This article first appeared on HR Management.
Is diversity and inclusion (D&I) in organizations and teams just the latest HR craze? Or maybe just a nod to equality compliance?
Neither. D&I, when introduced appropriately, mines the rich and often untapped talent within an organization. In fact, understanding what D&I means when implemented within a business can be the change that takes an organization from mediocrity to greatness.
Applied to teams, D&I opens doors to innovation, experience, creativity and an unmatched depth of knowledge. But – and it’s a big but – a multifaceted D&I strategy, if not handled appropriately, can lead to chaos and confusion.
The key is to tap into the inherent behaviors and biases of individuals. A highly-validated behavioral discovery process (think a quick-but-thorough assessment tool for every team player) will deliver this insight quickly, accurately and with comprehensive reports that cover every aspect of an individual’s inherent workplace and life behavior.
Such a process provides insight into hidden abilities, revealing behaviors below the surface that, if not managed, might result in disruptive behavior that could unsettle the team. It will highlight communication styles, which helps build a more engaged and productive workforce. Further, the process delivers a culture of openness, mutual respect and trust in the business environment that should satisfy any cultural or legal requirement.
Be mindful that D&I isn’t just about ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other such factors; its also about the behaviors that drive performance and reveal (and channel) such behaviors, biases and communication styles to foster successful team outcomes.
Harnessing these differences without the use of a behavioral insight tool can be challenging, if not impossible. People with different backgrounds bring unique information and experiences to tasks. They also bring a significant range of communication styles, decision-making approaches, and thought processes.
In any team, there will be those who passionately and tenaciously bring a vision to completion. Others will be spontaneous, creative and challenge conventional ideas. And there will be those whose experiences and behaviors cross-pollinate, bringing unique perspectives and approaches to work in different functional areas.
Plus, its good business practice to embrace diversity and inclusion: Complex and challenging issues are more likely to be resolved when a team includes a range of talents, thought processes and behaviors.
Dr. David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute and Summit, and Dr. Heidi Grant, a social psychologist, note in the Harvard Business Review that, striving to increase workplace diversity is not an empty slogan – it is a good business decision. A 2015 McKinsey report on 366 public companies found that those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean, and those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15 percent more likely to have returns above the industry mean.
Teams formed based on diversity and inclusion that are behaviorally aware, behaviorally smart and which include a range of different skills, are more likely to examine facts, consider a range of options and opinions, and remain objective. They will challenge each other professionally, without causing offense or disconnect. Biases will be openly discussed and resolved. Counterproductive thinking will be constructively argued to find mutually beneficial solutions. All of this leads to more effective decision making and organizational and business improvement.
As an example, Bain and Co. research shows that decision-making effectiveness is 95 percent correlated with financial performance.
Still, diversity and inclusion cannot be a one-off initiative. You should incorporate D&I at the hiring stage, and it’s a continuing work in progress, made more effective by the introduction of tools that reveal hidden behaviors and communication styles. D&I evolves, so your approach should too.?Diversity and inclusion make teams great and inclusion will set your organization apart from your competitors and improve your bottom line.