Strength lies in differences, not similarities.
-Stephen Covey

I love my church and how diverse it is. Its got a great mix of races, education, life experience, and various backgrounds. You may have a guy that grew up on the south side of Atlanta who is sitting beside a member of our church motorcycle club who is sitting beside a retired couple.

Diversity is a key piece to keeping your business and life perspective relevant. This became very evident to me as I led a business in Houston, TX  for a time. I couldn’t truly connect with my community if I’m in a heavily Latino area and the vast majority of my team consists of young white girls. Your team should match the demographics of your customers. Have a look at your own team. Do they all look the “same”? Would your guests say that you have a diverse team?

You may have to look for it

When I was teaching hiring managers about the expectations of diversity, I would hear questions along the lines of, “I’m not getting any diversity in my applications! How can I do this if they aren’t applying?”

A fisherman wouldn’t expect to catch a trout in the ocean, nor would he expect to catch a tuna in a lake. In the same way, we shouldn’t expect to catch a diverse talent pool by fishing for applicants in the same area all of the time. Identify who you are missing and go and find them. Just because you aren’t getting the applications doesn’t mean that they aren’t out there. If you are still struggling, connect with people that identify with the group that you are missing and ask them for recommendations on how you can get the word out or even a recommendation on a great candidate.

 Diversity covers more than color

Many leaders oversimplify diversity to mean strictly race. While race is part of it, it is only part. Also, consider their life stage and personality type. You don’t want just college students or retired people on your team. You want a mix of both so that people can relate and connect with different people groups that come through your doors.

The college student will be able to help the young girl that is dealing with depression and cutting but will find it difficult to connect with a person that is struggling to put their mom in a nursing home. No matter your work situation, having a larger worldview will help you engage with more people on a personal level.

Holding to your standards

My caution to you would be this: Do not lower your standard for the sake of diversity. Studies show that gender makes no significant difference in performance in the workplace. They also show age does not impact the ability to relate to others. Keep your standards high and be on the lookout for that person with a different perspective and life experience. Your team will function with more creativity and innovation and you’ll be able to connect with your guests in a more personal way.

Make a better tomorrow.