By recognizing the business and societal value of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs, your startup benefits in many ways beyond citizenship:
· Increase innovation
· Improve problem-solving
· Offer products and services with a stronger appeal
· Encourage stronger teams by engaging top talent
· Connect with more clients
There are many biases in the workplace including the desire to support people who remind us of ourselves.*
Your team may be small and lack resources, so you may have to push in order to seek more diverse input.
𝗪𝗮𝘆𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗺𝗼𝘁𝗲 𝗗𝗘𝗜
This is a long-term commitment. The ongoing discussion and any remedies will need to be evolving. However, here are steps to start:
𝘙𝘦𝘤𝘳𝘶𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨: As a startup, find less-common sources of talent and raise your commitment to ensure progress.
· Pursue diverse candidates (e.g. contact a range of college campuses and networking groups)
· Consider using recruiters and job sites focused on diverse audiences
· Ensure consistent interviews are train interviewers on DEI principles
· Include people from different backgrounds and circumstances throughout the recruiting process
𝘗𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘖𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴: Someone needs to own the responsibility for DEI.
“𝙄𝙣𝙘𝙡𝙪𝙨𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝙡𝙚𝙖𝙙𝙚𝙧𝙨 𝙡𝙚𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙮 𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙨𝙤𝙣 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙮 𝙧𝙤𝙤𝙢 𝙗𝙚𝙩𝙩𝙚𝙧 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙛𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙙 𝙞𝙩.” – First Round Review**
· Create opportunities for all staff to share their thoughts and make it safe for employees to talk about their unique needs and experiences
· Build training opportunities (e.g. openly discuss unconscious bias)
· Encourage mentorship between people from different backgrounds to pair - you may need to seek mentors outside the company
· Measure parity in recruiting, hiring, terminations, compensation, benefits, and promotions
· Diversify your network and the networks of leaders in the company
𝘚𝘵𝘢𝘬𝘦𝘩𝘰𝘭𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘴: The more you address DEI, the better your efforts:
· Encourage diversity in your investors and advisors
· Push the Board to create DEI goals, initiatives, and benchmarks
· Uphold your values in marketing and public relations
· Participate in community and industry efforts that support diversity
· Ask stakeholders for help to diversify candidate pools, mentorship, and advisors
DEI issues challenge us because we are forced to look at circumstances on a deeper level.
𝙁𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧𝙨 𝙢𝙪𝙨𝙩 𝙛𝙖𝙘𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙞𝙧 𝙖𝙪𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙘𝙞𝙩𝙮, 𝙫𝙪𝙡𝙣𝙚𝙧𝙖𝙗𝙞𝙡𝙞𝙩𝙮, 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙖𝙘𝙘𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙩𝙖𝙗𝙞𝙡𝙞𝙩𝙮 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙞𝙩 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙨 𝙩𝙤 𝘿𝙀𝙄 𝙞𝙣𝙞𝙩𝙞𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙫𝙚𝙨.
We must acknowledge the possibility of bias and be able to hear a range of perspectives.
When the entire team feels supported, that fosters creativity, improves problem-solving, and increases engagement.
* Writer’s note: I’m a cisgender, straight white male. Those descriptions may not describe my work, but they certainly inform my perspective. It’s likely that someone from a different background, going through the same experiences as me, would have different interactions and interpretations.
** First Round Review published a great article on inclusive leadership here: https://bit.ly/3qcMpaC