Diversity of thought and approach is vital for marketing teams to generate innovative ideas and find new ways of implementing campaigns and communications. Seeing the significant business benefits that diversity brings, many sectors – from governments to manufacturing to financial services – are focusing on improving diversity in their organisations.
The current diversity agenda for many sectors and companies appears to be primarily centred on gender diversity. Certainly, there is more to be done to improve female representation in a number of sectors. In financial services for example, women represent just 19% of senior managers and just 2% of CEOs. Gender diversity is also shown to be good for business. A recent study by the Peterson Institute and EY found that a company with 30% female leadership could expect to add up to six percentage points to its net margin when compared with an otherwise similar business with no female leaders.
Focusing on improving diversity of teams needs to be done with a specific objective and purpose – to bring different thought processes and approaches to bear on business issues and opportunities. Certainly diversity of thought and approach can be gained from a more balanced gender split in senior positions and teams. For example, a study by McKinsey found that women tend to demonstrate five of the nine types of leadership behavior that improve business performance – such as people development and participative decision making – more often than men.
Gaining the benefits of diversity of thought and approach can also come from achieving diversity of culture and personality types, as a complement to gender diversity. At Ideas and Action, we find that the best creative ideas and the right course of action to deliver to our clients comes when different people on our team contribute from a different cultural or personality point of view.
We are fortunate to work with a culturally diverse team, with colleagues from the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Belgium, the Philippines and New Zealand. As we work with clients with a global reach, this diversity of culture helps us to view their challenges and opportunities with an eye on both universal truths as well as local cultural nuances. Being able to draw on, and combine, the strengths of different cultural approaches creates a powerful team. For example, a strength of the Philippine business culture is building professional relationships founded on genuine interest in colleagues and clients, and not merely the business of the company they represent. The New Zealand business culture on the other hand, focuses on respect earned by actions, not status, and is characterised by a can-do attitude that goes a long way towards solving problems and finding creative means of getting things done. Together, these different approaches enable us to develop solutions for our clients that not only solve for today’s issues, but are also positioned for the longer term.
We also have diversity of personality within the team. A common methodology for assessing different personality types that many of us would have completed is Myers-Briggs. This framework looks at the strengths of different personalities, and what they can bring to a business. Within our team, we have a good diversity of personality types. Some are ENTP or ‘Debater’ personalities, being smart and curious thinkers who cannot resist an intellectual challenge. This is balanced by others in the team who are ISTJ or ‘Logistician’ personalities, being practical and fact-minded individuals whose reliability cannot be questioned, and INTJ or “Architect” big picture strategic thinkers.
In order to operate effectively and efficiently as a marketing and communications consultancy, it is vital that a mix of personality types come together, balancing the need for keeping an eye on the big picture, and incorporating new insight and ideas with the ability to work through implementation challenges and achieve delivery for our clients.
Understanding that this diversity of culture and personality exists, and embracing the strengths in those differences, are vital to working together more harmoniously and ultimately, more effectively for our clients.
The diversity agenda is vital for all businesses, and needs to go above and beyond the easier-to-spot gender diversity agenda, to also building a team with diversity of thought and approach. Both of these can often come from achieving diversity of culture and personality type diversity, as a complement to gender diversity.