Vibrant Economy Blog

Top tips: Building diverse teams

Diverse teams are proven time and time again to deliver better results. Organisations need access to people with different experiences, skills and backgrounds if they want to succeed.

The UK falls short when it comes to representing the diversity of the country in its workplaces. Just one out of 15 managerial positions are held by black, Asian or minority ethnic people1 and only 17% of FTSE 100 directorships are held by women.2 Yet, diverse teams are proven time and time again to deliver better results. Organisations of any size and sector need access to people with different experiences, skills and backgrounds if they want to succeed. So, what can leaders do to encourage diverse teams? The Faces of a Vibrant Economy gave us their tips:

Believe in the benefits

“It has to be voluntary, based on the genuine understanding that diversity creates better results. “When organisations just follow initiatives to increase diversity, but lack the genuine desire to do so, it doesn’t work.” A lot of formal programmes are well-intentioned but counterproductive – like mandatory unconscious bias training which doesn’t improve diversity. We can’t change how people think and behave overnight – but we can encourage them to make their own minds up that diversity is good for their business.”
 - Helena Morrissey, 30% Club

Take diversity to the top

“The decision makers have to be diverse. You have to fight for diversity in an organisation if you want it. It doesn’t just happen. If the leadership doesn’t value diversity then it won’t happen.”
 - Sarah Dunning, The Westmorland Family

Embed it in your values

“It comes back to values. If you’re seen as an organisation that recognises people’s capability regardless of background, then you’re going to encourage diverse teams to take shape. I’m exceptionally proud of the diversity of our own workforce – we have people who were formerly service users and are now in senior management positions.”
 - Chris Wright, Catch22

Understand the importance of role models

“There are issues around image that need to change. The role models that people see as superstars in technology need to be a more well-rounded, diverse bunch. That will raise awareness about how varied roles in the technology industry can be.”
 - Morna Simpson, Girl Geek Scotland

Recognise the role of recruitment

“First, we looked at our hiring processes and realised that the people coming in at the top of the ladder do not represent the UK population. To address it we did outreach into communities that are underrepresented in technology companies. We also spoke to newspapers, went to different cities and worked with community organisations.

“Second, it’s important to showcase the role models that your organisation already has. For us that means publishing our diversity statistics and writing blog posts that demonstrate we’re walking the walk, not just talking the talk.”
 - Tom Blomfield, Monzo

Appreciate attitude and aptitude

“By recruiting staff based on their attitude not their education. We also focus on employing people who have lived experience as refugees, asylum seekers and being homeless. This builds trust, ensures empathy and creates a sense of loyalty. Right now we have four members of staff who, at one point, would have been deemed ‘vulnerable’.”
 - Gina Rowlands, Bevan Healthcare

Focus on the doers

“Don’t put too much weight on academic results. Look for the doers and those who can inspire instead. MBAs can drain your resources while someone without so-called ‘academic excellence’ can deliver much more value to the organisation.”
- Philip Mordecai, Curzon

Sources:

  1. Diversity UK – Diversity in the UK
  2. Business in the community - Women and Work: The Facts

Our purpose in action

Each year we select 100 inspiring leaders based on their commitment to growth, innovation and purpose.

Meet the 2017 Faces of a Vibrant Economy