Cuboid Cylinder
Industry / Mar 11, 2020 / 3 min read

Cultivating diverse teams to gain a competitive advantage

Creating diverse teams and inclusive cultures is one of the biggest challenges businesses are facing. It has been proven that companies in the top quartile for gender, racial, or ethnic diversity are 15-35% more likely to have financial returns above the national industry average – making it a real competitive differentiator regarding a company’s success.

Recent statistics have shown that the technology industry is growing almost three times faster than the whole economy. Technology is quickly becoming the thing that underpins everything we do, making it a very young but powerful tool. Due to this, as an industry we have a unique opportunity to set the tone for what is ‘normal’ in our business. Therefore, I want to share my best practices around workplace taboo subjects in a hope to normalise them.

I’ve been working in the technology sector for a number of years and have seen and felt first-hand how important it is to build a diverse and inclusive environment. This is very close to my heart. I’m taking this opportunity to cover some of the more immediate topics within this space.

How can this give you a competitive advantage?

Improved problem solving

Stats from People Management show diverse teams make better business decisions 87% of the time, and make them 60% faster. This is so important in an economy driven by technology as new ideas. Products are coming to market quicker than ever. Consequently, companies don’t have the luxury of slow or incorrect decision making as it costs time, money and potentially could kill the business.

Inclusion needs to be driven from the top. Harvard Business Review recently showed how teams with inclusive leaders are 29% more likely to work collaboratively. Accordingly, it makes me feel honoured to be a part of a leadership team with a strong gender balance, where every opinion is weighted with equal merit.

“Each manager is responsible for establishing the environment that allows for true cognitive diversity—the genuinely different ideas and ways in which people think.”

Laura A. Liswood, The Loudest Duck

Improved innovation

The power of inclusion gives your team the ability to innovate and react quickly to changing trends which is key for any business. Harvard Business Review highlighted that for over 25 years, agile innovation methods have increased success rates, improved quality and speed to market. The only way you can react quickly is if your team feels empowered to share ideas without fear of judgement. During World Book Day, myself and the rest of our leadership team referenced our favourite books and our key takeaways. My colleague Charlotte’s recommendation was around embracing vulnerability and how accepting risk in the workplace leads to better innovation.

An article from Forbes emphasised that to be an effective leader, you need to recognise the importance of embracing differences and know how to get the best outcome from your team. Following from this, I’ve found that removing people from the working environment and going for a coffee or a walk creates a sense of ease, allowing you to get to know them as individuals. At Tecknuovo, we place strong emphasis on company socials, whether that’s game nights, team sports, or team lunches. Building strong bonds have allowed us to work together more coherently as a team.

Environment to succeed

Having an inclusive environment is crucial to making employees feel valued and happy. VicHealth emphasises that exclusion can have a negative impact on mental health. Therefore, simple steps like encouraging contribution during meetings or building friendships can make all the difference. Feeling valued will improve morale and motivation, causing lasting effects.

It’s so important to welcome everyone’s opinion. Something we do at Tecknuovo is encourage reverse mentoring. This empowers junior employees to share their expertise and ideas with more senior employees.

“Motivation comes from working on things we care about. It also comes from working with people we care about.”

Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

 

There’s no point focusing on diversity if you don’t make it inclusive…

I’ve seen throughout my career, that the world is changing and the focus on diversity is evolving for the better. We must consider diversity in its broadest sense if we’re to create a truly inclusive environment.

This means accepting everyone’s unique talent and individual differences. Disabilities, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity and dimensions of race, religious or political beliefs, or any other ideologies. We are all human, all unique, and all diverse in our own way. We need to respect one another by acknowledging the multi-dimensionality of all groups and individuals. Our own emotional intelligence will reflect this.

Diversity and inclusion isn’t a tick box exercise. Creating a culture where everyone feels included will be a long process but will change company behaviour for the better. The end goal is for inclusivity to become an unconscious action in every business.

 

 

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