Why diversity is a game-changer for Startups & Scaleups

Why diversity is important especially for Startups & Scaleups

The greatest challenge for most companies is attracting the right people, people that accelerate the business growth. It is the people within the organisation that turn the initial dream into ideas and those ideas into reality.

Therefore we often seek to find people that think the same way we do. People that act the same way we do because we expect them to be the ones believing in our dream. However, too much homogeneity in your company can break your success in the long run. Think of it this way:

  • If you have 10 people thinking exactly the same, who’s going to come up with that idea that will 10x your growth?
  • If you’re all from the same geographic area, who’s going to lead the expansion to a new one?

These are just two examples of why diversity is important especially for Startups & Scaleups!

In this blog, you’ll find out:


From Startup to Scaleup phase

Moving from being a startup to a scaleup does not (and as a matter of fact, cannot) happen overnight. The beginning of any Startup is about proving to the world that your idea is feasible and sustainable. 

Most startups begin with teams of less than 10 people, so ensuring diversity and inclusion doesn’t seem like a first priority. You’re just a small family, where everyone is close to each other. And the funniest part: Just like every family has its own (weird) characteristics, your team will have these as well. So all of a sudden there’s some sort of company culture.

However, moving from being a startup to a scaleup does not (and as a matter of fact, cannot) happen overnight. In fact, research by Deloitte shows that only 1 out of 200 startups will successfully become a scale-up. But doesn’t hypergrowth automatically imply success and increased revenue? 


Why diversity is a game-changer for Startups & Scaleups

Well, the reality is that even though growing quickly is not necessarily a bad thing, you should still be wise about how you scale up your company. And can you guess what’s the number one scale-up pitfall? 

Lack of diversity within teams. 

Startups become scaleups because of their people. Their people determine team success, and team success determines company growth. The recipe for team success is team composition – the extent to which your team represents an optimal level of diversity, across all types of groups including neurodiversity

Diversity and inclusion, especially for tech companies that aim to scale responsibly and sustainably, cannot be something that is a mini side project that someone works on for 15 minutes every week. It needs to be a conscious (and continuous) effort that is reflected in the company as a whole. From a shared DEI mission, customer, sales and marketing strategies, to talent sourcing and retention – diversity within teams can be a real game-changer for any startup, especially when it comes to scaling up.


These are 13 reasons why diversity will take your business to the moon

There is a variety of benefits diversity within the workplace can bring to your teams and company as a whole:

  1. Diversity leads to more creativity within teams.
  2. Diverse teams are better at solving problems.
  3. Teams that are diverse make better business decisions 87% of the time.
  4. Companies that are diverse report productivity levels that are 32% higher than their peers.
  5. Diverse companies are 35% more profitable than non-diverse companies.
  6. Diverse teams are 70% more likely to capture new markets.
  7. Companies that have diverse management teams have a 45% increase in revenue directly related to innovation.
  8. Workplace diversity leads to 68.3% improved employee retention.
  9. Research by Deloitte found that the combination of diversity and inclusion within a workplace leads to the highest levels of employee engagement – 101%!
  10. If your workplace is diverse and inclusive, it will leave a positive impact on your organisational culture. 
  11. 76% of job seekers are looking at diversity when making a final decision about accepting a job offer.
  12. Diverse companies attract 73.2% more top talent than non-diverse companies.
  13. By choosing to create, prioritise and consciously work on fostering an Employer Brand that values diversity, you are 250% more likely to have a highly effective hiring process.

You can read more about it here.

So it is clear that workplace diversity can be considered an actual competitive advantage rather than just something companies tend to boost about as means of improving their reputation. But how to get started with creating a hiring process, company culture, and a working environment that is diverse & inclusive? 


Ensuring Diversity & Inclusion: where to get started

Set diversity goals because goals drive behaviour

First and foremost, take a critical look at your current team composition and determine how diverse your company is currently. Based on this information, you can set up diversity goals whether it be on a team or company-wide level (or even both). Because after all – goals are what drive our behaviour the most.

When people mention diversity in a work-related setting, most of us tend to think about demographic diversity. Even though, without a doubt that is also an important aspect of it, diversity is so much more than having employees of different ages, genders, backgrounds and so on. 

Of course, setting up diversity goals for these aspects is definitely important and should remain a substantial part of your DE&I initiatives. However, diversity in the workplace also includes neurodiversity. 

If your team(s) are not neurodiverse, you will face some serious difficulties on your way to scaling your dream. That’s why neurodiversity is key. And that’s why you should always be aware of your team composition, as well as set hiring goals related to demographics, as well as neurodiversity.


Use pre-employment assessments to objectify your screening process

When we talk about hiring bias, we tend to focus most on bias throughout the interview or resume screening process arising from a candidate’s demographics – age, gender, education level, race, etc. These biases can leave a significant impact on the diversity within your company.

However, these unconscious biases can also creep in during the very first stages of the hiring funnel – during the initial candidate screening process.  One way to avoid this is by using pre-employment assessments as means of objectifying your initial candidate screening process. 

By using pre-employment assessments in candidate selection, you’ll be able to hire based on insights that are collected in a standardised manner. In sharp contrast to other screening methods such as face-to-face interviews, pre-employment assessments allow you to assess various characteristics of the candidate, such as their cognitive abilities, behavioural aspects and personality traits. 

Our neuroscientific games are a type of pre-employment assessment that allow you to gather valuable information about candidates to base your hiring decisions on facts rather than your gut feeling. 


Understand that diversity is more than meeting quotas

Perhaps the most important thing to highlight is the fact that ensuring diversity is more than just meeting a quota of having, for example, a gender-balanced team. Setting up diversity goals and quotas is a good first step, however, meeting these goals does not always mean that you’ll also create a culture that is inclusive.

Without a doubt, ensuring diverse and inclusive hiring practices is the first step. Yet, make sure that when scaling up you have practices in place that allow you to scale also diverse and inclusive behaviours within the company. This basically means that it’s crucial to understand how your teams work the best, and how you can allow each individual to thrive within the working environment.

If you want to retain & nurture teams that are diverse – promote inclusion within the workplace on a daily basis – from successes to failures, mentorship, performance reviews and so on. 

Anete Vesere

Cheers, Anete

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