Recently, a colleague asked me about my opinion on diversity in projects. In my opinion, diversity is still not embedded in our workplace culture.
According to a PMI survey, 88% of project leaders believe that culturally diverse and gender-diverse teams increase project value. It also says that 83% of project leaders believe that international team members increase project value. PMI also notes that diversity has a powerful impact on how employees, business partners and potential new hires see an organization.
Projects are made successful through the company's talent pool – it's the mix of different skills, mindsets, perspectives, and cultural backgrounds that counts.
In my experience, diversity, when properly encouraged, can add significant value to projects. Some of the key benefits are quick problem-solving due to diverse skills, experiences and approaches and timely delivery of projects as the right and best talent is recruited for the project without boundaries. I also experience that diverse teams tend to work more innovatively than non-diverse ones.
However, if it is not implemented properly, diversity can also lead to problems like internal conflicts, distrust, and discrepancy between individuals. I also notice disengagement and demotivation if the value of diversity is not fully understood, but simply enforced by the management. All of this can throw a project off track and lower productivity.
So, what can you do to avoid the drawbacks and leverage the true value of diversity for your project?
I believe that organizations and project managers that succeed in manifesting diversity as an integral part of their project management ecosystem – for example, by providing employee trainings that clarify the importance and value of diversity, by offering flexibility and freedom for everyone to perform and develop, or by listening to employee feedback to understand their needs – benefit greatly from diversity in project management.
What do you think about diversity in project teams?
PM&C: Competence for your project!