“How important is diversity on a team?” It is a common question I receive from leaders. “Very important” is my default response, and then I add an encouragement that “you should work towards being diverse as your context.” The caveat is important because I recognize that it has been easier for me to build ethnically diverse teams in places like Miami and Orange County compared to some contexts that are much less ethnically diverse.
To value differences on a team, not only ethnic differences, is to value the strength of a team.
When a team is diverse the team, and those the team is designed to serve, benefit from the diversity. The collective wisdom, perspective, and understanding of a team increases as the diversity of the team increases. A team that lacks diversity is a team that lacks perspective. As you construct a team here are five differences to value:
To have a team filled with just one gender is to exclude an important perspective. Surely you have heard it said of some decisions or some communication pieces, “clearly there were no women in the room on that one.” If both men and women are served by the ministry or organization then both men and women must be on teams that provide care for people and insight into the ministry or organization.
In His providence and beautiful creativity, God has created a plethora of people groups and He is pursuing and populating heaven with people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. Each culture gives us a glimpse of our creative God and each culture brings something beautiful and unique to the table. A monocultural team will likely lead a monocultural ministry or organization. Having different ethnicities on a team reminds the team of all the people the team is honored to serve.
Our background provides us with experiences, and our experiences provide us with learning. To have a team of people with very similar backgrounds is to have a team of people with very similar life experiences and learning. The broader the backgrounds of the team the broader the collective life experiences and learning of the team.
Our personality impacts how we relate to people, how we make decisions, how we communicate, and how we interact with a team. A team filled with people with different personalities is a team that is going to inevitably offer multiple perspectives and bring different strengths to the table.
God grants gifts to His people so that His people may serve others. No single leader is omni-gifted, but the body of Christ is. A team should reflect the diverse gifts that the Lord gives His people. The team benefits and so does those the team serves.
In ministry a diverse team is especially beautiful because of the focus the diversity can bring to Jesus. When people of diverse backgrounds unite around something, the something that unites them takes centerstage. People wonder what exactly it is that has pulled such different people together. A diverse team of leaders that unite around a shared awe for and commitment to the gospel shows others how powerful the good news of Jesus is to unite.