Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Guide for our Community Leaders

Vision, Mission and Promise

Our vision is to create a global entrepreneurial network that reflects the diversity we see in the world. Techstars is here to start a movement that makes innovation accessible to anyone, anywhere.

More diversity results in more innovation. 

The research is conclusive. Gender and ethnically diverse teams perform better. Yet, there is a serious diversity challenge within entrepreneurship broadly, and even more so within the technology startup ecosystem. There are many communities that do not have equitable access to entrepreneurship. This has resulted in rates significantly lower to their representation within the rest of the world.

“Entrepreneurship is everywhere. Access is not.” 

- David Brown, Cofounder, Techstars

Diversity is the key to our success. 

We know that the active engagement of a diverse group of entrepreneurs will lead to the economic empowerment of underrepresented people around the world, making the world a better place for everyone. Diversity and inclusion are good for business.

Techstars Definition of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Diversity is about reflecting the mixture of differences and similarities found in the world and acknowledging the related tensions as we strive to develop more inclusive and high-performing environments. 

Equity is a process that begins by acknowledging unequal starting places and finding ways to address the imbalance. It is ensuring that everyone has the access to opportunities.

Inclusion is the full engagement of individuals sharing power at all levels of an organization. All members are valued, respected and supported. 

What do we mean by “diversity” & “underrepresented”? 

We define diversity as taking into account groups that have been historically underrepresented. This includes, but is not limited to People of Color, women, LBGTQ+, people with disabilities, historically marginalized communities, indigenous people and military veterans. 

Code of Conduct

When you look at the Techstars Code of Conduct you will see that the principle of inclusion has been part of Techstars since day one. We believe that to develop an inclusive environment we give first, we act with integrity, and we treat others with respect.

Creating a more diverse, equitable & inclusive Techstars Startup Weekend & Startup Week.

Preparing for the event

Putting together a diverse and inclusive team takes preparation, work, and a willingness to always check your biases - including your mentors, judges and speakers. Here are some tips and tricks to help along the way. 

Assembling your team 

  • We all have biases. The Harvard University's Implicit Bias Test is a powerful tool to help identify your hidden bias. Encourage your team to take it. 

  • Always cultivate an approachable demeanor for participants to feel comfortable. 

  • When it comes to mentors, judges and facilitators, encourage them to also take the test and identify their implicit biases and be sure to have individuals from underrepresented groups on your judging panel. 

  • In terms of speakers, be sure to ask if the topic is applicable to all participants and be sure speakers have accessibility during sessions & offline for interactions.

Increasing participation of individuals from underrepresented groups 

  • Inclusion is important and scholarships can be offered to individuals that may be from low-income groups or university students. 

  • Identifying organizations in the region that support these communities can also be a great help, especially ones that support different social classes and empower women entrepreneurship. 

Creating a safe & inclusive environment 

  • Safety makes a difference, too. Consider providing safe transportation to and from the venue to encourage more female participation. 

  • Partner with companies that work on ensuring the safety of participants, such as apps and women-friendly cab services. 

  • Consider having daylight events. Events that start early and end with sundown (for more female participation). 

  • Be mindful of events and meeting times, so those with family obligations and schedule accordingly and, if possible, think about having more volunteers for childcare support.


  • Make the venue a safe zone for participants by adopting a Zero Tolerance policy. 

  • Adopt an open door policy for aid, help, or any issues faced by participants. 

  • Ensure rooms and locations are fully accessible.

Be mindful of the physical and mental health of participants

  • Allow for spontaneous short and light activities to relax and unwind.

  • Allow for participants to call in sick and consider conducting a session on mental health. 

Organizing Inclusive Social Events

  • Have alternatives to happy hours as this could create a division and make others feel uncomfortable. Consider game nights, arcades, bowling, movie night, trivia games and other social events that everyone can participate in.    

  • Ensure enough non-alcoholic options in drinks to make people feel more comfortable. 

  • Have a checklist of activities to ensure no one is excluded. For instance, basketball or golf could exclude persons with disabilities or others who may have religious or other beliefs that limit their participation. 

  • If food is provided ensure dietary needs are met for those who may have restrictions. 

During the event

If you see something, say something. 
  • Please use the Techstars Say Something form to report any issue relative to any violation of the Techstars Code of Conduct, which may also include sexual harassment, workplace harassment/abuse, or any other concerns that you have experienced or witnessed.

Promote DE&I Awareness 
  • Encourage & empower participants to share their ideas without any inhibitions of being judged.  

  • Be mindful of cultural norms. Be respectful of the cultural etiquette in the region - in terms of beliefs, attire, customs etc. For example, shaking hands with women in certain regions is prohibited. 

After the event