Workplace Diversity: An Unproven Trend or a Competitive Advantage?

Sandra Petrova

Sandra Petrova

Remote Work Researcher

It’s a random day at Adeva. The team is engaged in its work, working from a home office or a coworking place somewhere in the world. We’re all on Slack and communicating daily. Solomon Ayoola joined us a few months ago. He comes from Nigeria, but lives and works in Berlin. 

Marina Trajkovska has been a valuable member of our team since 2016. She’s a QA, born in Macedonia, living and studying in Florida. There’s also Rahul Lakhanpal, a top-of-the-class Python engineer who works remotely from India. 

Yes, our team is large and it’s diverse. We don’t look at our differences in gender, age, religion or ethnicity as something that sets us apart. Instead, we like to look at our differences as our superpowers. When these brilliant people bring their unique strengths to the table, amazing things happen.

We’re not the only ones. Companies from four sides of the globe are embracing diversity and opening their doors to top talent worldwide. Why? Because there’s a belief that diversity improves company reputation, inspires innovation, and increases profits. 

How much truth lies in this new-age trend? Can it really drive your company forward? Let’s try and discover the truth!


Diversity inspires creativity and drives innovation

Apart from social and moral reasons for hiring an ethnically diverse workforce, there’s no better reason to embrace diversity than the belief that diverse teams drive innovation and inspire creative ideas. 

If you aren’t taking the topic of diversity and inclusion seriously, you should be! Here’s some evidence:

  • Bersin by Deloitte 2015 High-Impact Talent Management research discovered that diverse companies are 1.8 times more likely to be prepared for change and 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their industry.
  • Neurological research compiled by David Rock showed that people are most innovative, collaborative, and productive when they feel like a part of a team. When a person feels included, their body produces hormones and healthy energy that increases their work performance. 
  • Experimental studies suggest that diverse teams can come up with more unique and useful ideas. However, problems arise when the team sits down to decide which ideas to implement. What companies must do is manage diversity effectively. For example, you should increase diversity in teams that are tasked with idea generation, while homogeneous teams should be in charge of implementing those ideas. 

Looking at these statistics, it’s safe to conclude that there’s a close link between diversity and creativity/innovation. Yes, working with people who don't think or talk like you comes with its set of challenges, but easier isn’t always better.

Different thinking, openness to experience, and mind wandering are needed to produce a large number of original ideas. Maybe once we leave the comfort zone, successes and achievements will start lining up. 

Diverse companies are 1.8 times more likely to be prepared for change and 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their industry.

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Companies with more diverse top teams are better financial performers

If we look at diversity in nature, we can see that it serves a large-scale purpose. Each species, no matter how small or where it can be found, plays an important role in the survival of our planet and the ecosystem.

Diversity in the workplace is something similar. Each team member has a role to play by bringing their unique skills and experiences to the table. When different members join together to form a team, ideas are created smartly, products are launched faster, and profits are generated more easily. The company survives and moves forward in an upward direction. 

We looked at research by Cedric Herring at the University of Chicago. What the research found is that diverse teams:

  • drive 6% more revenue
  • have 15% more customer wins
  • create higher market share than homogenous teams

Another study by The Boston Consulting Group tried to measure the connection between diversity and increased profits. It surveyed employees at more than 1,700 companies in eight countries and found that companies that have more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue due to innovation.

Conclusion? Diverse teams work better together, innovate more, and come up with superior customer solutions. Or as Cedric Herring wisely said: 

Progress and innovation depend less on lone thinkers with high intelligence than on diverse groups working together and capitalizing on their individuality.” 

Progress and innovation depend less on lone thinkers than on diverse groups working together.

Diversity in teams is the key to customer success

Let’s imagine that you’re working on a new product. In order for the product to be well-liked with your target audience, you need to understand more closely the national sport of that country. For the sake of this article, let’s say South Korea. What would be the best way to understand the level of pride and excitement the sport brings to this country? 

McKinsey & Company studied 17 leading companies that are engaging effectively with diversity. They found that companies that hire people from diverse backgrounds can:

  • attract skilled talent more successfully
  • boost their customer orientation
  • raise employee satisfaction
  • improve decision making

These people who come from all around the world can enrich your understanding of

the pulse of your target marketplace, and help you improve the quality of products and services offered. Although the best-performing employees from your country might be highly experienced, they can still leave a poor impression due to cultural differences of which they’re not aware. 

The bottom line is if your goal is to win your target market with the help of innovation, creativity, and teamwork, building a high-performing diverse team that’s a genuine reflection of its customers is essential. 

Companies with the most diverse boards are 43% more likely to experience higher profits.

Increasing diversity through distributed work

There’s a wide range of ways of how you can embrace diversity at your company. However, we’ve decided to present you one amazing way of ensuring that diversity and inclusion are fundamental components of your organization. It’s called remote work. 

Remote work, you’re great!

We at Adeva are long-time believers and passionate enthusiasts of the remote work trend. Remote work is woven into our company culture. 

Everything began one day when we decided that remote work is a fantastic employee perk. We’ve figured that it’ll help us attract more experienced tech talent. 

We began by introducing remote Fridays. At first, people had a hard time adjusting to the novelty. But, as we moved forward, the office started getting empty on Fridays. After a while, we reached a point where one of our team members suggested that we introduce Office Tuesdays, just so we can get some in-person time.  

Opening up our boundaries also opened a world of top-of-the-class engineers. We found many hidden gems in different countries around the world and that drove our company forward. 

Once we established our remote processes and managed to create a diverse workforce, we saw:

  • a huge spike of productivity and accountability
  • employees feeling trusted and empowered 
  • people solving problems better
  • more effective brainstorming ideas
  • an amazing opportunity to position our community on the global market
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Conclusion

In December, we’ll be celebrating Adeva’s fifth birthday. Today, we’re an exclusive community of exceptional engineers, trying to bring Silicon Valley to the smallest corners in the world. Success wouldn’t have been possible without our diverse team, and both diversity and inclusion have been at the heart of our values since the beginning. 

If you’re thinking about making your company more diverse, that’s a fantastic idea. Even better if you transition your team to work remotely. All of this can make your teams smarter and, ultimately, make your company more successful, no matter what your long-term goals are.

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Sandra Petrova

Remote Work Researcher