The Time, Toil, and Payoff of Building a Diverse Team

“The first step to leveraging the strength of a diverse team is, of course, getting unique voices to the table, but the work doesn’t end there,” writes New York Times engineering manager Tessa Ann Taylor. “Once people are at the table, it’s important to create an inclusive environment where they can share their thoughts and perspectives.”

Though companies may toss around “diversity” and “inclusion” as buzzwords, to successfully create a diverse, inclusive work environment requires more time, planning and commitment on a multi-faceted level that those words would suggest.

In her opinion piece “Diversity, Inclusion and Culture: How to Build Great Teams,” Taylor discusses the process of boosting diversity in her department as an engineering manager. Throughout it all — from recruiting at conferences and schools that promote under-represented groups, to gathering feedback about her team’s culture, to documenting and setting goals about the team’s practices — fostering a diverse workplace was on her mind every step of the way.

“Everyone wants a silver bullet for recruiting people with diverse backgrounds,” she explained. “I’m here to tell you that’s not the case.”

Achieving diversity’s tough, but those efforts pay off, research shows. Taylor references a 2018 study conducted by McKinsey & Company, which analyzed more than 1,000 companies across 12 countries. Their results found that executive teams of diverse leaders significantly increase a company’s profit and performance versus competitors. Conversely, companies in the bottom percentile for gender and ethnic diversity ended up 29 percent more likely to fall behind the competition.

Taylor attributes this correlation to the unique perspectives that come into play in a room filled with different backgrounds, experiences and beliefs. “This creates dialogue, challenges the status quo and ultimately results in a more thoughtful and robust product,” she concludes.

By Rachel McCarthy

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