April is Celebrate Diversity Month. It’s as good of a time as any to think about diversity in the workplace and how we hire for diversity. When I talk about diversity, I’m not just talking about racial, cultural or religious diversity. Diversity in every way can be beneficial to a team.
In the spirit of Celebrate Diversity Month, I would like to encourage leaders, HR professionals and organizations to hire the different one and stop hiring all of the same.
There’s a concept called similarity bias in hiring. It’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s when we hire people who are similar to us. This does not always happen consciously. We often don’t even realize that we are doing it. Think about the people you have hired. Are they similar to you? Do you they have the same beliefs and the same ideas?
Take your next hiring assignment as an opportunity to hire the different one. Of course, you still have to hire someone with the skills and potential to do the job but if you’re good at screening applications, you should only be interviewing people who meet this criteria in the first place. So, reflect on your interviews and think about what the person who might be different from you has to offer. Usually, this is not your first choice but that’s okay.
Force yourself for consider the differences. Can the person offer something that you don’t have? Can he/she complement the skills of the rest of your team? Can he/she teach your team something new? Often times, we need these people who are different to complement our skills and abilities so stop brushing them off your list of hires just because they seem different or because they said something in the interview that you do not necessarily agree with.
Think about how you can start hiring and building a more diverse team. To be successful, you have to diversify the thoughts, ideas, strategies & people on your team. Too much of the same can actually be toxic to your team and organization.
It also goes beyond hiring though. How are you and your organization celebrating diversity? I was at Epic Systems‘ headquarters in Verona, Wisconsin and took the tour of their beautiful campus. What struck me the most during my tour is how they even celebrated diversity in the design of their buildings. Each building had a different theme and many were cultural themes. I was so excited to find a building with so many decorations and themed rooms that reminded me of my culture. My coworkers also enjoyed touring other buildings that had themes they could relate to.
There’s a famous quote: “Smart minds think alike.” I beg to differ. In today’s workplace, I would argue that smart minds think differently and together, they are unstoppable. So, hire smart minds that are different from yours.
Please share your success stories and tips about hiring diverse teams. I’d love to hear from you. Happy Celebrate Diversity Month!