Sunday, 20 November 2016

For an innovative edge, use this secret and hire your best recruit yet!

By Bridie Walsh
There’s a secret to recruiting team members who will help your business succeed beyond your imagination. This secret will bring you people:
  • who give your business cutting-edge insights
  • who comprehensively review your problems and provide solutions
  • who know your untapped target or niche audience (who, by the way, are dying to get their hands on your product or service), and
  • who have the skills you knew you needed and some that you didn’t know you needed (but you absolutely do).
The answer is: diversity. And the big guns are cottoning on.
“Google, Intel and Apple have an active program to increase diversity and inclusivity in their organisations,” says Trang Du, founder of expert job matching platform Two Square Pegs. Along with Baqir Khan from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) and human resources practitioner Jill Sears from the Equal Employment Opportunity Network (EEON), Du spoke at the Diversity: The X-factor event at co-working space Inspire9. The event was sponsored by Kooks Wine as part of the Small Business Festival.
Deloitte Australia Partner, Human Capital, Juliet Bourke has written about the benefits and trend toward diversity in her book Which two heads are better than one? It’s worth getting your hands on it. She talks about “how diverse teams create breakthrough ideas and make smarter decisions”.
But how can you get more diversity on your team? And what does diversity look like?
“Diversity is the new catch phrase because researchers have identified that it is important for business,” explains Du. “It impacts product development, marketing, problem solving, and increases profits. Yet, diverse teams are not easy to build.”
Conflict or the fear of conflict is one hurdle to overcome. But even like-minds disagree, and conflict is an everyday part of business Du points out. The confidence to hire diversity is proportionate with the confidence in your people to find solutions – which experts say is exactly what diversity brings a business, better problem solving abilities.
“We tend to have one way of thinking – one narrative – that carries culture, or our way of seeing and behaving in the world,” says Khan who runs a volunteer program at the ASRC. His advice is to “take the time to learn from the person in front of you”. What they know or who they are connected to could open up an entirely new market for your business.
He is all too familiar with placing people who have incredible work experience and life skills developed in their birth country, only to be overlooked here in Australia. Khan says there’s a missed opportunity.
Bias is another hurdle. “It’s one of the many barriers to employing diverse people,” explains Sear who was a diversity and inclusion manager during her career at Telstra. She worked on the disability employment program during a time when there was government funding for organisations to increase the participation of people with a disability.
“There’s an opportunity to market your business to different groups by having them in your organisation,” she says. Plus, people with different skills often bring new insights.
Sear once placed a visually impaired woman into a finance team that used graphs and visual aids in their work. The group didn’t think a visually impaired person could work effectively in their team but they were all willing to give it a go anyway. Because the woman had to approach the work differently, her perspective quickly identified inefficiencies. Everyone agreed and they were able to improve the way the entire team worked in a way that was better for everyone.
Over time, what became more apparent was the increased collegiality of the team. A colleague learnt that the woman’s passion was to finish a marathon. He trained hard so he could eventually run alongside her as her guide. The day they crossed the finish line, every single person from the team was waiting for them to cheer them over the line.

Diversity promises big wins for businesses. The experts agree – smash your diversity gaps to guarantee your business a healthy future.

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