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How to successfully build a diverse team

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By:  Nicola Schutrups from The Mortgage Hut 

The benefits of having a diverse team are widely documented. One study found diversity to be a key driver of innovation and that diverse teams resulted in 19% more revenue for the business. Research showed that these companies were able to better serve their customers because they were more in tune with the changing needs of their client base. This adaptability was a direct result of a range of different backgrounds providing a host of different ideas, insights and solutions.

Despite the clear benefits of a diverse workforce, we still regularly read headlines about inequality in the workforce. Indications suggest the pandemic has been particularly damaging for women in the workplace, with a PwC study finding that progress for women in work has gone back to 2017 levels. The fact is, businesses must act now to promote diversity amongst their employees  or else risk setting progress back even further.

As a female managing director in a typically male-oriented sector, the first thing I wanted to do when I joined the company in 2018 was improve the diversity of our team. It’s taken some time, with many learnings along the way, but today, I’m proud to say we have a fifty-fifty split of male and female colleagues who come from a wide range of different backgrounds. It’s brought immense benefits to our business and our customers. Here’s how we did it.

Why it was important to us to build a diverse team

We realised early on that if we intentionally created a diverse team, we would be able to better represent the communities we serve. This meant not only focusing on gender – although that is personally important to me – but also recruiting people with a wide range of backgrounds, beliefs and experiences. Home ownership is an aspirational ideal for many people in the UK so being able to relate to our customers has greatly helped us understand and empathise with our customers, ensuring we can help advise them and find the right mortgage deal according to their circumstances.

The challenges we faced along the way

We learned early on that to recruit diverse teams effectively, you need to understand what you’re hoping to achieve and regularly review how things are going. A big learning for us came from understanding how people coming from other businesses are paid at different levels. It wasn’t something we’d considered before, but it became clear when recruiting female members of staff as we were finding they were generally paid less at other companies than their male counterparts. As a smaller business, we tend to offer new recruits a salary that is more than they are currently on to attract and retain talent, but through doing this we were, unknowingly, causing a gender pay gap in our own company. Thankfully, we realised this in one of our reviews and introduced new pay scales to tackle this problem, putting male and female employees on an even keel.

How you can improve diversity in your teams

When it comes to improving diversity in your business, you must first get the foundations right in order to succeed. This means understanding what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and being prepared for any challenges that present themselves. It’s also recognising that diversity is not a metric to strive for, but is actually a huge opportunity that, when done right, will contribute to the success of your business.

Of course this is the case – diversity in teams means diversity of minds. It allows the team to find solutions that take into account many different experiences, allowing you to serve customers from different communities. Having a team that incorporates diversity across all different roles and levels brings different skill sets to the table, which is important to allow the business to grow and achieve its goals. The best thing about diversity is there’s no perfect formula. Every team will be wonderfully unique.

About the author

Nicola Schutrups is the Managing Director of The Mortgage Hut, a mortgage brokerage founded in 2011. She oversees a team of over 50 people and operations generating a multi-million-pound turnover. She provides much of The Mortgage Hut’s expert advice with a focus on how to get a mortgage approved and what changes in the housing market mean for buyers.

 

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