By now, you’ve likely heard about Google’s latest stumble in reaching their diversity goals. Last week, the tech media caught wind of an internal memo circulating at Google from an employee who believed the company was looking gender diversity all wrong. This week, he got fired.
Stories like this catch our attention because - admit it - it can be kind of fun to see a giant corporation sweat under the spotlight. Whether or not you agree with Google’s decision to fire the employee in question, take a moment to consider whether this story has relevance in your own life. Specifically, ask yourself: “Am I losing out on diversity in my own freelance business?”
Freelancing often means spending days working alone. While that can be great for maintaining focus, increasing billable hours, and tapping into your own creativity, it also means that you’re the only one bringing in new ideas, vetting different options, and making critical decisions. Yet no major company in the world relies on the expertise and perspective of solely one individual - and neither should you, if you want your business to grow.
Research shows that diversity enhances creativity, problem solving, and decision-making. Top colleges across the country make great efforts to diversity their student population in order to foster a challenging and stimulating learning environment. Prestigious business schools take this a step further and group incoming students into study teams of 4-6 students who are as different as possible by country and ethnic origin, gender, and prior work experience.
More important than simple demographic diversity, however, is cognitive diversity: how individuals think about and engage with new, uncertain, and complex situations. Imagine if Boeing only hired one type of worker to design, build, deploy, and maintain their aircraft!
What about you and your freelance business? What sources are you tapping into to gain a different perspective on your business? When was the last time you sought a second, third, or fourth opinion?
At Peerkat, we strive to maximize the cognitive diversity within each of our peer support groups. By matching freelancers with different backgrounds, we hope to expand each member’s thinking and help them get to their goals faster and more effectively. In addition to trying out a Peerkat cohort, here are 3 other steps you can take to stretching your thinking - and your business - with diversity:
Check out some blogs from freelancers of different industries. Does their advice differ from what you’ve seen in your industry?
Run your elevator pitch or your business plan by a friend who approaches life very differently than you do. What suggestions do they have?
Pursue a new client who is outside of your niche. How are their standards and expectations different from your current clients?