Harnessing the Power of Diversity in an Advisory Group

The value of diversity in advisory groups must be balanced. Different perspectives enrich conversations, challenge existing processes, and encourage innovative thinking.

But creating diverse teams is more than just a one-and-done activity. It takes ongoing attention to cultivate inclusive management practices. Here are some tips to help you do that. First, make sure your expectations are clear.

Recruit a Diverse Group

It’s crucial to select a diverse group of advisors. The objectives of the canopy advisory group are just one of several things to consider, though. For example, to focus on boosting the company’s image and reputation, look for advisors with those skills. Alternatively, if you want to expand into new channels and markets, find advisors with experience in those areas.

The panel agreed that the key is to think broadly and not to be afraid of going outside the traditional board member pool. It can include scouring LinkedIn profiles for potential candidates or inviting the public to an event to attract more applicants. The goal is to create a dynamic group of diverse people supporting the company.

Create a Specific Purpose for the Group

Ensure that the group’s purpose is clearly defined. It is important to have a clear goal in mind for the group as well as a way to measure its success. For example, suppose the committee lacks women, young people, or people of color. In that case, it might be beneficial to set a target for increasing the number of these individuals on the advisory board by a certain date.

A clear focus on diversity and inclusion is an essential business function. It can make a local government more accessible to its residents and increase the likelihood that underrepresented communities will participate in county services. A recent study indicated that businesses are more likely to outperform their competitors if their executive teams are more diverse in gender and ethnicity.

Have Clear Expectations for the Group

Diversity has become a core business strategy, and research supports that it improves business performance. For instance, organizations in the top quartile for gender diversity are likelier to perform better in profitability than those in the worst quartile.

Diverse teams also tend to be more creative in their problem-solving, more able to anticipate shifts in customer demand, and more able to innovate than their non-diverse counterparts.

However, it is important to have a clear expectation of what a diverse advisory group should accomplish. For a diverse group to work, all members should understand and be willing to embrace their differences. It can include discussing the company’s policies, including how they are perceived by different groups, using tools like anonymized resume review and implicit bias training, and creating a safe space for open dialogue.

Create a Structure for the Group

Many businesses use diversity to help them better serve their clients. The experience and expertise of a diverse group help teams get creative with problem-solving, account for more variables when planning and inspire new ideas.

However, some leaders fear increasing diversity will cause team conflict and dysfunction. It may be rooted in a cognitive bias that assumes conflicts will be more severe on teams with people from different identity groups.

To mitigate this risk, advisory firms can create a structure for their groups that minimizes the potential for conflict and encourages learning. For example, they can split groups into smaller groups of four to five members based on their skills or backgrounds. It limits the chance that the most skilled members will cluster together, leaving less-skilled members behind, and increases opportunities for participation.

Create a Plan for Follow-Up

Developing an effective follow-up system that can be turned into a habit is important. Ideally, it should be something you do week-in, week-out, not just when you have time or feel like it. Your follow-up system should vary based on your categories of prospects:

A simple “follow-up” or “touching base” email doesn’t work. Prospects need much more value to make it worth their while to respond.

One of the most popular methods is to bribe them with valuable content such as a research report, a case study, or an in-depth article. Another option is to schedule a meeting. It allows them to discuss a new idea or ask for advice, moving them closer to working with you.

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