Fit is often misunderstood as likeness to existing employees during the hiring process but in reality companies need a complementarity, contrast or entirely new dimension. A person who brings in more diversity to a team is considered the best candidate; misfit is often the best fit.
Every employee may come from different backgrounds with different experiences but when they join a company, they all share a commitment towards the company’s mission, vision and values as they operate under a common and unified set of values. A company’s culture has to be strong and coherent where every member is unique in their own way in order to perform better; these diverse teams are able to base their decisions on a wider set of considerations and ideas with their creativity and responsiveness to change.
The difficulty however is to understand, accept and value differences in people which takes time and effort. Although most of us rationally agree with the principles of diversity, we inevitably only appreciate likeness in other people. To ensure that diversity happens within organizations, leaders must decide to enact it and follow through on their decision to attain a happier and healthier workplace, not forgetting financial results which will improve on a sustainable basis.
Organizations that are not diverse usually provide rational yet fallacious arguments. If there is an inherent lack of diverse candidates, organizations can start a program for training people in the job functions needed to be filled or they can establish a program for relocating employees from other locations to the site of the company. These actions are an additional expense to the companies but such investments will pay themselves back in time. If the company believes it is hiring the best candidates out of a diverse pool yet still ending up with a non-diverse team, they are not hiring the most suitable candidates. Companies should then re-evaluate their hiring process as they may unknowingly signal to candidates of diversity that they are unwelcomed; job ads could be unknowingly written to be uninviting for certain groups of people or the interview process and candidate assessment could be biased.
Practicing inclusion in an organization makes everyone feel welcomed, included and at home in their organization. Organizations have established practices that favour their own types of people; a team of only one gender may set up office routines in a way that makes other genders unable to fit in or a team of a single cultural background seem intimidating to members of another. Social activities and events have to be coordinated by the employer such that a variety of hobbies and interests are taken into account to allow each individual to feel inclusive. Religious and cultural holidays should also be celebrated and acknowledged as a whole and workplace conversations have to convey not even the slightest hint of unconscious bias. True inclusion means inclusion of those who may not know or care about inclusion; organizations cannot expect every employee to be inclusive from the get go and excluding those not in agreement about the principle of inclusion shows that they are not practicing inclusivity.
Equity means fairness, access, opportunity and advancement for all people involved. Organizations need to strive to identify and eliminate barriers that prevent the full participation of anyone. Improving equity involves increasing justice and fairness within processes, systems and the distribution of resources. It emphasizes democratising opportunities, making small and large opportunities available to all without prejudice. Tearing down invisible barriers will enable us to act with respect and inclusion at the workplace, eradicating words and practices that would otherwise uphold an impression of segregation. Organizations would then be able to blend all races, ethnic groups and religions. Each individual’s own personal uniqueness will not be threatened by the presence of people with their own uniqueness.
Once an organisation is diverse, inclusive and has equity, business results and workplace satisfaction will improve. It becomes more rewarding to work with people who have a goal in common but come at the task from uncommon angles. Great teams strive towards the same goal adhering to the same values, but they differ greatly in viewpoint, background and gender. If you’re looking for a company that can give you space to think outside of the box and in sync with celebrating uniqueness, we could be the one for you. Give us a nudge and let’s chat!