- Posted by alpina_admin
- On 15th June 2017
- 0 Comments
- Diversity, Hiring, leadership, Scale-ups, Start-ups, talent
The drive to create a diverse leadership team isn’t simply a moral one; it makes sound business sense too. A McKinsey report from 2015 found a strong correlation between racial and ethnic diversity and financial performance. Ethnically diverse businesses had a 35 percent chance of performing financially above average. Those who factored in gender diversity, also had a 15 percent chance of above average financial results.
Credit Suisse carried out similar research which found that companies with one female board member or more had a higher return net income growth and return on equity than businesses with male-only boards.
The fact is, diverse teams are smarter and richer in experience. The challenge of working with people who are different from you whether in background, gender, physical ability, political orientation, or education, forces your brain to switch on and become creative. Suddenly you have to listen and understand things from a new perspective, rather than simply having your own narrow world view supported by other people from exactly the same background as you.
Studies show that group thinking becomes more accurate when the group itself is comprised of people from different backgrounds. Experiments show that diverse teams remain objective and process facts. They scrutinise each other more and stay sharp because they can’t resort to lazy thinking, blinkered by shared subjective experience. What’s more, this has a tremendous effect on the wider atmosphere. A culture of healthy challenge, fresh ideas, different perspectives and experiences all lead to an exciting, creative, rich and stimulating culture which is always learning and evolving. One that is challenging of its internal assumptions and ready to see the world in a newer, fresher way.
Diverse groups don’t just process new information more carefully either. They are also more creative and innovative. Again, different experiences and backgrounds create a richer melting pot of ideas, knowledge, perspectives and thinking that can stimulate true innovation. A room full of people who look and sound the same, went to the same type of schools, vote the same way and live in the same types of postcodes will invariably come up with the same unchallenged ideas. Conformity does not result in an exciting, challenging and creative culture. It results in passivity and a slow erosion of your competitiveness. Groupthink and unconscious bias mean that people like you will always support ideas like theirs – subjectively, easily and with blinkers on.
Your diverse customers
This matters because your customers are diverse. Your customers will span every type of group, ability, orientation and preference. The more you can enrich your pool of leaders and broader teams with interesting, diverse employees who represent your vast span of customers, the better your intellectual capacity becomes as an organisation. It keeps cultural bias in check and allows greater questioning of ideas and assumptions. Only when these assumptions are questioned, will true innovation occur and practices change.
As an added benefit, diverse groups are found to be more empathetic. This matters too. When we can put ourselves in the shoes of our customers, we can truly understand their needs, wants and desires – and then position our business offers to fulfil them.
The importance of leadership diversity
This is especially important at the leadership level as your board and senior management team will set the tone and direction for the entire company. All too often, businesses have employee bases which are diverse and interesting, but the decision makers right at the top are all invariably white, publicly-educated, male and able-bodied. There may be a woman. There may be a person of colour. There may be a board member with a visible disability. But the chance of there being a real and genuine mix is very low indeed.
A final takeaway point to consider. A study by the University of Maryland found that senior female managers brought with them benefits in social diversity and informational diversity, richer behaviours throughout the business and greater motivation for women in middle management roles. This led to improved individual performance and better overall business performance, particularly in the areas of strategic innovation for the business. So think carefully about diversity and start the conversation now about how diverse your business currently is and where you need to be to truly represent your customer group and grow a richer, more successful business.
This article was written by Daiva Naravaite, COO, AlpinaSearch. If you’d welcome advice on attracting a diverse senior team to your technology venture, head over to avoiding unconscious bias in hiring