Why It’s Important to Diversify Your Team

“You need [to hire] somebody who’s different from you, from a different socioeconomic background, from a different culture, from a different religion, from a different country, that speaks a different language. They see the world very differently. They bring that diversity you need to come up with creative solutions to really tough problems to advance your company. Just avoid that natural human tendency of birds of a feather flock together. It’s in that spot of friction of figuring out how to understand the perspective of different types of people, where you can unlock that harmony, and that’s where the real magic can happen on teams.” — Shahab Kaviani, Co-founder at CoFoundersLab

When it comes to solving the complex challenges that come up each day in business, having a diverse team that can approach the problem with multiple points of view that can be freely expressed is key.

Here are 4 Points to Consider When Building Your Team:

  • Connection with the Customer — The needs of a diverse customer base need to be understood. Ideally, the people building your product look like your users and can be empathetic throughout the process. Your product is a reflection of your team. You need a diverse team that reflects the diversity of your target audiences.
  • A Source of Innovation — A work environment open to diversity is flexible and favorable to employee innovation. It’s a breeding ground for new perspectives and new ideas which propels creativity, and if implemented, innovation. According to Scientific American, being around people who are different from us makes us more creative, more diligent and harder-working. This is not only because people with different backgrounds bring new information. Simply interacting with individuals who are different forces group members to prepare better, to anticipate alternative viewpoints and to expect that reaching consensus will take effort.
  • Powerful Recruitment and Retention Strategy — A workplace that emphasizes interest and concern for its employees as people first is able to attract a higher-quality workforce. True diversity starts with a mission to gain strength as an organization through recruiting a variety of outstanding people with diverse backgrounds, skills, ideas and cultures. It ends with your company reaching out to a specifically targeted audience that will help your business achieve that mission. Smart, passionate, problem-solvers want to join startups that are making real change, achieving real break-throughs. For individuals that value innovation and new ideas, a diverse team can help to attract talented individuals.
  • Hire the ‘Best Athlete Available’ Mentality— Hire the best and brightest people you can find who will push your company to be better. I suggest hiring people who pass the “they’re going to force me to raise my game” test. Focus on the right qualifications for the job even as you strive to balance culture fit with each hire. When you meet the right person, think hard about what it would mean for your team and the future of your company to pass her by because of cost or other factors.

As a talent matchmaker for startups, we see first-hand the growing diversity of entrepreneurial talent. Researchers have measured and documented higher performance by diverse teams, and anecdotally, I can confirm that companies we work with are reaping the benefits of prioritizing and valuing a diverse team as a core value. The link between fostering a culture of creativity and innovation and prioritizing diversity is a clear one for me. At PluggedIN, we are always looking for the best athletes available who want to join a startup.


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