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The Role of Diversity

The Role of Diversity

Author: Kelly Nordstrom

This lesson introduces diversity and the role that it plays in a team.

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Introduction to Psychology

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Thank you for joining need for this tutorial on The Role of Diversity. This lesson will introduce diversity and the role that it plays in a team. So let's get started.

What are our objectives today? What categories are impacted by diversity? What are the benefits of a diverse team? And why is personality considered an element of diversity?

So let's get right into it. Now, diversity can span a wide range of areas. I think a lot of times, people think just ethnicity and culture. But diversity is found in sexual orientation. It's found in gender, personality-- we'll get into that in a little bit-- culture, abilities and disabilities, education, spirituality and religion, age, language, and education.

A diverse team is open to differences in any or all of these areas here-- listed here and the ones that I've mentioned-- without allowing diversity to impact the hierarchy or any judgments. Now, tolerance for diversity does not mean ignoring the aspects of diversity or pretending that everyone is the same. What it means is embracing what is different and integrating it into your value and your team goals. When a person ignores or pretends that there is no difference between the people on a team, miscommunication and trust issues and a weaker overall team is the result. We'll see in a bit just how a diverse team offers great benefits.

Now, if there is an area where there is intolerance for diversity, there are some things that we can do to help it along. These things can be open communication, integrating diverse perspectives-- again, not ignoring them or pretending there aren't any differences-- recognizing value and attending diversity training-- many, many corporations, companies, and not-for-profits offer diversity training-- and of course, upholding zero tolerance for discrimination.

Let's take a look at two different teams here. We have one team that is diverse. And then we have the other team where, obviously, they're all the same. It's important to note that research indicates that diverse teams are more productive and effective than homogeneous teams.

Part of the reason for that is, when you have people with different backgrounds and personalities, there are many different viewpoints now that you can incorporate into your team goals, your organizational goals, and your company at large, resulting in a stronger overall perspective for everyone involved in the team. Diverse teams tend to think more creatively. With more perspectives, there's more chance for creativity.

On the other hand, homogeneous teams tend to be a little more entrenched in their thinking. Like-minded individuals produce, well, like-minded ideas. And handling conflict is a little more tough for the homogeneous team. The diverse team, now, understands how to handle conflict. We'll be talking more about that in a bit.

Along the lines of creativity, the diverse team is definitely more open to different approaches. This means different approaches to problem-solving, different approaches to creative solutions, creative ideas. And the homogeneous team is a little more hesitant to alternate perspectives. Or they may simply not have alternate perspectives.

Now, regarding conflict, having a diverse team may lead to conflict. With many different perspectives, there may come more conflict. But if it's handled well, the entire team thrives. And let's face it, some type of conflict and debate is healthy for a team. This is where solutions are usually born.

Most teams tend to argue or have conflicting ideas about what the team goals, role goals, and values should be. And this can generally be destructive. So for a homogeneous team, that could be something that negatively impacts the team.

Whereas, a diverse team can handle it. And again, with many different perspectives, the creation of team values is generally constructive. As for both teams, debate around techniques, processes, methods, approaches, problem-solving, all of these areas are encouraged and inevitable in a team. But efforts should always be made to align to the goals and the values. And with various perspectives, diverse teams seem to be able to handle this a little better.

So as we're talking about approaches to methods, problem-solving, techniques, things like that, we'll need to talk about personality. Now, generally, when we talk about diversity, personality isn't usually the first thing that comes to mind. However, everyone is unique in the way that they approach problem-solving techniques, their emotional reactions to communications within a team, and their behavior.

So this element of diversity is not as obvious as cultural or age or gender diversity. However, it's so important when determining team success. So for example, if we had a team composed entirely of introverts, there's not going to be a whole lot of debate, problem-solving, brainstorming going on in that team. And on the opposite side of that, a team comprised entirely of extroverts wouldn't be successful either. So as with all diversity, raising awareness is key, because it increases the openness of team members to accept other ways of thinking and communicating with each other.

So one way to improve awareness of personality differences are group activities. And these activities usually involve personality testing. Team members learn about each other and their different personality types. And then they're openly discussed as to what is most beneficial for that personality type. It's a neutral environment to discuss differences without the pressure of deadlines.

And what's great about these activities is that it usually focuses on the context of how to communicate with each other, how this person likes to be managed, or how a person should manage that type of personality, decision made, et cetera. It covers all the aspects of each team member. And all the differences are openly addressed.

The most common personality test is the Myers-Briggs. This is used by the majority of Fortune 100 businesses. So there are four areas that are examined here. This is the extroversion versus introversion, sensing versus intuiting, thinking versus feeling, judging versus perceiving.

And then all of these aspects, these four squares or these four categories, are weighed out and balanced. And then it falls into 16 different personality types, which is represented by a four letter acronym. And people generally take the exam to find out what their personality type is or maybe even to self-diagnose, so they understand how to communicate with people even outside of the professional arena.

So there are multiple personality tests that embrace and describe differences and approaches that people have. And they've been adopted for the purpose of improving communication on teams and increasing conflict resolution so teams can be more successful. One of those personality tests is the Big Five, also known as the Five Factor model.

So this personality test tests five factors to evaluate the person's degree of each characteristic. This is really trying to find out what the tendency is. And the Big Five, of course, it's conscientiousness, openness, neuroticism, agreeableness, and extraversion. That is not a typo. It is how it's spelled for the purposes of the Big Five.

So this model can be used for internal purposes. Managers may use it to actually create more diversity in a team. But it's less likely to be shared with the public or shared openly in the team or with the company to avoid value judgments associated with many of these factors.

So we're reaching the end of our tutorial. Have we met our objectives? What categories are impacted by diversity? We talked about the whole span of categories-- gender, age, sexual orientation, and personality, of course.

What are the benefits of a diverse team? We talked about how research is finding that diverse teams are much more productive, and they can handle conflict resolution at a higher level than homogeneous teams. And why is personality considered an element of diversity? Because people are unique with their cognitive approaches, their problem-solving skills, and their methods, it's an important thing to consider for each member on a team.

Well this concludes today's tutorial. Thank you for joining me. And I hope to see you again soon.