There has been much written on the topic of the value of diversity in organisations and more recently, you may have seen some of Australia’s larger organisations appointing roles like ‘Head of Diversity’ or setting diversity quotas in an attempt to embrace this concept.   While this may sound like a good idea in theory, it’s worth considering in more detail before rolling it out in your organisation.

While diversity in organisations and teams has been shown to be advantageous when a culture of trust, psychological safety and equal participation exists, making diversity a target can easily lead to the wrong people being hired.

In fact, when a metric becomes a target then it often becomes detrimental to the organisation.

Metrics allow for a better understanding of how a process or a person within an organisation is performing but in making them targets you create unintended consequences. An example of this is monthly sales quotas, at the end of the month the salespeople that are close to or over budget will have a big push to close extra sales and win more commission often sacrificing margins in the process. The salespeople who are well below target will not push and hold over sales to the following month to give themselves a head start.

The problem with setting diversity metrics for organisations is that the hiring process becomes more about who ‘ticks the right boxes’ vs who is going to deliver the best outcome.  When people are clearly hired just for the purposes of diversity, it creates mistrust and resentment within the organisation.  When trust declines, team work and communication suffers and poor results then follow.

Having worked with and coached many high performance organisations over the years, I find the best ones are both for and against diversity, what I call a loose-tight approach.  They are clear on their vision, mission and values (or culture) of who they are as an organisation and will only hire staff that buy into their vision, believe in their mission and demonstrate the organisational values in their actions.   These ‘tight’ principles are non-negotiable and you need to remove from your employ anyone who doesn’t align with them.

The “loose’ principle is about trusting your team to do whatever they see is needed to help the organisation achieve it’s goals while operating ethically and within the company culture.  In terms of hiring, organisations should be colour blind and look at all candidates regardless of race, sex, religion or disability.

One thing I’ve found over the years is that if you want to hire the best team members, you need to be willing to take a risk.  Be willing to hire someone who doesn’t tick all the boxes but has the right attitude, a will to win and is open to stepping up and taking on big challenges.  Where you can promote from within, when people inside your organisation see other employees growing in their careers, it inspires them to follow also.

So in conclusion, yes, let’s be aware of diversity and do everything we can to create diversity in our organisations.  Value the fact that having people of differing opinions is a must if you are to make the best decisions and that having spirited debates is part of the decision making process.  Lastly, when you can, hire people more talented than yourself.  It’s the team that makes the organisation succeed.

If you would like help building a great team for your organisation, contact us today for a confidential chat.

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