To me, the answer is two-fold.
While I think many may subconsciously be more likely to hire folks they easily relate to or find common ground with, we have found diversity matters. Whatever we think separates us–gender, culture or any other “norm”–we have so much more success by finding common ground and sharing different views in the process. Having said this, it also should be understood that we hire the most qualified person for the job, and do not bring in a team member for diversity’s sake alone.
The second part of the challenge of diversity and inclusion is more complex. For many reasons, those underrepresented groups are less likely to enroll in a building science or trade training program. Educational opportunities and options, traditional gender roles, instances of exclusion and non-family friendly work places are just a few of the possible setbacks. By looking for the best and the brightest, no matter what makes us different, we will develop better and more competitive companies.
This leads me to a statement from Warren Buffet that goes something like this: “One of the reasons for my success is that I am only competing against half of the population,” speaking to lack of female executives in the marketplace. It’s something to think about regarding diversity concerns, especially when the talent pool that exists today may or may not look like ourselves.