As commercial leader at talent assessment specialists SHL, Sim Riordan takes great pride in curating diverse teams that work well together.
Focus on your mission
Your shared passion and mission are the glue that brings your company together. By focusing on your mission, you give your people permission to bring their best, most authentic selves to work, encouraging them to be more creative, collaborative and curious. This focus frees and broadens the way you think about who else could join your party and enrich your culture.
In teams where there are different perspectives, your ability to spot and tackle opportunity and risk will multiply. This is well-proven in the world of performance psychology. Most leaders have started to realise that homogenous teams can amplify prejudice, lead to blind spots, limit ideas, and sometimes even result in toxic or dangerous outcomes. Diverse and inclusive leadership is the future, so integrating this into how you manage your people and your business is critical.
Be open and honest
No matter where you are on this journey, it's essential to be honest about what is driving your transformation. Let new hires know that they may represent the first step in your journey – it helps build trust and encourages them to opt in to being part of the process. Showing your new hire their working environment can help, too. In previous jobs, I was OK with being the only minority in the room, but only when it was explicitly called out. Knowing this upfront and being able to talk about it, rather than finding it out on day one, was important to me.
Talk to your team
Transformation needs to be communicated and understood – if not, there's the possibility that people will feel uncomfortable and resist. Have a conversation to explain why there's a drive for more diversity, and how this will help realise your company mission. And think dynamically about how you can involve people in the plans and support them to get on board. I find sharing learning experiences with my team helps them to question and explore new ideas in a safe environment. TED Talks and podcasts are great for this.