(2 minute read)

There’s an old saying; “Same equals safety!”

We now understand this to imply that when we spend time with others of similar interests, education, demographics, affiliations, and preferences, we tend to feel safer – more comfortable. Seeking and securing comfort can sound ideal, but there’s a sting-in-the-tail.

When establishing and developing teams, we can make the error of attempting to replicate – if not clone – the current members, in the false hope that ‘more of the same’ will be a good thing.

Recent research on the impact of collaboration upon teamwork has shone light on the benefits of diversity within teams – especially high-performing teams.

Diversity is not only about gender or race. It applies to the differences in cultural or socio-economic backgrounds, as well as age and seniority.

“I never learned from a man who agreed with me.”

Robert Heinlein

When there is diversity within a group or team, there will be differences among the group members in terms of the information, knowledge, and prior experiences they have been exposed to.

When there is a diverse team, each team member can gain perspective into the other person’s world. They can become more understanding of others over time, leading to better communication for the team overall. With better communication, team performance also improves.

As we observe the best performing teams – whether in science, art, construction, sport, or business – we are finding more diversity. These teams then model the benefits of ‘inclusivity’ for others to follow.

Further benefits of embracing diversity to improve teamwork:

  • Prevent the unhealthy formation of cliques – groups who intentionally exclude others
  • Stand out from your competitors – an admirable point of difference
  • Access a broader and deeper pool of talent
  • An improved sense-of-belonging increases retention of talent
  • Build and enhance trust

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