Tips for Building an Inclusive Startup from the Beginning
Diversity and inclusion are critical components of any business, both from thinking about how you serve your customers/market and how you hire the right team. In the wake of answering so many other key questions in your company around product-market fit, solving the customer problem, establishing a brand, and creating a go-to-market strategy, it’s easy to overlook the impact of a diversity and inclusion strategy.
Being intentional and thoughtful about how you grow your business is crucial from day one and when it comes to diversity and inclusion, this is no exception. One of the best ways to be inclusive is to be considerate of this at the beginning of setting up your startup. There are four main types of diversity to keep in mind with your new company: worldview, organizational, external and internal.
The Four Types of Diversity
Worldview diversity pertains to anything that a person experiences or feels that influences how they think and see the world around them. Organizational diversity is related to the company that you work for and includes things like work location, job function or seniority.
External diversity relates to anything associated with the person that they are not born with but can be heavily influenced by or controlled by that person, such as family, status or religion. Internal diversity are those factors that a person cannot change or is born as, such as age, skin color or ethnicity. Inclusion is a completely distinct concept from the idea of diversity.
Although diversity and inclusion are often included together as phrases, inclusion refers to the way that a workplace treats all individuals respectfully and fairly, enabling them to fully contribute to the success of the organization. There are many different reasons why diversity and inclusion are important, not the least of which include higher employee engagement numbers and higher overall revenue. With a thriving and diverse talent pool to work with, it's imperative to have diversity and inclusion top of mind as you start to attract your first contractors and employees.
Why Start My New Business with Diversity and Inclusion in Mind?
With no employees besides you yet it might seem odd to put diversity and inclusion front and center but the truth is that it's much harder to go back and untangle policies or traditions that are harmful to diversity and inclusion afterwards. Once a company culture has been formed, it's very difficult to change it.
When you recognize that diversity and inclusion are important from the outset, you can embed this into the overall culture of your company so that all new employees are aware of its overall importance. It's all too easy to push diversity and inclusion into the background because there are so many other things to focus on when launching a new company. But without any strategy at all, you could find yourself years down the road, unable to attract the talent you want or having employees and contractors want to leave because of the work culture.
There are a couple of key things you can do at the outset of your business to factor in diversity and inclusion. These are:
· Recruiting candidates from outside your individual network.
· Including your diversity and inclusion policy in your business plan.
· Verifying that you have inclusive leadership with the company as you grow.
· Evaluate job applicants' perspectives on diversity during each stage of the hiring process.
· Respond to issues right away.
· Create a staffing policy that is built around diversity and inclusion.
How do DEI fit into your life as a leader? The answer is at both the big picture level and in the day to day. By defining how DEI fits into your business from the beginning, you’ll be better able to adapt and evolve as your company needs to. Regularly revisit DEI questions and topics to look for ways to improve your systems and processes as a business owner and as a team.