Having a Diverse Team is the Secret to Your Business Success

Why is a diverse team so crucial in many businesses? Even the most experienced global mobility specialist will harp on the challenges he or she faces in handling a diverse team, but that’s the good part about the job. You also play a role in putting the pieces together to help a business cast a wider net of global and diverse audiences.

Managing a team that can give insights on the business principles and cultures of their country of origin as well as others would help businesses understand why they are doing businesses around the world or to a bigger audience even on a national scale. Your team of assignees — who may have different ethnic origins, customs and traditions, and perspectives on gender, age, and married life — is vital to your success, nationally and globally. They can be your more powerful and productive group than the typical homogenous ones who occupy your entire workplace, precisely because they are different and they think differently.

Why? A diverse workforce sets its sights outward and more openly because they know how crucial it is to reach out beyond like-minded people.   

The sum total of having an international or open mindset can become the platform by which you can create global leaders, improve the quality of everyone else’s performance and put your business out there more effectively. Their diversity, whether it’s their foreignness, gender or gender orientation, can be harnessed and turned from being a so-called “disadvantage” or challenge into a company’s blueprint for success.

Diversity can be a catalyst for excellence

The Stanford Graduate School of Business points out that people who come from diverse groups, such as ethnic or gender minorities, have consciously or unconsciously prepared themselves to stand out and excel.

This goes double for assignees who, regardless of the openness of the corporate culture that they find themselves in, recognize that they do have to prove themselves precisely because they are different. It is part of human nature: for example, the lone smart woman in the team will work more hours to get respect from her nine other colleagues who might be silently thinking that she got the job out of sympathy. Imagine the pressure on your assignees, especially after the current government administration has made no secret about its objections to jobs being given to foreigners or women.

People who belong to a diverse group are also prepared for competition, which can be healthy in an organization if handled wisely. They know they have to speak up in order to be heard. They might have to back up their claims with more data than usual, in order to be given more than the usual consideration. They will not be afraid to challenge their teammates’ ideas or have their own challenged. This stands in contrast to a more homogenous group who, being so much alike, leaves little room for a fresh perspective.

Diverse teams process more facts carefully and diligently, and come to their conclusions more objectively

According to the Harvard Business Review, assignees from diverse groups tend to focus more on statistics, facts, numbers, and other hard data when it comes to deliberations, decision-making, and research. It is not because they are more logical or more intellectual than homogenous groups. One possible reason is related to the one above. Diverse assignees who have to make their point and overcome subconscious prejudices and biases will have to perform more than usual—and adhering to facts in analysis, and not emotionalism, will get them the respect of their peers and superiors.

Another possible reason for this behavior is that strict adherence to facts, logical thinking, and objectivity can neutralize any slight, nuance, or ill humor that smacks of discrimination. Sometimes, in a heated debate, all it takes is a reference to someone’s ancestor, skin color, or religion to change the opinions of the other members of the team—and not in a beneficial way. Sticking to cold, hard information, untainted by passion or opinion, eliminates that tendency and keeps the entire group on solid ground.

And while we’re treading on rational ground, the numbers do bear it. One Credit Suisse Research Institute Report says that large-cap companies with at least one woman on their board of directors outperformed their competitors with all-male boards. Another report by McKinsey shows that 35 percent of companies with an ethnically diverse workforce surpassed the results of their rivals composed internally of homogenous groups.

Some companies in Silicon Valley are learning this the hard way. Discrimination and sexual harassment here have taken the national spotlight of late, which has resulted in the firing of key executives involved in the latter, but overall, northern California is all about tolerance and diversity, which is why these abusive executives are being exposed and removed from their flawed ivory towers. Northern California is very open to diversity in gender, gender orientation, culture and race. It’s also the 6th largest economy in the world, with diverse Silicon Valley playing a critical factor.