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This One Change Will Dramatically Upgrade Your Startup

By Skye Sherman

Looking for a surefire way to increase ROI, stimulate innovation, foster productivity, enhance problem-solving, grow your business, establish a more pleasant work environment, and improve your company’s reputation?

One simple tweak to your startup can help you accomplish all those goals and more.

But the solution may be somewhere you least expect it: diversifying.









The fact that diversity breeds creativity just makes sense: a team of people bringing a wide variety of perspectives to the table will naturally propose a broad range of solutions to any problem that arises. A diverse team comes supplied with diverse insights, which can upgrade any project exponentially, unchaining its potential. Encountering stories of lived experiences that differ from yours opens your mind and inspires you to think in ways you wouldn’t normally.

But the results of diversifying aren’t confined to the abstract and the interpersonal. Hard data shows that diversity makes financial sense, too:

  • According to McKinsey Insights, companies that emphasize diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above the industry median: “Top-quartile companies for racial and ethnic diversity were 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians; companies in the top quartile for gender diversity, 15 percent. … More diverse companies lure better talent and improve their decision-making, customer orientation, and employee satisfaction. Diversity in background, age, sexual orientation, and work experience also probably confer some level of competitive advantage.”
  • Deloitte research found that “Organizations with inclusive cultures are six times more likely to be innovative, six times more likely to anticipate change and respond effectively, and twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets. … The research also shows that in organizations with inclusive cultures, people tend to feel that they can be themselves, share problems, make mistakes, innovate, and drive change.”
  • Boston Consulting Group found that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue.
  •  Rocío Lorenzo’s now-famous TED Talk, How diversity makes teams more innovative, covers the results of her team’s survey of 171 companies: their data showed that diversity builds better, more robust, more successful companies.

It’s high time we view diversity not just as the moral and decent thing to do, but also as a competitive advantage.


To increase diversity in your startup, there are a few steps you can take:

  • Treat diversity efforts as business-critical, not just something you’ll get around to if and when an opportunity presents itself.
  • Get involved in your community and start up conversations with strangers; keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to synergize, even in unlikely places.
  • Mentor disadvantaged youth and in underprivileged communities; consider opportunities to train and equip people who lack experience but are eager to learn.
  • Integrate both demographic diversity and diversity of thought.
  • Be willing to make accommodations for physical impairments and religious needs.
  • Consider working with people who may have fewer qualifications due to less privilege; a potential team member may lack experience with costly software or a degree from an Ivy League school but still possess immense talent and potential.
  • Do not establish a “quota” or tokenize team members.

At 1909, we celebrate the fact that our strength is found in our differences—our widely varying world views, backgrounds, races, ages, gender identities, religions, political affiliations, sexual orientations, life experiences, career paths, and skill sets.

Because as different as we may appear to be at first glance, true connections are formed when we realize just how similar all of us are beneath the surface.

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