The Importance of Building Diverse Teams
By Prince A. Sanders, Managing Director at Park Lane Hotel New York
It can be easy to fall into old habits. Order the same meals at the same restaurants because you know you like them. Go to the same places, watch the same shows on Netflix, and engage in the same activities because you know they work for you.
When talking about diversity, I don’t just mean it in terms of race or gender, though they are also important. I mean crafting a unique team with various skills, backgrounds, and experiences. This can include, but is not limited to individuals with different communication styles, cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, personalities, age, economic backgrounds, and innovative thought processes. Building a diverse team brings the opportunity for more, different and better ideas regarding how to complete tasks. When you move “outside the box” and diversify your hiring “norm”, you are also bringing their unique perspectives to your world and your business.
Start at the Top
When you decide to build a more diverse team, you must begin at the top. The CEO and Executive Team must understand the importance of diversity and make it a priority, or it will not become grounded in your company. When the Executive Team does not visualize diversity as a priority, it won’t become a priority company wide. If your company does not exist yet, start thinking about diversity now. That way you can establish clear hiring expectations from the beginning which will make your company more diverse and successful from the start. Make an effort to hire with diversity in mind early and it will pay off. Many in business will remember successful companies like IBM who focused on hiring diversely for many years, and recall how they benefited from it.
It is not enough to talk about diversity. Turn your words into action. Set goals, objectives and benchmarks to hire more diversely and communicate these goals to your managers. Consider that companies like Adidas, Google, JP Morgan Chase, and Amazon have all committed to diverse hiring goals. Adidas has committed to fill at least 30% of its current positions with black and latino candidates. Google is taking similar action by promising that 30% of leadership positions will be filled by underrepresented communities by 2025. Set similar aspirational goals for your company. As you hire more diverse team members across all levels, you will eventually see a major change in overall company culture and success. Bringing new perspectives to the table, generates new and exciting ideas. Diversity will only breed more diversity which will generate broader perspectives and more innovation.
Modify Your Hiring Requirements
Lack of diversity can be founded because many potential candidates may not have been afforded college or other types of formal education. Consider relaxing your hiring practices in order to cast a wider net. Consider testing critical thinking skills instead of focusing on diplomas or years of experience. Strengthen your training programs to allow new hires to grow and learn in more unconventional ways. You will not only move towards diversifying your team, but also prepare new hires to tackle a variety of challenges that might come their way.
While building a more diverse company, prepare for setbacks along the way. With new ideas and new hires, there may be communication breakdowns between the existing team and new team members. Be prepared to work through these types of problem as they arise. Diversity should be an ongoing mission, not a goal to achieve and forget.There are almost eight billion people on this planet which can provide a wide variety of experiences and backgrounds. Each potential candidate deserves equal opportunities and representation. Ideally, your company’s population will reflect the world as a whole. Look at diversity as more than just the latest buzzword. Make it a noble goal that all companies should strive for.