When startups embrace diversity it is a key sign they’re planning for success. With data constantly reporting how diverse teams lead to greater innovation, outperform non-diverse teams and provide greater financial returns, it’s a no-brainer for startups to have two primary objectives: create an inclusive culture and hire diverse talent. As the diversity in tech conversation has resurfaced from early Silicon Valley days, many startups are wondering where to get started on how to address diversity and inclusion at their company.
Our Focus At Change Catalyst
At Change Catalyst our focus is to empower diverse, inclusive and sustainable tech innovation — through Tech Inclusion and Startup Ecosystem programs. We partner with the tech community to solve diversity and inclusion together through conferences, career fairs, strategic consulting and training. Our work spans the full tech ecosystem, including: Education, Workplace, Entrepreneurship and Policy.
As we work with startups to embrace diversity and inclusion at their company, we recommend that inclusion is part of their core values. Having inclusion as a value leads to an increase in retention, a positive culture and diverse hiring. The next step for startups is to understand the “breadth of diversity” in tech.
What does diversity in tech look like?
When we look at what it means to be diverse in tech we consider the following: age, socioeconomic status, race, gender, sexual orientation, LGBTQIA, veteran status, etc. Early employees shape the company’s culture. By understanding your employees values and uniqueness it allows you to create an inclusive culture where everyone feels they belong.
How Startups Can Create Inclusion
The next steps for startups when embracing Diversity and Inclusion are two important strategies. The first is for startups to include their current staff in the creation of any diversity and inclusion plans. Especially the diverse staff, if you have any. The second step is to identify how your diversity and inclusion objectives directly or indirectly align with your business goals. For example, if you’re an early stage startup and are supporting a local youth STEM organization, consider the direct impact of your company’s affiliation. Your partnership with the youth STEM organization is an investment in future tech talent, good for your company’s branding and could indirectly lead to a diverse hire.
As with identity diversity, for startups there are numerous opportunities to create an inclusive tech culture. One Oakland based tech startup Clef created an “employee handbook built for inclusion”. The handbook covers employee policies, resources, and more. Clef open sourced their handbook on Github and can be found here: https://github.com/clef/handbook
Other examples for startups may include scholarships or hiring programs to create inclusion. Here are a couple examples from our partners Atlassian and Pinterest:
Atlassian Scholarship Program
“Atlassian is helping to make our teams more diverse by running a “high touch” scholarship program for Black, Latina, and Indigenous women through the Galvanize Full Stack Program. We understand that creating an equal playing field is about more than just teaching someone coding skills. It’s also about equipping them with the resilience to overcome challenges, growing their professional networks, and helping them cut their teeth on early-career learning experiences.
To make sure that we’re setting our recipients up for success as developers, our scholarship program is about more than money. In addition to financial assistance during the 6-month full-stack program, our recipients are paired with a current Atlassian developer to act as their technical mentor and personal cheerleader. Over the course of the program, recipients are welcome to attend Atlassian events, which helps them grow their professional networks. Near the end of the program, our recruiting staff works with recipients to understand their career goals, and match them with a paid internship opportunity at Atlassian.” — Aubrey Blanche, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Atlassian
The Pinterest Apprenticeship Program is open to those from non-traditional tech backgrounds but who have switched into software engineering, whether self-taught or participants in a computer science bootcamp program (e.g. Girls Who Code or Hackbright Academy). The year-long program includes hiring opportunities for a full-time position every three months. The program launched in January with three positions, and participants are paid a competitive salary and work with dedicated mentors and supportive managers. The program encourages women, black and Hispanic programmers to apply.
Join us at theTech Inclusion Conference
We invite all startups to join us at the upcoming Tech Inclusion Conference, Career Fair and Startup Showcase presented by Google For Entrepreneurs October 26–27th to learn more innovative strategies for creating an inclusive tech culture.