The current social and political climate is making the question of diversity more important than ever. But what should SMEs be thinking about when developing a more diverse team? To be honest, it’s not only about skin color, sexual preference or cultural background. The key to a diverse team is inclusion and embracing diversity of thought.
- Jos Schut Chief Human Resources Officer at Randstad
embracing true diversity
In my 20-year career at Randstad, I’ve made no secret of who I am. I recently posted a blog about my experience as a gay man in the professional world. But despite the fact that I’m CHRO, my degree is in Economics and Logistics. It only took one manager who recognised my passion for people and organisational development to launch my career. And that’s why, if you want your team to be more diverse, you must look beyond the standard checklist of education and work experience, and get to know the person behind the CV.
how acceptance leads to wealth
Studies show that a truly diverse workforce is more successful. When companies embrace inclusion and respect their employees to be themselves, those employees respond by working harder. Even though one candidate may have 10 years of experience, another candidate with less experience may be more eager to learn and perform for the company. So it’s important not to dismiss a candidate simply because he/she doesn’t ‘tick all the boxes’ – you must also consider personality, ability to adapt, and willingness to learn. Those ‘unconventional’ candidates bring new ideas and perspectives that will enrich your business in ways you couldn’t even imagine.
The best advice I can give to HR managers is to have courage. Think outside the box when developing your shortlist of potential hires. Make sure that list includes a few candidates that demonstrate drive, curiosity and motivation. When their background and experience is vastly different from the rest of the staff, they can offer new perspectives that can really make your business grow. These unconventional hires won’t always be successful, but when they are, they’ll enrich your team.
invest in the company’s future
Increasing diversity within a team will take some investment. It’s not enough just to write a diversity policy. It’s not enough just to fill a quota. Diversity must be part of your culture. And that happens both top-down and bottom-up.
Make diversity a regular agenda point at the Board Meeting. Create allies within the company who keep diversity top of mind. Work with themes to give your messages clarity. Develop campaigns that create awareness. Create videos, blogs, events and activities that reinforce those messages.
ask the tough questions
Ask yourself the tough questions about how diverse your company really is. Do men, women and ethnic minorities receive equal pay for equal work? Do you have programmes in place to identify potential and promote that talent in a timely fashion? Do you foster a culture of inclusion and diversity of thought? Is there balance and equality in the age ranges, ethnic backgrounds and races that are represented in your company? If not, there’s still more work to do.
the heart of the matter
The most important part of building a more diverse team is to give your employees the chance to be their best selves. And that takes trust and commitment. Trust them to do the job they were hired to do, and stay in tune with their needs. When you create a culture in which everyone is valued, then everyone will contribute.
The bottom line is, embracing diversity in your teams isn’t just good for your employees. It’s good for your business. And if you have the courage to accept the challenge, you’ll soon be reaping the rewards of your broader view of what an effective team looks like.
Best of luck in expanding your horizons,