diverse coworkers at table

Diversity in Startups

The world is changing. Workplace diversity hasn’t been the focus of many businesses in the past, but in recent years, particular companies’ gaze has started to include the diversification of the workplace.

Racial diversity has existed in a few specific industries for over a decade. Others are now seeing both the potential and the humanity of hiring diverse candidates.

It’s worth noting that these changes are predominantly happening in first-world countries, while workers in third and even second-world countries still experience broad issues.

As for the US, diversity, and inclusion come with their challenges, but overall, they’ll positively impact the workplace environment.

More and more inclusion efforts are being seen among the most prominent industry players, such as Nike, but we also see improvements made on a state level.

California has a law requiring diverse advisory board members from underrepresented communities, a highly controversial yet effective law that makes diverse companies the place to be.

The controversy is nothing new to minorities; after all, they’ve been treated as lesser races and, as such, didn’t get the bountiful industry opportunities that others have. Thankfully, we finally see concrete actions to create a diverse workforce.

Some business owners don’t know that ideas don’t differentiate between gender, race, or ethnic origin. A company with a diverse team gets good PR and experiences better monetary outcomes.

So when the largest companies in their specific industries start hiring diverse management teams by choosing to proactively diversify their work environment, what can be expected of startups?

The Silicon Valley Bank tells us that only 26% of the startups are dedicated to diversity and inclusion, with specific inclusion initiatives and practices as their modus operandi.

Others’ primary focus is generating revenue and connecting with the market. And that’s understandable, considering how much work startups need to do to feel stable in the industry. But – diversity and inclusion can bring a startup’s monetary goals closer to reality.

This article will analyze the process behind gaining a competitive advantage with an inclusiveness strategy and explain why diversity needs to be valued within a workplace instead of just cheap talk without a dedicated goal.

Giving underrepresented voices a platform for new ideas

Most startup founders have a clear image of the future and strive to achieve their and their company’s goals. They usually attract like-minded people to help them along the way, who share similar perspectives on the world and the tech industry (as an example).

However, this unconscious bias for finding people who share the same ideas and thoughts often leads companies down a negative path. Failing to include diverse teams within the company where said teams could exchange an idea or two often leads to industry success.

Having a set of diverse directors and boards can often help companies stay afloat during difficult periods. The more diverse companies (especially small startups with at least one member coming from an underrepresented community or different thought processes) can often get out of a slump simply by more diversity making a difference.

Tech companies with diverse candidates are the perfect environment to grow since they offer various opportunities to make the inclusion journey worthwhile.

Take this example from Maxim Savelyev, an efficiency and product development specialist that works for Donnelley Financial Solutions.

He says that proactively seeking to achieve more diversity within a company environment drastically reduces the amount of ‘tunnel vision’ that startup founders often find themselves experiencing.

Companies that aim to achieve diversity goals can improve decision-making and industry data analysis since more people notice specific trends more quickly than others.

This creates an environment with different perspectives of various market characteristics that could provide a business with crucial information about the industry.

Underrepresented voices contribute to eliminating unconscious bias, and the different backgrounds that people come from help highlight specific issues and concerns that are often ignored. Diversity and inclusion create innovation and opportunity.

Tech startups are a great example of an industry that seeks to improve diversity; their whole industry relies on having broader views which helps them overcome numerous industry challenges they will inevitably face.

Diversity and inclusion in international markets

We don’t solely mean gender and race when we mention diversity and inclusion. Race, gender, culture, and life experience are just a few of the few metrics referred to by the term diversity.

The way to boost diversity is by considering all of these metrics and creating a truly, utterly diverse industry environment. Inclusion efforts sometimes fail because of the incorrect understanding of what it is.

Although startups aren’t quite adept at achieving success quickly, they can create a crucial competitive advantage by spreading diverse leadership teams across continents and countries. This creates an aura of inclusion that relies on the person’s origin, history, culture, and more.

Nicolas Riggio is a successful and well-known food technology entrepreneur who started his companies from the ground up in Argentina, Brazil, Italy, and the US. The secret behind his business success? Diversity and inclusion.

Nicolas is adamant that cultural diversity provides a view into international markets and helps startup companies compete with the big players.

Cultural diversity allows companies to better serve their current and prospective customers by “speaking to them in a language they understand.” For example, instead of just translating website copy word for word, a company with a diverse team will understand the nuances of language and colloquialism to create copy that web visitors can relate to and help them avoid the paux pas of words, phrases, and usage that doesn’t translate well. Market insight is vital as it allows business owners to be more thoughtful about marketing strategies.

Unconscious bias training is one way to avoid the segregation of ideas where only one person’s dreams and aspirations are considered. On top of that, it’s best to track progress as time passes and avoid making the same mistakes twice. This is all but guaranteed with the use of diversity and inclusion.

Looking for innovation everywhere

Diversity starts at the top of the food chain. If you want to make diversity and inclusion a common sight in your startup company, starting with yourself is best.

Set an intention to ensure that diversity reaches the top-ranking positions in your company. Determine yourself to hire qualified candidates that share your vision for the future of your organization with the added benefit of a new perspective influenced by their differing lived experiences, cultural background, or values.

People are at their best when circumstances dictate their lives; most global innovations came during periods of turbulence, as evident by the recent Covid-19 pandemic.

More people came forth with their valuable ideas and different outlooks on the world than many years prior.

This type of conscious decision that is born through hardship is what signifies our abilities and thoughts. If we’ve learned anything from the past, it’s that everyone is capable of coming up with something unique and valuable – as long as there’s someone to present it to.

Thankfully, remote work has become the norm, and sexual orientation isn’t as important as it once was. This has allowed diversity and inclusion to work in full force, enabling and motivating individuals to leave their comfort zones and enter the unknown.

A company should set diversity goals tied to its mission statement to keep the essence of credibility alive. However, a company must also know that diversity should be part of the mission statement.

Innovative people are all around us, but we often don’t notice them. So, they need our support, which comes in the form of acceptance no matter who or what they are.

Some companies even have a ‘diversity task force’ – a group dedicated to enhancing the work environment and expanding the company with diversity in mind.

Final Words

Industry success combines the right perspectives, ideas, marketing, and data analysis. Well, it’s much more than that, but these are the core characteristics of a successful business.

Nothing can be achieved without diversity in board members, employees, team leaders, and employee resources groups. Everyone can hold the key to solving a problem that no one else could.

You can also join employee resource groups that share ideas and data to provide efficiency to the company.

Data doesn’t lie – diversity is the key to pushing your startup to heights that weren’t deemed possible. Diversity also helps underrepresented people and minorities get started with a great career. So, in short:

Diversity is a win for everyone involved!

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