How to Integrate Diversity into Your Team Successfully
Have a good look at your team, with your efforts to integrate diversity into the mix, can you really say that they’re as diverse as you’d want them to be?
If you can’t make up your mind, it’s probably because they are not diverse enough.
We, humans, come in many shapes and colors, and weaving these shapes and colors together creates beautiful social tapestries that create amazing things.
There’s magic in diversity, it shows power, it shows openness and it a magical effect on your bottom line.
In my previous post, I talked about how diverse teams are stronger, happier, and way more productive. The physical, spiritual or even social differences between them creates an atmosphere like no other, with opportunities for each and every team member to develop their observational, social and intellectual skills.
Without a doubt, diversifying your team equals growth. But if diverse teams are so awesome, why most teams tend to stick to the same structure? The answer is simple:
You must build diverse teams, they don’t just happen
Unfortunately, truly diverse teams are rarely organic, and that’s a shame because everyone can gain so much from providing equal opportunity employment, with teammates that are happy to work together regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, age or race.
If you happen to bump into a diverse team, you’re looking at someone’s handy work. Someone engineered it from the bottom up, and probably experimented quite a bit before they were able to find a mix that works.
So how do you go about diversifying your team?
This one thing is the most important…
#1 Make an active effort to integrate diversity
Let me tell you this, it’s easier said than done.
Hiring diverse employees means that you’re going to pass on great candidates because you have a different goal. Here’s a warning, it’s easy to cave in and go with `good candidates’ who are just there, lining up for that job opening, I must emphasize this.
To avoid this `temptation,’ keep yourself focused.
- Be specific in your recruitment campaign, stating that you’re looking to diversify your team. This will help you to avoid non-relevant CVs and a lot of inbox clutter.
- In addition to your ongoing campaigns, you can ask your team members for leads on potential candidates who match the profile, this can be an excellent engagement opportunity for your team members btw, and can really bring them all to work on this together.
- Target outsourcing professionals who specialize in diversifying teams and ask them to pick for you only candidates who match your criteria.
#2 Design a workspace to accommodate diverse needs
Different employees have different needs.
- Religious employees might need a place to pray, or they might have specific requirements from your workspace, like a dedicated kitchen area, you might be surprised, but the right to pray is constitutional.
- Older employees might need to go to more the doctor more.
- Moms might need flexible schedules etc.
You might say that up until now diversity hires look not that cost-effective, but as I mentioned above, this will all come back to you. Answering to their needs shows that you respect them and looking out for their best interest.
#3 Talk to your team about their new colleagues
As awesome as your existing team is, you’ll have to set new ground rules to accommodate the new employee needs, and this might include tweaking the office culture.
You already know this, change is always tricky, so for it to go smoothly, you’ll have to talk to your employees and see where they stand in regards to your effort to diversify the team.
This presents a fantastic opportunity to explore your team’s perspective, you’ll have to discover:
- Who can you count on to make the transition smooth?
- Who might cause problems while it’s happening?
- If this move is having a positive/exciting effect on your team, or if it’s causing turmoil, which might send you back to the drawing board?
In any case, giving them a feeling that they are a part of the change is always a positive thing, your existing team will appreciate the fact that you’re considering their opinions.
#4 Actively work on helping your new hires to adjust
Every employee I ever talked to feels the same way on their first day, for them, it’s like they just landed on another planet, just imagine how your new employee feels.
You I know how a new employee should feel, and the same applies to diversity hires. They need to feel protected, comfortable and eventually happy, and it’s up to you (as much as it’s up to your new hires, and your team) to make them feel a part of the company.
Having said that, I have a word of advice.
Don’t focus or even celebrate what’s different about their looks or customs, e.g., celebrating in an office party one of your new hires holidays won’t help in making them feel a part of anything.
Instead, focus on making them feel a part of the ongoing team efforts you already have in place. Give them a role and say that you needed them to handle it because they have the required set of skills.
#5 Adapt your retention plan to support diversity hires & integrate diversity successfully
As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, in tech, employee’s turnover is just under 2-3 years. When it comes to diverse teams, if not retained correctly, this number can go either up or down, depending on your diversity retention plan.
If you really want to know if your retention plan is up to par, ask yourself what are you currently doing to retain your employees?
- Are you running extracurricular social activities?
- Do employees talk about your company culture on social media?
- Are you concerned with your employee’s development as professionals?
There’s a lot you can do to retain your diversity hires effectively, and what’s great about it is that you don’t have to do any changes in your retention plan.
Just make them feel they landed the best job in the world, a job that they’d never want to leave or jeopardize in any way, like with other employees and they’ll do everything in their power to stay with you.
Until we meet again.
About Adi Assaf
I specialize in talent recruiting that answers your culture, values and recruitment needs. I believe that great teams fuel growth, and you don’t need to settle for less. Drop me a line if you need a great team