Being born in Sweden with roots from Bosnia and Herzegovina, I have been a part of two different cultures, which at times was challenging until I realized it was a creative blessing. At an early age, I understood the power of diversity and how being surrounded by different perspectives and opinions fosters innovation and vision, creating the ability to capture new opportunities.
It is said, “you attract what you are,” and throughout my professional career, I have been blessed enough to work with companies and people from all over the world. Through my experiences, I have been able to assess the performance of both diverse and homogenous teams. Thus, I can confidently say that diverse teams outperform homogeneous teams.
Diversity means different things to different people, but at its core, it refers to the inclusion of people from different backgrounds and viewpoints. Creating a diverse team means you intentionally build a team composed of individuals with a range of different characteristics such as gender, nationality, socio-economic status, age, education, and other attributes. As today’s societies are diverse, working in diverse organizations is more common than uncommon. However, diverse workplaces do not necessarily create successful diverse teams. As Andres Tapia once said, “Diversity is the mix, and inclusion is making the mix work.” While diversity is about identifying and embracing uniqueness, inclusion is about creating a sense of belonging. Therefore, organizations must understand the fundamental aspect of belonging in the context of diversity.
A lack of diversity and inclusion often results in groupthink, where ideas and solutions are not challenged, and mistakes are repeatedly made. By not taking distance from conformity, teams will lack creativity and innovation, resulting in decreased profitability. Considering the world of tech today, innovation and the need for creative solutions are crucial for organizations to be competitive and to follow the path of the world changing as quickly as it does.
So, what are the actual benefits of diverse teams?
By embracing diversity in your teams, a wider range of perspectives can be ensured when developing new ideas and solutions. The creative potential of each individual team-member is more likely to be unleashed in a diverse team, where the experiences and skills are utilized and valued. Many studies have found that diverse environments can improve team performance by up to 30% and profitability by 36 %. The main reason for this is that diverse teams enjoy team dynamics where there is a greater level of engagement, resulting in teams making better, more logical, and creative decisions.
Knowing and understanding the necessity of diverse teams is one thing, but actually building one is another. Here are some key points from my experience that could serve as good starting points for identifying and building diverse teams:
- Learn, think, and talk about diversity and mean it. Speaking up about diversity can many times be uncomfortable, but it’s crucial if you want to build inclusive teams. Address different aspects of diversity within your team and come up with your definition of diversity.
- Create safe spaces for employees to show their authentic self. Invest time in building meaningful relationships and creating environments for honest feedback and discussions. Listen to stories you might’ve missed out on. Trust me when I say that you will be surprised by how many unique experiences you’re surrounded with.
- Success comes from the inside out. Instead of looking for and recruiting diversity externally, look inside your teams because it’s there. Hidden talent can only be discovered if you genuinely seek it. Inclusion can help you along the way!
To conclude, creating and fostering diverse teams can improve the organization’s overall productivity, culture, and morale. By promoting diversity and inclusion, you will undoubtedly have engaged co-workers who feel valued, not just as co-workers, but for who they truly are. As previously said, you attract what you are. So, take a look around yourself – what are you attracting?
Hana is a consultant manager at Softhouse and has, in her previous experience, worked in several management roles, such as development leader, project manager, and product owner. Hana is an energetic and passionate leader who advocates for inclusive leadership and believes that diversity and inclusion is a driving force for innovation and team performance in the workplace. She is also a board member of Witech, which is an IT network for women in tech that actively works with inspiring women to choose tech for a more diverse and inclusive future. On March 8, Softhouse will host an event with Witech to mark International Women’s Day, where the theme for the evening will be female role models. Read more about the event: WiTech x Softhouse