Top 5 Myths About Diversity - And How We Broke Them All

Dec. 7, 2017

BY TARA MATAMOROS CARTER, SINÉAD CHEUNG & CHRISTI LI

Overview

As a venture studio and an innovation lab, we believe that much of our success lies in our mindset. As a diverse team, our collective strength and value arises from our varied backgrounds, beliefs, experiences, and talents. Tangelo embraces diversity, recognizing that diversity makes us more innovative and versatile in our space. Since diversity is a guiding focus of our company, we're naturally observant of current workplace diversity trends. We have observed 5 common myths professionals cling to regarding workplace diversity - and one by one, we've debunked them all. Is your company diverse? You might rethink your approach to diversity after reading our exposure of common workplace diversity myths.

Myth 1: Diversity is incompatible with small businesses

A common workplace mentality is that diversity runs counter to the goals of small businesses due the business’s lack of capital/resource, as well as a perception that a diverse team will be less profitable and offer less value.

The perception that diversity is incompatible with small business lies in the false belief that unlike larger corporations, small businesses and startups have the comparable time, capital, and resources to focus on diversity. Thereby, smaller firms are often forced to be less holistic in their hiring process, as reported by NPR News. As a result, we often see high-functioning small business teams that perform at a standard level since their capacity to innovate is limited by their own homogenous makeup.

We break this mold by first acknowledging that our understanding and application of diversity is one that drives innovation, therefore driving value.

Diversity is not simply an initiative; diversity is deeply embedded in Tangelo’s values.

Diversity = Value

The issue at hand for small businesses is not so much the lack of resources; rather, it is the lack of priority given to the topic of diversity. Tangelo believes that innovation is a mindset by which the contributions of a multi-dimensional team ultimately offer varying perspectives.

These ingenuities lead to better strategic decisions and greater opportunities, surpassing existing constraints that would otherwise bind non-diverse teams.

In turn, by prioritizing diversity as a value, we’ve been able to establish greater runway and generate more innovation, ultimately increasing our capital.

As such, without diversity, the small business team suffers, as innovation and profit are stifled. To summarize, the lack of capital and resources for small businesses is no excuse to turn a blind eye to the overwhelming benefits of diversity. Aligning ourselves to a recent Intel Study, Decoding Diversity: The Financial and Economic Returns to Diversity in Tech, diversity is both profitable and advantageous.

Myth 2: It’s impossible to create a team that fulfills all areas of diversity

There are 8 common diversity facets to consider:

DIVERSITY Race
Gender
Age
Socio-Economic Background (including marital status, family situation, religion, etc)
Education
Sexual Orientation
Health
Character/Personality Type

In an attempt to fulfill the wide range of diversity criteria, a common approach companies take involves isolating each of the 8 criterias into separate general applications. This undertaking results in 8 independent diversity initiatives rather than one, all-inclusive program. By siloing criteria for each facet of diversity, any benefits or ROI that a holistically diverse team could generates is diluted. According to Project Include founder Ellen Pao, it is a dangerously common practice to weigh greater emphasis on the outwardly perceivable facets of diversity, such as race and gender. However, here we argue that it is also important to encompass the “invisible” characterizations of diversity as well.

Although it may seem challenging to compose a team that fulfills all 8 areas of diversity, Tangelo is proof that this obstacle is indeed surmountable. Our holistic hiring process embraces all the confluences and variations derived from the amalgamation of the above 8 categories. Although Tangelo’s approach requires more meticulous inquiries and deep, unconventional conversations, our determination to acquire employees from all the varying facets of diversity has enabled our success.

All of our effort to create a holistically diverse team contributes to our vast repository of highly valuable, creative ideas and pragmatic implementations. We make what many would consider “impossible” occur, simply due to the all-encompassing diversity of our team.

Myth 3: Diversity compromises quality candidates

When hiring minorities, the fundamental assumption often places blame upon the pool of candidates for their skillsets (or lack thereof), rather than examining the number of opportunities available for them in the first place. A prevalent myth concerns the notion that the number of minority candidates in a given industry correlates to the amount of qualified individuals on hand. However, as HuffPost reports, research shows that minorities, when given the opportunity, perform as well as their counterparts in the majority.

The deficient number of minorities in many companies, in fact, results from the overwhelming number of barriers they face, as well as the lack of a pipeline - rather than their “inherent” capabilities.

In our pursuit to build a holistically diverse and high-performing team, Tangelo has also taken the necessary steps to seek out candidates in spaces that are otherwise ignored, overlooked and quickly discredited. Specifically, this has resulted in a team with backgrounds ranging from those holding collegiate degrees and those without; those who grew up in Midwest suburbia and those were raised in rural Argentine towns; those who are single parents struggling to take care of their dependents, to those with financially stable nuclear families. In pursuing this full-circle diverse team, we have discovered indispensable innovation and value by working with and being supportive of each other’s personal and professional goals.

As a 15-person team that manages end-to-end digital and business transformations, we run multiple projects within companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500s.

We credit Tangelo’s success to our holistic hiring process that has built a team fulfilling all criterias of diversity; one that time and again generates not only “quality” results, but rather extraordinary and otherwise impossible innovation and value.

Myth 4: Diversity is inefficient

Diversity is often mistakenly viewed as a proponent of inefficiency. This mistaken belief is largely due to the effect that diversity tends to highlight competing solutions, personal abrasions, and conflicts of beliefs that are traditionally swept under the rug.

Firstly, it is important to clarify how we are defining “inefficiencies.” Although it may appear that abrasions and contrasting ideas initially delay progress, they in fact lead to more innovative and well developed solutions. The key ROI from having a diverse team ultimately places the varied solutions generated in parallel with one another to identify the most optimal path. In other words, abrasions do not always generate “inefficiencies.” In contrary, they actually encourage creative thinking and optimal solutioning. As a result, an American Psychological Association study discovered that when working with team members with varying beliefs and upbringings, people tend to be more fact-focused and objective in their decision making processes.

At Tangelo, we achieved harmony in our differences by harnessing the strengths arising from our varying backgrounds and expertise. Since we are united in our desire to achieve optimal results, we leverage our differences to our advantage: by being exposed to the new and unfamiliar methods of our teammates, we are able to generate the most creative solutions possible.

Myth 5: Our workplace is already diverse

To fully extract the benefits of diversity requires an understanding beyond an initiative or a checklist.

Simply fulfilling one or two facet of diversity does not constitute a diverse workplace.

Tangelo urges you to rethink and expand your definition of diversity. We are constantly improving our company’s diversity by making our work environment both welcoming and stimulating for those underrepresented. Innovation at its root is a mindset. The merging of diverse minds, whether from gender, race, age, or background, provides an edge when it comes to ingenious solutions.

By actively aligning our differences to string ourselves together, we prove that when given the opportunity, everyone can innovate. We are not only carving a space for companies to capitalize on our innovation and value, but also providing openings for all those seeking a level playing field. A common goal all of Tangelo shares is the refusal to be shaped by the myths of diversity that our environment presents. Rather, we at Tangelo have discovered that if the environment is not responsive to our diverse team, we must shape our own environment.

At Tangelo, we value taking care of our employees holistically, and support them in their journey to reach both their personal and their professional goals. By being open and honest, we empower both our team members and our partners to take on new leadership initiatives. Come experience the Tangelo lifestyle and join us today!

BY TARA MATAMOROS CARTER, SINÉAD CHEUNG & CHRISTI LI
DIVERSITY