How Diversity Attracts Valuable People To Your Startup

How Diversity Attracts Valuable People To Your Startup

How Diversity Attracts Valuable People To Your Startup

Recently it was International Women’s Day, and I got to thinking about diversity. Mostly I thought, why isn’t International Women’s Day every day? This has been on my mind more lately because I’ve noticed from being in San Francisco how many of the guys in startups are, well, guys. That is, there are mostly guys, and there really isn’t that much diversity.

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Lack of Women in High-Tech Startups

Much has been written about the lack of women in technology, startups, engineering and Silicon Valley. And San Francisco is no different. If you walk around during lunch on any given day, you’ll notice who isn’t there: women. Recently, I even heard about a dating service that is going to be flying in women from New York because there are so few women in San Francisco. So where are all the women? And why aren’t more of them being hired? As this San Francisco Chronicle article explains, women rarely reach the top in high tech, despite signs that diversity pays.

If you’re a woman in high-tech, you may find yourself having to speak differently, or more loudly, or more often to get your voice heard. Being in the minority can make you feel like an outlier. However, having diversity at a startup goes beyond having female faces.

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Diversity in Language

One thing I loved about going to school at Berkeley was the variety in languages and faces that I saw every day. Sometimes conversations could be difficult because not everyone spoke English as their first language. But having so many different points of view was invigorating; knowing that not everyone would agreed with me made me more carefully weigh what I said and wrote. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful way to run a startup, too? That is, with the idea that not everyone has to agree?

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Mature Voices Attract Others

Another wonderful thing, now that I’m no longer 20-something, is to work alongside people of all ages. Having experienced, mature people working alongside you can be invigorating, too. Having people who “remember back when” without obsessing on it could help maintain a focus on what’s critical. And if your audience consists of baby boomers, then you’d be wise to have a few of them on staff.

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Introverts versus Extroverts

Here’s another group I’d love to see more of: introverts. They’re not all hiding in the back room avoiding people, either. They’re speaking (albeit quietly, at times), listening, and finishing big projects. By the way, you might like this post about introverts: Six Facts About Introverts and Social Media That Will Impress Your Friends. Giving voice to introverts, who often have more to say than they let on, gives your business a better chance at innovation. Here are three steps to attract—and retain—introverted employees, from Forbes.

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Political Diversity

During an election year, it’s natural that people might feel more challenged to agree with the “other side.” This election seems especially rancorous. And how many times have you thought, “the next person who rants about Donald Trump is going to get unfollowed!” I know I’m guilty. But someone is going to win the election, and then what? We’re never going to speak to those Republicans ever again?

Benefits to Attract the Culturally Diverse

Allowing more flexibility so that your employees are happy is key to having an innovative workplace. “Offer benefits such as onsite daycare, childcare subsidies and flexible schedules, and let new hires know that you are willing to accommodate cultural and religious holidays and diversity-friendly (but office appropriate) apparel choices,” as is outlined in How to Increase WorkPlace Diversity.

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How’s Your Workplace Diversity?

If your workplace isn’t culturally diverse, how does that feel? What groups of people would you like to add to the mix where you work? And if it is culturally diverse, how does it affect how you work? I’d like to know, so leave me a comment, s’il vous plait!

Comments

  1. Our workplace is pretty diverse! It’s actually mostly women over here :D, though our cultural and racial diversity could use some shoring up.

    I was thinking about this the other day — I don’t think I’ve had a man as a boss at the last 3 jobs I’ve been at. I’m pretty grateful I’ve been able to grow up knowing that it doesn’t matter what a person’s race or sex is, that all that matters is they get the job done.

    All those pesky old racists will die off one day anyway, then maybe we can get on with the business of growing a better workplace culture.

    • Hi Adam,

      That’s lucky for you about your office culture. You have a great boss, too!
      I’m afraid that racism is not about to die off any time soon, although we might wish it did. And especially not in an election year. But we can hope!

      Thanks for the comment,
      Carol

  2. I’ve always been the only girl — every industry I’ve worked in (trucking, church, construction, tech) are male-dominated. It only bothers me sometimes. Mostly, I get along with men better. But I’m also very obnoxious about speaking my mind. Maybe I learned early.

    Still. Valid points. VERY VALID.

    • Hi Bridget,

      You are very good at speaking your mind. The connection between behind in male-dominated fields for all of those years and being able to speak your mind never occurred to me!

      Thanks for always speaking your mind, and being transparent, both in business and in your personal life. I really like that quality in you!

      Carol

  3. Hi Carol

    A diverse workplace will generate a diversity of ideas and perspectives. This is an invaluable resource for any brand that values creativity and innovation. A diverse workplace can also lay the groundwork for access to new, untapped markets.

    I’m currently in a workplace comprising of one person, namely myself. But rest assured, I will be looking for ways to make myself more diverse. Perhaps I’ll learn to sing Bossa Nova whilst eating Kimchi.

    Clement

    • Hi Clement,

      Maybe dancing a jig while eating falafel? Ahem. I’m not sure why people wouldn’t want a diverse workplace! Maybe it’s comforting to be around people who are all exactly alike. But that doesn’t sound like much fun!

      Thanks for stopping by,
      Carol

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