The old days are gone. Middle-aged Caucasian men (like me!) cannot be simply granted – or assume - the role of leading business, politics, or organizations of any type. If we want success in the marketplace, we have to see that it is not made up of simply ‘us’. It is made up of 'all of us'. So too should our teams be at every level of the organization. Leadership roles are not ‘granted’. They are increasingly based on vision, market awareness, innovation, and (as always) performance.
It‘s extraordinarily likely that your success depends on many different kinds of people to collaboratively design, deliver and serve – together – reflecting those who consume your product or service.
We live in a diverse world.
- More women are rising to the top of organizations, as they should. Research tells us that women are equal in IQ, make the majority of the spending decisions, and have (generally) higher EQ than men, making them better leaders in most team-oriented situations.
- The non-white population and wealth/buying power are increasing dramatically in the USA and represent a massive market world-wide.
- Our Asian colleagues from the Indian subcontinent and China are truly the largest population in the world – as well as leading (if not dominating) the English speaking world in education.
Then there is generational diversity. The ability of students at the graduate, collegiate, indeed, high school to tap into and understand technology and the future demands of the marketplace is nothing less than stunning. Have you been to an incubator/accelerator lately? Even more impressive, to a teenage business plan competition?
At the same time, millennials are coming into their own, middle-agers are assuming power, and the baby-boomers are staying or returning to work in ever greater numbers. Many generations working together. One team…
Diversity in the workplace equals innovation. Creativity and thinking outside-the-box are stimulated when people from different backgrounds and cultures bounce ideas off of one another. It’s not difficult to understand why - Each culture and generation has a unique way of viewing the world, approaching challenges, and evaluating solutions.
Forbes research on the benefits of diversity in business, notes that groups of diverse problem solvers can outperform high-ability problem solvers. The author also points out that companies with diverse executive boards “enjoy significantly higher earnings and returns on equity.” (You can read the entire article in Forbes online by clicking on the link below.)
Your customers are likely very diverse. Your teams need to reflect that.
How do you connect to customers through culturally unaware or insensitive ideas? You cannot. The best companies have diverse teams that generate innovative ideas and practices, driven by the wide-ranging contributions of employees who, although they share a common goal, differ greatly in their approach.
Diversity is a great recruiting tool. Top talent is attracted to employers who treat their workforce fairly, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or religion. Quality people are also more likely to stay with a company with a diverse employee makeup.
When working towards building a more diverse team, you need to start with a look at the community (or communities) in which your company is based. Is it different from your market community? Here are some things to keep in mind when working on improving diversity, according to the Wall Street Journal (see link below for full article):
- Develop a hiring strategy to make your workforce resemble the community you operate in.
- Ask existing employees for referrals.
- Talk to community organizations to help find candidates. Non-profits can be a great resource, too.
- Provide diversity training in your workplace.
- Let new hires know that you are willing to accommodate cultural and religious holidays and diversity-friendly (but office appropriate) apparel choices.
- Learn from your mistakes. Have your human resources department create an exit interview assessment to determine why minority employees are leaving the company and what can be done to curb future losses. Be willing to make changes.
Bringing together a diverse team benefits everyone: employees, customers, and the business itself. The best scenario starts at the very beginning, by building a diverse organization from the start. Building a diverse team after the fact can still be successful as long as it’s authentic.
Would you like to know more about how to develop a philosophy of diversity at your company? Our team of business coaches and facilitators can guide you through the process in a thoughtful and efficient way. There’s no reason to be intimidated by wanting to make a change for the better. We are here for you – please contact us for more information at Info@ThirdLevel.com or +1-800-262-0705.
Click here to read the Forbes article, Reaping the Benefits of Diversity for Modern Business Innovation
Click here to read the Wall Street Journal guide to increasing workplace diversity.
For a more in-depth look at diversity in the workplace, both challenges and benefits, we love this great article by Hult International Business School.