Why it makes sense to hire for diversity

Sales leaders need to get away from hiring the same type of people. A team’s strengths are in its differences.


Back in June, we staged our second #SaasGrowth conference, at Here East, part of London’s Olympic Park. We had more than 350 SaaS professionals in the audience, watching more than 40 of London’s foremost SaaS experts share their knowledge. Even if you couldn’t make it, we want to share the inspiration and education with you through our #SaaSGrowth2019 articles.


The neurodiversity panel


One of the great things we do at #SaaSGrowth is get together specialists in specific areas for panel discussions. It stimulates excellent insights, especially when our panellists disagree with each other!


For our panel discussion titled, ‘Neurodiversity – Hiring Out Of The Box Thinkers’, we were thrilled to present a stellar panel, moderated by our very own COO, Lauren Cartigny:

  • Dr Helen Taylor – Researcher PhD, University of Cambridge
  • Sophie Rason – Director, Ingenio
  • Chris Tottman – General Partner, Notion
  • Pete Crosby – CRO, Ometria


Over the course of the discussion, our panellists shared their thoughts on why it makes sense to hire a diverse range of people for your sales team.


Dr Helen Taylor

Dr Helen Taylor is one of the world’s leading authorities on neurodiversity, so it was a real privilege to have her at #SaaSGrowth2019. Helen has spent many years researching the different ways that humans think.


There are many different ways of thinking. For example, some people are visual and find it a challenge to translate their thoughts into writing. Others rely on what they read or hear. You also have people with dyslexia or other learning difficulties. Unfortunately, the education system we all passed through favours certain ways of thinking over others. Talented people can slip through the net.


Sales leaders should try to look past the qualifications and certificates. Rather, they should combine different ways of thinking in their team.


‘If you cut different ways of thinking out of your business, perhaps through biased recruitment practices, you’re diminishing your productivity.’


Sophie Rason

As a director at one of the industry’s leading recruitment companies, Sophie Rason knows more about hiring than most. She has met hundreds of different people looking to move on in their careers, all with slightly different ways of thinking.


Sophie works with clients to understand their needs. More and more often, companies are considering the way candidates think when they hire. For example, sometimes they want risk-takers, other times, academics.


A good question to ask in an interview to find out how they think is, ‘If you could have a superpower, what would it be?’ Look for an out-of-the-box answer that you haven’t heard before. That’s how you’ll find something who thinks differently from the crowd.


Chris Tottman


As a VC looking for the next unicorns to invest in, Chris Tottman meets many startups. One of the things VCs like Chris always analyse is their hiring policies.


They do not want to see too many similar types of people in a company. When there’s a variety, it signifies a diversity of thought. For example, you need people in a company with university degrees, but it’s more interesting to see people who didn’t go to university at all. How did they get there? What are their experiences that back up how they make decisions?


‘Don’t follow a cookie-cutter. Constantly challenge. Look for innovative ways to do something different.’


Great advice if you’re a founder looking to raise funds from people like Chris.


Pete Crosby


As one of the world’s best sales leaders, when Pete Crosby gives advice on hiring, you sit up and listen.


The challenge as he sees it is that leaders hire often hire people in their own image. This shows a lack of self-awareness. It also means they’ll only cover off 25% of available leadership skills.


Pete likes to hire quirky people. Look for authenticity. Unlock their values.


Two pieces of advice:

  • Make sure you create a safe environment where people are confident about expressing the different ways they think.
  • Be upfront about creating a mix, or some people may not want to join you because they can’t see anyone who looks like themselves.


How about you?


We’ve heard from our panel, but now, we want to know what you think.


Do you think differently from the crowd? If so, how? How has it affected your career in sales?


What about if you are leader hiring for your team? What are the attributes you look for that show diversity?


Let the Sales Confidence know by leaving a comment below.

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