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.

men business hall photo

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.

desk woman photo

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?

women business photo

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.

desk woman photo

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.

desk woman photo

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.

desk woman photo

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!

Discover Pinterest: Behind The Scenes


Recently, I had the chance to attend Pinterest’s first tech meetup launch and talk hosted at Pinterest HQ, Discover Pinterest. While I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, I was excited to peer inside their headquarters and to possibly hear about upcoming features.

At Headquarters, I was surprised to see how many of the participants were men. There were hardly any women in the crowd. I met one of Pinterest’s technical recruiters, and asked him about the men:women ratio. He shook his head and said they’re “working on it,” and that many of the interns were women, which didn’t sound that equitable to me.


Outside Pinterest Headquarters

Outside Pinterest Headquarters

Unsurprisingly, everything at Pinterest is branded with the red-and-white Pinterest logo, from the sidewalk signboard welcoming people to the pillows on the sofas, with a homemade, DIY feel that is part cozy homespun and part nerdy SOMA. This article from Fast Company says “the handmade feel to Pinterest’s offices is actually the expression of something deeper…a core value that is likely key to the company’s success.” At any rate, I love that their HQ decor echoes what you see on many Pinterest boards.

Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon

Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon

On to the presentations. Werner Vogels, CTO of explained how old-world constraints no longer apply. And how a system like Netflix must be able to withstand a single failure without the entire system going down. Several nerdy guys whispered to me that they were here to hear Vogels, and that he’s “kind of a superstar.”

Michael Lopp, Pinterest’s Head of Engineering, explained how pinners  (Pinterest users) repin and add context to a pin through their own experiences. Each pinner’s experience creates a unique context.

Lopp asked how many pinners were in the room; only about three hands went up–mine included. If there had been more pinners, would he need to explain about context? I don’t think so! Helloooo, Pinterest–how about hiring some more women? (Ahem. I am available.)


Pinterest Logo Made of Rubik's Cubes

Pinterest Logo Made of Rubik’s Cubes

This Pinterest logo is made entirely out of Rubik’s cubes. Cool.

Besides the awesome DIY decor, the food was great (including the wine and beer bar–thank you, Pinterest), the people super friendly, and we got to know a little more about the people behind the brand.

By the way, if you’d like to hear some the top ten Pinterest tips (for both newbies and more advanced pinners), here they are.


Discover Pinterest: Behind The Scenes





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