Diversity in all forms

“If everyone is thinking alike then somebody isn’t thinking”
– General Patton

Diversity has outgrown its place as simply a corporate characteristic. Businesses need to move forward from the basics to reap the real benefits that come from a diverse workforce.

The promotion of diversity throughout businesses has grown considerably in the last few years, with quotas often shocking businesses into action. But as a recent FT article highlights, progress beyond gender and beyond the board room has been mixed. There is a growing risk of “diversity fatigue” as companies focus on numerous other problems that are arising in today’s economic climate.

But it’s this environment in which businesses will find the benefits of diversity increasingly beneficial. Considering diversity of thought when hiring enhances problem-solving, and creates more innovative solutions. Crucially it also makes businesses resilient on more fronts.

Hiring people from different backgrounds and experiences develops a better reflection of the experience for customers, markets and communities. With employees that are more attuned to the diverse population, it gives businesses better scope to cover the most ground.

Businesses have made progress with gender and the momentum must continue. A great example of opening up the real potential of diversity is a recent collaboration between 40 financial institutions. Together they have formed the Diversity project, recognising the importance of recruiting people from a range of backgrounds, with different experiences and thought processes.

The benefits of a diverse workforce are extensive, but companies also need to navigate the recruitment process with care. Here are a few Belonging tips for creating a successful, diverse workforce:

  • Encourage a culture where tribes can overlap and interlink without brittle definitions around them.
  • Approach hiring for ‘cultural fit’ with caution. It is easy for leaders to create a uniform workforce through recruiting people in their own image, limiting the range and scope of thinking.
  • Hire people with complementary skills and styles of problem solving in order to cover the most ground when tackling new challenges and creating ideas.
  • Consider whether your business has the right people from different backgrounds so you can mirror the experience of customers, markets and communities.