Four Reasons A Culturally Diverse Team Will Help Your Business
This blog post was written for Visa Business as part of September's theme of Diversity in Small Business. Every month, Visa Business focuses on a topic and offers actionable ideas for taking care of your business, your employees, your customers and yourself. Visit our Facebook page, Well Sourced by Visa Business , to find efficient solutions, in-depth information and trusted resources.
Over the years, as I went from solo-preneur (read burned out, trying-to-do-everything-myself-preneur), to "I have a top-notch team who is way better than me", I understood the power in having a well-rounded team.
In fact, I'd go as far as to say it's invaluable. This is why we as entrepreneurs hire our weaknesses, so we can focus on our strengths. Together our individual strengths make us one heck of a team.
But what about having a well-rounded culturally diverse team ?
I've had the pleasure of working with team members and freelancers from all over the world, and I think it's taught me a lot personally, and made me more aware of my own actions and the way I interact and relate to them.
We often underestimate the value of building a diverse team, but there are several reasons why you 're going to want to actively seek it out now and in the future. On top of all the benefits of having a diverse team, I'm going to let you in on a few ways that I have made working with my team, spread across the world, even easier.
What is Cultural Diversity?
Before I dive into all the good stuff, let's discuss what cultural diversity is in the first place. By definition, cultural diversity refers to a community that is represented by different races, ethnicities, nationalities, religions and sexual orientations.
In reference to your workplace, this could mean you have team members who are from Africa, Canada and New Zealand, some who are Buddhist or Catholic and others who aren't so religious. You could have team members who are black, white or purple (you never know!), straight or gay. The point is, you leave discrimination at the door and open your team up to every unique individual.
Whether you have actively or subconsciously kept your team homogeneous, you have been missing out on some of the greatest benefits of cultural diversity.
So what are they ? Let's discuss.
Benefits of Cultural Diversity
If you have heard the old phrase from To Kill a Mockingbird, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view", then you likely know where I'm going with this. When you are building a business you want to appeal to the greatest number of people to grow your audience, but how can you do this if you don't consider how others may perceive you?
Incorporating the culturally diverse taps you into the opinions of those who have gone through different life experiences. It' s these different experiences that are so invaluable. They can help fuel new ideas, promote more open-mindedness and help your team to be less judgemental.
According to studies conducted by several different factions including the VEOHRC and the European Union Commission, it was found that having a culturally diverse workplace not only increased productivity, but also your bottom line.
How's that for good business!
Their research found that there were three areas that improved thanks to diversity:
- Product Creation – A diverse team that works well together is more capable of creating new products for their target audience because they understand and appreciate the values of a diverse audience.
- Operations – The more diverse your team, the more you learn about cultural differences and, in this case, holidays and practices. Acknowledging these differences will make your team members feel more accepted and less likely to quit. Less turnover and more engaged workers? Yes, please!
- Marketing – Chances are your audience is going to be diverse, so why not build their trust even more by showcasing your very own diversity? The more diverse the team, the higher perceived value you have with your audience.
Coordinate with Google Hangouts and Skype
Having frequent online meet ups with your team is essential if you want to bounce ideas off one another, discuss upcoming projects and see what everyone is up to for the week. Luckily there are two great (and free!) tools you can use to do this; Google Hangouts and Skype.
If you want to have group calls, Google Hangouts is probably best. You can share screens, send documents or files to one another and see all members in one screen. Did I mention they have fun overlays like devil horns and princess tiaras you can place over yourself to make weekly hangouts fun as well as business-savvy?
Skype, on the other hand, offers cheap calling capabilities so if you need to phone one of your team members in another country you can do so at low rates, or use the free version and see them face-to-face.
Get to Know Your Time Zones
Working in different time zones when you have a base can be tough enough, but if you're flying around the world like I am, remembering which time zone and coordinating with your team gets even harder.
By far the best online tool I have found is WorldTimeBuddy.com. This free service allows you to choose up to 4 different time zones and then all you do is scroll over your hour and you can see where it correlates with your team.
If you want to share this with your team, you can click the "Link This View" option and email your entire team a screenshot of your individual time zones highlighted with the meeting time.
Another top tool for scheduling that I highly recommend is timeanddate.com/meetings. It's great for figuring out the best time to schedule calls, team meetings and such. Saved my bacon a time or two!
Share Documents No Matter Where You Are
You've organised your tasks, had your meetings and are all working in the right time zones, but what if you need to share documents with your entire team? Dropbox and Google Drive make sharing images, media files and documents simple.
Google Drive is free for anyone using a Gmail account. You can create folders, sub-folders and documents of any sort; Word, Excel and PowerPoint to name a few. You have the ability to share what you want and can choose what level of access your team has to specific files.
If you want your team to be able to edit, you can open access for that or you can make a document read-only.
Similarly, Dropbox offers a free account for up to 16GB of data and is a great cloud-storage space to keep any media files or PDFs. From here, you can share the link to a particular document with your team, or even your audience.
As you can see, having a culturally diverse team can be incredibly beneficial to your ever-growing business. Building a team with members who offer different points of view, experience and knowledge will help you create the best possible products and services for your audience.
Keeping everyone aligned if you are located all over the world doesn't have to be difficult either. If you put into practice the tools mentioned above then you and your culturally diverse team can storm the interwebs and give your audience exactly what they are looking for.
This blog entry was sponsored by Visa Business and the blogger received compensation for his/her time from Visa for sharing their views in this post. The views expressed here are solely the blogger's, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.