There is no shortage of publications on the importance of gender diversity in tech startups, but what about cultural diversity? Adding employees from various backgrounds can be a boom to your company’s growth and productivity. Since a diverse workplace is a smarter, more creative workplace, it makes business sense to do everything possible to increase cultural diversity. As you’re building your team and hiring for growth, this article will look at how and why you should incorporate diversity into your hiring practices.
It’s easy to get so caught up in the need to hire qualified employees that often companies miss opportunities to recruit and hire for diversity. However, companies that overlook cultural diversity miss the benefits of hiring a team with mixed backgrounds and experience. A recent Scientific American article points out that surrounding yourself with diverse colleagues makes you smarter (more creative, harder working, and more diligent). Indeed, diversity fosters creative solutions, both for clients and within the company. Companies that implement diversity programs have improved internal processes and make more money from new clients.
Cultural diversity makes your company a more interesting, exciting, and challenging place to work, leading to greater employee satisfaction and a lower turnover rate. Employees feeling satisfied with their environment stick around. As you add diversity to your team, you foster a company culture of acceptance and inclusivity.Workplace diversity also improves the personal development of employees, breaking down stereotypes and subconscious biases through interaction. People working with colleagues from diverse cultural backgrounds are less likely to carry strong prejudices.
Different life experiences bring differing perspectives into the company, and that’s not always easy to manage. Cross-cultural communication can be a challenge for companies that bring together people of various backgrounds and experiences. Often, overcoming communication differences just takes time for everyone to adjust to new communication styles.
And conflicting work styles can create tension within teams used to doing things a certain way. These conflicts over how to work can be a challenge for integrating new team members. Sometimes, you may observe outright racism and/or prejudice influence coworkers’ ability to work together. In almost all cases, cultural biases and subconscious preconceived notions will affect teams that implement multicultural diversity programs.
Mandating classes in cultural diversity doesn’t work. So, what can a company do to mitigate the challenges of implementing diversity programs? One approach is to create a voluntary program for one-on-one mentorship between leaders and employees. Specifically, matching volunteers from different backgrounds can break down prejudices. Opening avenues of communication about diversity will get you the best results. Diversity is a long game. It will take time, and there will be bumps along the road to implementation, but the benefits are worth it.
It’s not always easy to lead the push for diversity. It would be much easier to hire candidates from similar backgrounds with a common culture and communication style. However, research from McKinsey has shown that more diverse firms make more money and have greater employee satisfaction. This makes sense, because absent diversity your workplace is missing ideas, knowledge, and customers from entire segments of the population.
Despite the challenges of implementing diversity and inclusion programs, the ROI can be tremendous when applied consistently during many years or decades. The key here is not to implement diversity programs for the money. You’re not likely to see immediately measurable changes from a few new hires. Again, inclusivity is an ongoing, never ending process that will pay off as time goes on.
Cultural diversity is an excellent way to attract top talent. Competition within the tech industry for the best candidates is fiercer than ever, and cultural diversity is one way to highlight your company. A significant portion of the job pool cares about diversity when choosing a new employer. In fact, a Glassdoor survey found that two-thirds of job candidates consider diversity important when evaluating job offers.
As you increase diversity, you make your company more attractive to top talent. You also gain exposure to potential customers, and make yourself a more interesting company with which to do business. This is a virtuous cycle, bringing in more talented employees and qualified customers. Diversity is not just important to your earnings, it also speaks to what you value as a company and what your company culture is all about. More than just profits, diversity builds your company’s brand image as a leader in inclusivity, and that’s an image that pays long term dividends.