July 13, 2020
Company Culture 20 February 2020
5 Benefits of Hiring People from Diverse Backgrounds
Gisel Malek
hiring bias

Workplace diversity should be a major goal for every company. A diverse workplace employs people from all walks of life but hiring people with diverse backgrounds isn’t just about race. Robyn Flint from US Insurance Agents says it best:

 “Hiring people with diverse backgrounds means going deeper than just ethnic and cultural beliefs, but means professional diversity as well. People with diverse backgrounds and experiences bring different perspectives and ideas for business. Having a team of diverse individuals with different strengths and abilities makes a more well-rounded team.

While it seems perfectly logical to want to hire people with an educational background related to the position, it doesn't hurt to consider candidates with other diverse majors. Realize that not all education background is equal. Most educational institutions do not have the appropriate resources to update their students on the actual software and technologies that they would be working within their respective fields. 

For example, although you want someone with a business degree for your financial role opening, you should be aware that some graduates may not fully understand how to use Microsoft Office and all of its applications. So the next time you write out your job description, consider excluding the section “Degree in related field”. 

Keeping an open mind about what background candidates have not only makes you a more diverse company, but could also help you be hiring a lot smarter, too! Here are some reasons why:


A Unique Approach

People with different backgrounds in majors can provide insight into better ways of doing things. Someone with a political science degree can make a great salesperson. 

What?

Ok, let me explain. You might not think that someone who has spent years studying government and policies would succeed as a bubbly salesperson right away, but it can happen. 

Firstly, it’s important to rid of stereotypes, like the one I just mentioned. Not all salespeople need to be bubbly and having a positive attitude doesn’t have to mean wearing a fake smile all day long. When considering the writing and reading that is required of political science majors, you are opening yourself to hiring individuals who are well-spoken and can convey their thoughts in a meaningful way. You are also putting your customers in good hands because taking the logical approach of convincing people of why they can benefit from your products and services, is a smarter business than hiring a "sales bully" so to speak. 


More Ambitious Candidates

People that don’t have a journalism degree and are applying for a writing position, for example, know they have a lot to prove. They already are in the mindset that they don’t fit in because the job description told them so. Not all great writers have a degree in journalism, though. In fact; many great writers have backgrounds in areas outside of writing. 

When famous writers like Bram Stoker, Toni Morrison, and Helen DeWitt started publishing their first novels after the age of 40, you know that it’s possible to find genius outside of the box that you think “genius” belongs in. Many people also may have a passion for writing and are good at it, but never wanted to “go to school for it” because of various reasons. 

Joseph Giranda, Director of Commercial Relations at CFR says,

“By creating more diversity in the workplace, businesses are creating a wider selection of candidates from which to choose. When business owners understand this philosophy, they will reap the benefits of a stronger core group of employees.”

When you look to hire people that fit in a certain bubble, you are not opening yourself up to the satisfaction of taking a chance on someone who wants to prove their skill set to you, knowing they might not be as “qualified” as others. These candidates will work harder and be more open to learning new things to be able to do their jobs better.


Varied Problem Solving Approaches

Hiring from more diverse backgrounds like different majors can help add people to your team that have varying problem-solving skills, which can be a huge benefit to your organization. Everyone looks at things differently, so it would make sense that if you hire people of different backgrounds and have different experiences, you will get more unique approaches to solving everyday problems. For instance; while you may require someone with a technical educational background for a technical role at your company, you might not want to overlook the applicant that studied communications. The best tech employees are the ones that know how to effectively communicate their thoughts and ideas and execute them. They are also the ones that always do a good job of keeping everyone in the loop, even if they might not need to (they do it anyway). 

People with communications degrees have also had the opportunity to develop their public speaking skills as well, which can come in handy for a CTO who needs to present his/her ideas in a way that non-technical people would understand. A communications major with a technical background can be a great asset to facilitate collaboration between management/customers and the tech team.

Rahul Vij, CEO of WebSpero Solutions shares his experience when hiring someone on his team with little sales experience:

“We hired our sales manager, with experience of 14 years in banking, KPOs, insurance, and real estate. We trained him for our products and services, he saw our processes, improved many of them by applying analogies to his previous experience. He has helped us improve our quality assurance by introducing concepts from his banking days. 14 months down the line, he is our top performer with most clients. He had a stronghold on sales and had a diverse experience of different industries and that helped us a lot.”

When employees with different backgrounds and experiences come together, everyone shares a slightly different approach to the job which in return finds solutions to problems that arise. 


Passionate and Loyal

People that go to college to study areas that they are actually interested in, instead of choosing a degree that would help them get a job, are more likely to succeed at your company. While there’s no real way for you to measure that, you may be able to tell how they feel about their majors upon asking them about it. 

A few questions to ask:

  • What made you choose this major?

  • What did you most get out of it?

  • If you had the opportunity to change it, would you? Why?

The reason why is because job candidates that have more passion for their subject area will carry that passion into other aspects of their career. It’s important to hire people that care about the work that they do, the work they put out and have a true desire to succeed. 

There’s something to be said about individuals that know themselves well enough to stick with something that is true to who they are. These individuals make for more loyal employees, helping your retention rates. 

Increased Creativity and Productivity

Workplace diversity boosts creativity. Morgan Taylor, CMO for LetMeBank said,

“When you have a company that is made up of people from the same places with the same experiences, then you're going to become stagnant. Growth comes from ingenuity and you can't have ingenuity when everyone is coming up with the same ideas from those same experiences. Beyond that, it's important to know that there are times when it's very useful to have people who are more competitive with one another. People from different backgrounds might disagree on more things, but that's helpful for growth and, again, innovation.”

Workplace diversity not only boosts creativity, but it increases productivity. The more diverse your workplace, the more diverse the brainstorming will be. The more diverse the brainstorming, the faster you find a solution. 

Help Increase Profits

Rafe Gomez, co-owner of VC Inc. Marketing mentions that;

“Building a team with diverse roots - whether you're a startup or an established company - dramatically increases your chances of boosting sales as well as avoiding costly marketing mistakes. This is due to the fact that diverse employees and executives, whether the diversity is in sex, ethnicity, regional background, or socioeconomic background, can provide valuable insights into the needs/goals/challenges of prospective buyers that a homogeneous team would never be able to ascertain or deliver.”

There was a study done by McKinsey and Company, a global management consulting firm. Included in their study were 180 companies in Germany, the United Kingdom, United States, and France. They found that companies with more diverse teams were the top financial performers.

Companies whose teams are more diverse make better decisions faster which gives them an advantage. As a result, companies can see better results and increase their profit.


Well - Rounded Individuals 

The greatest benefit of hiring people with diverse majors is you get a much more well-rounded individual. To be well-rounded doesn’t mean being a jack all trades but master of none. It means having the ability to be personal and technical, creative but organized and have many characteristics that allow one to thrive in many different environments. Candidates who feel confident in doing the same work that is asked of everyone else, but does it in a unique and refreshing way will bring your company great value. Opening yourself to hiring people with different majors can help you to hire more well-rounded individuals as their varied disciplines will bring fresh, new ideas to your teams and company.

People that have taken extensive courses in areas that are not directly related to the job they are doing is not at the top of any employers list, and while I’m not telling you to seek out these individuals, I’m suggesting that you don’t exclude them merely because of it. Having the right RELEVANT technical and behavioral skills is going to help you hire the right people for the roles, but that doesn’t always mean that you shouldn’t hire a biology major for your investment banking position.


To learn more about getting rid of hiring biases, sign up for a demo with ProSky.