Moving Towards the Magic of Building ‘Mixed Teams’

The topic of diversity is hot right now. While it seems like ‘all talk’ it could be the start of a new era around diversity.

That’s because it’s not just a moral imperative anymore. All the data shows that the most diverse teams are most profitable, most innovative, and most liked by their customers. Reports from McKinsey and Boston Consulting prove the point. The rise in Chief Diversity Officers and Employee Resource Groups with a diversity focus is further proof that this work is gaining credence - and it will only be a matter of time until whole departments/budgets and sets of resources will be emerging to support these trends - it’s an exciting time. 

I’m excited to be finally taking root here in the Bay Area and leading Turning Basin Labs (TBL). The Bay Area has become the most innovative place in the world, a magnet for tech, innovation and wealth, but also a hotbed of inequity that's causing housing, health, and work inequality. It's for this reason that I advocate the need for ‘mixing’ and creating ‘mixed teams’ - not just diversity for diversity's sake - but diversity to ensure that business doing well means all of us doing well. With the average rent in the San Francisco Bay area at over $3000 a month,something has to change. 

When we think of mixing we think of mixing at a party or mixing with friends. Maybe mixing the ingredients of a meal or a drink. In this context I’m referring to mixing people - a mix of experiences, teams, capabilities, insights, and expertise to solve an issue, create value and in this case deliver value to our businesses. We are seeing mixing in other parts of our existence. 

In the USA the fastest growing population are mixed race children - a telling trend, and despite whatever else is going on, a testament to the multicultural history of the USA and the Bay Area especially. We see brands mixing with each other to sell more products/services such as the recent DC Batman and Fortnite crossover. We see from the work of the 2013: Center for Talent Innovation publicationInnovation, Diversity, and Market Growth in which it found that publicly traded companies with 2D diversity (exhibiting both inherent and acquired diversity) were 70% more likely to capture a new market, 75% more likely to see ideas actually become productized, and 158% (no, that’s not a typo) more likely to understand their target end-users and innovate effectively if one or more members on the team represent the user’s demographic.

However, mixing is not easy. In fact once you decide you want to mix up your team - how you do it is really hard. 

At Turning Basin Labs it’s going to be hard wired from the start - we will focus on DEI and we will be working to encourage employers to be progressive and DEI friendly in how they approach their staffing and recruitment needs. TBL will walk the talk too - we will be intentional about building a mixed team of varied experiences, characteristics, and skills in the set of people that do this work. We are going to offer workers benefits – and act as their Employer Of Record – even during work gaps. Health, dentist, gym, travel, car support, saving support, and more – going a step further, those who work with us will be able to access cooperative ownership in our business. We feel this is the future for workers.

We also want to mix it up with employers themselves. There are amazing organisations right here in the Bay - some of the most successful the world has ever seen. They are surrounded by what we view as an even greater set of organisations helping those who are not always first in line to access the fantastic economy we have here - to name a few - Hidden Genius, Upwardly Mobile, JVS, LeadersQuest, Goodwill, Job Train and so many more. 

In the mix too are foundations and workforce boards - all doing great work and trying to keep the balance in the force - that one was for Star Wars fans out there! At TBL we want to be the glue between these actors - helping them all to put people to work, get them paid well, treated with dignity, and on a path to success. We really want to work with DEI-friendly employers - who want to invest time in this work, who are prepared to do the internal work needed, and who will unleash people’s potential to realise value in the economy. A mixed team mindset is the foundation for a mixed team reality. A mixed team reality is the basis for an awesome society. 

To close, Turning Basin Labs will be doing a lot more of this. We will be sharing our thoughts, providing a view, and pulling people together to explore these issues, share learning, put people to work - and most importantly have fun and enjoy ourselves in the process. We do have an ask for each of the key actors in the system. If you are a funder, please make room to support this kind of work - test new models, take risks, and build diverse teams yourself - it is not just about helping people find work, it’s about sustaining and quality work - I have to commend Irvine Foundation for taking a punt on us and being an innovative funder. Employers sign up with us to indicate you are prepared to do the hard work to be genuinely DEI friendly make this part of your DNA the way our clients like Checkr have. Providers supporting people seeking meaningful work, come and talk to us – we want to compliment what you are doing, be an option, offer additional support, and be the last mile before a permanent role or a home from home if contracting is the intention - we want to help you deliver your outcomes. 

Finally, workers: learn what's required for your job and learn how we can help you organise and maintain your identity in the workplace to affect change. 

From our perspective the future of work is a human one. Get in touch and get involved by dropping us a line.


Stephen Bediako

Managing Director 

Turning Basin Labs

Stephen Bediako