Business Technology (BT) is a rapidly evolving field, and the problems BT teams are facing aren’t getting any simpler to solve. As the complexity and breadth of work that the BT function covers continues to grow, it’s essential that leaders put in the effort to build teams that bring a diverse set of experience, ideas, and work styles to the table. Diverse teams add tremendous value—and the proof is in the numbers.
According to a 2018 Deloitte survey, organizations with inclusive cultures are twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets, three times as likely to be high-performing, six times more likely to be innovative and agile, and eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes.
But how can a company set themselves up for success in hiring and maintaining a diverse team? Greg Paris, Director of Business Technology and Business Intelligence at People.ai, joined Jack Massion, the Talent Acquisition and HR Manager at SystemsAccountants, at Biz Systems Magic 2021 to help outline the best processes for building a diverse team at your company.
What is diversity?
“First and foremost, diversity describes a group of people, not an individual,” Greg Paris explained to start the session.
When thinking about diversity, a manager should think at the team level, meaning that there should be a variety of skill sets, backgrounds, and ethnicities on a team. A diverse team leads to deeper and more successful problem solving and innovation, as well as stronger customer-partner relationships.
Sounds pretty good. So how can you begin building a truly diverse team?
Massion recommended first examining how your company sources talent to see how those methodologies either do or do not broaden the candidate pool. He advised moving beyond standard recruiting platforms like LinkedIn to find a greater pool of workers, and to simplify the language in your job postings to avoid attracting an insular group of candidates who are already comfortable with that jargon.
Massion also mentioned how far an EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) statement can go—while many businesses utilize a standardized EEO commitment that feels like a soulless legal document, you can customize your company’s statement to more accurately reflect your values and illustrate how deeply diversity matters to you.
Keeping diversity top of mind throughout the interview process
While expanding your company’s sourcing efforts is a great first step, you have to ensure that supporting diversity stays top of mind throughout the entire hiring process.
For Paris, this means approaching interviews with a clear vision not of the type of person you want to fill a role, but rather a clear vision of the outcomes you want from the person you hire.
“As soon as you start envisioning a specific person, you start envisioning lookalikes,” Paris explained. “People you’ve hired before, people who have already been successful in that role, yourself earlier in your career.” In fact, Paris broadly recommended that hiring managers stop considering “culture fit” as a benchmark for hiring, stating that relying on that metric is another way of saying that you want more of the same kinds of people.
If you are using a panel of interviewers, both Massion and Paris agreed that communicating expectations and processes to those panel members is paramount, as the interview panel will be the clearest sign to a candidate of what they can expect if they were to join your company.
When interviewing candidates, be sure to dig into the breadth of their skill sets—many feel that they have to present themselves in a very specific manner in order to fill a specific niche, but the reality is that most workers have a range of skills that can be utilized for a number of roles. You should also review your training processes: If you can invest more time and capital into training new hires, then you can feel comfortable pulling from a broader range of candidates.
Supporting a diverse team
It’s not enough just to have diverse hiring practices—you have to ensure that the team you hire is comfortable working together and with you.
The most important aspect in maintaining a diverse team, for Paris, is balance. Since diverse teams will, by nature, have a more varied approach to solving business problems, there may be some friction in terms of work styles and problem-solving. To Paris, this healthy tension is positive. To manage it, he recommends creating a framework with set levels of standardization and governance about team-level goals, and then allowing individuals to bring their own styles and skills to work within that framework.
When there’s conflict, he encourages empowering employees to resolve that in conversations with one another, evaluating the differences in their styles and working collaboratively to come up with a solution. In doing so, the team becomes both more efficient and more closely attuned with each other’s particularities of workflow.
With these tips, you can ensure that diversity remains a core value of your company through every step of recruitment and beyond.