124. You Can’t Spell TEAM without ME
A lesson about the importance of diversity
As the story goes, one day kids walk into a school to find the hallway filled with a multitude of multi-colored balloons. It looked kinda like this:
The kids find their way into their classroom and the teacher explains that a single student’s name is written on every single balloon. It was up to each of the students to find the one balloon with their own name written on it. They were given five minutes to search.
At the end of five minutes, not a single student had found a balloon with their own name on it.
Well that sucks.
The teacher then told every student to try again, and this time each one was instructed to take the balloon closest to them and give that balloon to the person who’s name is on it.
In less than five minutes, everybody was holding their own balloon.
The Power of Team
A fair bit of research these days has proven the learning from the balloon story to be true: working collaboratively with others boosts productivity, engagement, creativity, communication and efficiency.
It’s no wonder that we’re seeing a virtual Space X rocket full of team collaboration tools that are blasting off into sky high valuations. (Didja see what I did there?)
If your company isn’t creating more efficiencies by increasing productivity and team collaboration, then your company is failing both your employees and all your stakeholders.
But listen, technology alone doesn’t solve all problems - and it’s a common mistake to think that it does. Just because you start to use tools like the ones I mentioned above, does not mean that angels will start singing and inter-office challenges will magically - poof!.
Yes, technology matters. But people matter more - especially when it comes to teamwork.
Reflect on the balloon experiment in the beginning. The students couldn’t solve the problem alone, but the problem got resolved incredibly fast when they used a team strategy accepted by all.
You know what also made it easier? That the balloons were different colors. The fact that every balloon didn’t look the same actually increased productivity.
Here is a little tidbit for you that is true in real life:
Diversity is a hugely powerful force in driving teamwork and collaboration.
Diversity Wins Every Single Time
Get ready for this fact:
Companies with more diversity in their leadership teams are more profitable.
If you’re like me, your first reaction to that statement may be the emotional equivalent of “yeah right.”
After all, how the heck could the gender and skin color of leadership teams have any impact on the company’s financial performance. Isn’t leadership about the leadership qualities of the leaders?
It’s called LEADERship, not DIVERSITYship.
Alas, McKinsey released a study that proved a real correlation between a company’s financial performance and the level of gender and racial diversity within their leadership team.
Companies with gender diversity amongst its leadership perform, on average, 15% better financially than the national median.
Companies with ethnic diversity amongst leadership perform, on average, an amazing 35% better than the national median.
Those are some incredibly meaningful numbers.
Here’s a fancy chart with complimentary blue tones.
The Importance of Diversity in Leadership
To be clear, nobody is saying that gender and skin color alone create a great leadership team. Positive leadership qualities are still important, regardless of gender and race. But all things being equal, companies with diverse leadership teams make more money.
These are the 5 important reasons that leadership diversity directly impact the success of the organization.
1. Improved talent acquisition
A company who places a stronger focus on recruiting women and ethnic minorities will meaningfully increase their talent pool. When you increase your talent pool, you increase your chances of finding great candidates. That’s just basic math, people.
2. Greater understanding of the customer
Women and minority groups are key decision makers in consumerism.
Take these three facts as a for instance:
Women make up more than half of the US population but they control or influence 85% of consumer spending [Forbes 2019].
Gay men and women have an average household income 80% higher than the national average.
The average buying power of ethnic minorities has increased by 82% over the past decade - a heckuva lot more rapidly than the national average (55%) [University of Georgia, 2021].
Simply put, having leadership that truly understands the mindset of core consumers will make a meaningful difference in revenue.
3. Increased employee satisfaction
Employees of diverse backgrounds feel a stronger sense of belonging when they are at a company that has diverse leadership. People like working with others who are similar to them. Diverse teams create stronger sense of identity and belonging for individuals. Period.
This means increased job satisfaction, improved collaboration and increased productivity.
4. More creativity and innovation
Having diverse backgrounds and mindsets bring more creativity and innovation in problem-solving. This is a fact that has been proven time and again (Forbes has a good piece about it)
5. Positive company image
With the increasing importance of social responsibility, not only does a diverse leadership team improve the company image, but the lack of diversity could work against the company and potentially harm the image.
So I suppose this all begs the question, is your organization as strong as it could/should be?
“Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization."
- Mahatma Gandhi
Living in 3-D. There’s a new community of 100 homes being printed outside of Austin. (yes, printed.)
Jurassic Lark. Scientists discovered a 193-million year old nest of dinosaur eggs. With embryos. Seems we’re CRSPR away from real dinos. (Roar)
Rubber Buck. An elk had a car tire stuck around its neck… for two years. It was finally removed. (spare tire)
Another Useless Site. Having a bad day? This site will make everything OK. (make everything ok)