Mentor of Ajujaht: choose diversity!
Ajujaht mentor and Microsoft Development Center Estonia’s HR Partner Merle Liisu Lindma recently wrote an opinion article about the importance of a diverse staff. We shall publish her thoughts to the general audience and fans of Ajujaht.
What are the benefits of staff diversity?
Whether we like it or not, the world and the people are diverse. The difference enriches, makes living more exciting and definitely more complicated. Diversity can be based on any trait that leads to the conclusion that someone else is different. The difference is noticeable to the eye (observable or demographic diversity) or imperceptible to the eye (unobservable or cognitive diversity). An easily noticeable difference is, for example, gender, age, race, nationality or some other special need. Less noticeable are education, values, way of thinking, character traits, skills and way of communicating.
Usually a person prefers and chooses companions based on similarity. People with whom they feel connected, share a worldview and the same interests. Many ventures start with a group, be it a group of friends, a family or a classmate. There is a group, there is an idea, goodwill and together they implement it with the desire to make the world a better place and create a job for themselves. Start-up is born. If things go well and the first investors and/or customers are found, there is a reason to hire new people soon. From the very beginning, it is good to think very carefully about why to recruit, what role to recruit, what personal qualities, skills, etc. are needed to fulfill this role.
It is important to be brave and involve people who are different (smarter anyway) and who share values with you!
More diverse teams are more creative. Different ways of thinking, life experience, age, gender and cultural space enrich the team. It is very likely that situations will be seen from different perspectives. The experiences of different people give the team the opportunity to generate more ideas and the most suitable solutions. You will see the world and the customer’s wishes more broadly. Which in turn provides an opportunity to create a better product and service that customers consume more, value more, and perhaps make it easier to find investors. Today, in addition to the idea, investors value soft values such as team diversity and corporate culture.
If a company has a homogeneous work environment and culture, it often looks for similar employees who are suitable for that environment: the same nationality, age group and gender. If a potential or new employee differs significantly from an existing one, he or she may not be hired, even though he or she has the skills that the company needs. The option is that he does not want to start work himself or leaves the company as soon as possible because he does not feel part of the team and involved.
When a company creates a culture where all differences are welcome and where employees feel psychologically safe; where they can be authentic and from the very first steps of the organization really focus on creating a diverse team, it gives the company the opportunity to become, be and remain an attractive employer for absolutely all people in the (global) labor market. This is a great achievement and an important competitive advantage in the labor market. Especially considering that the demand for good people in the labor market is higher than supply. In other words, more and more employees are choosing employers.