Companies form teams for a variety of purposes, ranging from product development and long-term strategic planning to deciding what to serve at the company holiday party. Such teams are considered diverse if they are made up of individuals from different age, gender and ethnic groups, as well as different professional backgrounds. Ensuring that teams are diverse brings more voices to the mix and can contribute to the success of the corporation as well as improve employee satisfaction.
People from different backgrounds tend to view problems and solutions differently, which means a diverse team can offer a wider range of ideas. For example, while a team of financial executives may focus mostly on a cost-effective design for a new cell phone, quality control professionals may focus more on features that make the device robust and shatter-proof. Bringing members of these two groups together into a single team can help the business develop a product that is both cost-efficient and robust. To ensure that diverse opinions open the door to creative ideas rather than squabbles, open and honest communication as well as timely resolution of conflicts is necessary.
The more diverse the team, the broader the spectrum of workers represented in the team. This way, every group will feel that its concerns have been voiced and its perspectives communicated. For example, if you want to propose new salary guidelines for the company, it is helpful to bring together voices from unionized and non-unionized workers, line as well as staff workers, or long-time as well as new workers. This can help ensure that the team will likely treat all such groups fairly. Furthermore, employees from across all segments of the corporate population will see that they can gain access to such teams one day and help shape corporate policy.
Satisfaction of Customer Needs
Companies utilize various advanced tools, such as consumer panels and online questionnaires, to better understand the buyers of their product or service. However, the human element is still indispensable in the quest to decipher the customer. Therefore, the more diverse the team, the more diverse the customer base that the company can satisfy, and thus the larger the market for the product or service. Today a single automobile can be sold in 100 countries with little to no alteration to the design. Only a rich and diverse design team that includes a variety of people from different cultures can identify the common denominator that can help a product appeal to a wide and diverse customer base.
Diverse work teams can provide a larger lesson to the organization as a whole. For example, when a team comes up with a winning solution to a problem and this is communicated across the organization by top management, it serves to demonstrate that no matter how different employees are, they can all work successfully toward the same goal. In addition, each team member will return to her regular job with a deeper understanding of other departments or demographic groups in the company. She can then communicate these insights to others, which can foster mutual understanding and harmony across the business.
- Stanford Graduate School of Business: Diverse Backgrounds and Personalities Can Strengthen Groups
- Center for American Progress: The Top 10 Economic Facts of Diversity in the Workplace
- Psychological Science in the Public Interest: Diversity in Teams
- Employer Branding Today: The Pros and Cons to Diversity
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