When building a winning team, diversity is so much more than a buzzword used to describe the varied backgrounds of team members. In fact, the importance of diversity in the workplace cannot be understated. While companies worldwide are now beginning to recognize how greater inclusivity can benefit their operations, maximizing those benefits is crucial for harmonious team collaboration.
The simplest definition of team diversity is the differences among individuals, such as age, gender, ethnicity, cultural background, education, work experience, and personality traits. However, this variety of differences brings with it a variety of perspectives, allowing individual team members to approach tasks and problems in different ways and with different methodologies.
This means that diverse teams have a greater capacity to succeed across all types of projects, delivering greater creativity and innovation, improved problem-solving and increased adaptability, streamlined and collaborative learning and growth, and benefits to your bottom line.
However, these are just a few of the many benefits you can expect from a diverse team of members with different backgrounds. Here then, we look at 10 key benefits of team diversity and why your company should be prioritizing greater inclusion.
Improved Creativity and Innovation
As we’ve already touched upon, diverse teams have the potential to generate more creative ideas by bringing a wide range of perspectives, experiences, and knowledge to the table. When individuals from different backgrounds and with different skill sets work together, they can approach problems from multiple angles, leading to more innovative solutions that benefit your projects.
Google’s commitment to diversity is an excellent example of how this works in practice, with constant innovation fueled by diverse team building. This extends to its products and technologies and diverse representation throughout marketing team structures to ensure inclusivity and innovation are fostered within its offices and from its customers.
Similarly, when individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences work together, they can identify problems more accurately and develop more effective solutions. Ensuring that your teams include a variety of perspectives allows for more informed decision-making, leading to faster resolution of issues and the mitigation of systemic bias.
Apple’s R&D teams are currently leading the way in a sector that has continued to struggle with diversity. Having introduced programs such as Entrepreneur Camp, Impact Accelerator, and the Apple Developer Academy, Apple also works with external organizations to educate and support underrepresented communities in coding, creativity, and workforce development opportunities.
Increased Adaptability and Flexibility
Diverse teams can adapt better to changing circumstances since they are equipped to deal with unexpected challenges. When individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences work together, they can draw on a broader range of skills and expertise to respond to new situations.
This may mean perspectives gained from experience or how different cultures may respond to an idea or product when expanding into a new market. It may even allow individuals to learn from each other and grow their own skills and knowledge, furthering both individual and team adaptability and flexibility.
Broader Range of Skills and Expertise
Organizations regularly need to tackle complex challenges and work towards goals more effectively. When individuals from different backgrounds and skill sets work together, they can complement each other’s strengths and fill gaps in their collective knowledge with a broader range of skills and expertise benefiting the entire team.
Microsoft is among the most famous companies to embrace diversity and inclusion as a core value, recognizing that a diverse workforce is essential to expanding its technical skills and expertise. By doing so, Microsoft has developed and delivered innovative products and services that meet customers’ needs across various industries and geographies.
Enhanced Customer Service
Customer service is all about understanding and finding resolutions to your customers’ needs and problems, and so ensuring team diversity within global companies can better serve a diverse customer base. This extends to different cultures, languages, and customs, as well as gender and age. Put simply, the more personalized and responsive your services are, the more likely your team will leave a good impression on your customers.
Marriott International is one example of a customer-centric company that has built a diverse team that provides personalized services to customers from different cultures and backgrounds. This is particularly important for a company such as Marriott, as they offer their services in 131 countries, meaning language fluency and cultural understanding are at the very core of the company.
Improved Company Reputation
Company reputation remains a crucial element of daily operations despite the rise of globalism and the perceived negativity surrounding faceless multinationals. For this reason, a diverse and visible workforce can improve a company’s reputation because it demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity and social responsibility. Prioritizing diversity and inclusion helps large companies attract a wider range of customers, employees, and partners who share those same values.
For example, Salesforce, a company consistently ranked as among the best to work for in the world for LGBTQ employees, promotes equality as a core value, with 50% of its U.S. employees made up of underrepresented groups. Additionally, the company’s interactive reporting data regularly monitors inclusivity and allows customers, partners, and potential employees to easily access the data to prove the company’s claims.
Increased Employee Retention and Job Satisfaction
Employee retention remains vital to companies that want to grow and build teams focused on company goals. A diverse workplace can potentially increase employee satisfaction and subsequent retention because it creates a more inclusive and supportive environment in which to work. Employees who feel valued and respected for their unique contributions are more likely to stay with the company and become more engaged and productive.
LinkedIn’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging program prioritizes what it calls “belonging” and works towards unlocking its employees’ true potential. This means engaging employees and ensuring their voices are heard, helping to build a healthy working environment that supports job satisfaction and retention.
Improved Financial Performance
Most commonly, a company’s bottom line is a significant driver in decision-making and goal-setting. So, perhaps you might be surprised to hear that team diversity can also help improve financial performance and enhance growth. Diverse teams can lead to increased financial success because they can better understand and serve a diverse customer base and subsequently develop more innovative and effective solutions to complex problems.
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Mastercard’s 2023 research report into diversity, equity, and inclusion suggests that nine-in-ten business leaders agree that greater team diversity will benefit their business, including improving innovation and profitability. This is partly because these values play a critical role in consumer purchasing decisions.
Enhanced Learning and Growth Opportunities
Companies of all sizes highly value more opportunities for learning and growth, and team diversity within your company can expose individuals to different perspectives, experiences, and approaches to problem-solving. When individuals work alongside colleagues from different backgrounds and cultures, they are more likely to broaden their horizons and expand their understanding of the world. This can lead to increased creativity, innovation, and the development of new skills and knowledge.
Airbnb’s commitment to diversity and inclusion has not only improved its workplace culture but has also led to enhanced learning opportunities. For example, through its Multicultural Training program, Airbnb trains customer support ambassadors through shared learning experiences that bring together people from different backgrounds and experiences to build empathy and promote teamwork and collaboration.
Team Diversity — The Final Word
Companies that prioritize diversity in their hiring and team building can leverage a broader range of skills and expertise which can lead to some serious improvements in creativity and innovation, problem-solving, company reputation, and financial performance. However, the benefits don’t end there, and improved adaptability and flexibility can help support better customer service, increased employee retention and job satisfaction, and enhanced learning and growth opportunities, all while creating a more inclusive workplace culture that genuinely values its staff.
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