In today’s workforce, there is no question that diversity matters. The cultural, ethnic, gender, and age differences in the workplace are important aspects of every business’s culture, but they’re often diluted by homogeneity. Only hiring employees who fit into a certain mold can really hold a business back!
According to a 2008 Northwestern University study headed by researcher Katherine Phillips, more diverse teams outperform teams with people who are all alike. In the study, diverse teams tested were able to process information more carefully and were able to innovate better answers.
But as individuals, we sometimes have trouble seeing that a diverse team is better for us. “It’s kind of surprising how difficult it is for people to actually see the benefit of the conversations they are having in a diverse setting,” said Phillips.
But there are in fact so many benefits! Today, we’re listing 5 reasons to seek out employers with diverse workforces so you can be part of a team that works together better than any other.
#1 – A diverse workforce is more dynamic
With so many different viewpoints, backgrounds, ideas and thoughts coming together to create new ways of doing things, it’s no wonder that a diverse team is more creative. But let’s dive a little deeper into why diversity and creativity are so often (rightfully) conflated. Returning to Phillips and her study, she and the researchers observed that adding a “newcomer” to a group allowed the group to “shift alliances,” both with the newcomer and each other. For further context, the study involved placing three alike people in a group, then adding a fourth person who would either be “alike,” or more “diverse.” The “diverse” addition was dubbed the “newcomer.”
So, was adding a “newcomer” to the group beneficial? Yes, with one of the major reasons being that they “shook up” existing alliances and made the group interaction more interesting. What exactly do we mean by that? Well, Phillips saw that if the newcomer disagreed with ideas already established by the rest of the group, they were able to sway others in the “alike” group to their side. And the results showed, these more diverse groups performed better on the test than the completely alike groups.
#2 – A diverse workforce is more helpful
When you’re part of a diverse team, you’re able to reach out to other departments within your company and also collaborate with other businesses. There are so many different ways teamwork benefits everyone involved – it’s just not possible for one person to do everything on their own. And when everyone has something valuable to contribute, the better chance ideas have at being successful because they have multitudes of perspectives behind them.
This is both a reason to seek out employers with diverse workforces, and a reason to build a diverse team as an employer (or as an upper-level employee) for yourself!
#3 – A diverse workforce offers greater opportunities
A workforce consisting only of people who are all alike limits the potential of your business and the opportunities that come with it. Whether you’re part of a larger company or a startup, the more talent you have at your disposal, the better chance you have at success. With everyone working together, ideas can flow freely and information isn’t hoarded like it is in smaller groups, where people are worried about competition for advancement.
In Phillips’ study, she noted that, above all, the newcomers were “a source of new information” but also were able to use their position as a group dynamo with a unique view to diversify the existing group. What we mean by that is, the newcomer encouraged and inspired the “alike” group to diversify itself. “We know though that not all new ideas come from newcomers. Sometimes new ideas are sitting in the group already, just waiting for the right moment to come up,” said Phillips.
#4 – A diverse workforce has greater perspective
When we talk about diversity being important to a team’s success, we’re not just talking about ethnic diversity – though that certainly helps! We’re talking about having different perspectives from other professionals within your industry, as well as other industries altogether. This gives you a bigger pool to draw from when deciding what direction to take your company in and how to get there. Having this perspective could help you build your brand goodwill in ways that were previously unexplored, or could provide a lot of insight on how to target the company’s marketing efforts to a certain audience.
#5 – A diverse workforce makes the company more competitive
There are so many benefits to a diverse workforce, and for companies looking to become the best and brightest in their fields, it’s important to look at all of them in order to truly be aware of their importance! If your employer isn’t thinking about diversity when hiring new employees, then do you really want to be part of such a stale and stubborn company anyway? Certainly, Katherine Phillips and the other researchers at Northwestern don’t think so!