DIVERSITY: a way to recover your business
It’s almost summer in the northern hemisphere, it’s sunny and warm but it feels like the early beginning of spring and waking up from a night of winter sleep in an environment you know but you have to learn almost from scratch. These feelings are facing companies and organisations coming out from lockdown and starting late spring cleaning. What should we keep? What is not needed anymore? What to do to catch up on last months? To sum up, how to survive?
After the first shock, the internet provides plenty of replies to the above questions and in this article, we focus on one of the IAESTE values: DIVERSITY and how it can help any organisation involved in IAESTE to outperform the competition.
Diversity in the workplace means that an organisation employs a diverse team of people that are reflective of the society in which it exists and operates. Unfortunately, determining what makes a team diverse isn't so simple. Diversity incorporates all of the elements that make individuals unique from one another, and while there are infinite differences in humans, most of us subconsciously define diversity by a few social categories, such as gender, race, age and so forth. Our definition of diversity is straightforward: IAESTE is for EVERYONE; Everyone means small, medium and large companies, NGO's, public and private universities and students from everywhere in the world. We are active in 87 countries, and we have almost equal participation of female and male students in our internship exchange programme.
The world is and will be connected, although we hear about "slowbalisation";**. To answer today's challenges, we need diversified teams. Having a team with varied experiences, backgrounds and cultures gives us rich perspectives when it comes to problem-solving, innovation and creativity. McKinsey & Company conducted a study that found companies with high racial and ethnic diversity among their employees outperformed their counterpart companies by 35%*.
Diversity- whether of thought, ethnicity or experience — is of the utmost importance to engineering organisations. With diverse backgrounds in the workplace, there’s the greater depth you get to pull from when troubleshooting an approach. A homogenous group of people will give you less creative emergence of new ideas if everyone is speaking from the same set of experiences. By hiring a more diverse group of people, and ensuring a workplace environment where space is created for those voices to be heard, divergent ideas come to light and allow our team to discover a more robust way to approach a problem or a more well-thought-out definition of what winning looks like — whether that be attentive performance metrics that consider different network speeds in locations around the globe or the colour schemes of a product.”- says Charles Garrett, Engineering Manager at Percolate***
A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group found that companies with above-average diversity within their leadership teams reported innovation revenue that was 19% higher than that of companies with below-average leadership diversity, as well as higher overall earnings. It also found that even relatively small changes to the makeup of a team can result in significant gains when it comes to innovation.****
Unfortunately, the lessons from previous crises tell us there is a very real risk that inclusion and diversity (I&D) may now recede as a strategic priority for organisations. This may be quite unintentional: companies will focus on their most pressing basic needs—such as urgent measures to adapt to new ways of working; consolidate workforce capacity; and maintain productivity, a sense of connection, and the physical and mental health of their employees. So, how to create a diverse environment in your office now, with limited resources? A very good way is to partner with an organisation like IAESTE, who is rooted in diversity, has developed processes and can help you in your efforts in that realm with minimal financial risk.
Hosting a foreign trainee in your team may unlock the potential of your team, bring new ideas and refresh the mindset after lockdown. The IAESTE programme is flexible and adaptable to your current needs: you can take one or more trainees at once; they can be with you for a few weeks and up to one year. IAESTE takes care of the paperwork and the social inclusion of trainee. Travelling will be possible soon again (according to the recent news), so just think about any task the trainee could do for your company and help you with the post-pandemic problem-solving. If you have pivoted to remote working, you can also offer remote internship placements. All you need to do is to get in touch with our IAESTE office in your country and they will guide you through the process: