Diversity in the workplace refers to having differences within your teams. Having a diverse workplace doesn’t stop at hiring people from all walks of life but aims to provide an inclusive and equitable environment for people of all genders, nationalities, abilities, etc.
The lack of diversity in many sectors is problematic, and we should address this as a priority. Across the Tech industry, the problem runs deep. The Ethnic Diversity in UK Fintech report indicated that while the participation in UK fintech of individuals from underrepresented backgrounds has increased from 12% in 2011 to 20% in 2021, this pattern does not reflect different communities. According to the Technation diversity and inclusion report, just 19% of Tech workers are women. When we look at the FinTech sector, it doesn’t get much better, with 69% of FinTech boards reported as entirely male and women thought to make up just 29% of the FinTech employee base.
If you recognize some of these trends in your business, following the tips below might help you step in the right direction of improving diversity in your start-up.
We are all different, having lived our own experiences and created our opinions from that life. Acknowledging these differences provides a more inclusive environment and makes individuals feel valued. A recent study found that companies with diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue due to innovation. Diversity means having different experiences, ideas, and approaches; it’s no wonder that building a team that can tackle problems from different angles will ultimately make the solution more robust and optimized.
Make work flexible
Offering flexible working arrangements shows you trust and value your employees but also means that you can be more inclusive for working parents and anyone requiring appointments for physical or mental health. In some cases, you can open your hiring pool to a worldwide market, bringing in various experiences and views.
Lead by example
Make sure that diversity is championed as a business and that this is clear to all internal and external partners. Be clear on what is accepted and what is not, communicate actions and ensure these values are important to the business.
Accommodate physical differences
How accommodating is your workplace to people of different abilities? You may have step-free access to your office and building, but are your workspaces accommodating? For example, are your desks adjustable, have audio-visual fire alarms in place, or are your kitchens and common areas all structurally appropriate for your staff? To encourage diverse abilities, you need to be able to accommodate people of all abilities. Ask your staff what would make them feel better accommodated and make reasonable adjustments where possible.
Hold people accountable
Any new policies you introduce must include ramifications, or disciplinary action, for failure to follow the diversity policy. To encourage an inclusive workplace, you need to give victims of discrimination a process to report abuses and develop a protocol to address them. The protocol usually includes speaking with both parties before providing a written warning and perhaps coaching the guilty party. Some companies have levels of discipline depending on how egregious the action is.
Educate yourself and others
Formal or informal training is a great way to educate yourself and your staff on how to champion diversity in your startup. However, encouraging diversity does not end when you leave the office. Read. Listen. Watch. There are so many resources and educators out there!
Set goals and metrics that can be measured and therefore improved. For example, you might measure your progress through internal feedback, quotas, or by hiring a company to calculate your diversity index.
Learn from your mistakes
Nobody is expected to get it right first time. The important part of this is to learn from your mistakes and improve each time. By listening to your employees and understanding how to ensure your actions are making a difference, rather than just being performative, you will build a more inclusive and equitable culture for your startup.
Ask for help
Many start-ups don’t have a Diversity Expert as part of the team in the early years. As CEO or founder, you are not expected to have an in depth understanding of how to implement a meaningful DEI strategy into your business. Ask for help. It’s better to hire an expert who’s job is to do this to enact real change. As part of our Key Client’s Programme we have partnered with Diversity Experts that work in the start up and tech space. If you’d like to know more, or for us to facilitate an introduction, please get in touch.