Diversity of thought and experience: hiring your clone will fail

Diversity or Clone Army?

In recent times, there has been a lot of talk about diversity (gender, race, cultural) and the many benefits for an organisation in embracing that diversity.  These benefits range from increased financial performance to driving innovation.  A quote from Stephen Covey captures it nicely: “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.”

So why are we still seeing organisations limiting required experience for new hires to the same industry, when within existing teams there is already that ingrained industry knowledge and experience, so you want more of the same, a clone army perhaps?


Same Same but not different

Must have experience in…blah blah blah…………what has happened to diversity of thought and experience?  This will be especially pertinent if others within the company have plenty of relevant industry experience between them. Why does the organisation need another person with the same industry experience?

Ok, for some careers you really do need to have relevant experience (unless you can blag your way into a position like Mike Ross from Suits, who works as a law associate, despite never attending law school), such as a doctor, lawyer or teacher.  But when it comes to some industries such as IT, must you have experience in the industry in which you are applying?  Examples of current excerpts for CIO job ads from around the world:



Recruiting people from the same industry (is that lazy or unimaginative?) has the danger of equalling the same results with no fresh thinking , especially if the candidate can do the job without having worked in that industry. Surely you need to look at the person, their experiences and the insights they can bring to the culture and diversity of the organisation.  We must not blind ourselves to the possibility of the right person being from a non-related industry.


Recruiting for diversity

For organisations to succeed in this digital age, not only must they disrupt their business models but they must also disrupt the way they recruit.  Long gone are the days where you should look for those who are similar in skill and experience to the teams you already employ.  It must now be all about diversity where differences in thought and experience is key to generating new and innovative ways of thinking and working.  The benefits of diversity will be lost if new recruits are similar in thought and industry background to those already in the company.  You don’t need clones – you need people who are willing to challenge the status quo and bring their diversity of thought and experience to the table.


You don’t need clones - you need people who are willing to challenge the status quoClick To Tweet


Why diversity?

A recent study by Forbes found that “a diverse and inclusive workforce is necessary to drive innovation, foster creativity, and guiding business strategies”.     A diverse and inclusive workforce is therefore critical in encouraging different perspectives and ideas that ultimately drive innovation.  This is a conclusion that is backed up by a Forbes Insight on Global Diversity and Inclusion, where 85% of respondents agreed with this view on diversity.


A diverse and inclusive workforce is crucial to encouraging different perspectives and ideas that drive innovation.


I think Simma Lieberman sums it up nicely when she says: “a benefit of a diverse workforce is the ability to tap into the many talents which employees from different backgrounds, perspectives, abilities and disabilities bring to the workplace”, (Excerpt from The Benefits of Diversity).  So, next time you are looking for someone to join your team/organisation don’t be afraid to think outside the square and instead insist on a variety of experience, personality/cultural fit, EQ etc…. don’t be lazy and settle for the same.  Don’t create a Clone Army, as we all know what happened there, the Jedi’s beat them….

If you can leave a comment, that would be awesome, thanks