This weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in the 2017 Unity and Inclusion LA event hosted by 500 Start-Ups; a special one-day event that brought together entrepreneurs, investors and the greater tech community to hold a dialogue about the future of diversity & inclusion in tech.
While we did not don the signature pink knit hats, no one failed to recognize the significance of attending the event whilst millions around the world simultaneously marched in unity for women’s equality.
It was an enlightening day of dialogue that stemmed from the sobering reality of the current state of the industry and the inspirational stories of individuals who have carved their own successful paths with the odds stacked against them.
The day started off with a simple question:
What is Diversity?
Or, more meaningfully, what does diversity mean to you/your firm?
For Jesse Draper, of Halogen Ventures, it means focusing on female-founded consumer technology companies.
For Morgan DeBaun, of Blavity, it means empowering activists and content creators who relate to the Black millennial audience.
For Porter Braswell, of Jopwell, it means providing a recruiting platform specifically for Black, Latino/Hispanic, and Native American candidates.
It’s okay to have a target for diversity and inclusion efforts, and may actually be recommended depending on your organization’s goals and where you are starting.
Once you define what diversity means to you – how do you go about instigating it?
It’s much easier to recruit in diverse talent at a small, but diverse firm, than a large, homogenous one. It indicates clear intention early on to create a team of diverse perspectives, and aids with inclusion efforts. That said, it’s never too late to start considering how you can build a more inclusive culture.
“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”
Diversity & inclusion is more than just ticking off a box and having better statistics to show off. It can be more challenging to retain talent, than to recruit it, and organizations need to create an inclusive culture to make sure everyone in your organization feels like they belong and can bring their authentic selves to work every day. Be mindful of how your teams are structured and engaged to ensure a variety of voices and viewpoints are heard and appreciated.
My goal as a recruiter has always been to unearth the best talent to grow our team. For me, diversity is about one’s story, and I believe everyone has one to tell.
If you’re interested in sharing with me, I’d love to connect with you. Leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.