Building Your Team with Diversity in Mind

When building out a team, a new division or staffing your company in general, it’s of course important to focus on skills, both hard and soft. You want team members to know what they’re doing and work well together. But many companies overlook the importance of building a diverse team, and there’s reason to believe, it hurts the bottom line. Here are some hard and fast rules about building a diverse team and how it can make your company better in the long run.

Everyone Needs Diversity Training

Pointing out corporate America’s lack of diversity isn’t a guilt trip, but it is a problem. And it’s a difficult one: Though Google actively recruits some of the best minds in the world, it’s severely lacking in diversity. Only 1% of their tech staff is African American, and only 2% is Hispanic. Only 17% of their entire workforce are women.

So if you think your company is the only one with a diversity problem, think again. Lack of diversity is a problem in many industries, and everyone needs to take time to identify their biases and work on fixing them. And it starts by actively creating incentives for diversity hires, which help you avoid pretty bird syndrome, which is when you hire only people who remind you of how you see yourself. Remember thatthis can affect every recruiter, hiring manager and executive on your team, because it’s human nature.

 Do you have the pretty bird syndrome when it comes to hiring? 

Diversity is Power

Creating more diverse teams also benefits you as a business (in addition to being the right thing to do). Studies show banks with more racially diverse teams were more financially successful than banks who focused purely on innovation and performance. Companies with one or more women on their board of directors yield higher returns on equity.

Diversity can even yield better results when diversity leads to conflict: democrats who had to convince a Republican of something (and vice-versa) developed more well-reasoned arguments than those who had to convince someone of their own party. It also makes you more likely to be attractive to the latest crop of job seekers. In fact, 67% of active and passive job seekers said a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers.

Diversity benefits everyone. When you put people from different backgrounds together, from different areas of expertise, and ask them to work on a common problem, they’re more like to come up with a wider breadth of solutions, build off the best ones and provide your company with the ideal outcome to a problem.

Resolving Differences

Diverse in teams is something many large companies lack and their benefits abound. However, it’s important to note that these benefits only work if employees are able to respect each other’s differences. Just because conflict can lead to better presentations of someone’s point of view doesn’t mean it’s always a good thing. To avoid having this conflict hinder your business, Roy Chua recommends educating everyone on their differences between their cultures:

“Managers could decrease the effects of ambient cultural disharmony by encouraging employees to identify their own assumptions of other cultures-for example, by keeping a cultural journal in which they record their thoughts and observations. In the workplace, managers can create cultural ‘awareness moments,’ as HBS Associate Professor Tsedal Neely suggests, by setting up site visits between employees working in different environments, or by encouraging them to work side by side to observe how cultural differences can influence work habits.”

There will be hurdles when trying to create a more diverse team, no doubt about that. But when it comes to diversity, the benefits far outweigh any trumped up issues. Having a more diverse team will not only give you a better a outlook on business, but will help you, your team, and your business perform better.

Bio: Ryan Mead, CEO/Partner

Vitru is an online application that provides tools to evaluate and build better teams. Powered by science yet practical and easy to use for a variety of teams. From students and nonprofits to Fortune 500 companies Vitru works!

Great organizations, regardless of size or mission, understand that powerful team chemistry is impossible to force; but when it happens, it’s magic.

Vitru allows team leaders to create and assess teams virtually and in doing so helps quantify what makes an outstanding team outstanding.

Want more? Visit our blog and sign up to automatically receive our fresh-weekly articles.

Tweet me at @GoVitru

Views: 285

Comment by Katrina Kibben on May 28, 2015 at 12:25pm

What kind of diversity incentives would you suggest? Have you seen any good examples or case studies?

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