Make your company inclusive from day zero

Make your company inclusive from day zero

Check Warner Co-founder of Diversity VC & Partner at Ada Ventures Jan 16 06:00 min

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Hi, I’m Check Warner, I’m the co-founder & CEO of Diversity VC. Diversity VC is non-profit set up to promote diversity and inclusion in venture capital in tech. We collect original data, we help young people to get into the industry from all kinds of background through our internship program, we help VCs turning more inclusive and we help entrepreneurs to access capital.
And it’s our mission to make venture capital representative and diverse to represent the society that we invest into.
So the advice I wanted to give today is how you, as a founder of an early-stage company, make your company inclusive from day zero.
We at Diversity VC published with Atomico a guide to build inclusion into your company and ut us available at inclusionintech.com. So, first of all, you should check out that guide and read it cover to cover before you do anything else.
The second piece of advice is prioritizing it, and reading around why diversity and inclusion really matter. One ressource I’d highly recommend is Fearless Future. It’s a great website which aggregates lots of really important writing on diversity and inclusion.
The third piece of advice is about hiring. It’s really easy when you are an early-stage company to just look within your existing network to hire the first 5 to 10 employees, but that’s going to lead you to developing a really homogeneous employee base. So think about hiring outside of your network. One tool that we have used which I really recommend is called Applied, and what they do is an applicant tracking tool which you can use to assess candidates and source candidates from outside your typical networks.
The fourth piece of advice is about, once you’ve got all these brilliant, diverse people in your company, how do you actually make sure that they feel included on a day to day basis. So that’s about having a dialogue where people feel like they can talk about which issues they are facing and bring themselves, their whole selves, to work. So, as part of that it is really important to think about things like parental leave policies, flexible working policies, religious beliefs, and different needs that each member of your company might have.
Finally, none of this would be effective unless you constantly revisit it. It’s not something that you can do once, and then shut the book and never look at it again. It is really important to collect data on what’s going on in your company, use feedback and survey tools like Typeform to ask people how they feel about diversity and inclusion in the company, and then also collect data on the wrong things like the gender pay gap, the equity pay gap, ethnicity pay gap, and all sorts of other metrics that will give you a sense for whether your company is actually as diverse and inclusive as you want it to be.
So one thing I think companies don’t explore enough, which we have been promoting for Diversity VC, is actually using interns. Internships are a fantastic way to bring in diversity of thought into your company without having to make a commitment to necessarily hiring people. And in so many cases people have actually gone on starting as interns and actually become full time hires and even partners in the future when they have started out just as an intern. So think about whether you can offer an internship program, maybe during the summer, and make sure that the interns that you bring in are as diverse and representative as possible. And lastly make sure that you pay your interns because it is really really important that they can actually afford to be there with you.
I was delighted to accept the 50inTech invitation to record this podcast. Our mission with Diversity VC is about making entrepreneurship more accessible and inclusive and that’s extremely aligned with what 50inTech are doing. I’m really excited to see what they are building and excited to join all of you on the community of 50inTech. Please do tell your friends about it and encourage other people and spread the word.