Merriam Webster defines diversity as the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization. Diversity has become a “buzz word” in business over the last few years but what does diversity mean to you?
I have been successful at building and managing multi-disciplinary teams. Academic degrees and professional credentials and licenses are only a small component of a diverse team. When I think about building a diverse team I think about people of different ages, races, genders, cultures, religions, socioeconomic status, and even personality traits. A diverse team is comprised of employees with different skillsets, experiences, and backgrounds. Diversity is a valuable business asset. Diversity allows team members to strengthen each other’s strengths and weaken each other’s weaknesses. A diverse team allows for the expression of different perspectives which can lead to more innovation, creativity, and brainstorming. A team that respectfully forces its members to stretch their mindsets and escape their comfort zones often produces great work.
Communication is one of the most important aspects to all relationships. Many people think that a healthy team is always in agreement, but the opposite is true. A healthy team allows its members to express disagreements and discuss different viewpoints to reach consensus or make a decision that is in the best interest of the company. Respectful confrontation with the goal of collaboration can be profitable. A strong, diverse team is appreciative and accepting of each other’s differences which can make the workplace more enjoyable and employees more productive. A business that has a reputation of respecting diversity and promoting inclusion attracts a stronger pool of candidates.
A diverse team allows businesses to serve diverse markets and demographics. Knowing your customer and your competition is essential to business success. Employees that speak different languages, understand different cultures not only provide better customer service but can allow companies to expand their reach locally, nationally, and internationally. Customers are also generally more loyal to businesses with a diverse workforce.
As you consider how to develop a diverse team, don’t forget to include interns. Yes, diversity can also include different positions.
- 5 Ways to Make Your Intern a Part of Your Team
- Did You Really Say Interns Are Like Cupcakes?
- What If My Interns Don’t Get Along?
Nicki Sanders, MSW, is a travel and cupcake lover with a passion for self-discovery and career advancement. She has a strong background in developing and managing interns and successful internship programs. She is an accomplished manager, professor, coach, trainer, and group facilitator who has packaged her Master of Social Work degree and 20 years of diverse work experience into Packaged For Success Enterprises, a full-service training and professional development company.
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