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Making Diversity Core to Your Culture

Why Hiring a Diverse Workforce Makes Business Sense

Building a startup can be difficult for a number of reasons. Between building a great product that fits a market need , clearly identifying the company mission, understanding the business model, and conducting the necessary research, there is a LOT to consider when creating your business. However, once you’ve incorporated and begun to do work, if you’re successful there will inevitably come a time when you need to add members to your team. This presents us with a new set of questions:

  • Who do I hire?
  • Why do I hire him/her?
  • What makes this person better than another?

There are lot of variables to consider. One in particular that doesn’t always get much consideration is a hirees’ individual makeup. No, we’re not talking about eyeliner and lip gloss. We’re talking about the summation of experiences, background, culture, sex, sexual orientation, and beliefs. Each of these experiences and qualities determine a person’s general outlook, and therefore greatly affects the body of work that they have the potential to produce. A company is only as strong as the people that make it up.

Women and men, whites and blacks, Jews and Muslims, Catholics and Protestants, veterans and civilians, gays and straights, Latinos and Europeans, Klingons and Romulans, Asians and Africans, wheelchair-bound and able-bodied: These differences of perspective generate insights that can’t be taught. When you bring them together in a work environment, they integrate to create a broader perspective that is priceless.

Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg, How Google Works

With a collective unbridling of consciousness, a startup is able to do much more. For example: a caucasian male business development executive from the Midwest who excels in many avenues may lack insight that comes naturally to a woman of Puerto Rican descent who grew up in the Bronx – simply because they come from different backgrounds and cultures. He might never consider selling his innovative payment gateway solution to a whole host of potential customers because he has not been raised in the culturally diverse environment that would lead him to think of the ways people raised differently than he was raised would use such a solution.

Plenty of founders have done well building teams consisting entirely of like-minded individuals. The current roster of startup unicorns are littered with them. Oftentimes, it’s only after they have achieved a measure of success that they realize that there is untapped potential in markets that they do not necessarily understand or value, and that their business would benefit from some additional perspectives.

Often these efforts pay off, and sometimes they fall short. The best way to navigate this idea is to make diversity a priority from the very beginning. If you’re just starting out, look for a co-founder who is not only talented, driven, and resourceful – but of a different demographic than your own. The same goes for team members: drawing upon as many personality and background types as possible is essential for ensuring that your company will be ready to proactively fill as many holes in personal perspective as they can.