engaging diverse teams


As a leader, your responsibility is to provide the support that inspires growth and engages your team in a diverse workforce. Easier said than done. We are in a new era – post-recession, businesses are regaining momentum and a new generation is getting their first taste of leadership. Engaging team members is becoming one of the biggest HR challenges of the decade.

It is time to challenge our beliefs concerning diversity and its impact on professional relationships and social interaction. In this increasingly sophisticated global marketplace, we simply can’t succeed unless we attract top-caliber people that can provide the cultural and biological diversity we need to compete. To do less is to show up less on assets. I included a few relevant statistics below for introspection:

What are employees saying about their workplace?

  • 70% of workers don’t feel engaged at work compared to 35% of managers who feel engaged (Deloitte, 2015).
  • A July 2015 Gallup survey named race relations the 3rd biggest problem in the country.
  • In a Deloitte survey, 6 out of 10 millennials said “sense of purpose” was part of the reason they chose to work for their current employer; Only 28% of Millennials feel that their current organization is making full use of their skills.

What are analysts saying about the workplace?

  • Companies with highly engaged people outperform firms with the most disengaged folks—by 54% in employee retention, by 89% in customer satisfaction, and by fourfold in revenue growth (Deloitte, 2015).
  • Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Companies in the top quarter for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective industry medians (McKinskey, 2015).
  • Millennials make up over 1/3 of the workforce; 65% of emerging-market based Millennials would like to be senior executives according to The Deloitte Millennial Survey: Mind the Gaps.

How can you close the gap to engage a diverse workforce?

Honor interdependence

We are all interdependent and therefor you must re-examine the possibilities from that perspective. This is the time to get everyone aligned and participating in a common goal. Observe and listen, which may involve getting out of your comfort zone or treating team newbies to lunch off-site.

Expect resistance to change

There might be some employees who don’t see the value in challenging the status quo, but you know otherwise. When you encounter a diversity naysayer, nip it in the bud by saying, “We don’t do that here.” You may find it helpful to bring in an external influence through group coaching or a DEI presentation.

Don’t micro-manage

An analytical millennial may approach a situation differently than a creative baby-boomer, and both methodologies may be foreign to you. Resist your urge to tell employees how to accomplish goals by setting clear expectations of the objective at hand. Allow employees to utilize their unique know-how and put their purpose to work for the team.

Above all else, take a look in the professional mirror and reconsider your own beliefs.

What do you think about the state of diversity in your workplace? What steps are you taking to create an inclusive culture and engage a diverse workforce?

Share Post
Art Jackson, Professional Speaker, Executive Coach

Art Jackson

Art Jackson is a professional speaker and executive coach. He is a recognized expert in the areas of leadership, performance improvement and interpersonal skills.

Stay in the loop

Subscribe to our free newsletter.