5 Essential Categories of Diversity All Successful Businesses Share Business needs representation from various races, but diversity in industry goes much further.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Modern businesses have many advantages with the scope and reach technology provides. For instance, CEOs and HR directors can tap a much more diverse and global employee pool. This unencumbered reach has several other advantages, including massive growth and profitable sales. Yet, a global market also brings challenges such as language barriers and religious and cultural differences, to name a few. These challenges, however, can be overcome by employing a diverse team.
Common mistakes among leaders
Leaders sometimes make the mistake of hiring employees who are just like them — in age, race and gender. This practice probably happens unconsciously. Think of friendships. Your obvious friends — the ones who come naturally — share your personality, likes and dislikes. But in the business world, leaders don't need more of the same. There already is one of you. Wouldn't you much rather employ people who have new ways of thinking and approaching a problem? Sure, it might be easier to hire the obvious friend, but the best leaders never choose ease over effectiveness. In fact, the best leaders will not tolerate the "yes person" who merely agrees, never contributes original ideas and never challenges others.
Quite the opposite of filling company spots with "yes people," influential leaders know they do not have all the answers. Therefore, they rely on a diverse team to help solve problems and bring unique experiences and perspectives to the table.
To build a thriving business, leaders must first identify their mission or their goal. Next, company leaders are charged with the difficult job of assembling a team that can use their differences to arrive at the common goal from all angles. This group should have team members from various areas within five diverse categories to ensure that the company is scaling all global barriers.
5 essential categories of diversity in business
Ideally, a well-structured team will consist of people from various backgrounds in the following categories:
1. Race and culture
Having a racially diverse team with members from a variety of cultural backgrounds obviously gives your business depth. When everyone is represented, there is more available information, which in turn brings about inclusion and understanding. Having team members representing populations from different cultures creates awareness of norms and taboos, which eventually builds trust. Furthermore, this "trust relationship" dramatically benefits a company by naturally including all groups in their target audience.
Every business needs team members who come with different personal and professional experiences. With this kind of diversity, every situation and every problem can be addressed, maybe even in various ways. When one avenue doesn't work, there is always someone else who can offer prior experiences with possible solutions.
3. Industry skills
Diversity in industry skills is a fundamental element all businesses practice. Companies post specific jobs that require unique skills; this is nothing new. However, every astute leader knows their employees' "specialty skills." These aren't the heavy-hitting duties in the job posting, but the more finite ones that keep functionality and productivity high. Whether it's knowing all the ins and outs of fixing office technology or having dead-eye proofreading skills, a great leader knows which employee possesses what skills and utilizes them regularly.
4. Education and training
Not every stellar employee will have multiple college degrees. The best leaders know their company needs diversity of people who possess all types of education and training, not just traditional college. Being open-minded and looking for trainable people opens numerous possibilities of finding the perfect person for your team. Great bosses see beyond the packaging and take chances on people, even if they don't have as much education and training as other candidates.
5. Personality types: extroverts and introverts
An excellent team will have people from diverse personality types. For example, a productive business has both extroverts and introverts working together, each feeding from the skills of the other. While extroverts might get most of the attention and run the show, they don't have all the answers. Influential leaders are wise enough to value the gifts introverts bring to their company. Introverts are generally meticulous in gathering and processing information. Therefore, they are great decision-makers. Quite often, introverts learn quickly through observation and serve as a reliable team member who leads by example. Most extroverts have come to rely on their introverted colleagues to be the voice of reason, a deciding factor and a redirector when the focus is lost.
The advantages of employing a diverse team are numerous. Having unique team members means having a company that can relate to anyone and formulate well-rounded solutions to global issues. A diverse group can also identify the specific needs of people from various backgrounds and serve its customers in a more caring and personal way. Any way you look at it, this is good business.
And coming off of a year when learning to pivot was essential, it is fair to say that businesses with diverse teams weathered the pandemic storm much better than their counterparts. Diversity in industry means employing people with varied backgrounds, skills, education and personality types. With vast diversity in your business, no problem will be too weighty, and your business will thrive.