The Benefits of Building a Diverse Team

By Carol Wentworth
Sr. Director Marketing, Research and Safety Division, North America

As I’ve progressed in my career, I’ve found that when I build diverse teams, the group is always better equipped to serve customers, develop creative solutions, and achieve business goals. At Thermo Fisher Scientific, we value and seek diverse employees because diversity:

  • Results in innovative solutions
  • Contributes to a continuous learning culture
  • Leads to greater success

At Thermo Fisher Scientific, we think about diversity in terms of what makes us unique and what brings us together. We strive to build teams composed of different genders, ages, races, cultures, physical abilities, gender identities, sexual orientation, and veteran status. Diversity of life and work experience, thinking/learning styles, and skill sets all enable us to collaborate and innovate in delivering value to our customers.

It’s important to seek colleagues that are different from you; who reflect the marketplace and your customer base. They are vital to generating solutions that are relevant to your customers and your prospects. By bringing diversity of thought to the table, it spurs innovation that might not flourish if you surround yourself with a homogenous group of people.

Three Paths to Pursue

Building a diverse team takes diligence and commitment. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long-term investment. I’ve found it requires pursuit of three contiguous paths; outreach to diverse communities, engagement of diverse colleagues within your company, and conscious nurturing of an accepting culture.

  1. Conduct Community Outreach
    Wherever you are located, there are organizations that enable employers to make connections and meet future candidates that represent diverse populations. At Thermo Fisher Scientific, we support young professionals who can benefit from early career guidance. This includes partnering with organizations like The Pittsburgh Promise that enables us to support and mentor college students. We also network with people who are further along in their careers through organizations like the National Black MBA Association, the National Sales Network, and the African American Directors Forum. Building these networks is an investment in our future.
  2. Engage Your Colleagues
    Building networks within your company is just as important as your community outreach. Make a point to meet diverse colleagues throughout your organization as you work on cross-functional projects, attend training classes, or participate in company volunteer events. Many companies, including Thermo Fisher Scientific, have created employee resource groups (ERGs) that provide support and enable employees to connect with like-minded colleagues. Get involved with your company ERGs. You will meet lots of interesting, diverse people, and when needed, they can connect you to their networks and could themselves become future candidates for roles in your organization.
  3. Foster an Accepting Culture
    When you add colleagues to your team, it’s important that the team culture is accepting and welcoming. Everyone must feel comfortable bringing their full selves to work so they can provide their input and ideas to advance the business and their careers. Gather feedback regularly, one-on-one, to make sure everyone feels the culture encourages diversity of thought.

The Payoff
When you have a role to fill, partner with your recruiter to develop an outreach strategy that will attract a diverse slate of candidates. Tap into the external network you’ve built through your community outreach. Ask organizations to share the job opportunity on their job boards. Mobilize your internal network to let everyone know you have an opening. Promote the great culture you’ve fostered; that will help you attract the diverse candidates you seek.

Even though it might take a little extra work and time to fill positions when you prioritize diversity, the benefits are well worth the effort. When you participate on or lead a diverse team, you learn life skills like listening and understanding. You learn about drawing people out and expanding your world view. You also become a more flexible person who communicates and collaborates more effectively. These competencies are essential to building a successful career.

Everyone gains from the different life experiences of the people on your team, including your customers. The more diverse your team, the more relevant everything you do will be, because you’ll be thinking in different ways about how to serve all of your customers better.

The Benefits of Building a Diverse Team