How to Build More Diverse Teams? Pitfalls and Tips

Diversity Management
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Best Practices
Eugene James
Manager, Switzerland

How to Build More Diverse Teams? Pitfalls and Tips

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.

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