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Today we are excited to announce the results of our diversity research project with Chase for Business. We surveyed nearly 700 founders of tech startups from around the world to gain insights into the challenges they face when working to build a diverse and inclusive company.

We discovered that founders want to create an inclusive and diverse workforce, but many simply don’t know what to do to build inclusive teams. Our data show what specific actions Diversity Leaders take and how other entrepreneurs can replicate these actions to benefit from the unique perspectives that a diverse workforce can bring to their business.

A few key takeaways:

  • 81 percent of founders say diversity enhances creativity and innovation
  • 67 percent of founders say that diversity improves problem solving
  • 63 percent of founders say that a diverse workforce provides greater access to talent
  • 92 percent of founders are familiar with the term “unconscious bias,” but only 45 percent are taking steps to reduce it
  • Only 23 percent of founders say that a diverse workforce improves financial performance

While founders see advantages to having an inclusive and diverse team, they fail to connect those advantages to improved financial performance. However, research has clearly shown that tech companies led by women are more capital-efficient, achieving 35% higher ROI and 12% higher revenue. When a company commits to creating a diverse workforce, the business is more financially successful.

The study also uncovered that founders fall into three buckets: Diversity Planner (32 percent), Diversity Builder (56 percent), to Diversity Leader (12 percent).

Diversity Leaders take specific steps in five areas to create an inclusive environment: mentoring and advising, hiring practices, professional development, pay and performance, and flexible benefits. Tech startups who are Planners and Builders can follow the actions of Leaders to make progress in these areas.

We didn’t want to conduct another research study that identifies the problem but doesn’t offer actual ways to solve it. We have provided resources on the microsite so that founders can take action. This is by no means a comprehensive list. We know there are many more resources out there – please help us by adding them in the comments or use the Submit a Resource feature on the microsite.

Founders: please visit www.techstars.com/bealeader to learn how to become a Diversity Leader in tech. You can also view our infographic and download the full research report.

Big thanks to our partners Chase for Business, Lawless Research, and NCWIT for their support on this important initiative!

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David Cohen
(@davidcohen) Founder & Managing Partner of Techstars, previously founder of several technology companies. David is an active startup advocate, advisor, board member, and technology advisor who comments on these topics on his blog at DavidGCohen.com

  • Maria Flux

    That was inspiring! Thank you!

  • No Sugar Coating

    When you’re running a startup you don’t have time for this mate… All this diversity drivel is what you task your “talent management team” with when you are a giant coporation with money to blow on things that drive little actual value… like “diversity initiatives”. Nobody likes to hear that but deep down inside they all know it’s true. That’s why they hire people like you so they can claim they are diverse! The truth is that capitalism and economics remove any diveristy arbitrage that we pretend actually exists. If it doesn’t then go start a firm and hire only “diverse people” and blow the competition out of the water. Do it!

    • David Cohen

      While I take your basic point that when you’re a tiny startup of 3 or 4 people, i think you’re missing a big opportunity to add value to your business by building diversity into the culture early on. it’s fairly well understand that diverse teams perform better. and nobody hired me, i started the company. 😉

  • Diversity is an absolute necessity.

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