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DEI v1
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What's inside:
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Overview

Defining DEI

Setting DEI metrics

Designing inclusive systems

Auditing the FAIRness of existing People Systems

Takeaways & next steps

Talent & Leadership

8 MIN

Building Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Into Your Startup

In a year of transformational changes across the landscape of work, having an intentional focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has emerged as one of the most important things that a company can do to be successful. This is a long overdue development since the research has been overwhelmingly clear that companies that prioritize DEI—on the leadership team, org level, and board level—see better returns.

McKinsey recently released a report stating that “companies in the top-quartile for ethnic/cultural diversity on executive teams were 33% more likely to have industry-leading profitability. That this relationship continues to be strong suggests that inclusion of highly diverse [teams]—and the myriad ways in which diversity exists beyond gender (e.g., LGBTQ+, age/generation, international experience)—can be a key differentiator among companies.”

That should not be surprising. Companies with more diverse teams are able to take a broader and more empathetic perspective of their customers. They’re more likely to generate unique ideas and innovate faster, manage team conflict better, and—by reducing groupthink—make higher quality decisions.

But of course diversity alone is not enough. To leverage your company’s diversity and to keep attracting, engaging, developing, and retaining talented and passionate team members, companies have to prioritize a culture of equity and inclusion.

Beyond the clear financial impact of focusing on DEI, it can also ensure you’re creating a workplace where every employee can feel psychologically safe and do their best work, regardless of their background. Organizations with strong DEI cultures are more likely to have employees with:

greater job satisfaction

higher degrees of trust

overall higher engagement



And yet when working with the earliest stage companies, many founders still believe that a focus on DEI is a “nice-to-have,” something they can work on when the company gets larger and more mature. We’re here today to tell you that isn’t true.

Just as with culture and values, you want DEI to be built into the very architecture of your People Systems at the earliest possible stage. It will help ensure a strong foundation of shared beliefs, and it will make it easier to incorporate best practices into your systems later on as well. What’s more, diversity begets diversity—so the sooner you start, the easier all future hires become. (We cover the topic of hiring and recruiting in a separate guide.) As a thought experiment, imagine hiring your first Black and/or female engineer onto a team of three White males versus a team of 30 White males. The time to prioritize DEI is now.

Read on and we’ll guide you through:

1

Defining DEI

2

Setting DEI metrics

3

Designing inclusive systems

4

Auditing the FAIRness of existing People Systems

5

Takeaways & next steps

Talent & Leadership

8 MIN

Building Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Into Your Startup

Matt_DSC7919_fin.jpg
By Matt Hoffman
AshleySchwedt.jpeg
By Ashley Schwedt
TheodoreHaber.jpeg
By Theo Haber
DEI v1

M13

Share
What's inside:
Done Icon

Overview

Defining DEI

Setting DEI metrics

Designing inclusive systems

Auditing the FAIRness of existing People Systems

Takeaways & next steps

In a year of transformational changes across the landscape of work, having an intentional focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has emerged as one of the most important things that a company can do to be successful. This is a long overdue development since the research has been overwhelmingly clear that companies that prioritize DEI—on the leadership team, org level, and board level—see better returns.

McKinsey recently released a report stating that “companies in the top-quartile for ethnic/cultural diversity on executive teams were 33% more likely to have industry-leading profitability. That this relationship continues to be strong suggests that inclusion of highly diverse [teams]—and the myriad ways in which diversity exists beyond gender (e.g., LGBTQ+, age/generation, international experience)—can be a key differentiator among companies.”

That should not be surprising. Companies with more diverse teams are able to take a broader and more empathetic perspective of their customers. They’re more likely to generate unique ideas and innovate faster, manage team conflict better, and—by reducing groupthink—make higher quality decisions.

But of course diversity alone is not enough. To leverage your company’s diversity and to keep attracting, engaging, developing, and retaining talented and passionate team members, companies have to prioritize a culture of equity and inclusion.

Beyond the clear financial impact of focusing on DEI, it can also ensure you’re creating a workplace where every employee can feel psychologically safe and do their best work, regardless of their background. Organizations with strong DEI cultures are more likely to have employees with:

greater job satisfaction

higher degrees of trust

overall higher engagement



And yet when working with the earliest stage companies, many founders still believe that a focus on DEI is a “nice-to-have,” something they can work on when the company gets larger and more mature. We’re here today to tell you that isn’t true.

Just as with culture and values, you want DEI to be built into the very architecture of your People Systems at the earliest possible stage. It will help ensure a strong foundation of shared beliefs, and it will make it easier to incorporate best practices into your systems later on as well. What’s more, diversity begets diversity—so the sooner you start, the easier all future hires become. (We cover the topic of hiring and recruiting in a separate guide.) As a thought experiment, imagine hiring your first Black and/or female engineer onto a team of three White males versus a team of 30 White males. The time to prioritize DEI is now.

Read on and we’ll guide you through:

1

Defining DEI

2

Setting DEI metrics

3

Designing inclusive systems

4

Auditing the FAIRness of existing People Systems

5

Takeaways & next steps

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