Article: Creating a culture of diversity at startups


Creating a culture of diversity at startups

Every employee in a diverse workplace possesses unique strengths and weaknesses derived from their culture in addition to their individuality. When managed properly, diversity in the workplace can leverage the strengths and complement the weaknesses of each worker to make the impact of the workforce greater than the sum of its parts.
Creating a culture of diversity at startups

Employers are beginning to increase focus on attracting and retaining a diverse workforce. In this era which is witnessing a ‘war for talent,’ millennials are stepping into the workforce and reshaping the talent markets while generating newer expectations. Employers are presenting their workforce with an environment that allows employees to create work-life fusion. This, particularly is important to both, generation X and millennials, many of whom prefer greater control over their personal and professional lives. Currently, the ‘Startup Culture’ has been receiving a lot of interest. Even without any conscious effort, your start-up already has a culture – positive or negative is for the founder to nurture. Many factors contribute to the success or failure of your startup and a positive culture can do marvels for an organization. It can boost morale by making the workday more pleasant, which translates into higher productivity and lower employee attrition. It can also improve external relationships, leading to happier clients and more effective collaboration with vendors. HR and talent professionals have known for years the business value in developing and leveraging a diverse and inclusive workforce - race and ethnicity, gender, veteran recruitment and development, people with disabilities, and more. There is a growing demand among the workforce today to augment multigenerational diversity to the mix. It is no longer just a matter of creating a heterogeneous workforce, but to engage them to create innovative products and services that can have the potential of giving the company its competitive advantage.

The business landscape will look exponentially different in the decades to come. By embracing people’s differences, we can inspire innovation, understand and serve our customers better and achieve competitive advantage. By including diversity in the business today, we can also adopt an intrapreneurial outlook and sustainable skills that will help us succeed. Colleagues with diverse cultural backgrounds bring different experiences and insights to the table in work teams. Bringing together the diverse knowledge and skills of culturally distinct workers together can benefit companies by strengthening teams' productivity and responsiveness to changing conditions. 

Every employee in a diverse workplace possesses unique strengths and weaknesses derived from their culture in addition to their individuality. When managed properly, diversity in the workplace can leverage the strengths and complement the weaknesses of each worker to make the impact of the workforce greater than the sum of its parts. It sounds simple to say that workplace diversity refers to the variety of differences between people in an organization. Employees with diverse backgrounds have different ways of interpreting signs, languages and other formalities. More specifically, there are differences in how they communicate, make decisions, act toward authority and approach conflict. Having said that, managing a diverse workforce comes with its own advantages, not only with respect to corporate ROI, but also employee engagement, teamwork and productivity on the whole. It is understood that diversity encompasses race, gender, ethnic group, age, personality, cognitive style, tenure, organizational function, education, background and more. Of course, it also encompasses a wide variety of other differences, including work experience, parental status, educational background, geographic location, and much more. It is more important to understand how these aspects will contribute to performance, motivation, success, and interactions with others. 

Organizations can benefit from a diverse, multigenerational workplace. At Cloud Lending Solutions, we have a rich cross-generational diversity that brings the best of an experienced and a first principles approach. In fact, one of our most liked initiatives is ‘Reverse Mentoring’ where older and experienced employees are paired with younger employees.  For us, it is not an ‘us versus them’ conversation, but a two-way street.

Managing the Diverse Workforce

Drive innovation and creativity - A diverse workforce helps to create innovative, creative and efficient solutions that can advance and improve the overall productivity. Employees from diverse backgrounds will provide unique viewpoints on ways to achieve a mutual goal. This creates a working environment that is exciting and diverse, while creating room for new learning.  According to an HBR report, leaders who give diverse voices equal airtime are nearly twice as likely as others to unleash value-driving insights, and employees in a “speak up” culture are 3.5 times as likely to contribute their full innovative potential. 

Ideate Intrapreneurship – The concept of design thinking is a classic example of Intrapreneurship.  Having a diverse team with its heart at innovation and disruption of internal process or cultural norms will help create a team with a wide range of perspectives and experiences. Intrapreneurship among a diverse set of team members will help solve challenges in different and innovative ways, while keeping the excitement strong. When the team, or even the organization, is faced with a difficult task, reaching out to new and a diverse group of sources will help find an improved solution. This also significantly improves their impact as they tend to think more creatively and get glued to the company's core. 

Create collaboration - Any startup looks for employees who can start contributing from day one. This expectation undermines the fact that every organization is unique in its systems, processes and way of working. As collaboration with diverse individuals creates new points of view, networking achieves this on a superior scale. By going to events for closely related professions, or simply connecting through social media channels such as Twitter or LinkedIn where you can virtually engage in conversations with anyone, you put yourself in a position for growth. Within your organization, it is also a great idea to create a group for employees and peers – this will look for, accept and appreciate differences. At Cloud Lending Solutions, we encourage ‘constructive conflicts’ which stem from differing ideas and positions aimed at arriving at optimal solutions.

Focus on strengths - Challenge yourself to appreciate the differences of others and see them as potential drivers of change. The more opinions, the more variety, and the more diversity we bring to the table the more we can unchain our creativity, which is hidden in every one of us. Team members with varied communication skills, which is the most important and valuable skill today, will help thrive repetitive tasks. 

Discard discrimination - We all know, as a matter of fact, that discrimination is the most frequently faced barricade for acceptance of diversity, employees and recruitment. Entrepreneurs, HR and talent professionals must understand the need to make it imperative for employees within organizations to be treated fairly only basis one’s performance and potential and not characteristics. Employers need to be aware of the fact that discrimination affects a class of its employees. It is critical for HR and talent professionals to be proactive and create policies in order to prevent discrimination from happening in the first place. 

As the economy becomes increasingly global, our workforce becomes increasingly diverse, and, diversity will only increase significantly in the years to come.  Organizations need to recognize the importance for immediate action and must be willing to spend resources on managing diversity in the workplace now. To facilitate this, they should be able to deal with sensitivity on issues such as communication, adaptability and change. Ensure to evaluate your organization's diversity policies and plan for the future, starting today. Eventually, you will build a company that can appropriately respond to dynamic markets and diverse customers. 


About the Author: 

Shuchi is the Director of HR at Cloud Lending Solutions and has a well-rounded experience working with MNCs & start-ups. Her areas of interest are Talent Management, OD & People Analytics.


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Topics: Culture, Diversity

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