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Why Points of Difference Could Be What Brings Your Company Together Someone "not like us" may be just who you need.

By Gael O'Brien

This story appears in the January 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »


Q: A prospective business partner is a strategic fit, and there is no evidence of impropriety or unethical behavior. However, I have heard that the new party can be difficult to work with and doesn't operate the way my company does. Should I guide my team away from partnerships with companies and people that are not compatible with my business practices, beliefs or personality?

A: When being different earns someone the label of being "difficult," it is a good time to pause to make sure a desire for conflict-free dealings isn't making you vulnerable to unethical behavior. Guiding your team to homogenous harmony through partnerships with people who think and act as all of you do may seem like a good idea, but it can have far-reaching consequences. It means excluding those outside that mold and can morph unconsciously into choosing people of one gender, race, ethnicity or other type of group over another.

The upshot? You're looking at institutionalizing discriminatory work practices, which can have serious ethical and legal consequences. In addition, operating without diversity limits the team, the business and the universe of ideas and possibilities -- and that will have a direct impact on your bottom line.

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