Local and global markets are always affected by macro and micro shifts in economics, and the problems that companies are being presented with are becoming even more novel and complicated.
To be resilient in challenging economies, companies need to be able to structure their teams to find innovative solutions to these complex problems, or run the risk of sinking. So, let’s talk about diversity...
In a recent body of global research, non-homogeneous organisations were set aside as simply smarter - and I am sure you want a smarter company. I’m going to give you some insights into why being conscious of diversity is brilliant for your business now and in the long run.
According to Dr Babita Mathur-Helm, senior lecturer in Leadership, Multicultural and Gender Diversity and Sensitivity at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, work teams with diverse educational backgrounds were found to be highly creative and innovative if they exploit their points of diversity.
Let’s take gender diversity as an example. In a global analysis of 2,400 companies conducted by Credit Suisse, organisations with at least one female board member yielded higher return on equity and higher net income growth than those that did not have any women on the board.
Related: Tips to make teams work
A diverse team will constantly look at the facts and arrive at a conclusion that is more likely to be objective – they will see the world differently and disagree on points that might seem ‘obvious’ for a homogenous team.
A homogenous team share backgrounds, ideas, loves and hates and are less likely to be as objective. They are also less likely to think outside of their known realms. If a symphony included only trumpets, it would no longer be able to make the harmonious music that only a full symphony could.
Diversity isn’t simply just about race and gender
You need to start seeing diversity as a way of thinking. Take risks on unlikely employees – you may need to give them training on the task but their different way of seeing the world could be more beneficial to your company than the simple task they perform.
In my company for instance, I made it a rule that I would not only accept the perfect CVs. I purposefully interviewed candidates who didn’t fit into any particular box and who didn’t have the perfect CV but who had the ability to challenge the rest of my team to think differently.
Their point of view would challenge my team to consider solutions that they could never have considered as young white males – their benefit to my company would now be much greater than their individual task. Having this diverse team strengthens my company and allows it to weather the hard and complex business conundrums that present themselves daily in a digital world.
Related: Making the team ‘work’
Remember, though, that these teams can only work together and come up with innovative and objectively brilliant solutions if they are given a clear goal and value system. If that isn't clearly defined, constructive criticism could turn into interpersonal conflict, which is not good for your organisation. As a leader, remind people where they are going and why - let their uniqueness come up with the what and the how.
If you want your business to survive you’re going to have to constantly keep innovating and the best way to have a brilliant idea is to sit a diverse group of people around a table and allow their differences to bring about brilliance. So, I encourage you to improve your intellectual potential by creating a team of diverse genders, races, nationalities and talents.