Posted on 15 March, 2018  |  4 min

As we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month 2018, diversity is very much a hot topic. 9 Spokes board member, turned guest blogger, Thomas Power talks about the benefits of diversity to all businesses and why active listening really matters.

Business owners are always asking me what they can do differently. How can they take their company to the next level? How they can break through with their great idea?

The answer? Relationships.

As those of you who follow me on social media know, I’m all about relationships. However, not just about any relationships; I want diverse relationships—talking with different people and really listening to a variety of viewpoints.

From when I wake up ‘til the moment I go to sleep, I’m connected. Usually on social media, and if not on Twitter or WhatsApp, I’m meeting with people and connecting face-to-face. Relationships are at the heart of any business—whether you work in tech or run a bakery. Strong relationships and finding ways to connect are crucial. You have to adapt to network thinking, and a network has to be diverse so that you can reach and connect with the most people.

It took me a long time to get here, but let me share what I now know: we are all part of a technological global community. You have to be open to people in any situation and be supportive of everything going on around you.

The next question your business should be asking is what you can do to create stronger relationships, promote diversity and increase connectedness?

Why diversity matters in business

When you sit on a board of directors, you’re responsible for the good of the organisation. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about these relationships and the smart decisions for businesses going forward. As far as I am concerned, having a diverse team and connecting with men and women isn’t a bonus or a nice to have—it’s essential.

We all have our unconscious biases, especially when hiring. Building a diverse workplace requires commitment and intention to be better in the face of them. It’s no doubt easier for a budding business to do than an older one, but for all types of companies, the effort is well worth the rewards.

When you have a team of people from diverse backgrounds, different nationalities, men AND women, you have a stronger, more capable business. You have a team where people can bring their unique talents and insights to the table. When you prioritise diversity, you can better deliver to your wider audience, and yes, connect with more people.

You don’t want your customers and clients to only be one type of person, either. In order to build diverse relationships, you have to be open to any type of individual, and as an organisation or business, you need to make that part of your ethos.

Why? Diverse voices lead to innovation, and relationships and innovation are the secret ingredients to entrepreneurial success. You must embrace a world of connectedness. This is true on the internet, in your digital marketing and in your team.  

It’s vital to build trust in your business, both on the inside and the outside. At 9 Spokes, we have people from nearly 30 nationalities and women are part of every team. We couldn’t do what we do if we didn’t integrate diversity into our mission. A diverse workplace gives us a competitive edge.

The art of listening

Technology is not just about machines, it’s part of our lives. Today, tomorrow, and 10 years from now, technology helps us to reach people—which isn’t about talking at them but about listening. Listen to people of all background, all genders and all classes. Then, when you’ve built a community based on listening and sharing those voices, you can raise your commerce level.

I would like to encourage everyone reading this to take time to listen. Schedule time for it and make it a priority. Be supportive of all the people around you, even if you don’t know them, because soon you will. I’ve come to believe that in order to move forward, both in life and in business, we must be open, random and supportive. Listening and supporting the diverse voices is a huge part of that.

I’ve worked closely with my wife as a parent and a business partner for 20 years. If I didn’t take the time to listen to her and really hear her input, our business ventures would not have been a success. We’ve based our business efforts on community, listening, supporting diverse businesses and supporting each other. It’s made all the difference. Every time I hear a new viewpoint, I consider it a life and business success.

You have to be careful about your connections and your time, and I value your time and input. Thank you for reading this. If you want to talk further about these ideas, you can connect with me at @thomaspower on Twitter, or WhatsApp +447875695012 if you wish to chat in private.

Happy Women's History Month from 9 Spokes! #diversity