Universities and the work world are becoming more diverse. This is a great thing, as diversity is shown to increase performance. At the same time, team diversity can create challenges that need to be managed. (See 13 benefits and challenges of cultural diversity in the workplace for benefits and challenges of teams).
To benefit from team diversity, we encourage you to draw out people’s viewpoints: what might someone from a different country, of a different gender, or a different academic background think?
A big challenge in diverse groups is communication, as some members may naturally be quieter, and people may have diverse first languages. As such, we encourage you to understand how diversity may be related to people’s openness to sharing ideas, and to actively work to make the environment comfortable for everyone, which may involve having to explicitly ask for people’s opinions. In addition, the baseline lingua franca for group work should be English, as this is the only language that everyone is guaranteed to speak; it can be quite exclusionary if three group members speak one language together and marginalize the views of the fourth member. In saying this, the goal is to ensure that all group members are naturally given the ability to contribute.