By Tiffany K. Bain
Watching Food Network Channel’s reality competition show “Chopped” often makes me recall how diversity in a team setting can increase productivity and creativity.
Before you give me the “what is she talking about?” look, just give it a second thought.
On “Chopped,” the show’s host presents chefs with four seemingly unfitting ingredients, and the judges expect the contestants to prepare a tasty, palatable, and an enjoyable dish. These ingredients could be fish, cereal, zucchini, and bread-in-a-can – all in one ingredient basket.
Sounds unappetizing, right? However, the best chef knows how to incorporate the best aspects of each ingredient to prepare a cohesive and appetizing dish, which alters the mindset of the world’s most accomplished chefs and makes them want more.
The same concept could be applied your team, and your team could also yield the same favorable results.
In fact, L’Oreal, one of the world’s most successful and profitable cosmetic companies, uses this concept in its global business practices, and it works well. L’Oreal understands and values that not only does diversity lie in how different people look, but it also lies in people’s varying life experiences. L’Oreal and its managers also know how to highlight the best aspects of their diverse teams to promote its brand, product, and message, so that it resonates with its targeted audiences.
According to an August 2013 Forbes article, the author commented on how multicultural managers at L’Oreal outpace its “monocultural” competitors in many ways. For example, L’Oreal encourages, enhances, and embraces its company’s diversity, which allows its multicultural team members’ to play these five important roles:
- Making creative associations and drawing analogies between geographical markets, allowing L’Oreal to develop global products and build global brands while remaining sensitive to local market differences.
- Interpreting complex knowledge – i.e. tacit, collective and culture-dependent, hence impossible to simply “explain”_ across cultures and contexts, an essential skill when marketing products like cosmetics, where much of understanding is tacit and culture-dependent.
- Anticipating cross-cultural conflicts, and addressing them, something critical to the effectiveness of global teams.
- Integrating new team members from different cultures into teams that quickly develop their own norms of interaction and a strong “in or out” identity, making joining the team once it has been in existence for a while particularly difficult.
- Mediating the relationship between global teams, with a high level of cultural diversity among their members, and the senior executives they report to, or their interaction with local subsidiary staff they collaborate with, who are usually monocultural.
Making the best of unlikely combinations might seem like a daunting task at first. However, similar to “Chopped” and L’Oreal, once you know how to appreciate and accentuate the uniqueness of what each ingredient or team member brings to the table, it is possible to yield favorable and long-lasting results.
Tiffany K. Bain is a member of the Diversity/Multicultural Committee for the Public Relations Society of America’s National Capital Chapter. Outside of PRSA-NCC, she holds several roles. Tiffany is a political communication graduate student at American University, a government affairs intern for Net Communications, and a research associate for the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council. Tiffany earned a Bachelor of Science in public relations, summa cum laude, from Florida A&M University, where she also served as the university’s PRSSA chapter president and public relations director. Follow her on Twitter at @tbain2.