How to Build More Diverse Teams? Pitfalls and Tips

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How to Build More Diverse Teams? Pitfalls and Tips
Eugene James, Manager, Switzerland

Diversity can help to build powerful teams. Members can thrive in such teams. Respect for diversity can be considered universally applicable because it constitutes a core United Nations value. Much more than just a tick-in-the-box exercise required by the government, diversity can foster greater effectiveness and drives higher results than are achieved by less diverse teams.

Yet building diverse teams is easier said than done. Several reasons can be mentioned:
- One fundamental reason is that managers are subject to cognitive biases which lead them to hire individuals who are similar, whether in terms of background, thinking, or gender.
- A more subtle limitation -as counter-intuitive as it may sound- stems from a belief that one ought to solely hire an individual who perfectly fits the job description.

However according to Daniele Fiandaca, managers must proactively seek to build diverse teams. He suggests the following tips to conduct a sound hiring process that fulfills the diversity needs of an organization:
  1. Identify "diversity gaps" and establish a mixed shortlist of candidates.
  2. Draw up vacancy announcements that highlight results and objectives rather than a narrow straight jacket of criteria relating to past experience.
  3. Recognize one's biases and ones of fellow team members. Accordingly find ways to overcome them.
  4. Recruit individuals that possess skills other than those of existing team members.
  5. Transform representation at the board level. Create a balance with respect to male-female ratio. The board must also keep track of progress made on diversity on the whole to enable meaningful and concrete steps for further transformation.
⇒ Do you have any additional tips to build diverse teams?

Source: Daniele Fiandaca, "Diversity at Work: Hiring the Best Person for the Job isn't Enough", The Guardian, 5 January 2016.

Building Diverse Teams
AMRAOUI Abraim, Coach, Morocco
Human considerations are in my opinion the main important tips and conditions for building a strong team.

Ratios to Build a High Performing, Diverse Team
Javier Elenes, Business Consultant, Mexico
Here are a few tips that I used as Managing Director in order to build a high performance team, summing skills and multiplying results (1+1=3). Because one member is strong in an area where others are weak you can use the following principle (inspired by 6 Thinking Hats Book of Eduard De Bono) along following lines:
1. Have a balanced People/Money Oriented ratio (1 People Oriented &1 Money oriented)
2. Have a balanced Young / Senior ratio
3. Have a balanced Optimistic / Realistic ratio
And so on.

Carts and Horses
Andrew Blaine, Business Consultant, South Africa
It is my opinion that too many people try to fit a person into an appointment, rather than the other way round. As most employment is offered by the leader of a business, I suggest that the process should be:
1. Identify the portfolio and detail the qualities required in a person to fill the various posts.
2. Start the search process for an appointee who can BOTH fill the post and work constructively with the rest of the team. This last quality is as important as the first, but doubly difficult to find.

Recognizing Biases in Creating Diverse Teams
Atend, Coach, Netherlands
Interesting 5 tips you present here. In my opinion the crucial one is tip 3 about biases. In your contribution I recognize your concern with the pitfall of the biases too. Without tackling these, the other 4 steps seem only superficial. The effect might be that you open the front door for diversity and at the same moment the backdoor gets wide open where diversity easily slips out.
Companies need serious soul-searching on white supremacy, male supremacy, age supremacy, education supremacy etc. to engage in developing successful working mixed teams.
For example, co-workers can do an exercise in intervision sessions called: "I'm seeing you without judging you". Good luck!

How to Create Strong Diverse Teams
melchiorre calabrese, Manager, Italy
A strong team MUST be composed of individual members who have different abilities. Only in this way we can achieve what Javier Elenes calls 1+1=3.
The basic conditions for the team to be successful are:
1. That the members share the OBJECTIVE.
2. That each one be humble enough to LISTEN to and to take account of other's ideas.
3. That the team be led by a LEADER capable of taking rational decisions, but never diminishing the contribution of each component of the team.
This means that in setting up the team you should consider in addition to the characteristics of specific professional competence, also characteristics of the respective personalities of the team members. You should do this also using psychological evaluations. With respect to the team leader it would be essential to evaluate his emotional intelligence.

The Leader the Glue to Create Strong Diverse Teams
Javier Elenes, Business Consultant, Mexico
@melchiorre calabrese: Yes, you are right. The Leader is the GLUE that holds diverse teams together to strive for a shared goal, building on the strengths of one member to avoid a weakness, (the Black Hole) of another member.

Building Strong, Diverse Teams
melchiorre calabrese, Manager, Italy
Hi, Javier! You understood me well. And also, I want to add, today's weakness of a point of view of one member may become tomorrow's strength of the team. Of course provided the "Glue" is good.


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