Expert blog: ‘Why team diversity is so important in business’

By Dorian Woods, Assistant Professor Strategic Human Resource Management

Team diversity describes teams with unique, diverse members. Usually, this diversity entails differences in gender, race, ethnicity, physical abilities, age, class, sexual orientation, or other social backgrounds. Some differences are immediately recognizable while others might not be noticeable or obvious at first.

Why is team diversity important?

Employees are the most valuable asset of an organization and actively diversifying teams can bring immeasurable advantages to a company. This is because diverse teams are more equipped to find creative solutions when employees with different backgrounds and experiences are involved. Diversity ensures a company’s potential for innovation and its ability to respond to challenges more effectively. In addition, companies with diverse teams are ahead of the game by reflecting the diversification of the general population: this diverse group can provide knowledge for catching future trends and identifying prospective clients.

Good communication and a culture of inclusion

Diverse teams function well in companies that encourage and contribute to creating an inclusive culture. Diversity managers understand this and tap into tools such as anti-biased training or supportive networks and mentoring. Fostering a culture of inclusion creates a working environment where team members can feel that they both belong to a group but at the same time that they are accepted for their uniqueness! This atmosphere helps diverse members effectively listen and learn from one another in order to perform successfully.

A level playing field

Companies that take a responsible social position in the face of wider social inequalities help to create trust within their teams. For example, diverse teams profit from a leveled playing field in decision-making processes, an equal distribution of “good” and “bad” tasks over time, as well as fair and transparent criteria for compensation and promotions. Emotional issues at work related to diversity also need to be dealt with. For example, micro-aggressions against certain minority groups should be named for what they are and deemed unacceptable.

Creating diversity: a good business investment!

Companies and organizations have increasingly focused their attention on team diversity, and with good reason. If managed well, diversity in companies is well worth the effort. Employees are a company’s most valuable resource, so making an effort to think about diversity is crucial. Recruiting talented diverse employees and promoting their ability to work together can move the company to unimaginable heights.

Any questions about team diversity?
Feel free to reach out to me or to the people at Mercator Launch. Always happy to help!

Dr. Dorian Woods, Assistant Professor, Nijmegen School of Management