Cloud accounting software firm Xero - one of the most innovative companies New Zealand has turned out - credits diversity as a catalyst for its rapid rise to prominence.
Natasha Hubbard, Head of People and Culture, says a proactive approach to diversity has enabled the business to make better use of the talent they hire and incorporate a variety of perspectives to ensure that Xero remains on the cutting edge.
"We recognise the huge value of tapping into the diversity that exists in our world today - we need to embrace all of the unique contributions within our team in order to stay game-changing," says Hubbard. "If you do what you've always done, you get what you've always got.
"We are a global business and we have a global team."
Xero's goal is to create and sustain an environment that encourages collaboration and inclusion to drive innovation. Hubbard says the results speak for themselves: Positive employees, high levels of staff engagement and motivated teams producing world-renowned software.
"It isn't that we stand up at team meetings and talk about diversity, instead we let our actions speak louder than words," Hubbard adds. "Diversity is more organic and inherent, it is woven through all of our core values and our work force is the living proof that we promote and welcome talented people from a range of different backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures.
"We have a strong set of core values that underpin everything we do, and being 'human' is one of our values. What that means is respecting our colleagues, being inclusive, approachable, accepting and collaborative. Everyone is clear what our stance on diversity is. We hire for merit, but we take into account the benefits of broadening the diversity within our teams."
She says one of the more tangible benefits of embracing a more diverse team is the knowledge transfer and heterogeneity of thought brought to the table. "It's about new and better ways of doing things. Fresh thought brings new innovations into the team. It's about not just doing what we have always done, but going beyond that with constant input from people with new and different perspectives."
Incorporating inclusion into the culture at Xero and creating a more diverse team has required a conscious effort. Hubbard says though that hiring people who bring those qualities doesn't have to be at odds with a meritocracy.
"We always choose the best person for the role. But sometimes the best person isn't the most obvious person - they might not have the academic pedigree or the picture-perfect CV, but they have the X-factor. They understand our business, they are revved up about our product and they bring a passion, energy and attitude that outshines others."