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A diverse workforce leads to more ideas and innovation, which benefits the company, besides being good for the bottom line. This article explains what a diverse team is, why to have one, and how to create a diverse workplace. Find out why it’s time to stop building homogenous teams and instead look for diversity in teams.
Diversity can come in different forms: It can be gender, age, sexual orientation, or different cultural backgrounds. In whatever form diversity appears among your team members, the way those teams work together as well as their outputs will naturally be different from homogenous teams. People with different backgrounds, values, and norms come with different views. While this can lead to conflict (most likely discussions in diverse work teams will be more intense) this is exactly what leads to high-performing teams.
Have you ever caught yourself getting the same meal at a restaurant over and over again? People tend to stick to what they know. And many do the same in business. However, adding diversity to the workplace is not only fairer for employees, but also benefits businesses. Diverse teams are more efficient, naturally have a wider range of skills, and boost companies’ overall profits and revenues. Here are seven benefits of a diverse workplace:
Facts in diverse teams are processed differently. Any time a piece of information drops, it goes through the filter of different people, all with different backgrounds and different truths. You might have noticed that negotiations among different cultures take longer. This is because there is a whole variety of opinions in the room.
So working in a diverse team means there is also a lot of reflection happening during conversations, problem-solving, and decision-making. Basically, cultural walls are taken down and in the end, the team does deeper research. It can also be a benefit when it comes to business decisions.
Having team members that know a certain group of people very well means you have an insider in that group, whether it is a social community or a country. This allows you to get insider insights, rather than being an outsider. In fact, companies with greater diversity are 70% more likely to capture more markets.
A diverse workforce boosts creativity and innovation. This comes back to team members with diverse backgrounds bringing new ideas and different perspectives on problems or projects to the table. That can be valuable, especially when building new products or improving processes.
People who work together in diverse teams can develop and expand their existing skill sets. Usually, team members enhance cross-cultural skills, increase self-awareness, become better at communicating and negotiating, and improve problem-solving skills.
In a more diverse team with a variety of backgrounds and experiences, opposing viewpoints are more likely to arise, and team members feel the need to explore and respond to the issues raised. This leads to discussions on a different level where many viewpoints and ideas are visited and fact-checked. This is why diverse teams usually have a deeper understanding of the underlying problem and find better solutions.
A diverse workplace is attractive for employees as it is often associated with open-mindedness. Bringing diverse backgrounds together in an inclusive culture gives people an opportunity to get to know people who think differently, build an international network, understand the world on a deeper level, and let go of biases. This typically leads to employees having a higher sense of belonging. According to the Harvard Business Review, this can result in a 56% spike in job performance, a 50% reduction in turnover risk, and a 75% reduction in sick days.
Diversity in the workplace will also support your employer branding on the job market. According to a study by Glassdoor, 76% of job seekers evaluate a company’s diversity practices before accepting a job offer. However, keep in mind that posting that you are a diverse company on a job board will not automatically make you diverse.
People do their research so make sure your employees actually feel valued and heard at work. Regular feedback surveys can help you improve the situation before you start to see negative posts about your company on the internet. If you’re already incorporating diversity in your workplace, it can be a good idea to spread the word and encourage employees to review your company on various job boards or share a personal LinkedIn post.
A study by McKinsey has shown that the most diverse companies outperform their less diverse peers by 36% in profitability. With diverse teams being more productive, innovative, and able to make better decisions, the overall company performance is improved. This might be your reason to invest more time and energy in inclusion initiatives and making diverse teams work.
If it were that easy, everyone would do it. When different backgrounds, belief systems, and values come together in a team, it can sometimes bring challenges. Let’s take a look at those before we dive deeper into how you can overcome them.
Many disputes arise from miscommunication. The greater the diversity, the greater the gap is in these conversations. These can be very basic things. For instance, the use of emojis. They often mean something different to younger generations than they do to older ones. Also, your company may need to clarify how different communication platforms are used. The fact that your company uses Slack for quick questions and emails for communicating with external customers may not be clear to everyone.
Most of the time, we humans believe we are right. We are so caught up in our own bubble that we sometimes find it difficult to respond to the needs of others. This could be a working parent who wants to spend more time with their children. It could be a transgender team member who desires more inclusion or an elderly employee who feels the need for more support with digital tools. The interesting thing is, we're all right. It's just that sometimes you need to take a step back to understand other people’s needs.
Discrimination is the worst example of what can happen when people of different backgrounds come together in a team. Without the right mindset, framework, and culture in place, diversity can hinder innovation, creativity, and teamwork. By helping your employees be more inclusive, you can prevent problems that would hinder teamwork.
A good employee experience means something different for every individual. In an inclusive workplace, everyone’s needs should be taken into account and all kinds of people should feel valued for their contributions. For this reason, it will always be a work in progress. From recruiting to mentoring, human resources plays an essential role in transforming diverse teams into a pool of creativity, innovation, and success. Here’s how:
As a leader, you set the tone. It should be your ultimate goal to enable every single employee to bring their full self to work. Each of your employees will need something different in order to feel safe, appreciated, valued, and included in the workplace. Having the intention to increase diversity and inclusion can be a great start to perfecting your employee experience.
An HR team’s diversity goals could be to increase the number of employees of different cultures, leverage diverse job boards, provide internships and scholarships, create a gender-balanced workforce, and many more.
Your company can demonstrate its values of diversity right at the beginning of an employee journey: in the job description. Nowadays, job seekers expect companies to use inclusive language.
One thing to avoid when describing a role is gender pronouns. Ideally, “He” or “She” should be changed to “You”.
Also, be open to different talent pools. There is a saying: “Don’t look for a cultural fit, look for a cultural addition”. This openness might help you bring new skillsets to your company. One way of reducing bias in recruiting can be to involve multiple evaluators with different backgrounds throughout the process.
Diversity and inclusion should be a part of your core values. Respecting different cultures and lifestyles and taking an interest in learning about them should be reflected in anything you do in your company. Communicate what diversity and inclusion mean in your company and make sure every single employee understands it too.
A company’s policies can reveal a lot about how much the company values diversity and inclusion. For example, providing family leave benefits that include all parents, including those of adopted children or same-sex couples, demonstrates that the company is eager to offer support to all kinds of parents in the office. Just as important as the type of benefits is the way they are named. For example, maternity leave refers to mothers only and could exclude fathers.
In order to understand the diversity of your company, it is important to leave some room for people to share their values, beliefs, and traditions. You could organize social activities within the company, such as book clubs, sports clubs, or coffee chats. Such groups help employees to bond with others who share common interests. This boosts inclusiveness in your company and drives diversity initiatives. They also help increase belongingness within the company. In the long term, these groups can lead to an increase in employee retention, productivity, and overall satisfaction.
flair is a tool that helps you to celebrate team diversity from recruiting and onboarding to feedback surveys and employee engagement features. Check out how HR software can help to build a diverse organization.