27 Sep 2018

133. DIVERSITY

Greater diversity of backgrounds and perspectives in your teams can lead to more creativity, better decision making and faster problem solving.

Words: Russell Watters

Teams are made up of various character types, and this dynamic may either enhance or hold back the group’s progress. Perhaps even more important to consider, though, is the diversity of your wider team, not just your department, but everyone who contributes to the running and success of the organisation. Are you encouraging or inhibiting differences in ethnicity, backgrounds, genders and perspectives, and are you reaping the full benefits that this can provide?

Recruiting team members with skills that complement or add to those in your existing team can give you more options. The same principle should apply across the organisation, in every department, as recruitment often works against diversity rather than for it.

Although you and everyone involved in the recruitment of staff and players should understand and follow employment law when it comes to discriminatory practice, the hiring process is not necessarily always fair. This is because rather than choosing new staff members based purely on their skills and abilities, it is common for people to recruit from within their personal or professional networks; in some cases out of a feeling of loyalty to those they know personally or have worked with before.

It’s easy to see why this might be the case; choosing someone you know or think you know feels safe and easy, and there’s the notion that they’ll ‘get it’ and so achieve results more quickly. We could call such choices gut instinct, but it may well be bias.

The logic is further flawed, because the personal network from which you’re recruiting may well lack diversity or be made up of lots of people with similar backgrounds and viewpoints to your own.

DYNAMIC, CREATIVE, SUCCESSFUL

Great leaders understand that good decision making relies heavily on considering all the options and taking into account the opinions and perspectives of those around them. Therefore, recruiting in your own image or comfort zone, or hiring only staff that share your views and agree with your opinions makes little sense. The McKinsey Group’s 2018 Delivering through Diversity Report backs this up, showing that organisations with gender diverse senior management teams were up to 21 per cent more likely to financially outperform their competitors. The figure rises to a huge 33 per cent when related to ethnic and cultural diversity.

Recruiting from a more diverse talent pool, based on people’s skills and abilities, has many benefits, not least bringing a greater spread of ideas, which creates a more stimulating, dynamic and ultimately successful environment.

A diversity of experience, ideas and viewpoints can lead you to explore options that you might never have considered based on your own knowledge and experience alone.

Meanwhile, teams made up of colleagues from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, ages, genders and religions tend to have more creative energy and can draw on a far wider range of input than those that lack diversity and are more homogenised. All of this makes problem solving and decision making better and easier.