Hiring Diverse Candidates Can Be Good For Your Business – and Your Workforce

talentRecently, the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals hired the very first female coach in league history.

This is a seismic shift in a field heavily dominated by men – from coaches, players, announcers, etc. Sure, one could argue it is part PR, however, the positive impact still holds true.

The game has now changed, not just on the field, but with regards to breaking barriers for talent acquisition practices and increasing diversity off the field.

Hiring outside of the stereotypical box brings diversity to the team and the organization. Diversity brings different points of view to the table. It brings new sets of ideas, strategies, and new ways of thinking, and, it increases engagement, performance (more wins on the field), and revenues.

Potentially more wins on the field leads to more wins off the field!

Why is having a diverse team good for your organization?

A diverse workforce and supplier relationships represents the diverse population that is your customer base.

Having a diverse team can help raise awareness and increase communication regarding the different ways different people think and respond, thus not only helping enhance team performance, but also helping you to shape your strategy, communication, and products and services for a diverse group of customers.

For example, a middle-aged man with lots of industry knowledge and experience might still have trouble identifying with the way an African American teenage girl makes purchasing decisions. A 20-something, or a 20-something African American woman, might have an easier time targeting the needs of that particular client base as they can better relate. Working together, the two could develop a strategy and solution that works best for both the company and the customer.

A diverse team, that has built trust and respect, has a wealth of creative ideas and strategies to choose from that a homogenous team might not have.

Knowing your peers and your client base is only one step to figuring out the best strategy. Creating a safe and trusting environment for sharing those creative ideas and experiences, and applying them in support of the company mission, is equally as important.

Diverse teams mean diverse communications

Diverse teams can increase communication of diverse ideas — and communication is a necessity for success.

No two people have the same history and experience. Everyone brings something different to the table.

Diverse teams have a great opportunity to learn from each other. For a diverse team to truly be high performing, they must feel comfortable having open and honest communication of ideas. This open and honest communication can help diverse teams to learn and grow from one another’s experiences increasing options and ideas for success.

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There are some basic economic facts that make fostering team diversity appealing as well. Companies that foster diversity tend to see lower turnover rates, and are able to avoid some basic litigation (which in the case of the NFL has been on the rise). So while it’s true that companies should seek to encourage diversity because it is good corporate citizenship, there are certainly some simple financial incentives as well.

Creating high performing diverse teams, embracing a diverse workforce, and working with diverse suppliers, is ultimately good for the organization’s bottom line and long term growth.

Diversity is more than just gender and race

Though the NFL has taken a big step toward inclusion, workplace diversity doesn’t just refer to gender and race anymore either. As the VP of Supplier Diversity at a global Fortune 500 company recently told me,

… Our database of vendors and suppliers, like our workforce, is so diverse that we ran out of boxes on our supplier registration form. We’ve recently switched to a new online portal that allows for multiple combinations of self identification. ”

Businesses must account for diversity in race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender identity, culture and various combinations of all of the above. Even generational diversity is continuing to become equally important; with aging Baby Boomers and incoming Millennials. The opportunities for embracing diversity are greater than ever.

So, though it may be viewed by some as a small step and not a giant leap, kudos to the NFL and the Arizona Cardinals for hiring Jen Welter. Encouraging and embracing diversity in the workforce is extremely important.

In the end, companies that are able to adapt to changing demographics, embrace diversity of the individual and diversity of thought, are likely the companies that will thrive in this ever changing and competitive world.

To learn more about how to create a culture of diversity and inclusion in your organization feel free to view out checklist here: Creating a Culture of Diversity!

This was originally published on the Tolero Think Tank blog.

Scott Span, MSOD, is CEO & Lead Consultant of Tolero Solutions, an Organization Improvement & Strategy firm. He helps clients in achieving success through people, creating organizations that are more responsive, productive and profitable -- organizations where people enjoy working and customers enjoy doing business. 

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