Optimizing Diversity for a Start-Up

Julie Shenkman
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In the startup world, optimizing diversity is essential for creating innovative teams that outperform their competitors. Unfortunately, many companies still have management teams filled with affluent white men. These companies are unable to take advantage of the benefits of diversity, making them less competitive and more prone to making costly errors. If you are ready to hire employees for your startup, follow these tips for optimizing diversity.

1. Hire on Merit

It seems counterintuitive, but you shouldn't be thinking about optimizing diversity during the initial hiring phase. Instead, you should be hiring people based on merit. Focus on sourcing and hiring employees with the right combination of technical skills, industry knowledge and passion for your company's products or services.

2. Tap the Right Networks

Startup founders often make hiring decisions based on personal recommendations. As a result, networking plays a big role in the startup staffing process. If you are interested in optimizing diversity, you need to tap into the right networks. It's difficult to put together a diverse workforce if all of your networking groups are made up of white men and women. Expand your candidate pool by joining groups that have a good mix of members.

3. Define Diversity

Before you do any hiring, you need to define what diversity means to your company. Many people think race is the only consideration when optimizing diversity, but a diverse workforce has people of all ages, socioeconomic levels and levels of experience. When you focus on hiring people with different backgrounds, your company gets the benefit of different perspectives.

One way to take advantage of the benefits of diversity is to have employees share tasks. Two employees with different backgrounds may have very different ways of approaching problems. Have employees pair up and work on problems together, or build diverse teams to tackle tough challenges. Optimizing diversity gives you a competitive advantage over other companies, making your startup more likely to succeed.

4. Create Hiring Policies

Once you see the positive effects of diversity in the workplace, you may be tempted to create hiring policies that focus on optimizing diversity. Unfortunately, putting too much of an emphasis on diversity is just as bad as not giving any thought to diversity at all. Sit down with your management team and come up with hiring policies that focus on finding the most talented employees. If you are tapping into the right networks, you should be able to find talented employees from a variety of backgrounds.

Creating a diverse workforce is a great way to develop products that resonate with consumers of all ages, races, income levels and educational backgrounds. If optimizing diversity is one of your priorities, follow these tips to ensure you find the right employees for your startup.

Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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