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Diversity in the workplace shouldn't be easy
04 July 2018

Dominic Price believes in the value of crowdsourcing; but only if the crowd isn't full of people who think alike. 

At AMP Amplify, Dominic spoke about the value of diversity, specifically what it is and what it is not. Diversity does not guarantee inclusive decision-making, he argues, because complete consensus is naturally going to be harder to achieve. Having a truly diverse make up of values, upbringing and experiences (and by proxy, race, religion, gender and LGBTI status) is not going to make for easy decision-making processes. And nor should it. 

Price gave an example of an idea he took to a meeting recently. He was excited about it. He'd spent the whole weekend thinking about it and was ready to pitch it to a diverse team of colleagues. He spent five minutes talking, then sat back and let the others rip it apart. The idea the group arrived after 90 minutes  was in his words “a trillion times better” than what he had brought in, because of the diversity of the group and the contributions they were able to make. 

"Argue like you're right, listen like you're wrong", he said. 

"I have good empathy, but I can't put myself in everyone's shoes because I haven't lived their lives." 

Embracing and utilising diversity is much more than the recognition of those experiences. It's recognising that we can't anticipate them, but by giving them a voice at the table we can test our ideas and arrive at a better resolution. 

You can't reward diverse opinions, but you can recognise the value of them. 

So how can leaders form diverse teams that don't get stuck in a cycle of indecision, or worse, wind up hating each other? Price believes it's about finding diversity in experiences, but consistencies in character. 

For one thing, team members must be willing and open to embrace conflicting ideas and thoughts. They have to be willing to bring their opinion to the table but not to turn it into a battleground; to be able to practice respectful dissent. 

Working with purpose

During a panel session at AMP Amplify, Price argued that millennials are more likely than any other generation to search for a career with a higher order purpose. He believes the youngest generation in the workforce are more aware of their own purpose. It’s this, rather than total alignment with the company mission, that hiring managers should be looking for. 

He explained: "all companies have a purpose. We as a collective want to make an impact… [but] if your people don't have a personal purpose, it's pointless having a company one." 

"If your people don't have a personal purpose, it's pointless having a company one." 

Because a company can't create a personal purpose for their employees, individuals must bring their own, and this in turn fosters diversity of thought. 

At Atlassian, Price teases out this purpose in a values interview, which is conducted with a different set of people to the hiring manager. 

"We don't hire intelligent jerks. That person might be a technical genius, but they're going to negatively impact 100 others," he said. 

He observes many leaders falling into the trap of trying to create a positive culture by hiring people they like - they confuse being a good person with being likeable. 

It's not a simple process, and in many ways goes against human nature, but Price is convincing. Get diversity right, hire people with purpose, and you can build a team to be reckoned with.