Striving for real workplace diversity

Diverse business team in the office having a meeting, diversity concept, diverse tech workforce


Liina Adov, PhD, Senior Personal Coach at Pipedrive, explores the true meaning of diversity. Embrace differences, foster inclusive cultures, and follow three steps: Listen openly, speak up with empathy, and share experiences.

There’s a well-known and backed-up business case that diversity drives outperformance.

This includes team creativity, problem solving and ability to respond to customer needs. McKinsey finds that diverse companies see a 35% boost. Yet encouraging a diverse workforce must go beyond a surface-level exercise. Genuinely diverse companies are not simply characterised by a substantial representation of various genders, races, ethnicities, or sexual orientations.

Really strong, lasting diversity requires, and must authentically include everyone within the organisation’s culture. That means taking time for deep thought and creating processes which make sure that you source the very best from all available talent and then instil both humanity and equity into all systems.

In tech, traditionally dominated by a certain employee profile, this offers the opportunity for an industry critical to all society to reflect the diversity of its users. And therefore, to better understand and service their needs. There’s no one route to best shaping a business’ diversity, just as there’s no one path to business success. What there is though, are evolving best practices and determination to consistently improve.


Liina Adov, PhD, Senior Personal Coach, Pipedrive, takes a look at some of these practices and explores the true meaning of diversity in the workplace.

Fostering, supporting & retaining greater diversity

As we move into 2024, diversity, equity, belonging, and inclusion programmes have been transformational – though reports suggest that there’s no reason to be complacent as there’s still a way to go. That said, it’s worth thinking about how diverse teams cohere and collaborate. Team forming, norming, and storming, as one model puts it, is unlikely to happen wholly organically.

Some people will need support to reach the level of their colleagues, and others may need training to better appreciate the needs and value that new colleagues bring. Embracing our differences and being curious towards the experiences and ideas of others is a superpower that supports both individual as well as organisational growth, resilience, and ultimately, a better working environment for all.

To that point, teach the skills of active listening, assertive communication, and critical thinking. With more diverse teams, more diverse customers, and often bigger, global networks, the so-called soft skills have never been more important. But how often are we trained in how best to apply them?

One lens to apply on this set of people and management issues is to think of it as an exercise in organisational performance. Supporting staff and helping improve collective performance really is a business issue. The end state is an organisation with less interpersonal friction, clearer goals, processes, better personal and team performance – which measurably improves the working environment.


Take another look at your concept of culture

Silicon Valley’s prior love of psychometric testing and matching hires to existing culture can sometimes mean you perpetuate one style of business and homogenous personnel. It’s time to look beyond tests to find the best people that can grow the culture with new styles and ideas. People have different skills, perspectives, mindsets, and more that ultimately contribute to who they are and how they show up.

What matters is how shared values bring diverse peoples together and how we express our perspectives. It’s more about having the right mindset and collaboration skills to bring different ideas and opinions together. It’s not about being culturally similar. Diversity is a commitment to supporting different routes to shared success. Culture should be supportive of this as a minimum requirement.

Three steps to success

  1. Listen – truly open up and listen, especially if you disagree or don’t really see eye to eye. Listening openly doesn’t mean that you agree right away, it means that you aim to truly understand where the other person comes from, why it is important and maybe what you might have missed. Ultimately, think curiosity over judgement.
  2. Speak up – get better at taking and giving feedback. Study methods like assertiveness, radical candour or any other that enable you to be authentic and confident while taking into account the other person needs. Take time to communicate with clarity, care and empathy while cutting out judgements. A culture of honest and constructive feedback is the bedrock for embracing diversity.
  3. Share – best practices, ways of seeing the world, mental models. Organisations will not succeed by only setting training – people need to mix and support each other in human, natural ways.

In 2024, striving for real diversity will be a continuous process which involves everyone’s effort. Every person’s openness and the skills to listen, speak up and share will become critical to the success of building a truly inclusive and equitable workplace culture.




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