Do you lack diversity in your marketing team?
Karen Lloyd marketing team, employer
Recruiting can be a bit of a minefield – it takes practice and skill to build successful teams. The whole process can be full of unconscious bias. The biggest bias being that you tend to recruit what you know. I increasingly find hiring managers unconsciously seeking marketers with the same traits, strengths, weaknesses and background as themselves, Understandable, particularly for those new to recruiting marketing teams, but an approach that is doomed to long term failure.
It should be obvious; marketing team members need to compliment each other. Creatives with analytical minds, introverts and extroverts, men and women, detail vs the big picture, different experiences, different professional backgrounds, different strengths and weaknesses. But so often, we find that this isn’t the case.
If you are responsible for a marketing team, how do you recognise the signs that you have fallen into the trap and have a team of mini me’s?
You lack a gender balance: do you instinctively err towards hiring men or women? It is not unusual to find teams dominated one way or the other. Gender is a protected characteristic, and there is really no excuse for this. There is a fantastic talent pool of both male and female marketers available to hiring managers and it was proven by a 2011 study that the optimum balance is a 50:50 mix of men and women. This is at least “partly due to mixed gender groups engaging in more “mutual monitoring” – making sure everyone pulled their weight for the team’s benefit.”
You have a trend towards introverts or extroverts: whilst we all accept there is a wide scale for introverts and extroverts, we do find that hiring managers tend to stick to type, particularly in marketing. There is a perception that marketing is just for extroverts, which irritates me no end!
There are so many opportunities for the introverted marketer, not least as they tend toward the more insightful and analytical side of things. In fact, the ideal profile is the “ambivert” that elusive team who all fall in the middle of the spectrum. However, we do not live in an ideal world. Our teams must be comprised of a balance, and it is up to you as the hiring manager to develop different management strategies to get the best out of both types of marketers.
Your team all have similar backgrounds: it is not unusual to find a team who all have similar backgrounds, be that industry, company profile, skill mix and experience as the hiring manager. There is safety in hiring what you know, but there is a danger that you are missing out on different ideas and approaches that a mix of backgrounds can bring. Look for synergies in background rather than an exact match.
There is a lack of “cognitive diversity”: does your team suffer from “groupthink”? A tendency to approach things in the same way and come up with the same solutions? Mixing people with the same thinking styles, habits and perspectives will hinder performance. A diverse mix in the way people think allows a team to overcome more obstacles and achieve a better outcome.
The value to a business of a varied workforce is well established. There are multiple studies carried out over the years that have proved the success of diverse teams in terms of productivity, accuracy, innovation and financial success. We examine the “Value of Diversity in a Marketing Team” in our next blog, coming soon!