Considerations When Forming Diverse Teams

Throughout many regions around the world, attention has focused sharply on building a more just and equitable society, free from the racism and violence against people of color and people who are different from the majority. In response many organizations have begun to examine their policies, practices, and culture for ways to shift their organization to be more diverse and to be more inclusive of diverse opinions.

Within ACM, the Diversity and Inclusion Council is a natural resource for SIGs, conferences, boards, and councils looking for best practices to improve diversity in their organization and develop programs with a broader reach in the computing community. A question that we get often is “when we are building a more diverse organization, what kinds of things should we be thinking about?”

Many people think first of inherent characteristics when thinking about diversity – things like gender identity, race, ethnicity, disability, cultural background, and age. Inherent characteristics are important considerations, and to this list we also add a consideration of whether your team’s composition reflects ACM’s global membership.

Beyond inherent characteristics, we should also be thinking about acquired characteristics when looking at ways to improve the composition of teams. Most obviously this encompasses an individual’s areas of technical competency, but other features to consider here are level of education, career stage, the type of institution they work for (industry, educational, etc.) and role, the size of their institution, and how they interact with others in a group setting.

There is a rich body of research demonstrating that diverse teams are more innovative, more productive, and produce more revenue for their organizations. As computing professionals, we also have an obligation to ensure that our products are created with the needs and sensitivities of all members of society in mind. Focusing on creating a diverse team will help ACM lead the way in creating the change we would all like to see in society.

Do you have questions about creating a diverse team? Send an email to us at di@acm.org.

How diverse is your team with respect to these inherent and acquired characteristics?

(Note: these are listed in no particular order.)

  • Race and ethnicity
  • Gender identity
  • Disability
  • Age
  • Cultural Background
  • Region of the world where they work
  • Technical interests
  • Level of education
  • Career stage and role
  • Kind of institution they work for (industry, academic, non-profit, etc.)
  • Size of institution
  • Style of group interaction