| Oct 20, 2022

Diversity of Thought is the Ticket to Disruptive Growth for Global Teams

Cultivating diversity of thought in the workplace is essential to going global, and it starts with the hiring process.

Countless articles have been written about the importance of diversity in the workplace. And while diversity is an essential element of successful businesses, it doesn’t begin and end once we’ve ticked the right boxes and/or fulfilled our quotas. True diversity is born when we cultivate not only a diversity of background but also a diversity of thought

Diversity of thought is the most powerful engine for disruptive growth in today’s crowded and fast-paced business landscape. If we want to breed innovation in our companies and break away from the pack, we have to cultivate diversity of thought, bringing in a wide range of people who can offer fresh perspectives, fearless opinions, and bold new solutions. 

We Need Diversity of Thought

As our workforce and consumer base become increasingly global, diversity of thought will allow our teams to move nimbly across cultures and environments. At my company, I have peers in Portugal, the Philippines, Mexico, UK, India and beyond. In addition, we work with clients across the globe. We are a global company and thus need global perspectives to appreciate all of the vantage points our peers and customers are coming from. 

Cultivating diversity of thought also ensures we do not become stuck in old patterns. If everyone has the same background and opinion, our growth will stagnate and we will fall behind. Diversity of thought creates resilient teams who are not afraid to disagree or voice a new opinion. It allows us to catch each other’s blind spots and create fully fleshed-out strategies where each off-ramp or roadblock has been considered. Perhaps most importantly, it builds team-wide trust – when each team member knows that their opinion will be heard without judgment we can share ideas freely and without fear, leading to better communication and thus better solutions. 

Diversity Begins at the Start

Cultivating a diversity of thought mindset starts with the hiring process. And while seeking employees with the necessary skills is an important element in the hiring process, the bullet point list of required skills on a job listing can only take you so far. When hiring, it’s important to look outside the box for new perspectives that might provide the missing ingredient your team has been searching for. 

Two of the employees I now consider to be some of my most valuable team members were candidates that came to us in unexpected ways. The first was a male with a background in finance who I initially had planned to pass on to a different department. However, when he came in for a meeting, he was unafraid to admit that he didn’t yet have all of the experience required for the role but was extremely eager to learn. He shared his passion in the payments sector and shared where he could be value-add. I was immediately impressed and took a bet on him. Seven years later, he is now one of our most sought-after employees, but I almost missed out on his talent because his background did not match my idea of the best candidate for the role.

The second hire came about after an employee resource group (ERG) meeting. One of the women involved came up to me afterward and simply said, “I want to figure out a way to be on your team.” The problem was, the only role I had available at the time was one in operations and her expertise was in marketing. And while this woman was willing to work in operations to join our team (displaying a humility I was impressed by), I knew it wasn’t where her skills would shine. Instead, I decided to create an entirely new role on my team where her skills from her former role could be leveraged all while allowing her to grow and expand in her career as well, and she has since thrived. 

Both of these candidates were not traditional hires but they have brought perspectives and skills we didn’t even know we were missing, making our team stronger, more well-rounded, and ready to take on any of the curveballs that might come our way. 


Actively Seek Out the Right Employees

Candidates such as those I mentioned above do not always fall into our laps – we have to actively seek out and hire employees with an intention to create a diverse team.  So what does this look like in practice? 

I think of hiring in a three-step process:

  1. Do they have the skills/characteristics we’re looking for? 
  2. Are they willing to voice their opinion all while being humble? 
  3. Do they bring a diverse background and/or are they from a traditionally underrepresented group? 

A candidate’s skills are usually what brings them into the interview, and, from there, we can ascertain if they also have the desired characteristics for our team. In the interview, we should be sure to ask hard and provocative questions to gauge a candidate’s willingness to state their opinions. If a candidate is willing to do this in the interview process, you can trust that they will bring such confidence to the meeting room, too. 

We can also utilize consensus-based hiring processes. Every candidate for my team is interviewed by their would-be peers and we then decide together whether or not we think that person would be a good fit. By including multiple team members in the hiring process, we give ourselves more lenses through which to view the candidate and avoid hiring someone out of our personal biases. Furthermore, we ensure that every person we hire aligns with our ethos as a team and will bring the necessary skills and character traits to thrive. 

Once we have answered the first two questions, we can begin to look at diversity in a more traditional sense. Take stock of the people you have on your team and ensure you are not only hiring people who look like you – do you have a balance of women, men, and people of color? If you notice your numbers skewing in one direction, take the time to recalibrate and ensure you are seeking out employees who differ from yourself in the hiring process. 

Move Into the Fast Lane

We will not breed creativity, innovation, and growth by sitting in rooms agreeing with each other. Build a company that can move into the fast lane by embracing opinions and perspectives outside of your wheelhouse – that idea you once vehemently disagreed with could now provide the key to unlocking massive growth. If we’ve learned anything over the last few years, it’s that the norms of yesterday will not always apply today. If we want to keep up, we need to cultivate diversity of thought, seeking out employees who are willing to push back on established norms and come up with new solutions to old problems.

Mamta Rodrigues
Executive Author

Global President - Banking, Financial Services, & Insurance, Teleperformance

Mamta Rodrigues is Global President at Teleperformance where she leads the Banking Financial Services & Insurance vertical. view profile


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