Why a diversity of experience is essential to creative teams

It’s so important in agencies which value creativity to look at your team’s diversity of experience, as well as factors such as gender, race, sexuality, age and ability.

Our recent podcast with Lee McGuffie really got me thinking about the impact of our experiences, and the route we’ve taken in life, on our current roles. 

In marketing, there’s still a real tendency to hire people with very traditional marketing backgrounds – a degree and then a linear career path into a senior role in their industry. But if you only do that, you could really miss out on some amazing people, who have a wealth of different experiences and viewpoints. 

One of the brilliant things about co-hosting the Genuine Humans podcast has been getting to chat to all sorts of people who’ve experienced things I haven’t. It’s been so much fun to hear these amazing stories. Lee, for example, took a fascinating path to get where he is today. He’s been an internationally-renowned DJ, he gave up his job to travel the world, he put himself through college having left home at 16 – not exactly the traditional route into marketing. I find that really inspiring, and I’m sure he brings more value to his teams as a result of his experiences. 

Creative teams thrive when there’s a diversity of experience

Sometimes, having a team from diverse backgrounds and with different life experiences can be messy. It’s much easier to surround yourself with people like you, who all agree with each other. But hiring a diverse team that will have a vast range of experiences will bring different perspectives to the table. That  helps spark creativity – the friction. It’s also a fantastic way to promote flexible thinking and make your business faster on its feet.

We all know that brands and agency teams need to be reflective of their consumers, and while there’s no way you’ll get it 100% right, every business should aspire to having a team that reflects the people they’re marketing or selling to. Having a diverse team helps to create relevant campaigns and conversations that engage people and inspire them to act.

People don’t always need direct experience in an industry to be successful in a leadership role.

They will, as in Lee’s case, bring with them a host of transferable skills. What’s more, we never know how the world of work will change in the future – my job didn’t exist when I started working. So what we really need is people with superb human skills, who are great at connecting with people (as a minimum at work, you’re going to need to interact with people). Those are the people who, no matter what they do, or where they go, have a group of former colleagues at their back itching to work with them again and give them support when they need it, as happened when Lee fell ill unexpectedly. 

So perhaps when we’re building great teams we should look beyond a particular set of educational qualifications and skills, and instead focus on people who bring different abilities and life experiences to the table. We’ll all be richer for it.

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