A business that does the same thing too many times is a business that will eventually fail.
Progress lies at the heart of any successful enterprise, yet somehow too many people cling on to the comforting idea that every success has an eternal recipe. Just because something worked yesterday doesn’t mean that it will work tomorrow. If your company culture is limited by too many like-minded thinkers, you will happily pat each other on the back for a while, but one day you will be caught unaware by something that none of you saw coming.
In an age of disruption, business leaders know that agility is key to progress, and happily many businesses are putting diversity at the heart of this agility.
When you have ten people who think differently in the same room, the potential for making astounding decisions is always there. Most of the time, those decisions will prove to be the average of those around the table, but every now and again an idea so divergent and brilliant will appear that, although most won’t have thought of it, all can see the merits and all will get behind it.
Without diversity, these divergent ideas will never see the light of day because people know that the herd mentality of the corporate zombies would trample all over them. It is not enough to encourage diverse thinking – when you see a load of other white, middle-aged professionals around the table, you will likely suggest solutions that will find approval with your audience.
When you have a diverse table, those different ideas can be cultivated.
These are the arguments that I try to use with my recruitment clients. I have a long-term interest in the success of their business, and I see divergent thinking starting when I present my shortlist of candidates. If I am only presenting the “obvious” candidates, I do not believe that I am doing my job. I get the most pleasure when I have to really persuade clients to see someone, then to see them transform the prospects of their employer in ways that they hadn’t imagined.
This happens when hiring managers trust recruiters to make those divergent decisions and obviously only when a recruiter knows their client inside-out to enable this. Our partnership approach with our clients helps ensure we gain their trust.
I do not think that we have enough data to prove the efficacy of this suggestion, but as the data revolution gathers pace, I do believe that we will soon be able to measure the impact of diversity on a much more granular level. For the converts, the bottom-line impact has always been clear, but after a few years I sense that recruiters will be at the front line of a new battle. The battle for talent will be side-lined and the battle for diversity will start.
I really (really) hope that this movement accelerates because I do not see any other way. There are so many sections of our society (and world) who are woefully underrepresented in the workplace, and it is high time that it changed. Little by little it is changing, and that is what makes me get up for work every day.