What Diversity Means For Your Business

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By Diane Domeyer, Executive Director, The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals with a variety of firms.

Diversity and inclusion are vital for any business, but it’s especially critical for creative teams. Some are getting there, but others have a long way to go. In a recent survey by The Creative Group, 65 percent of advertising and marketing executives said their leadership team is more diverse today than three years ago. Twenty-nine percent said there has been no change in demographics and 5 percent reported less diversity. What’s more, 40 percent of respondents said their firm has no formal process in place to build a more inclusive team.

Why Diversity Matters

Diversity means difference. While this can refer to inherent traits such as age, ethnicity or gender, diversity also includes characteristics acquired through life experiences. These include our hobbies, our workstyles, the influence of people we’ve met and the way we’ve grown to see the world.

You might think a homogeneous team would thrive when working toward a common goal, but actually the opposite is true. Boosting diversity on your team can mean a lot for your business’ success. The more eclectic the group, the greater their potential, particularly in the following areas:

  • Innovation — When people encounter alternative opinions, they are challenged to rethink their own assumptions. This continual stream of novel ideas and approaches can result in creative solutions that a more homogenous team would have a hard time dreaming up.
  • Decision-making — You’ve no doubt read about the outcomes for companies that inadvertently created an ad or made a statement that, in retrospect, was insensitive. While having an inclusive team can’t guarantee a company will never make a poor marketing move, it can increase the odds of spotting disasters before they happen.
  • Problem-solving — To paraphrase Albert Einstein: You can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking you used when you created those problems. Diverse minds come up with diverse and unique solutions.

Putting Together A Team That Works

Does your roster of directors and designers reflect society’s diversity? How about a variety of generations and backgrounds? Here are some tips for building a dynamic creative team that will reflect your consumer base, produce smart marketing campaigns and, ultimately, help grow the company.

  • Consider candidates’ life history when hiring. When vetting potential new hires, prioritize their digital portfolio and work history — but also give serious weight to how they could bring fresh perspectives and new insights to your team based on their former experiences. In general, your staff should reflect not only your customer base, but also have empathy for others and diverse experiences.
  • Coach future leaders.When you come across standout employees, pair them with a mentor who could guide their career and help them rise through the ranks. Effective mentorship programs can create a talent pipeline for the future that is diverse and inclusive, increase retention and aid with future succession planning.
  • Hire for the culture you want. Make it easy for job seekers to learn about your company’s organizational culture and determine whether it’s a match with what they’re looking for. If you want them to get a true sense of what it would be like to be a part of your firm, they shouldn’t have to dig to find out. Tell your story on your company website, via social media and during job interviews and networking events.

Your company’s efforts at diversity and inclusion are beneficial not only for society at large but also for your company’s brand and reputation. Make it part of what you stand for.