Controversial Opinion Alert: Diversity is good

When asked by my marketing team to once again provide my perspective on recent HR trends, I immediately yelled “No!”, but then decided I wanted to know more, so I asked “How did you get in my office?”.

Eventually, once my anger faded, I agreed to note down my philosophy on diversity in the workplace. Fair warning though – what you’re about to read is an unpopular opinion: I believe diversity is good.

Hear me out! To all the people out there saying “diversity is bad for business”, and that “homogenous workforces are the best!” and even “we need more older white men in management”, well, I’m here to say just the opposite: Diversity is not only good for optics, but good for business as well.

Let’s use my own company, Gymglish, as an example. Apparently we make online language courses that are fun and efficient. We teach (I’m told): English, French, German, Spanish and soon Italian. Now, as much as I would have liked to create these courses with exclusively French labor, it simply doesn’t make sense. Obviously, I would love my pedagogical team to be exclusively French, with their dumb accents, long scarves and berets – who wouldn’t? But no one can create an English course like that. We need more languages represented to make courses in different languages, period. I stand by this. 

The same is true for engineers. In an ideal (ie: French) world, we’d all be using Minitels and AZERTY keyboards, but my Swedish CTO won’t abide that. My Romanian senior dev barely speaks French – I can’t give him the latest Thompson computer and tell him to use DailyMotion for his weird Moldovan dance videos, can I? No – I need my Slacks, my Kanbans, my Basecamps and my Monday.coms. I need my YouTubes and my Reddits. Once again: Diversity is good.

Management benefits from diversity too. For years, I surrounded myself with people that think exactly the same way I do – it comforted and reassured me to hear them agree with me. I loved it when they nodded their heads stupidly at every crazy thing I said. Now, as I’ve matured, I’m not so sure that was the right path. Case in point: Recently I was forced under threat of legal action to open Gymglish’s management up to a more diverse group, including a woman and an American. And wouldn’t you know it, anecdotally, we’re doing better than ever since we made the move. I won’t go into the details, but I’m pretty sure I’m still rich. QED: Diversity is very good.

Gymglish CEO Todd Fakerton

This article is part of the Unofficial Gymglish Blog.

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