Diversity

There’s been a lot of talk about diversity and the impact it has on business. Many businesses are so small that they really don’t get into the diversity issue, but others do. However, when I think about diversity, there are many issues that come to mind.

Certainly they could be gender, race, religion, ethnicity, physical disabilities etc., but diversity encompasses thought processes as well.

Too often, we like people who think like us. People who identify with our likes and dislikes, who grew up the way we did, have the same value systems and laugh at the same jokes are easier to get along with, but they don’t necessarily help us grow our business. People who look at things from a different perspective than we do, and bring forth various viewpoints, can make these businesses a lot stronger.

I know that I get very excited about things and want to do them immediately. I don’t always look at all the pros and cons and analyze each feature. On the other hand, I don’t have analysis paralysis either. That’s why I want you to look at the people you have brought on board. Do you have a good mix? Are there people who disagree with you? Do alternative viewpoints come up? Are there some good devils advocates out there?

Having had the good fortune of traveling to many countries to work, I have discovered how people think in a great variety of ways. Although I haven’t always understood why things are done the way they are, I am amazed that for that time and place, they work. The thing I don’t like is when I am told…..”That just won’t work here.” Of course, I hear that in various businesses in this country over and over again.

I want you to start thinking about the next person you bring in to be a member of your team. Who do you need? Are you biased by what they look like? Do you have some true scenarios to give them to test how they would handle them? No matter what a person looks like on paper, you need them to make a difference in your business, so you need to know what they will do when the chips are down.

Even though they may not have the experience necessary to make that particular decision, you should be able to determine if they have the common sense and basic skills to begin to work it out. I also think it’s important to hear what the other players have to say.

When other team members have a stake in the person who is hired, they will do everything they can in their power to make that person successful. Try looking at the diversity that is now represented in your organization and see where the weaknesses are.