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The Benefits of Hiring a Globally Diverse Team

By nature, our world is incredibly diverse. Our communities are full of people with different backgrounds, ethnicities, physical and mental abilities, sexual orientations, gender identities, income levels, body shapes and religious beliefs. We speak different languages, use different communication styles, hold different opinions and core motivations. And while at times these differences can be a source of conflict, they shouldn’t have to mean division. In fact, we believe embracing diversity makes teams stronger, more creative and ultimately better. 

Through our new series Hiring Diverse, we hope to showcase the incredible benefits of prioritising diversity and shed light on some of the common blind spots in recruitment strategies. 

Benefits of hiring internationally

In many ways diversifying our team is simply the right thing to do. It gives space for all the different kinds of people that make up our communities and means there are no implicit biases or unintentional favoritism within our companies. While we think this is reason enough on its own, there are also a host of other benefits that come along with it. 

In this article we’ll unpack some of the benefits of hiring foreign employees including:

  1. Access to specialized talent 
  2. Local knowledge and languages
  3. Diverse perspectives 
  4. Keeping up with shifting markets 

Access to specialized talent

One of the main benefits of hiring internationally, and something we’ve spoken at length about before, is access to a broader range of talent.

This not only means access to more talent but also access to specific talent that may not be available locally. 

“Different regions have different skill sets,” says Katrina Too, the Managing Director of Open Doors Policy, a non-profit training marginalized communities, such as refugees, for remote digital work. “There’s so much engineering talent in the Middle East. Then you’ll see that in Myanmar, the refugees there, they have a lot more craft and soft skills. A lot on the customer experience side, like fantastic service people.”

Based on data from The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development and the International Labor Organization, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) estimates one in every two companies struggle to find employees with the right skill sets. 

“Today, 1.3 billion people have competencies that either exceed or are insufficient for the activities they perform, and by 2030 there will be more than 1.4 billion.”

This skills gap is not an issue of lack of potential employees but rather a mismatch of their skills and the roles requirements. 

The OECD data shows in the US alone, 33.5% of workers are mismatched with their current position.

“For employers, the cost of wrong hire or a misfit is extremely costly,” Katrina says. 

A mismatch means extra time training, less efficient workflow, unhappy customers, or even the inability to move forward with projects. 

Katrina argues that remote work reduces the risk of a misfit by opening up your options. 

“You know, at the end of the day, there is a job to be filled, and [finding] the best person for that job, regardless of sort of borders I think that’s the way to go.”

BCG suggests the benefits of hiring internationally can exceed just your company too. 

“Growth rates of countries with open economies are almost three times the rates of those with closed economies. Countries that have open labor markets and are prepared to share best practices with their peers will be far better equipped to resolve labor market mismatches.”

Local knowledge and languages

Hiring internationally can be daunting, particularly when you are entering an entirely new market. If you’re based in the US, you may be tempted to make the UK your Europe HQ as it feels more familiar to you than somewhere in say Eastern Europe. Similarly, Australia, Singapore, or Hong Kong might feel like the obvious choice in APAC. However, it’s important to realize, choosing what feels familiar to you may not always serve you the best. 

By sticking to hiring in one country, or only in those that share your language or business style, you’ll likely miss out on the specialized talent available from other locations. This can also be a more expensive way to develop an international team as well as reduce the creativity and difference of perspective that can come with more diverse backgrounds and cultures. 

According to a CEMS survey, “16% of HRs defined language and communication barriers as one of the major challenges when recruiting global talent,” but what if you viewed these differences as an asset instead?

When entering new markets with your business, it can be extremely helpful to have a local team who understands the culture, language, and business practices of their location.

Employees who speak multiple languages are an incredible asset to global teams, particularly those who are in service-based roles. In instances where clients and stakeholders may prefer to do business in their local language, having a native speaker might mean reducing your need for translation services, and where employees can speak multiple languages it could reduce your need to hire more people all together. 

While of course, anyone can learn another language, multilingual people are more likely to come from countries where English is not their first language. Many countries have multiple official languages, often with hundreds of languages spoken regionally. For example, India has 22 official languages with 427 spoken across the country. Access to this range of communication is yet another benefit to hiring internationally. 

So while language barriers and cultural differences may initially feel like a hurdle, hiring local teams may end up being one of your best business assets. 

Diverse perspectives

When your team consists of only people in a similar demographic with similar backgrounds, your way of thinking and problem solving is likely informed by similar life experiences and education styles. While these similarities could lead to more compatible teamwork, it’s likely to lack the creativity needed to push your business forward. 

“Information is not neutral,” Katrina says. “It’s important to double-check from different perspectives before something goes out. So having diversity of perspective and thought is really important.”

By hiring internationally, your new employees will likely have different backgrounds, life experiences, and perspectives simply because they grew up in a different country. This culmination of different people can lead to new ideas, innovation, and creative solutions that can take your business to new heights. 

A more diverse workplace can also directly affect company culture and employee morale. Sharing global experiences can lead to learning, openness, and connection. 

Keeping up with shifting market trends

As the markets continue to shift rapidly with technology improvements, trend cycles, and brand new industries solving the problems of our modern world, it’s never been more important for our talent to be agile problem solvers who are continuously learning, upskilling, and flexible to change. 

According to BCG, this requires a shift away from mass standardizations and instead favors a more human-centric approach.   

“We need to shift from mass standardization to mass uniqueness, treating talent not as a consolidated economic resource but as sets of distinct personalities, each set with different needs, capabilities, and potential and each able to make a unique contribution to the economy and society.”

In some instances this might mean shifting our ideas of ideal candidates to include more non-traditional education and training, placing more value on ‘soft skills’ or on those willing to upskill on the job. It could even mean becoming more open to different pathways to get the job done such as remote working, flexible hours, or job sharing.

Embracing a more human-centric approach will not only provide individualized career paths and growth opportunities for employees but will also mean companies will be exposed to more unique perspectives, ideas, and solutions. By challenging what an ‘ideal candidate’ might look like to us, we can be open to a more diverse range of options which could lead down paths our limited viewpoints previously couldn’t see. 

To do this, BCG argues, “Employers should pursue non-discriminatory hiring on the basis of skills and competencies, taking into account the changing values of employees.”

This means intentionally seeking out ways to remove any limitations or biases within the recruitment process. 

“These limits take many forms: lack of information about job vacancies, employer bias regarding applicants’ formal qualifications, and the unwillingness of employers to consider special personal circumstances and values when hiring.”

Conclusion

It’s worth noting here that embracing remote hiring doesn’t automatically absolve internalized biases. While remote hiring can provide the opportunity for a more diverse team, it’s not a magic wand that immediately guarantees your new hires will be more diverse. You’re still in the driver’s seat, and in many cases, it requires intentional effort to transform your team into a more globally reflective group of people. 

Throughout this series, we’ll continue to unpack some of the limitations and provide insight into how we can challenge our own internal biases.

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