Diversity and inclusion are the buzzwords in the startup industry, with McKinsey research showing companies that commit to these values are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors. HBR has found, meanwhile, that companies with a strong D&I policy are 70% more likely to capture new markets.
As much as most startups like to think they meet set D&I standards, there are still signs of a lack of diversity and inclusion in the business as a whole. For example, Gallup found that a whopping 45% of working Americans experience discrimination, 40% of respondents believe there are double standards against women, and, in any given year, only 19% of people with disabilities are employed.
Whether you’ve just launched your startup or are in the process of hiring, keep the following considerations in mind if you want to be a forward-thinking and fair company with a happy workforce.
Management team training from the start
Your management team should not only reflect your commitment to diversity and inclusion by including people of color, women and people with disabilities, and other groups. Leaders should also receive formal training on how to create a work environment that treats employees equally and is open to feedback, questions and suggestions.
Training can highlight issues such as unconscious bias, cultural intelligence, and effective collaboration. Leaders should encourage diverse approaches to goals and processes and articulate their commitment to creating an inclusive and safe place for all employees.
Launch your startup in an inclusive city
There are many considerations to keep in mind when starting a startup, including state tax considerations, investor presence, and the pro-business legal reputation of the city or state of your choice. Within your state directory, check out disability opportunities in different cities. Features to look out for include access to affordable health care, fair employment opportunities, and the number of walkable neighborhoods with access to public transportation and places that promote health and sustainability.
Just a few cities with great reputations in this regard include Overland Park, Kansas (which is home to a plethora of wheelchair-accessible buildings); Denver, Colorado (which has a fully accessible subway system and a reputation for strong ADA compliance); and Huntington Beach, California (with its stable economy and affordable health care).
Communicate with employees
Leaders should have open channels of communication with employees so that those from minority groups, such as disabled workers, are able to voice their needs so that the company can respond with accommodations as requested.
Leaders should be informed about work activities that may affect the rights of disabled workers. They should celebrate any accommodations made and foster a culture of storytelling and sharing.
Therefore, the use of special technologies for the blind or deaf, for example, should be shared in newsletters and other internal communications, so that all workers know that their work can be improved (as well as their quality of life) through technology, mental health support, dedicated furniture and other initiatives.
Starting a startup with a good D&I policy is a key way to attract customers and employees. Startups looking to set a benchmark in this industry should approach diversity and inclusion from a multifaceted perspective. Training, choosing the right location and promoting open communication can help create a happy and healthy company culture that all employees are proud to belong to.