Looking for differentness

15 Mar

I came across this list “The 10 most important traits for job candidates” by Jay Shepherd (http://jayshep.com/the-10-most-important-traits-for-job-candidates/) and was surprised at what topped his list:

Differentness. You don’t want an office full of cookie-cutter duplicates. Instead, your team will be stronger when you have a truly diverse workforce. And not just race and gender, but also background and life experiences.

Of course, this is hardly a new idea (see Scott Page’s The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies). In fact, there’s more and more research supporting how social and thought diversity enhance organizations. Still, I was tickled to accidentally come across this blog and see the idea, out there in the e-verse.

Shepherd’s list continues:

2. sense of humor

3. optimism

4. eye sparkle

5. connectivity

6. creativity

7. perseverance

8. initiative

9. self-confidence

10. passion

As I perused Shepherd’s other 9 important traits, it occurred to me how important not just a diverse workforce is, but how important cultural competency is, not just for candidates but for the people who do the hiring, as well as those who will work with the new hire. Cultural competency is the skills to navigate social and ideological differences inclusively and equitably, so that diverse individuals and the collective group can thrive. No small feat. Yet critical for individuals and organizations to unleash their full potential.

And critical in the highly cultural, biased and subjective process of interviewing: as we look for “perseverance” and “passion,” are we imposing our own criteria on what those qualities look and sound like? As we interview for connectivity, are we challenging the candidate to demonstrate or describe their skills connecting with diverse colleagues (because it’s one thing to connect with people like me, and another to connect with folks of different political and religious beliefs, problem-solving approaches and life experiences)?

As usual, I see “diversity” all over this list, both as a discrete item and also as a lens through which to view individuals, skills and ourselves for the most generative and collaborative organizational outcomes.

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