A Step-by-Step Guide on Diversity and Inclusion in Startups

June 22, 2021 – Loriel Chung

Have you ever asked yourself what is Diversity and Inclusion? Diversity and Inclusion are similar concepts- but do not have the same meaning. Diversity is the representation of different people in working teams. Inclusion, on the other hand, is the reassurance that every person in the team has equal opportunity to contribute in every aspect of the workplace. Now, why are they important for your startup? Research shows that some of the benefits of having a diverse and inclusive team are: 
  • Eagerness to innovate
  • Revenue growth
  • 5.4 times higher employee retention
Lately, we’ve been seeing more and more interest in topics such as Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) thanks to this generation’s outspoken views on movements like BlackLivesMatter, Metoo, StopAsianHate, among many other movements that combat social injustices. Now more than ever, Startups are taking a look at their business structure and how D&I practices can benefit their overall company culture.
How can I foster an open, communicative environment in my startup? How can I celebrate diverse people and ideas? How can I prioritize social events where my team can partake in?
Here is a step-by-step guide to help you keep track of D&I practices that provide an equitable and inclusive work environment.

First, let’s reflect

The first thing you should start with is conducting a team reflection on what Diversity and Inclusion means to your startup & your team. Come up with your definition of each word and reflect on what it means for each member of your team.
Take your time on this first step, as this will serve as a basis for any D&I practice in your startup.
Once you’ve established the meaning of the words Diversity and Inclusion you can continue to reflect on why D&I is important for your startup.
Do you think it will help your business grow? Will it help promote a more diverse thinking process? Is it going to empower your team to innovate? Whatever the importance Diversity and Inclusion have in your startup make sure to document it and have a clear version written on paper so you can have it present every time you make an important decision.
Think about how that meaning and importance ties with your startup’s mission. If you haven’t thought of a mission statement for your startup this is the perfect time to do so. A mission statement is one of the most, if not the most, crucial part of your startup’s success regarding D&I. The mission statement encompasses the essence of your business; from who your customers are, to what products and services your business offers.
Make sure to include D&I objectives in your statement and share them with everyone. Yes, we do mean everyone. On social media, in the office, to your team, to your clients– share your mission statement everywhere you can as it is one of the first impressions of your business to the outside world.

Now, let’s act up

Start evaluating your current team and see how diverse it is. Keeping track of your diverse talent pool will help you evaluate your progress when incorporating D&I practices in your startup.
How diverse is your current team in terms of gender, race, disability, LGBT+, age, and ethnicity? Are they from similar backgrounds or circumstances? If you detect numerous similarities this is a great starting point for you to fill in those areas of improvement.
  • Take accountability for the D&I efforts in your startup. Put in the work to ensure a more diverse team that feels included in every milestone of the business. Take action to educate your team and yourself on this topic and seek advice from external sources and experts. Most importantly, hold your team accountable every day, have open forums discussions on these topics and invest in D&I programs in your startup; you might be surprised by the Return on Investment (ROI). 
  • Diversify your network and talk to people with different perspectives. This will help with your D&I journey in your startup. Encourage the participation of events that are organized or hosted by minority groups. Take your time to meet people different from you, as it is a great way to learn different cultures, hear different points of view and change conscious and unconscious biases. 
  • Challenge everyday unconscious bias by exposing you and your team to material about the different biases people tend to have and how to change them. You can evaluate your team’s progress before and after you present the material to ensure the message goes beyond the initial information. Be consistent in challenging biases and expose your team to these discussions every other month, as new biases can come up within your team constantly. 
Don’t know where to start? Here are some videos from our previous PG Students with Perspectives Team where they explain what bias is and how you can overcome them. 
The fact that you took your time to read this article shows that you have a genuine interest in being a beacon of change and are willing to put in the work to ensure a more inclusive workforce. It is people like you who are committed to making sure D&I efforts are not only being talked about but also acted upon! Nevertheless, this is not something that happens overnight. Consistency is key in your startup’s D&I journey.
Perspectivas Globales would love to have you on our network. Contact us @pgmayaguez in all of our social media and let’s cultivate an inclusive community together.   

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