Here’s what happens when your scaleup does not prioritize DE&I

Here’s what happens when your scaleup does not prioritize DE&I


I am obsessed with DE&I (Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion). I fell in love with this concept in 2016, when I started my first company with my twin sister – who’s by the way also one of the founders of Equalture. I still think it’s incredible to experience what happens when having different people, with different backgrounds, skills, personalities, and interests together in a group, working on a challenge together. To experience that the impossible becomes possible. 

When deciding to devote our careers to DE&I back then, this wasn’t a sexy or appealing topic at all. It was perhaps gaining some traction for corporates who started adding D&I targets to their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) agenda, but it definitely wasn’t sexy. People perceived it as an act of CSR, rather than a proven business case.

Luckily enough, I have seen some very promising trends over the last five years. Not only has D&I become a topic of discussion in companies of all different sizes and growth stages, but there have been published hundreds of studies into the correlation between diversity and team performance – proving the business case of DE&I.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that we’re there already. Events such as Black Lives Matter (BLM) have proven that, despite being aware of the power of diverse groups of people, we still tend to not only form groups with the people within our comfort zone, but also have non-fundamental views on people that might be outside our comfort zone, based on their personality, age, gender, race or sexual orientation. And that also happens in a hiring setting. 

Scaleups that don’t prioritize DE&I eventually won’t survive their competition. In this blog I explain the two reasons why.


Why there’s still insufficient internal support for DE&I

We all tend to care most about the things that will make our work life more easy, safe, or comfortable. So, something that we all care about for example is revenue numbers – because when not generating enough revenue, the company won’t survive. This is an example of making our work life safer. In contrast to that, DE&I is a sensitive topic that not everyone feels equally comfortable with – especially not when being asked to express personal feelings and opinions. 

So whereas commercial projects provide us with a feeling of safety, D&I can sometimes make us feel uncomfortable. And as we all prefer taking the path of least resistance, this is a topic that isn’t number one on our wish list.


No longer accepted: War for talent

Purpose-driven working. Our grandparents probably won’t be highly engaged with this concept, but it has become extremely important over the last 25 years for millennials and Gen Zs. We don’t work for a living anymore – or at least, we don’t only work for a living. We also work because we like it. Because we feel that our work contributes to making the world a tiny bit better every day. 

An example of a very clear trend is talent attraction in the ‘tech for good market’ – tech companies that are making a social impact attract more and more candidates. However, we don’t only look at what a company is trying to achieve, but also at how they do so. The vision/mission is the what, the company’s policies, processes, and culture are the how. And DE&I is a crucial part of the how, as this determines the team composition. 

Most candidates simply don’t accept a lack of showing commitment anymore. It’s okay if companies aren’t there yet, but there should be at least a clear intention and willingness to improve DE&I. And so, this means that the companies setting an example will win the war for talent.


Company sustainability: Beaten by the competition

This second reason why scaleups that don’t prioritize DE&I fail is a result of the first reason. Earlier in this blog, I explained why internal support for DE&I still lacks in most companies – simply because don’t perceive DE&I as something that provides them with safety or comfort. Therefore, internal support can only be created by focusing on people’s feelings of safety and comfort.

Company sustainability results in a perceived feeling of safety. So, it’s actually quite simple to connect sustainability to D&I. When focusing on D&I, a more diverse team will be created, which increases innovations, creativity, and critical thinking, resulting in better financial performances (tip: share the study from McKinsey to back up your story with actual research).

In contrast to that, when not focusing on D&I, while your competitors do, your company will become less attractive to work for, your team will become less diverse, and eventually, this results in poor financial performances, threatening your company’s existence. 

This is why scaleups that don’t prioritize DE&I will fail. DE&I is a snowball effect, with two sides of the mountain to possibly roll off – it either boosts your team and talent pool, or it will seriously damage your team, eventually leading to failure.


Equalture: How we can help

Here at Equalture, we are on a mission to shape the world of unbiased hiring, by gamifiying the hiring process. We let the current team members of our customers complete a set of games, measuring (soft) skills and personality. Hereby we determine your hiring needs, – without human bias- based on data-backed insights. Consequently, each and every candidate who applies to your jobs will also be asked to complete the same games, allowing you to objectively benchmark candidates against your needs. The ultimate goal: Ensuring equal opportunities, by hiring people based on science instead of gut feeling.

This video explains the why behind our company:


Before ending this blog, there’s one thing I’d like to emphasize here. Let’s not forget that I now only focused on the business side of the story. Something that I personally think is even a thousand times more important is the fact that it should never happen that people are disadvantaged by their gender, age, race, sexual orientation, or anything else that could lead to bias, discrimination, and inequality. We’re living in the 21st century – a century in which we should celebrate the power of differences, rather than holding on to the dangers of favouring similarities.

Keen to learn more about how we can help you prioritize DE&I? You’re only one click away! And in case you’d like to take a deep dive into DE&I, you might want to check out our two latest playbooks:

Charlotte Melkert Co-Founder and CEO of Equalture in Portrait picture

Cheers, Charlotte

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