“If you truly hired the right person for the job, He would be a She.”

This is not a statement that women are better than men – because I believe in equality.

This is not a statement that applies to all roles, in all teams, in all companies – because in some cases, She should be a He.

This is not a statement that should have you labelling me sexist although from what I’ve seen on LinkedIn of late, I’m sure some will.

This is a statement that the justification We hired the right person for the job” is no longer an excuse for poor diversity in management and leadership teams.

And here’s why…

Evidence categorically proves that organisations with a strong focus on diversity outperform their peers.  A McKinsey report analysed 366 public companies, and found those in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their industry peers.  In a global analysis of 2,400 companies conducted by Credit Suisse, organisations with at least one female board member yielded higher return on equity and higher net income growth than those that did not have any women on the board.

Furthermore, the McKinsey report also found organisations in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above national industry medians.

Looking for your next wave of financial growth?  It’s time to address the diversity of your culture and leadership teams.

Working with people who are different from you will challenge your brain to overcome stale ways of thinking and sharpen performance – simply put, non-homogenous teams are smarter.

Diverse Teams Focus More on Facts

In breaking up homogeneity in leadership teams, your decision makers become more aware of their own potential biases – entrenched in ways of thinking that can blind them to key information and lead to sub-optimal decisions.  Diverse teams are more likely to encourage greater scrutiny of each member’s actions, leading them to reexamine facts and remain objective.

Diverse Teams Process Those Facts More Carefully

Considering the perspective of an outsider may seem counterintuitive, but the payoff can be huge.  Behavioural studies have shown that teams with greater diversity evaluate a broader set of scenarios and perspectives, leading to lower confidence in making the right decision, but ultimately are more likely to get the decision right.

Diverse Teams Innovate More

Organisations today are all striving for innovation to stay ahead of their competitors – one of the most effective ways to drive innovation is simply to hire and promote more gender and culturally diverse teams.  Most of us find it easier to work with people who share the same background as us, but colleagues who don’t look, talk or think like you can allow you to avoid the costly pitfalls of conformity, which discourage innovative thinking.  The more diverse the team, the more creative, innovative ideas will surface as a result.

Diverse Teams Have More Fun

Ok, so I have no research to back this one up apart from my own personal experience.  IMHO, diverse teams have far more fun!  Perhaps it’s the balance of personality types, perhaps it’s the balance of humour and empathy, perhaps it’s just the thrill I get from debating intellectual topics with colleagues who can challenge and enlighten me.  Either way – I’d take a diverse team over a herd of Kats any day!!!

Enriching your leadership team with representatives of different genders, races, and nationalities is critical for boosting your company’s joint intellectual potential, questioning the status quo to drive innovation, making your organisation smarter and more successful.

I confess I’ve never historically been a supporter of quotas for diversity, which is why I owe this post to a colleague that challenged me, gave me a different perspective and questioned my status quo – a blessing from the diverse team He made his personal mission to create.

If your leadership team is lacking diversity, and you’re still using the excuse “We hired the right person for the job” – you need to change the job description and put diversity at the top of the hiring criteria.  Because in many cases, the right person for the job is not just someone that can do the job they’re being hired for, but can also bring a greater level of diversity to the table and strengthen the intellectual capacity of the leadership team as a whole.