In our blog Why You Don’t Need The Best People we shared with you our guide on how to build better teams and get the best from your people, outlining how diversity is a vital part of this. However, this topic requires a special focus and consideration due to its undeniable importance, and the benefits that are born out of having a more diverse organisation.

Why is it important to have diverse teams?

Diversity not only benefits individuals and groups that have previously been marginalised and underrepresented, but everyone in the organisation.

 

When we cultivate a more accepting attitude towards others, we can dismantle stereotypes and barriers, which are detrimental to both the individuals subject to them and the people who are acting upon biases and being discriminatory.

 

When we cultivate a more accepting attitude towards others, we can dismantle stereotypes and barriers, which are detrimental to both the individuals subject to them and the people who are acting upon biases and being discriminatory. In minimising the opportunities of success for individuals belonging to minority groups, we are stopping our organisations from reaching their full potential.

Here are some reasons why you should be actively seeking diversity in your organisation:

Representation matters

Defined as “the description or portrayal of someone or something in a particular way.”, representation can affect how we feel about our own ability to achieve something. Visibility of someone that you can relate to throughout the organisation, particularly at board level, gives reassurance that you too are able to progress and achieve. The impact of marginalised individuals seeing themselves represented in top-level positions can subtly, or overtly, fuel their drive and motivation to dissolve barriers and stop stereotypes becoming self-fulling prophecies.  Representation sends the message that success is not exclusive to one specific type of individual. Every person in an organisation should be able to look up to the top and think, “Hey, that could be me!”, and this is the exact type of motivation you need to have a productive workforce.

Broader perspectives bring innovation

Bringing together individuals from a wealth of diverse backgrounds will certainly improve your organisation’s idea generation and problem solving. When you combine diversity of expertise with social diversity, it makes for diversity of information; leading to the unearthing of new approaches and methods that otherwise may have gone undiscovered. The ideas generated will become more varied and cultured, helping to avoid the dreaded group-think. New perspectives can stimulate creative thinking, leading to stronger problem-solving, and nuanced decision-making: the perfect recipe for innovation.

Better performance  

A McKinsey analysis found that companies with greater gender diversity were 15% more likely to outperform more homogenous companies, and those with greater ethnic diversity were 35% more likely to outperform. The unequal performance of companies in the same industry and the same country demonstrates that diversity is a competitive differentiator, shifting market share toward more diverse companies.

How to build a more diverse team

Blind hiring

When it comes to recruitment, removing basic information such as the applicant’s name and date of birth from their CV’s and application forms brings more focus to their experience and qualifications, and limits the ability for recruiters to act upon unconscious biases. Others go a step further and remove even more personal details such as an applicant’s education, as subconscious biases can sometime see recruiters hiring candidates with a similar education to their own. The CIPD’s Head of Research, Ksenia Zheltoukhova has said “Anonymising CVs is an effective intervention for increasing diversity in organisations and reducing bias in recruitment”. Listen to the full podcast on unconscious bias here.

https://soundcloud.com/cipd/cipd-136-unconscious-bias

If you’re looking to use blind hiring in your organisation but don’t know where to start, Applied offer a service that features gendered language detection which  can spot and remove any gendered language from your job descriptions and questions, Bias-free review processes; anonymising applications and sharing them across independent reviewers to remove bias, Readability scoring on job description to craft open and inclusive job descriptions, and Diversity monitoring so you can see real time data on the diversity performance of your roles, including the pipeline.

Check out their website: https://www.beapplied.com/

Valuing both experience AND youth when recruiting

Equally appreciating these and understanding the value of having a mixed age organisation will help you to create a happier and more diverse workforce. HR Magazine UK reported that a survey of more than 32,000 UK employees showed people who work in a mixed-age organisation registered a 10% increase in happiness levels compared with those who only work with their peers. Furthermore, the opportunity to work with people of various ages was the top priority for 58% of employees.

http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/article-details/mixed-age-groups-make-for-happier-employees

