There’s a lot of talk about diversity and its importance within the workplace, but what is meant by ‘diversity’?
Diversity is a surprisingly broad term, encompassing, not only gender, age, race, religion, background and personality, but also the differences in the way people perceive themselves, others around them and their subsequent interactions. Given this description, therefore, the thinking behind the importance of diversity in the workplace should be easy to understand.
A team comprised of people who all think the same, come from similar backgrounds, work by similar methodologies and who are motivated by the same ideals are likely to find limited success. A homogenous team doesn’t function as a team; it’s a cult, a gang. The main purpose it serves is to reinforce each member’s ideas and beliefs, without challenge. Whilst a homogenous team may on the surface appear to be a successful one – people with similar perceptions, styles and goals may work well enough to deliver – performance is unlikely to be stellar.
A successful team is one that is constantly challenged, with different members bringing to the table a myriad of ideas as to how to increase performance, tackle obstacles, and overcome barriers. The same principle holds true within recruitment. Whilst recruiters are responsible for their own industry sector, flying their own desk as it were, the overall success of the business ultimately comes down to the success of the individual parts. With recruiters shifting away from the ‘one-hit’ placement style arrangements, to developing the longer term, account management style, there is much recruiters can learn from one another. One person’s hard-learned lesson can prevent a repeat of the same sticky situation, saving time, money and the company’s reputation. As a Branch or Area Manager, or indeed Managing Director, this has to be a primary focus.
A diverse team will have members with varying strengths, different talents, and alternative ways of thinking. This is absolutely vital when presented with challenging clients, tough negotiations, and wayward candidates. Diversity gives the individuals the opportunity to learn from each other. A recruiter with a direct style may be having a problem ‘getting a straight answer’ when negotiating a placement fee with a client whose natural style is inclined to be indirect. If the whole team is made up of recruiters with a similarly direct style, the chances of finding a solution to this problem are reduced. However, if the team comprises of other members who understand the client is potentially uncomfortable being faced with a ‘confrontational’ negotiation style, there is a better chance of finding a winning resolution.
Recruiters too, should put the benefits of diversity within a team to their clients. Often, clients look to recruit someone they can relate to and identify with. It’s the easy option. It’s not unusual for recruiters to hear clients say: “I like Bob, he thinks like I do and has a similar outlook. Joe is really different; I just can’t see that he’ll fit. We want Bob.” Whilst it’s important that team members are able to work together it’s not essential for them to all think and behave the same way. In fact, it’s a hindrance. There must be agreement of purpose within a team to push a business forward, but there must also be different approaches to overcome challenges and obstacles. There always has to be that person willing to ask the tough questions, looking for new ways, more efficient ways to work. Diversity encourages productivity and increases the chances of success.
Recruitment is fast-paced, with continually changing regulations, trends and technologies. Embracing diversity puts you in the best position to explore new frontiers, boldly going where no other agency has gone before!