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Building a Team with a DE&I Focus

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By Bert Miller

From an organizational perspective, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) are about understanding, accepting, respecting, and encouraging what makes all of us unique. It’s about appreciating people’s different backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints, and creating an environment where everyone can thrive. 

Over the past two decades, a growing body of research has shown that doing the right thing when it comes to DE&I also pays off by boosting culture, productivity, public perception, and ultimately, profitability.

There are three overarching reasons why DE&I should be a top priority for every organization, if it isn’t already: 

1. Companies that have diverse teams often outperform companies that do not.

A Gartner study predicts that through 2022, 75% of companies with diverse and inclusive decision-making teams will exceed their financial targets. The same study found that gender-diverse and inclusive teams outperformed their less inclusive counterparts by 50%.

2. Diverse teams are more innovative.

A Deloitte study found that when employees “think their organization is committed to and supportive of diversity, and they feel included,” there’s an 83% increase in their ability to innovate. Companies with more diverse leadership teams report higher innovation revenue – 45% of total revenue versus just 26%, according to a 2018 BCG report.

3. The talent pool expands.

Hiring the right employees can be challenging. Finding people who possess the skills you need, who are available to work, and who also have the right personality and motivation to join your company is not easy. If, through lack of attention to diversity — consciously or unconsciously — you exclude available talent, you simply make the task even more difficult.

Once you’ve committed to DE&I, however, there’s no overnight solution. It cannot bring a badly run business back to profitability, immediately spur disruptive innovation, or ensure that you attract top performers. DE&I is not merely a policy; it has to be a core value of your business that becomes part of its DNA; the connective tissue of an organization.

So what steps can you take to build an effective team with a DE&I focus?

Revisit Your Hiring Practices

Hiring presents one of the biggest opportunities to broaden your company’s diversity and inclusion — but it also presents the greatest opportunity for unconscious bias to impede your progress. Revisiting your hiring practices and processes is a critical first step to improve DE&I across the board. 

Start by providing bias training for your HR team and department leads, as well as any other roles involved in the hiring process. While doing so, take a step back to reconsider who all is included in this group: one of the best ways to ensure DE&I remains a priority when making a hire, is to include existing diverse perspectives in the hiring process. 

When I co-founded Protis Global with Laura Gonzalez, we collaborated on all of our earliest interviews and hires. Though aligned in our vision, we brought different points of view and priorities to each interview. This really set the stage to build a team that reflected the community around us from the very beginning — and helped me see how impactful

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