These days, most business owners understand that diversity is important.
Some people are analytical, while others thrive on creative work. Some are meticulous planners, and others love spontaneity. Different people bring different personalities and cultures to the table — and those backgrounds shape how they think.
By deliberately building a diverse workplace, companies can stimulate creativity, spur insight, and increase efficiency.
Yet, so many companies struggle to build a diverse workforce.
I’m Jody, a proud mom, with two great kids.
My son Lexi plays hockey, and I’d like to brag about him for a few minutes. I’ll bring it back to diversity…trust me :)
At an early age, Lexi wanted to play hockey with his older brother. But despite being competitive, he didn’t look anything like the other boys on the ice.
He was…much smaller. And in the sport of hockey, particularly at the youth level, size matters!
But to my husband and I, that didn’t matter. Lexi wanted to play hockey. We didn’t set our expectations any differently and did our best to give him every chance to succeed.
From one year to the next, from one team to the next, Lexi kept proving everyone wrong. Soon, he began traveling all over the U.S. and in Europe to compete.
But in high school, things changed.
Freshman year, his new coach wasn’t giving him nearly the same amount of ice time as his teammates. It was the first time he had been treated differently. Without getting into details, it was pretty obvious at the time that the coach was discriminating based on size.
It was heart-breaking.
Lexi’s dream was to play hockey in college, but because he was being benched, that dream was becoming impossible to achieve.
So, Lexi moved to another state to attend another high school. Ultimately, while it was tough on our family, Lexi was the happiest we had ever seen him. He had an opportunity to play, and we wanted to support him.
Fast-forward a few years, and Lexi was a senior in high school. Not only had he had gotten a scholarship to play hockey in college, but he moved back to our home state of Indiana, enrolled in his original high school, and ended up winning the high school hockey state championship.
Now here’s the fun part.
Lexi isn’t my son. She’s my DAUGHTER. And I’m not her mother…I’m her FATHER.
Bet you didn’t expect that!
I’ve owned my business for more than 15 years. Two of our highest-paid team members are women, and we do our best to deliberately hire a diverse workforce.
Because according to our friend, diversity champion and owner of Pixo, Lori Patterson, diversity leads to a stronger company culture and higher employee performance:
Studies have shown that companies in the top quartile for gender or racial diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians. In a recent survey of millennials, 86% of female and 74% of male millennials consider employers’ policies on diversity, equality and inclusion when deciding which company to work for. And for years studies have shown that diverse views make for better decisions, and thus drive a high-performance culture.
So next time you’re watching a hockey game…I mean growing your team or deciding whether to join another company as a new employee, consider diversity.
Jody Grunden is a nice guy who likes hockey, golf, and his family. He also meets with businesses on a weekly basis as a Founder and Managing Partner over at Summit CPA Group, a Virtual CFO firm that helps growing companies manage (and improve) their finances.