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The benefits of team diversity

Fri 21st Feb 2020

Photo by New Data on Unsplash
Photo by New Data on Unsplash

The benefits of team diversity are well known but working alongside different personalities and working styles does not come naturally to everyone.  


Experts suggest workers be non-judgemental, welcoming and open to learning in order to give diverse teams the best chance of success.  


What does the research say?

SEEK research reveals 69 per cent of Australians believe they work better with personalities similar to their own.   The most commonly-cited challenges are having a different way of getting things done (42 per cent agree) and dealing with conflict in different ways (30 per cent).  


About a quarter (26 per cent) also say "it takes a lot of effort" to talk to people who have a different personality to their own.  


Ask a professional

SEEK resident psychologist Sabina Read says it is easy for people to wish others were more like them but recommends workers hoping to be more open-minded start by observing differences that rather than judging them.  


"Avoid labelling others with negative or derogatory descriptions," she says.   "Instead of being 'loud' or 'arrogant', is it possible your extroverted boss needs to talk to make sense of their day?  


"Instead of asking why is someone being tricky, explore what works for them about the way they are behaving.  


"Being open and curious to the ways others think, plan, analyse and organise shows respect for them while garnering possible growth for ourselves."  


The SEEK survey reveals people see personality (75 per cent agree) and seniority (59 per cent) as the main contributing factors to a person's working style.   About a quarter also believe race (27 per cent) and religion (24 per cent) play a part.    


What do star operators do?

Kim Lee, chief people and performance officer at The Star Entertainment Group - which was ranked second in Australia and 25th in the world on the Refinitiv 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Index - says there are many benefits to working with different people and personalities.  


"Fostering a diverse and inclusive environment allows our team members to bring their whole self to work (so) they can focus on what they do best - delivering exceptional guest experiences in a safe and inclusive work environment," she says.   "A diverse and inclusive workplace also provides The Star and our teams with an opportunity to learn from and implement experiences from a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives.  


"Finally, it makes great business sense (as) having diverse and inclusive teams enables The Star to attract, develop and retain talented team members, boost productivity and, over the long term, positively impact profitability."  


Lee says the key to working successfully in a diverse group of people is to be welcoming, flexible, and open to listening and learning. Allied Express driver Michael Oszust says he works with people from a broad range of backgrounds.  


"We are an excellent industry for older people looking for flexibility," he says.   "Drivers come from many cultural backgrounds and age groups. We have people who have worked their whole lives in this, as well as those in their first job."