In numerous studies, diverse teams are associated with business success. The evidence shows that these are not mere correlations, but also various experiments have proven the direct effect of diversity on team performance. Many companies are trying to recruit and retain a more diverse workforce, but nevertheless, success has so far been marginal. With so much at stake, why aren’t these companies making more headway?
The Havard Business Review article Diverse Teams Feel Less Comfortable — and That’s Why They Perform Better suggests that diversity initiatives may not be successful until we do more to address the way diversity is perceived. When leaders see it first and foremost as a social obligation that makes things difficult and slows progress, they will likely make decisions that undermine the organisation’s diversity goals. If, however, leaders can recognise that the debate and unfamiliarity that come with diversity is an important catalyst for creativity and deep thinking, they will invite it and celebrate it.
- Homogeneous teams feel easier – being quick to agree without much conflict gives the perception of a more efficient team, but this ultimately is bad for performance
- Overestimation of conflict – diversity can increase conflict, but not as much as hiring managers often think
- Capitalising on diversity means highlighting differences – it may be counterintuitive, but highlighting differences actually increases a sense of inclusion, as long as it’s build on a set of common values and goals