Did you know that companies that are diverse, are 35% more likely to gain higher financial returns according to research made by (McKinsey, 2015)?

That’s mainly because having a startup that prioritizes diversity and inclusion leads to increased creativity, improved decision-making, and faster problem-solving. When we’re surrounded by people like us, there’s a tendency for everyone to agree on the same things, or have similar weaknesses and blindspots. A more diverse group is better able to approach a range of problems and they’re better at getting unstuck when making decisions.

What is diversity, anyway?

When we talk about diversity there are two ways to look at it, from a people perspective or background perspective. Many people usually see diverse teams as those who contain multiple races and sexualities but don’t always think about age, neurodiversity, or upbringing. In fact, according to ICL Learn there are 9 types of diversity in the workplace that a startup should include when searching for team members: 

  • Age: inclusion of all generations who are able to work (from Baby boomers to Generation Z)
  • Race and ethnicity: cultural and physical differences
  • Education and income: where, when, and what they studied and their annual salary
  • Skills and abilities: the skillsets they have and what they are capable of
  • Family and upbringing: their background, cultures, beliefs, and superstitions
  • Personality types: such as introverts and extroverts
  • Gender identity and expression: how someone is expressing themselves externally (not always tied to sexual orientation)  
  • Sexual orientation: inherent emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to other people
  • Neurodiversity: neurodiversity focuses on those with neuro conditions, such as ADHD, dyslexia, epilepsy, Tourette syndrome, and others
  • Disability: a physical difference that a person has that hinders their movement, such as blindness, paraplegia, or deafness. 

The key is to have an open mind, pay attention to what makes people unique, and practice inclusion in order to make sure your startup has a workplace that continues to elevate.

Besides all the evidence, you may still need some convincing why diversity is so important as an early-stage startup founder and why to consider it from the very beginning. 

Spark innovation and new opportunities

When founders from startups, they tend to draw in people from their network as they create a team. If you lack a diverse network and end up with a founding team that thinks and acts in a similar way, and has the same general life experiences, you are most likely not building the best product possible and are producing groupthink that leads to less innovation. 

When a startup only values opinions that match its founder’s worldview, it becomes blind to new opportunities. It also can overlook risks that might threaten the business down the line. With a diverse team though you bring new voices and insights into your business which allows you to navigate the many challenges you’ll inevitably face. This is more likely to happen in a diverse team, and the result is a better product.

Larger array of skills to choose from

Each person has a different experience when growing up, skills being developed at a young age. The development of certain skills can be boosted or suppressed based on the environment that the child grows up in. Therefore, more diversity in a team allows for a larger array of skills. 

When a team is diverse, it offers a wider variety of perspectives. Otherwise, we tend to pull from our own experiences when searching for solutions. When a team consists of similar members – a homogeneous team – then they will be prone to solve the problem based on their experiences. 

Increased profit and better business performance, backed by data

“Businesses with a healthy balance of men and women are 21% more likely to outperform their competitors. Businesses with a good mix of ethnic backgrounds are 33% more likely to outperform their competitors. Teams that are gender, age, and ethnically diverse make better decisions up to 87% of the time.” states Global Diversity Practice.

Moreover, the McKinsey report, Diversity wins: How inclusion matters, concluded in 2019 that companies with diverse teams (in terms of ethnic and cultural diversity) outperformed others by 36% in profitability. 

Create a sense of belonging for everyone

A feeling of belonging must first be built for each person in order for them to put their best self forth. Having a connection to an organization or group of people that allows you to be yourself not only leads to increased engagement and creativity, it also addresses a psychological need. 

People can work more productively and freely when they feel a sense of belonging. Evidence shows that when people feel valued, they function at full capacity and feel part of the organization’s mission. 

Modern consumers support diverse businesses

The millennial generation and generation Z are more likely to support businesses that have diverse teams, diverse ideas, and inclusive products and services. Brands are held accountable for how they present themselves because consumers aren’t just blindly making use of products and services anymore. Modern consumers aren’t afraid to call out brands, or even cancel them if they believe that what they are doing is wrong.

To sum it up, diversity is the driving force that gives startups access to good ideas, fresh perspectives, and real experience they could be lacking otherwise. It can also attract investors and customers who value businesses run by diverse teams. 

Needless to say, diversity isn’t just a trend, it’s a real asset to any organization. Make it part of your company’s DNA from the beginning, and you’ll have a greater chance of success.