Tips for Creating a Diverse Team

By Dyan Sellers

Let’s say you have a vacancy on your team and you want to prioritize making your team more diverse.  What does “diverse” mean to you?  A crucial error that many managers make during the hiring process is thinking about diversity in an incomplete way. Instead of taking the time to look at true intersectionality and identify what their team is currently lacking, they focus on typical “diversity” characteristics like race, gender, sexuality, etc….While the desire to diversify in this way is understandable, selecting for (or against) these characteristics during a hiring process is not exactly legal.  Let me be clear, you can actively recruit candidates that would bring diversity to your team in these ways, however, you cannot hire solely based on these characteristics; intersectionality of characteristics and competencies is key. A limited approach to diversity can end up hurting their team and their overall business in the long run. Let’s talk about how to overcome this hurdle and start hiring a more diverse workforce, in a multitude of ways.

What is True Diversity?

After the racial reckoning of 2020, hiring managers might have adopted a narrow idea of what diversity is by focusing on a candidate’s race, ethnicity, gender, and/or other aspects of their identity. While a hiring manager may prioritize hiring someone who comes from a different background because they often offer a different perspective based on their life experience, they may still unconsciously make hiring decisions based on affinity bias, causing them to gravitate towards others who seem to be like them. This can manifest not only in a race, ethnicity, and/or gender way but also in a way that causes them to favor those with similar personality traits, interests, and/or working styles. Having the same interests and passions can be great for team building, but creating a team full of exceptional people who all think and attack projects in exactly the same way can stifle growth. According to, “A plurality of personalities means a wider range of skills, experience, and perspectives to draw from.So instead of falling into this pattern, use the following tips to secure a wide range of characteristics and competencies within your organization. 

3 Ways To Engage and Prepare for Diverse Candidates

Successful teams are typically made up of a unique mix of people who have been brought together by a common mission, goal or passion. Ensuring that your team is diverse means creating a team full of people with different attributes, like creative big-picture thinkers, logical detail-oriented individuals, and execution-focused experts. 

Nate Regier, PhD. of Next Element Consulting, a firm focused on building Compassionate Accountability thinks, “‘getting stuff done’ through people is what the workplace is all about, however, personality matters greatly.” Using the following strategies, you can identify applicants who will add the missing layers to your team and create space for intersectionality to thrive.

  • Identify Your Team’s Strengths and Needs

Take some time to evaluate your team so that you are better prepared to screen candidates on the basis of what your team is missing and what they can contribute.  Is your team really strong at coming up with creative ideas and innovative ways to approach their work, but struggles with operationalizing these ideas and putting them into action?  If so, you may have a team of predominantly big-picture thinkers but not have anyone on the team who is a detail-oriented planner.  

Through working closely with and managing your team, you may already know the strengths and needs.  If not, or if you want to confirm your thinking, there are several assessments you can use, such as CliftonStrengths (formerly StrengthFinder), Compass Points, or MBTI (Myers-Briggs), to name a few.  For a longer engagement with your team, I recommend Collaborative Intelligence (Thinking with People Who Think Differently) by Donna Marcova and Angie McArthur.  These assessments give insight into how your team members may think and approach their work and working with others.  

Once you have identified the strengths and needs of your team, you can assess this information about candidates through the hiring process through interview questions and/or performance tasks.  This leads to the next strategy…

  • Adjust Hiring Practices

Hiring should be as much about the candidate’s experience as it is about finding the right fit. Attracting diverse talent means removing barriers, addressing bias, and possibly, adjusting your process. 

For example, some Neurodiverse individuals may not make steady eye contact or excel at sitting for a long period of time, but this doesn’t mean they are not capable and competent, or a good fit, culturally. Make sure you’re creating an equitable process and empowering candidates by letting go of any standards or questions which do not directly indicate an individual’s ability to perform their job tasks. Always use a rubric with the required competencies of the job laid out to evaluate candidates, so that bias doesn’t affect your hiring decisions.

  • Create Accepting Spaces 

Congratulations, your team is diverse in multiple ways!  Is your workplace one in which all team members feel a sense of belonging and are able to thrive?  In order to attract and retain diverse talent, your organization must ensure that it’s creating and maintaining accessible and welcoming spaces.

Check out these tips for creating spaces where diverse staff members feel welcome and comfortable and where they are likely to succeed:

The Bottom Line 

Every team needs diversity to succeed and understanding what makes a great fit takes thinking about diversity broadly and being intentional in your approach before, during, and after the hiring process. This might feel overwhelming, but we’re here to help. Edgility manages hiring processes to ensure our clients hire the right people and helps them create the systems needed to retain great talent. Connect with us, today

Dyan Sellers

Meet the expert:

Dyan Sellers

  • Executive and Leadership Search
  • Recruitment Campaigns
  • Hiring Process Design & Implementation

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We believe equity isn’t a box to check. It’s a daily action. Someone’s unique identity isn’t something to overcome–when paired with the right opportunity, it becomes one of their greatest professional assets. We exist to empower social impact organizations to recognize and overcome unconscious bias, racism and sexism so they can build a workforce that reflects and strengthens the communities they serve.