Diversity is the current business buzzword, and for a good reason. Embracing it makes your entire organization better. Not only because diversity boosts creativity and this is reflected in business goals. But also, diversity makes you better because by making a leap toward it you are including in your team those who probably were excluded before. It gives you access to a wide range of talent and not just the talent that fits within your particular worldview.
Here’s a look at why diversity in teams is so important.
The power of multidisciplinary and multicultural teams
As the old cliche goes, two heads are better than one. More to the point, two different heads are better than one.
Multidisciplinary and multicultural teams are the best way to shake up your approach. More importantly, a diverse culture is the best way to create a strong organizational culture.
What Makes People Valuable (and Enables Valuable Employees)
What makes a valuable employee? A few common attributes include:
So the question then becomes: how do you cultivate these traits in your teams? It all comes back to culture.
Employees are valuable when they can think creatively and express diverse viewpoints to help you take innovative approaches to company problems. But in order to do that, they have to be comfortable in their work environment to communicate their ideas. And it is our responsibility to create safe environments where differences can arise and be shared with others without the fear of being judged.
Diversity in the workplace helps create an environment where people from several different backgrounds can feel comfortable offering valuable ideas. They feel like they’re not alone and they have support because they and other diverse people are similarly supported in their work.
Iterate from different points of view
Diversity also gives you the tools to iterate from multiple points of view in order to achieve a better result.
Let’s say you have a project that’s hitting a wall. You know something needs to change, but you have to figure out what that something is in order to change directions and get traction. Here’s the problem: if everyone in your workplace thinks the same way, it’s unlikely that you’ll think of the project from a different perspective.
And if everyone in your workplace comes from the same background, you’re unlikely to assemble a team that thinks from different points of view.
A driver of creativity
For this reason, diversity actually enhances creativity. By bringing multiple different viewpoints and experiences to the table, you actually encourage employees to search for novel information. It’s all about how we train our brains.
Homogeneity (sameness) encourages us to follow the same thinking tracks over and over again, reinforced by social signals from the group as a whole. We fall into cognitive ruts because we’re subconsciously encouraged to do so, lulled by the security that comes with a group who thinks the same way.
Diversity among group members creates a cognitive jolt. It forces team members to walk into discussions anticipating that there will likely be an alternative solution to evaluate and consider, forcing participants to broaden their thinking to account for multiple viewpoints. Reaching consensus thus requires greater effort and more preparation, but it’s also more cognitively engaging.
It also leaves your team poised to recognize opportunities that might otherwise pass them by, whether that’s a new approach to a problem or a new market waiting to be tapped. And with diverse teammates to consider new market perspectives, they’ll be even better equipped to address a new audience.
Differences as the basis for greatness
This is why in many ways, diversity is actually the basis for greatness -in your workplace interactions, in your teams, in your projects, and in your entire company.
Diverse recruiting and an organizational culture that encourages and rewards diverse thought create a work environment that allows multiple perspectives to thrive. This encourages your team to broaden their perspectives in their work and, as a result, think about problems they might have otherwise overlooked.
The net result? A stronger product, a stronger team, and a stronger company as a whole.
How to build a more inclusive culture
Building a diverse workplace involves two key components: hiring a diverse workforce and building a culture of inclusivity for that diverse workforce to thrive.
Not sure what that means? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Who has decision-making power in your company?
- Who do you turn to for new ideas?
- Who do you turn to for support?
- Who do you trust?
- Who do you empower?
- Who gives your organization its energy?
An inclusive and diverse workplace is more than just a workplace with a diverse team. It’s a workplace that empowers that diverse team by giving them decision-making power, by trusting them as movers and shakers, by letting their voices be heard.
At Making Sense, for example, our team leadership is 45% women -in other words, our movers and shakers, our decision-makers and energizers, are the ones who bring diverse viewpoints to the table.
The role of new team members
This also comes down to the role of new team members and the type of behavior that veteran employees encourage.
New employees are a chance to refresh your company culture. They introduce new talent to the pool and a different set of experiences. That said, new team members can bring different perspectives to the table -if veteran employees and managers encourage them to do so. Diversity is a mindset and a behavior pattern, and like any behavior pattern, new employees will mold their behavior based on what their managers reward.
Building a stronger culture -one day at a time
Diversity is all about embracing change and thriving at the cutting edge. At Making Sense, we know that diversity isn’t just part of your work–it’s central to your work, a key factor in your ability to thrive in the years to come.
That’s why our team leadership is 45% women, and why we focus on giving newcomers to the field a chance to flex their muscles and show what they’re made of. Click here to see how our team drives our work.