Diversity in diversity
My previous post outlined some thoughts to consider when hiring career changers. One of the benefits of this approach is that you’re bringing fresh perspectives to your company. If you limit your team to individuals who have only worked in your industry, you’re missing out. Of course, relevant experience is highly valuable, but so is diversity and a rich set of experience, which is why more organizations are moving away from the concept that “cultural fit” means building a hyper homogenous company.
Even just a few years ago, having a degree from a prestigious university was considered a massive advantage. Don’t get me wrong – graduating through a rigorous program is no small feat and should be rewarded. But don’t discount someone who might have been a late bloomer, someone who simply didn’t have the financial means to go to an ivy league school, or whose life circumstances just took them in a different direction. Don’t discount the non-traditional learner. We recently hired one, and he’s got all the hustle, attitude and smarts needed to excel.
Some people know early on what they want to be. And of course, you have to admire someone who clearly has a passion for a specific field. Not to mention that for certain roles, it’s important that a candidate has had a clear and steady career trajectory. For other positions, you may be able to widen the pool of applicants. Don’t just look at the hard skills required, but also the soft skills, such as communication skills, impeccable time management, a high degree of emotional intelligence and adaptability, and the ability to provide outstanding customer service.
Levels of experience
Let’s be honest – ageism is real. Yes, we can call the more mature candidates “overqualified”, but why wouldn’t you hire someone who is so qualified that they will allow you to raise the bar? Aren’t you sick of hearing about the boomer versus millennial versus Gen Z battles? You’re doing your employees a disservice if they don’t get a chance to work with individuals from different generations and with different levels of professional experience. In fact, offering diversity across generations is the only way to create an environment that mimics the “real world” – and your customers’ world!
One of the biggest gifts that you can give your employees is the ability to be immersed in a stimulating environment that fosters open-mindedness, provides a multitude of perspectives, and is a microcosm of the diversity that makes us better. Every individual, regardless of their background, brings a unique perspective to your organization. Leverage this, provided that the person embodies your company values and has the aptitude to succeed in their role (and that you have the willingness and bandwidth to train them!).
Our founder, David Cummings, recently published a blog post about how certain challenging life experiences can be an important characteristic for an entrepreneur. I couldn’t agree more. I’ll add to this the struggle of being an outsider due to ethnic, social, or economic background, physical challenge, gender, or any of the factors outlined above. And if you’re looking for an entrepreneurial spirit in all of your employees, keep that in mind.
One of the most important things to consider when hiring is your company’s core values and how a candidate embodies them. For us, it’s being adaptable, scrappy, positive, supportive, self-starting, to focus on the things we can control, and to put our customers first are what matters most. And that’s what we’re looking for when recruiting. If your main focus is to hire great people, you will likely have a more diverse team.
What about you? What are your thoughts on organically fostering diversity by hiring the best people and giving them a chance, regardless of their background?