This article was written by Anna Sallows and Daniel Healy.
Recently at Leading Teams we found ourselves in the very lucky position of being able to begin the process of recruiting another facilitator to join our team. It’s always an exciting time for a team when new opportunities present themselves, but one that comes with its own set of challenges.
One of those opportunities is the ability to increase diversity in the team. Diversity is a buzzword in business vernacular at the moment and we know there are similar conversations occurring in many other organisations. As often happens with much-discussed topics, the definition of diversity has become murky. In our team we regularly discuss the difference between diversity and inclusion. Are we addressing both? What responsibility do we have as a business to ensure we are diverse and inclusive?
Those conversations have caused us a level of frustration at times across the team. ‘Surely we just get the best candidate?’ has been a common retort when we have challenged ourselves in this space.
Certainly, for Leading Teams, we have been given feedback on our gender imbalance and our slant towards ex-sportsmen (a look at the profiles on our website will reinforce this).
So what should we do about it? For some organisations, the answer would be to set quotas that ensure team members from a diverse range of backgrounds, cultures, and genders. Interestingly, in our case, we have had strong feedback from some of the women on our team that they are against the concept of quotas.
Before we decide what to do about it, it is worth addressing another question first: why is diversity worth pursuing for you? If your answer is, ‘So that your website has a better look to it,’ or ‘So your HR team can tick off the diversity box as a political correctness exercise,’ then you’re missing the point.
As with the basis of any decision a team makes, embracing diversity is and should absolutely be about making the team better. By engaging diversity within your team – through inclusion – an organisation will bring together people from a variety of backgrounds, with a wide range of experiences. This melting pot, if fostered and harnessed, will lend itself to a greater breadth of ideas, thinking, skill-sets and, inevitably, to better outcomes.
Inclusion is central to fostering diversity within a team. Inclusion is about creating a culture of support, safety and acceptance for differences. Without it, team members that make up the melting pot do not feel safe to express themselves or share their experiences. A recent survey by Indeed found 46% of Australian workers did not feel comfortable some or all the time to be their real selves at work. And so, the result is a diverse bunch of people who offer no diversity of thought, and whose value to the team remains inhibited and largely untapped.
At Leading Teams we are still challenging ourselves to further embrace and educate ourselves around diversity. But we can proudly say that behind the website profiles sits a team of people who have created a culture devoid of hierarchy, who are empowered to thrive and voice their opinions, and who hold each other accountable for being inclusive.