“Those who do not cultivate diversity have an innovation handicap”

At the Upper Franconia Innovation Summit, #UFIS22, HR consultant Hans Ulrich Gruber was an expert in the Diversity panel. The experienced manager spoke about why it is worthwhile for companies.

“The cultural cluster risk” was the name of the panel on diversity at the Upper Franconia Innovation Summit. The term “cluster risk” actually comes from the world of finance and refers to the concentration on a single type of investment, for example. Applied to companies, this means: If companies recruit too many people of similar origin or with similar character traits, this can pose a risk for them, according to the thought of the organisers behind the heading.

Diversity in teams leads to creative problem solving

Human resources consultant Hans Ulrich Gruber took a similar view during the discussion. “Those who do not cultivate diversity have an innovation handicap,” said the HR consultant, who also worked as an international top manager for many years. Diversity in teams leads to different perspectives and creative solutions to problems. There can therefore never be too much diversity. However, it is important to create a corporate culture that allows people to contribute in all their diversity.

Diversity starts with different characters

For the headhunter, who works a lot with experts and executives from all over the world, diversity does not only mean integrating different nations. “Diversity starts with character,” he says. “And with the diversity of the individual people in the team.” It is important to empathise with each other, because “80 percent of decisions are made emotionally”, says Gruber. The fact that teams should be diverse in terms of personalities is crucial for success: “If everyone has the same mindset, the company will go under,” says Gruber.

Another issue is national origin. Depending on socialisation, there are also different expectations in many aspects. Gruber gave the example of a mixed team of Italian and German professionals. “Here there are different expectations about who makes the decisions,” Gruber said. “While with the southern Europeans the boss makes the decisions, in Germany the teams want to be involved in the decision-making.” Mediation here, he says, is not always easy.

The company language can attract international professionals

However, internationality can be a good opportunity to attract sought-after skilled workers. When companies work internationally, this often begins with the decision on the company language. If this language is English, the companies are open to specialists and managers from many countries. He cited the Bolzano-based company Flying Basket as a positive example. With 20 employees, it is now the world market leader in the field of cargo drones. The choice of English as the company language has made a major contribution to the company’s ability to attract IT specialists and other highly qualified professionals.

“Diversity in companies therefore also offers the opportunity to attract sought-after specialists to one’s own company and to fill positions that are otherwise difficult to fill,” concludes Hans Ulrich Gruber.