client’s perspective and would challenge the way we’ve always worked.

“We now have several women in decision making positions as a result, and we’ve been able to better serve our clients.”

Organizations grow dramatically, and exponentially increase their market share when they bring together people who are different from each other. If you build an employee base from a diversity of cultures, religions, sexual orientations, genders, ethnicities, etc. and provide opportunities for them to share different experiences, talents, you’ll hear perspectives that will result in new ways to solve problems and create new products. One of your jobs as a leader is to access and mine that diversity of backgrounds, experiences and thought, or your organization and the people in it will fall behind.

The choice is yours. Hire creatively.