Cultural diversity at work is when a company is open to hiring employees regardless of their background, race, religion, culture and sexual orientation. However, building an inclusive team that also brings a sense of belonging and value to all members has to go way beyond committing to meet the targets and laws related to equality at work. An inclusive team gifts the company with different backgrounds, life experiences and points of view that can be the company’s strong suit, a way to attract new talent and enrichment for the team members themselves.
Diversity and inclusion is a wide subject, but also an important one in the globalised world we live in. In this post we present some of the benefits of why it’s important and beneficial to build a diverse and inclusive startup team, from day one.
Higher employee engagement
A team that feels valued and included is a group that will not only perform at the top of their game and be happy to do so, but they will also be brand ambassadors of the company. Having an inclusive team goes beyond a few team building activities and beers after work; at the end it comes down to the day-to-day. When employees feel accepted, empowered and valued they are more motivated, happier and more productive. It’s important that managers promote the benefits of a diverse team, but it’s crucial that the teammates do as well. Use lunch breaks or after work drinks to get to know your pals more personally and give them a chance to share their experiences and cultural background.
Increased productivity levels
Building an engaged team starts from the very beginning, during the recruitment process. A professional that is looking to join a diverse team will feel included and understood from day one, so this is something to take into account for HR teams when designing onboarding processes and team integration during the first few weeks. In the day-to-day, a high level of inclusion and belonging within a diverse team means good communication, which means fewer misunderstandings and more productive working.
Polyglot team with local market knowledge
With cultural diversity comes different languages and even different ways to speak the same language. English is the global language and a big part of the global workforce speaks it natively or to a high level. Covering many languages will come in handy with actions directed towards a specific target and/or country, and there will be no chance to get lost in translation. Languages like Spanish, Portuguese and French are spoken in many countries globally, and in very similar, but also different ways. Having people that speak the same language but are from different parts of the world is like having an ace up your sleeve. Aside from giving the company an advantage, for employees it also gives the team the chance to learn a new language.
Improved cultural appreciation
A culturally diverse and inclusive workforce can go beyond increasing numbers and productivity. It opens a door for employees to spend more time with people from different backgrounds, which they are not normally exposed to. Getting to learn about different cultures, religions and even languages reduces negative thoughts such as racism, homophobia and sexism.
Opportunity for younger generations
Age also is part of diversity. Quite a lot of companies open their door to university students and recent graduates to start their professional career. Sometimes interns are seen as employees that take care of the never-ending backlog of administrative tasks. Being an intern comes with doing some work that might not be the most fun, but to balance things out a bit, it’s important to also give interns, and juniors, a chance to work on more important projects. Give them chances to speak up and take their views and ideas into account. This will make them feel included, appreciated and will also increase their engagement.
Attraction of top talent
The will to build a diverse team has to begin at the start line. Many companies add a passive message to their job descriptions in which they indicate that they will not discriminate against any candidate based on their gender identity, culture, disability, religion and/or sexual orientation, as well as during the interview process, but often it has to go beyond this, by actively promoting jobs to diverse communities to spread the word further. This could be, for instance, posting jobs on specific types of job platform, hiring a recruitment agency that helps place top candidates with disabilities, or getting in touch with University schemes. This gives top applicants from minority groups an active sense of inclusion that invites them to apply to the position.
Increased creativity and faster problem-solving
People from diverse backgrounds tend to have different experiences and, therefore, unique perspectives. From instance, brainstorming for marketing and communications campaigns will be more creative and innovative with many different insights involved. Similarly, when it comes to giving a hand to customers, it’s important to have a multicultural and diverse customer service or sales team to find appropriate solutions. Additionally, on a wider scale, when a company is pulled through a crisis, hearing ideas on how to move forward from all sides of the table will lead to faster problem-solving.
To read more about the benefits of a diverse team, have a read of our interview with Adeva’s CEO and co-founder Katerina Trajchevska. If you’d like some leadership insights on how to tackle discrimination in the work place, stay tuned.