We human beings love being with people who are just like us, because it feels easy and known and we instantly feel connected to them. Introducing diversity can therefore feel uncomfortable, we are more likely to accept challenge from someone that doesn’t look like us, so it means you are constantly being challenged on how you think about things and the assumptions you are making. It is hard work and can feel unpleasant.
So whenever one of our clients asks for our help with creating greater diversity in their leadership team, my first response is – are you absolutely sure you are ready for this, because you are not going to enjoy it.
We now have an extremely diverse leadership team at Kea, not just in terms of race and gender but also in terms of socio-economic status and personality. It is making us more successful as a team because when you start to have more challenging conversations around future strategies and key decisions to be made, you get to better outcomes. We are now thinking about things from a much broader point of view and taking ideas to a whole new level that we would never have done otherwise.
I am not going to pretend that it has been easy; it is disconcerting to have your assumptions and viewpoints consistently challenged. However, I am growing and evolving as a result. We all are. One of our values as a business is Drive to Improve, so at heart this is all about our desire to want to constantly challenge ourselves to be better as a company.
Achieving diversity can be hard work, but it will more than pay off.