A diverse and inclusive startup reaches a wider market. Aside from that, there are several benefits of diversity and inclusion in a startup such as:
- Increased creativity
- Enhanced creativity
- Improved decision making and faster problem solving
- Increased profits
- Reduced employee turnover as a result of increased employee engagement
- Stronger organisational reputation
- Better hiring results
The real question is, though, how do you ensure that your startup is diverse and inclusive? Is it as simple as hiring people with diverse backgrounds? Does it end there? Or are there bigger factors you need to consider as a startup? Why are diversity and inclusion crucial, apart from the obvious benefits?
The importance of diverse and inclusive work culture
One of the reasons people quit their job is that they don’t feel like they belong. Obviously, the reasons may vary and can be as simple as not being able to take part in some activities, or more serious like discrimination.
In one study of almost a thousand respondents, nearly one-fourth of workers said they had encountered prejudice at their present workplace. It means that 24% of employees have experienced workplace discrimination.
And it is important to bear in mind that there is a difference between diversity and inclusion. Your startup can be diverse enough, but are you inclusive?
A past episode of the Coworking Values Podcast about Inclusion, Equality and Diversity, included a discussion about founder bias. Tash Thomasin that podcast says that these biases affect how you build your startup culture.
When a founder is the decision-maker on new hires it makes them the single point of failure. Because they are evaluating every single employee, their prejudices and preferences are strongly embedded in the company from the start.
If the company’s culture is solely known by the founder, then the company culture needs to be developed more. Culture is something that is made up of everyone’s essential beliefs and values – since hiring is based on those values. There should be a focus on these values from the beginning. These two areas, recruiting and company culture, are where a startup leader should concentrate their diversity and inclusion efforts.
And if a founder goes against these biases and takes steps to be as diverse and inclusive as possible, the startup can achieve success in more ways than one.
8 Steps to ensure diversity and inclusion in your startup:
1. Recognise why diversity and inclusion are vital for your startup
When it comes to diversity and inclusion, businesses should start with the why. Assess your startup’s diversity and inclusion needs. How can diversity and inclusion help you build and scale your business? What is it about diversity and inclusion that will propel your startup?
Whatever your company’s reasons for valuing diversity and inclusion, take the time to articulate and document your answer
2. Create a sense of belonging for everyone
A feeling of belonging must first be built for each person in order for them to put their best self forth. Having a connection to an organisation or group of people that allows you to be yourself not only leads to increased engagement and creativity. It also addresses a psychological need. People can work more productively and freely when they feel a sense of belonging.
3. Appoint leaders who recognise the importance of these ideals
Leaders who share these values naturally support inclusion and diversity at work. You can’t expect a welcoming workplace culture if you choose managers and executives who aren’t concerned with creating a safe place for everyone.
It is vital to attract a diverse range of opinions and viewpoints to your startup in order for it to continue to grow in all directions. You form deeper ties with people you understand, and enabling people to be their most authentic selves at work may result in fantastic results in other areas.
4. Include diversity and inclusion in your mission statement
After explaining why diversity and inclusion are vital to your company, explore how it contributes to your objective. This is your time to update, if not fully rewrite, your startup mission statement. Your mission statement should at least outline your target market and your products and services.
The way you explain your company’s mission is likely the most essential factor in ensuring its success in terms of diversity and inclusion. Take your time and include a diversity and inclusion statement in your startup’s mission.
Make sure to advertise your diversity and inclusion objectives everywhere: your website, social media, internal communications, customer newsletters, and press releases. You should publish your new mission statement wherever you and your workers will see it daily.
5. Modify your job postings
Examine your job posting’s wording to attract more diverse candidates. The way you market your organisation to prospective recruits is crucial. Exaggerating your technical hurdles or your work ethic can put off prospective employers. Define the team atmosphere, company culture, and technical stack.
Avoid discussing your ideal applicant or listing qualities for the job. As a result, many potential applications will be turned away. It’s more likely that underrepresented prospects will scan your ad and move on to the next one.
6. Be a change agent: own your actions and hold leaders accountable
As a founder, you must create a culture of diversity and inclusion and be sure to believe and commit to it. Your commitment and accountability are vital in implementing a comprehensive workplace inclusion plan.
In other words, you have to make time to commit to establishing your diverse and inclusive workplace culture. You own your actions. You must own the success of diversity and inclusion in your company. You are a change agent. Take charge. No excuses. Educate yourself, seek competent advice, and keep your leaders accountable regularly.
7. Diversify your network proactively
You must choose to widen your network. Seek out people who aren’t like you: people of a different gender, race, age, sexual orientation, ability, or disability.
Seeking out various perspectives may widen your eyes and help you on your personal and company’s diversity and inclusion journey. It will help you overcome unconscious biases and prepare you for success.
By asking whether you’re welcome and listening instead of talking, you may join events run by women, people of colour, and people living with disabilities. Ask if you may join Employee Resource Groups to learn and engage with people who are different from you – both at home and at work.
8. Unconscious bias training
Unconscious bias is a much-debated topic. Unconscious bias training works well when done properly. It must be centred on It must be grounded in real-world work situations rather than just in science and research.
The content should be actionable and geared toward decision-makers. Top management, including the CEO, should participate in order to have a thorough understanding of, commitment to, and accountability for combating unconscious bias at the organisational level.
Startups must evaluate training before and after it happens. By tracking employee participation in bias mitigation techniques before and after the training, the organisation ensures that the program’s impact endures beyond the training week.
These are just a few ideas to consider if you want your company to be diverse and inclusive. Keep in mind that fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace culture is a never-ending process. You can’t do it for show or to take advantage of a market that appreciates diversity and inclusion. You must guarantee that your company’s mission statement is appropriately translated into your workplace culture so that not only your business but also your employees flourish.