Diversity is on the agenda for many big organizations at the moment, and it’s not about hitting arbitrary targets or being seen to do the right thing. Diverse teams positively affect business results.
Here are 5 reasons why you need a diverse project team.
- Diverse Teams Perform Better
It’s a fact: diverse teams perform better. Research by McKinsey shows that gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their competitors financially. Ethnically diverse companies are more likely to outperform financially by 35%.
That’s a big jump in performance. Can you afford to miss out on that?
It’s not even that difficult to get diversity on project teams if you put your mind to it. Today, we often work with outsourcing companies that may be based off-shore. Not wanting to be too flippant about it, consider the diversity that comes with your supplier relationships. These people are core to the success of your project.
Diversity can even come through the ways in which people work. Your virtual team members will have a different outlook and approach to their tasks to those based in the office.
Try to get a mix of genders, age, and backgrounds on the team. Treat people as individuals and value their opinions both as people and as members of the team.
- Diverse Teams Are More Creative
Beth Comstock, writing in Harvard Business Review, shares a story of how adding a legal colleague into a group of engineers helped the team deal innovatively with issues they faced on their project. Diversity increased the creativity of the team.
Creativity is important on project teams because it helps unlock requirements, deal with challenges, work out how to reach stakeholders who don’t seem to be that interested and lots more. Generally, business leaders agree that creativity is a good trait for individuals and teams to have. You can increase the power of creativity on your project team by introducing diversity. It’s an easy win to bringing more innovation to the team and company.
- Diverse Teams Are Better At Problem Solving
An additional advantage to being more creative is that diverse teams are better at problem-solving.
Research shared in Scientific American shows that being around people who are different from us makes us better at seeking out original solutions. Studying students at the University of Illinois, researchers found that racially-similar groups failed to share information as effectively as racially-diverse groups when asked to solve a problem. They concluded that being with others similar to yourself leads people to feel that the group all has the same information – and this was not the case in the research exercise. This outlook stopped all-white groups processing information effectively to solve the problem.
Projects hit problems all the time and as a team, you have to step up to creatively work out what to do about them. Whether it’s something small that can be resolved in a quick team discussion or something big that needs a full proposal taken to the sponsor, being able to debate and access solutions, discuss pros and cons and keep the project moving forward is a key challenge for project teams. The more diverse the team involved in the problem solving, the more options you’ll have for how to solve it.
Problem-solving is not an area where you can parachute in a subject matter expert to help you uncover potential solutions. While this can work in some situations, it’s more likely that it’s your team who have the knowledge and experience of the project to know what is going to work. Build diversity into your team from the beginning so that creativity and the ability to work together on problem-solving is there from the start.
- Diverse Teams Deal With Conflict
Differences of outlook and opinion create conflict. That’s to be expected on all project teams, especially those that are delivering business change and shaking up the way the company operates.
Researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Business uncovered that demographic diversity can cause interpersonal conflict on teams, and that, they say, is something to watch out for.
The team that knows how to deal with this will go on to be high performing. The good news for diverse project teams is that you’ll have plenty of opportunities to learn how to deal with smaller conflicts of opinion and approach prior to having to use those skills to diffuse a big conflict.
- Diverse Teams Are More Fun!
OK, so I don’t have the stats to back this one up, but think how boring your workplace would be if everyone was the same and did the same.
Project management involves so much working with other people that you might as well make life more interesting and fun for everyone by bringing diversity to the office.
Diverse teams give you the opportunity to learn about different societies, cultures, countries, and heritages. We know teams that celebrate festivals and important calendar events for every culture represented on the team.
Diversity brings a different spin to even the most mundane of project tasks, and while it’s as important to focus on what brings us together, it’s fun as well to recognize what makes the individuals in the team unique.
We advocate hiring the best person for the job. But a flexible outlook when building out your project team means you won’t overlook talent wherever it might be.
Get in touch with us here at Triumph Strategic Consulting and let us help you find the perfect fit for your teams.