What does this statement even mean?

  • Homogeneous groups have similar backgrounds, preferences and personality styles. Often homogeneous groups are homegrown with few additions from “outside.”
  • Diverse groups, on the other hand, may differ in traditional ways, i.e., gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual preference. Members may also differ in terms of their personality styles and backgrounds. Finally, a group’s diversity may come from changes in membership as outsiders join and integrate into the existing culture.

Diverse leadership teams are hard…they are harder to build, unlikely to come to a consensus, and are more likely to have conflict.

So, why bother? Because… they are harder to build, are unlikely to come to a consensus and are more likely to have conflict, they make better decisions. Research studies prove this out. And, diverse groups only work when they can come together as an integrated team.

The word integration is rarely used today in the context of a diversity conversation. It harkens back to the 1970s when schools were being “integrated.” Fights broke out, and education became challenging. This period, in retrospect, was viewed as an experiment that failed. And, this “experiment” provides insight for leaders who want to diversify and integrate their organizations.

Integration- Merriam Webster “to form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning or unified whole.”

Some organizations handle integration well, and some don’t. Why? For me, the answer lies in how intentional the leader is about their culture.

What to do? As with any critical decision, start by asking yourself, what outcome do I want?

Diversity is not always the best approach. 

Homogeneous groups are easier. Because of their similar backgrounds, preferences, and styles, they are likely to agree and move forward quickly.

If the goal is getting more of what you already have, then a homogeneous group may be the way to go. If the goal is innovation and critical thinking, you are more likely to get there with a diverse group.

If you decide you want to build a diverse team, begin by defining what you are looking to accomplish with the diversity. Then ask yourself the following questions as you start to form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning or unified whole:

  • Do I know the backgrounds, preferences, and styles of current team members?
  • Have we defined our culture? And do we acknowledge the unspoken characteristics of our culture?
  • What are our gaps, and are we willing to fill them with outsiders who bring a different perspective?
  • What on-boarding actions do I need to take to achieve integration?

Let’s work together. You can learn more about my leadership coaching and peer advisory boards here. http://elisaspain.com

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