When you’re running a small business, expansion inevitably involves recruitment. This can be a daunting prospect whether you’re employing your very first workers, recruiting for a new manager or expanding to a new territory.
The process of delegation can be difficult to adjust to when you’re used to running everything. That’s why smart hiring is so important for your growing business – and choosing diverse teams is absolutely crucial.
According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Global Recruiting Trends report, 78 per cent of companies are working towards recruiting a more diverse workforce.
Diversity drives innovation
Creativity is the lifeblood of innovation – in order for businesses to forge a new path or offer revolutionary products and services, they need a dash of imagination. This is true in every industry, from data science to agriculture. Sometimes, you just need to look at everyday tasks from a new perspective.
Hiring a diverse selection of employees – men and women from multiple generations, racial backgrounds and walks of life – creates the perfect atmosphere for creativity to blossom. People draw on their experiences in every aspect of their working lives.
When your office is full of people who think differently in subtle ways, you get more creative bang for your buck.
This is especially true in teams who are able to draw from multiple cultures. The official term is cultural brokerage – and it has been shown time and time again to improve creativity in business.
Diversity gives you the power to attack new markets
If your expansion plans are international, diversity becomes a matter of necessity. The number of cultural sticking points you could encounter even in “similar” cultures within the EU, North America and Australia may surprise you. Misjudge the local humour and your social faux pas could cause the loss of an important deal.
International recruitment can be challenging, but there are organisations that can help you to outsource professionals who already belong to the society you’ll be expanding into.
If you have plans around setting up a US subsidiary, providers like Foothold America can put you in contact with first-rate American workers in your industry, so you’ll be able to tap into the new culture straight away.
Lucrative Asian markets present more challenges still, since greetings and business customs can be remarkably different. In Japan, it is not uncommon to see business executives falling asleep in meetings. This is even considered a sign of diligence!
A diverse team is better positioned to understand the preferences and desires of international clients or business partners. Diversity means you can spot problems before they occur
Not only does diversity help to drive up your bottom line by encouraging creativity, but it also helps to protect your business from a PR meltdown.
One soap dispenser manufacturer was caught red-faced when its new prototype was found not to work on dark skin. The British tech firm had designed a light-sensitive dispenser, but an international scandal was sparked because the prototype had been made and tested only on Caucasian skin.
This type of scandal is caused by an invisible bias that runs through homogenous organisations. These scenarios can arise in unpredictable ways – business owners are rarely able to spot the problem before it’s too late.
Diversity connects you to a wide customer base
It isn’t essential to employ workers who look, sound and think like your customers – but for obvious reasons, it certainly helps. If your marketing team is a monolith, there will be a world of cultural references and persona communities they just won’t be able to access.
Your product design team may be missing out on key opportunities if their worldview is tied to a single generation or social class.
In fact, every team in your building should aim to recruit a diverse set of talented individuals who can each contribute in unique ways.
Diversity boosts your brand as an employer
Great companies have a brand image with two faces: their customer-oriented brand and their industry-facing identity. The latter is a key driving force in the recruitment market – it sends all kinds of subtle messages to potential recruits about the type of organisation they’re looking at.
With a strong brand, you’ll be better placed to attract the best talent in your industry.
It is a good idea to treat diversity as a goal in itself; something that goes hand-in-hand with a strong workplace culture. A healthy office environment depends upon creating an atmosphere where a broad range of personality types feel welcome and able to contribute.
Though it can be tempting to hire people who look, sound and think like you, it doesn’t always make good business sense to do so. More and more business leaders are realising how important diversity is for future-proofing a growing business.