Diversity in Tech: It’s Really Important

For decades, startup culture has suffered from a homogeneity issue. The lack of diversity has been a sore spot for many, and some companies, like Google and Apple, have publicly acknowledged their shortcomings in diversity and created programs to remedy it. Diversity in the workplace isn’t just about giving people of all backgrounds a fair shot— businesses with diverse teams routinely perform better than those that do not. However, many startup founders seem to believe otherwise.

In a piece published earlier this month, Inc. reported on a survey that revealed an interesting relationship between founders and their views on diversity. The vast majority of the founders surveyed believe that diversity is important to the overall culture of a business. Multiple viewpoints of the world can make for better collaborations, products, and long-term visions. But while many say diversity is important, far fewer (23 percent, to be exact) feel that a diverse team has any bearing on overall financial performance. Basically, many founders are still approaching diversity as “something nice to have”, rather than “something we need”.

The data shows otherwise. A 2015 study by McKinsey examined the impact of both gender and ethnic diversity on company performance. The results? Companies with greater gender and ethnic diversity were 15% and 35% more likely, respectively, to greater financial returns than their industry medians. It’s not difficult to see why, either. David Cohen, co-CEO of startup accelerator Techstars, argues that lack of diversity can hinder innovation. Minds from the same walk of life tend to approach problems the same way. The result is a product that addresses some concerns, but can be of little help to other clients or customers.

Diversity is going to be growing concern for American entrepreneurs, as venture-backed startups are losing talents to foreign markets— especially those in China and India. In a guest post for VentureBeat, Vivek Wadhwa of Stanford University discusses America’s decreasing appeal for foreign entrepreneurs. A byzantine immigration process is at the head of these concerns. For example, why wait for a green card to launch a business when they could launch a successful business in India or a rapidly growing tech nation like Nigeria? America is realizing they aren’t the only players in the world startup game. Even though there are a few executive measures in place to make the process somewhat smoother, it’s only a temporary fix in the journey to diversify the entrepreneurial landscape.


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