In an environment where competition for talent is fierce, diversity can also be a secret weapon for building and retaining world-class teams. For example, research by Creative Equals found that teams that are diverse are 45% happier and 48% more likely to stay at a company.
Diversity is not just about gender. It’s about building teams that reflect society as a whole incorporating different ethnicities, cultures, neurodiversity (dyslexia, ADHD, autism etc.), sexuality, disability, socioeconomic backgrounds and more. Why? Because we all have biases – it’s human nature.
Here are a couple of examples of when unconscious bias gets us into trouble;
When seat belts were first invented by a primarily male team, they only tested these belts on male crash test dummies. The result, while women are less likely to be in accidents, they were 47% more likely to die from these accidents.
Take the act of searching websites as another example. On average, men prefer to search a site using free text search, whilst women are more likely to prefer some form of signposting (like a drop-down search menu). The challenge comes when a tech product is built by a primarily male team, they unconsciously build products for themselves, not for everyone.
Building teams that are reflective of society as a whole will also become increasingly important as we enter an age of automation – if the people teaching the machines to think are homogeneous, we’re going to start amplifying bias at mass scale.
For me, LinkedIn always felt like it encouraged homogeneity, but being a dyslexic sole female tech founder, I never felt I fit the mould. What I’ve come to realise is it’s our differences that make us brilliant. So, in 2014 sunk everything I earned into starting The Dots from my houseboat Horace.
Fast forward four years and The Dots has grown into a viable LinkedIn competitor with over 10,000 brands now using us to hire full-time and freelance talent. At the heart of what we do is helping businesses build diverse teams. Our amazing community is currently 68% female, 31% BAME, 16% LGBT+ and we also do a lot of work to support disabled, neurodiverse, socioeconomic movements and disadvantaged talent. We also adjusted our algorithm so a more diverse selection of talent appears at the top of searches.
Over the years I’ve collaborated with hundreds of incredible diversity organisations who play a critical role in training, mentoring and remove the barriers faced by diverse talent. Here are some top tips I’ve learnt along the way.