The Importance of a Diverse Team

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Companies with ethnic and culturally diverse teams are 36% more profitable than those who do not, according to a 2016 McKensey report, Diversity wins: How inclusion matters

Having team members who have different backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, religions, marital status, sexualities, abilities, political views, and financial situations, are all included in building a diverse team.

Having a diverse and inclusive team is important for the success of any business. It creates an environment of innovation where many different perspectives and life experiences can enrich all of your business processes and inform your decisions.  It prevents blind spots and embarrassing choices.  

There are many reasons why teams become homogeneous, but unconscious bias has a lot to do with it. It is always best to build a team consciously and intentionally from the start. It costs money and time for teams to become more diverse rather than starting that way. It can feel like an overwhelming challenge when trying to create a diverse team further down the line. 

Larger array of skills to choose from

Business owners who aim for diversity when they choose new team members are generally able to choose from a much wider pool of candidates. This allows them to have a team that has a wider variety of skill sets and mindsets. 

A diverse team offers a wider variety of perspectives. When searching for solutions, we tend to pull from our own experiences. When a team consists of similar members they are known as a homogeneous team. 

Because people pull from their own experiences to solve problems, a homogeneous group will solve the problem based on what they collectively know best. A homogeneous team cannot account for or keep in mind how others might see it differently. 

To them, it might seem like a good way to solve the problem, but outsiders who have different backgrounds might disagree. They might even feel excluded from the narrative, to begin with. 

Not only does having a diverse team bring more skills to the table, it also allows teams to solve problems with a wider lens and broader perspective based on their personal experiences and backgrounds. 

A better understanding of customers

Organisations tend to hire people that look and share overall similar experiences and values. But, homogeneous teams can cause serious damage to a business. If the organisation is open to the public, chances are that people with different backgrounds and experiences will make use of the business. 

This means that solutions should be available to everyone who makes use of the service or buys the product. Having a diverse team makes it easier to craft solutions based on a diverse customer base. They might not understand each and every customer, but combining diverse and inclusive ideas will greatly improve inclusive problem-solving.

Customers are more likely to return to a business if they feel included and special. Businesses that go the extra mile to be inclusive, usually have a returning customer base. 

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Modern consumers support diverse businesses

The view of the customer has changed. People are more likely to support businesses that have diverse teams, diverse ideas, and inclusive products and services. They are also far more likely to support a business that is equitable. 

Brands are held accountable for how they present themselves as consumers aren’t just blindly making use of products and services anymore. They are not afraid to call out brands, or even stop supporting them if they believe that an organisation is not diverse and inclusive.

The current workforce looks at how diverse a business is in terms of their team and whether they see inclusivity and equality in the workplace. Before, the status and reputation of the brand used to be enough to attract possible employees, but this has shifted. 

People want to connect with and see themselves within a brand before even thinking about applying for a job. This is why a diverse team is important, it not only attracts a loyal customer base, but it also attracts employees who bring other skills to the table.  

How to establish a diverse team

When creating a team, the selections should be diverse to start with. But, if a business did not choose a diverse team from the start, then there are ways to fix it. 

One of the ways you can do this is to contact a diversity and inclusion specialist to evaluate their teams and see where there are challenges and where changes can be made. 

It is usually a more expensive ordeal to try and implement diversity in a team at a later stage. This can also be done for businesses who already have diverse teams, businesses need to ensure that everyone feels included. Otherwise, it can hinder the success of the team. 

There are many ways this can be done, via staff surveys, focus groups, ERG (Employee Resource Groups). It’s important to gain insight into how team members feel at work. To ensure they feel supported, understood, and included. 

The key here is to focus on the details: if 90% of a company say they feel included but 10% don’t, then the 10% must still be considered and actions to rectify this should be put in place. Who are those 10%, why is their experience so different from the majority? 

These team members will give an honest opinion when asked privately where improvements need to be made. A specialist can easily relay the message to the business owner and a process to a more inclusive workplace can be started. 

Sometimes startups can’t afford a specialist, so may want to consider creating a space where employees can safely and anonymously share their experience. A drop box for comments or a forum is a good idea for the business to know where they are lacking to start making improvements. 

It is important to always keep the well-being and mental health of employees and team members in mind. When the team is diverse and everyone feels included, it creates a supergroup that can solve almost any problem and bring an array of skills and ideas to the table. 

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