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“Decades of research by organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists and demographers show that socially diverse groups (that is, those with a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation) are more innovative than homogeneous groups.”

—Scientific American, “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter

“Our latest research finds that companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians.”

—McKinsey & Company, “Why diversity matters

As an entrepreneur—and as a human being—you know that having a diverse founding team, advisory board, and team of employees is both the right thing to do and good for business.

Still not sure about this? Check out this terrific article from Scientific American, “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter” and this McKinsey report on “Why diversity matters.”

Focusing on Diversity & Inclusion can be difficult for busy founders who are trying to get a new company off the ground. That’s why we want to offer some simple and actionable advice for founders about how to create a diverse and inclusive company, starting from the very beginning. This advice is based on Techstars Founders Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion, including the Kapor Capital Founders’ Commitments. All participants in our mentorship-driven accelerators sign on to these commitments; we believe that they can be helpful to founders everywhere.  

Set Goals

Setting goals around diversity and inclusion is an important first step. You can’t meet goals you don’t set, so the very act of setting goals is meaningful—even if you don’t meet them yet.

Of course, not all companies are the same, so nor should their goals be identical. In setting your goals, take into account your company’s funding stage, employee size, customer base, and core business.

Keep Yourself Accountable

Now that you’ve got some goals, hold yourself accountable to them. Keep track of how you’re doing, and include progress reports on D&I in your quarterly investor updates.

Review (or Set) Policies

When was the last time you looked at your company’s anti-discrimination and harassment policy? Do you even have one?

Take the time to review your policy, and if you don’t have one yet, set one. A major step toward building an inclusive environment is making sure everyone feels welcome and respected; a good way to do this is to make sure your values are reflected in your priorities.

Here are some samples that you can use:

Example of a non-discrimination policy:

(Your company) is dedicated to the principles of equal employment opportunity in any and all terms, conditions or privileges of employment including hiring, promotions, termination, training and compensation.  (Your Company) does not discriminate against applicants or employees on the basis of age, race, sex, color, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, genetic information or any other status protected by federal, state or local law, where applicable.

Example statement on addressing bullying, discrimination and/or harassment:

A repeated pattern of physical and/or non-physical behaviors that (a) are intended to cause fear, humiliation or annoyance, (b) offend or degrade, (c) create a hostile environment or (d) reflect discriminatory bias in an attempt to establish dominance, superiority or power over an individual athlete or group based on gender, race, ethnicity, culture, religion, sexual orientation, gender expression or mental or physical disability; is prohibited.

These are just a few key steps, but if you do all three, you’ll have made a very good beginning toward building a diverse and inclusive company.

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Do you have questions about how to build D&I into your startup?

Come to our AMA on March 1, 2019 at 1:00 pm ET “Diverse Startups Do Better: How To Make Yours More Inclusive At Any Stage” with Jason Thompson, Techstars VP of Diversity & Inclusion and Allyson Downey, weeSpring founder and author of Here’s the Plan: Your Practical, Tactical Guide to Advancing Your Career During Pregnancy and Parenthood.


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