I have been advocating diversity in workplaces for a long time . It's so important to me that I now make a living out of training businesses on how to achieve more diverse workplaces.
In many ways it is incredibly simplistic. Because of the way we are hard-wired as human beings, it's natural that we will gravitate towards people who are similar to us. But in the workplace this can have a very negative impact - we are more likely to recruit people who are like us, promote people who are like us and develop the best workplace relationships with people who are like us. That inevitably means there are large swathes of people, who are different to you (and therefore have different ideas, perspectives and innovations) that we are missing out on.
So we have to challenge our mind-set, step out of our comfort zone and focus on how to create a more diverse workplace and then how to harness the power of a diverse team; there has been more than enough research now to prove that the world class leading teams are the most diverse. From an HR perspective, diverse teams may be more challenging to manage due to having such a diverse range of thoughts and opinions. But when it works, it really has an impact which leads me to the conclusion that diversity has to be one of the most important, if not the most important, HR strategy.
To put it simply, the more diverse your team, the more innovative their ideas will be. People have a tendency to develop relationships with those who are like us in terms of socioeconomic background. This inclination can also extend into hiring practices, and as seen in the demographic makeup of many of the country’s leading firms. While placing a high priority on “cultural fit” may lead to a comfortable workplace, it won’t result in much innovation or growth.