Making work arrangements flexible

By being flexible with work practices and arrangements, you permit employees more choice in deciding how they will accomplish the work you hired them to do. This makes it easier for them to take care of their family or follow their passions outside of the workplace, which in turn can increase their productivity; as an employee who feels fulfilled both professionally and personally is more likely to be engaged and productive. In this Guardian article, Natalie Pancheri, HR Policy Adviser at the London School of Economics say that when you embed a culture of flexibility, it can reduce the types of issues that can prevent women from advancing their careers, and men from spending time with their family, as well as ensuring that this becomes the norm rather than ‘special treatment’ that may conjure a feeling of resentment in other.

https://jobs.theguardian.com/article/why-now-s-the-time-to-embrace-flexible-working/

A great way to ensure employees stay connected in a flexible working environment is the platform Slack. It brings all your communication together, and the teamwork in Slack happens in channels — making it a single place for messaging, tools and files, helping everyone to save time and collaborate.

https://slack.com/

Cloud-based solutions for managing and tracking time and expenses, such as BQE Core, offer integrated business accounting, project management, and business intelligence and can support the operations of a variety of industries, including legal services, architecture firms, engineering, accounting, consulting, graphic and interior design, and more. They can be accessed from any browser or device, with fully-functional, native apps for iPhone and Android devices.

Click here to check out a list of these platforms: https://www.softwareadvice.com/uk/psa/time-and-expense-comparison/

Empowering diverse teams to resolve conflict

In diverse teams, conflict is expected. The best way to deal with these situations is to give teams the tools they need to resolve the issues themselves. You can do this by providing teams with conflict training, educating them on conflict styles and resolution. Check out this journal article Daria Prause & Bahaudin G. Mujtaba for more information on conflict management practices. When you educate teams on conflict styles, they can learn to identify their own and better understand each other’s, and work on developing these to be more effective.

https://www.managementtoday.co.uk/top-ten-tips-manage-diverse-teams/leadership-lessons/article/1181428

Using tools and workshops from sites such as Mindtools or WorkshopBank is a great way to educate employees on how to resolve team conflict and build stronger teams by facing their differences.

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMM_79.htm

https://workshopbank.com/thomas-kilmann-conflict-mode-instrument

Mentoring new and high-potential employees.

Fostering talent early is vital to ensure marginalised and minority individuals know how to make the best decisions to get them where they want to be in their career. Formal mentoring programmes can assistance your organisation to excel in diversity management, by identifying and nurturing high-potential employees. This mentoring can help to develop a pool of future leaders that is representative of the diverse cultures, races, sexualities, genders, and ages of your organisation. This collection of future leaders will can then influence and develop processes and programs that boost employee engagement and loyalty. Research shows that mentoring can particularly help people who are in the minority, or at more junior grades, to have greater influence, and to progress their careers.

https://civilservice.blog.gov.uk/2016/01/26/mentoring-and-its-importance-for-diversity-and-inclusion/

Believe in the change

Although there are advancements being made in workplace diversity which should be celebrated, it remains a deeply engrained, ongoing issue that will not seize to exist overnight.

In 2017, there were only 5 African-American CEOs in the Fortune 500 companies

People with African-American sounding names are 14% less likely to get a call-back.

40% of people believe that both men and women will hire men over women.

Men are 30% more likely to be promoted to a managerial position than women

Men earn an approximately 24.1% higher base pay than women.

Source: https://www.thiswayglobal.com/blog/diversity/top-diversity-issues-in-the-workplace/

Changing the make-up of your workforce and fostering diversity requires a clear and consistent mandate, full support and belief throughout the organisation, particularly at board level, and most importantly, the efforts need to committed and consistent.

Check out this McKinsey report for some further guidance on how to create a diversity programme for your organisation.

https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/business%20functions/organization/our%20insights/why%20diversity%20matters/diversity%20matters.ashx

 

Are you an HR leader? Take our complimentary Talent Diagnostic Survey which breaks down in detail how you can build, enhance and develop your Talent Management strategy. Upon completion, you’ll receive your own personal report, which we believe will give you the space to step back from your day to day activities, and look at the areas which you want to focus on, but maybe do not have the time to. The survey takes no longer than 5 minutes to complete.