The Challenges and Rewards of Diversifying Your Team

As business owners and managers of teams, we sometimes stereotype the behaviour of people from certain cultures when it comes down to working with them. At times, managing a culturally diverse team can be demanding. But can the business benefit from it? Managing a business team with members coming from different cultural backgrounds has its challenges, but cultural diversity also pays off. 
 “Culturally diverse and capable leadership team can provide enormous benefits for organisations, such as the potential to boost local market share, enter international markets, create strategic alliances, maximise innovation and meet critical talent shortages.” 
Diversity Council Australia (DCA)

The diversity in your workplace that may be challenging to manage can be turned to one of your very best assets.  The diversification of your team allows you to tap into the very strength that diversity brings. 

Promoting Diversity in the workplace can have its challenges at time.  I will go through them briefly and look at the benefits from there. 

1. Having a diverse team can be a distraction.  It is easier to work with someone you share the same culture with because it makes for a more predictable working environment. Cultural diversity can be a potential distraction, particularly when members of the team interpret an instruction or objective differently, due to cultural differences.

2. It may be a source of conflict. It takes slightly more effort to assimilate a person from a different culture into your team, than it is for members with similar cultures, as expectations may differ between parties. Cultural differences present communication challenges, which may result in team conflict.

3. It may incur additional transaction costs. It will require an increased awareness that different interpretations to a set of instructions will occur from time to time. This may require more time on your part to effectively communicate with your team from different cultures.  The benefit of this is that by doing so, it  provides a long-term benefit on improving your communication procedures in the business itself.

The benefits of investing in a culturally diverse organisation.

  1. Cultural diversity is good marketing. The marketing benefit of diversity has a dual pronged approach.
    1. On one hand, a culturally diverse workplace makes it attractive to top talent. A good talent mix infuses creativity in the business. Different skills, experiences and mindsets offer a multitude of insights that provide problem-solving advantages.
    2. It makes more accessible to its target market, or partner with someone who has access to it. Consider this: Asia remains as one of Australia’s top export markets.

Seven out of Australia’s top ten export markets are in Asia, and constitute 66% of our total export market. (ref DCA)

Having a culturally diverse team will make it easier to do business in the global marketplace.

2. Diversity takes you out of the comfort zone. Being comfortable results in complacency, which is never good in business. Diversity, on the other hand, drives innovation. Consider Google, a highly diverse organisation with 62% market share, which covers more than 200 countries. Google is on the forefront of innovation, allowing different users to access it in many different languages. Such an innovation is only possible with a culturally diverse team. I wrote an article about getting out of your comfort zone and the benefits it brings to your business.  You can read more about it here.

3. Diversity spreads your risk. Depending on a single mindset or a single way of doing things keeps you stagnant and susceptible to risks. You can’t do the same thing over and over again, and expect a different result each time. Instead, diversity provides you with a lot of options should circumstances change in your business. You can refer to an example of the business who was dependent on a particular medium for doing business and how its diversification sources help it in staying afloat.  You can read more about it here.

Cultural diversity in your business team encourages different viewpoints to be formed on a certain issue. Business owners have found managing such thought processes to be beneficial impact to their profitability. 

Despite its challenges, cultural diversity in the workplace can be rewarding. The key is to learn how to harness diversity within your organisation and to identify the ways in which each member of the team—and their distinct differences—can contribute to positively impact the bottom line. 

In my book, $20K to $2 Million in 2 Years, I look at how changing your mindset can positively impact your business.  It also looks at companies experiencing consistent and exponential growth work with their team, and the benefits they discover by sharing in the company. To learn more about the book or get a copy you can go here



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