How Startups are Leading the Way in Diversity

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In a recent blog, we highlighted the very real benefits that smaller companies, and startups in particular, stand to gain from fostering an inclusive atmosphere, and promoting greater diversity within their team – from a significantly wider perspective and market insight, to notable improvements in company culture. But despite these evident advantages, there is still a long way to go when it comes to diversity in many of our most cutting-edge business sectors – currently, women make up just 17% of the UK’s IT and tech workforce, for example.

Increasingly, however, it is startups and smaller companies who are leading the way in driving much-needed change, and addressing this imbalance. With more women than ever now paving the way from prestigious positions at the head of innovative startups, The Brew explores how startups and small businesses can lead the way in championing diversity.

Leading Change

Some of this change is being driven by startups and entrepreneurs themselves. Recently, the Guardian published a profile of several women who, in their 50s, had all struck out on their own by launching their own innovative startups. With business ideas ranging from upcycling abandoned old furniture, to an ethically sourced gift shop, all of these women are excellent examples of the importance of leading change from the front.

Driving Change

However, while some businesses and entrepreneurs are willing to place change and diversity at the forefront of their approach, others need a little more incentivising to get there. That’s why there are an increasing number of initiatives and movements specifically designed to persuade businesses into proactively engaging with the issue of workplace diversity.

Here at The Brew, we were pleased to draw attention to the Best Workplaces for Women 2018 award, recently launched by Great Places to Work. The award seeks to champion the workplaces that are making a concerted effort to foster an inclusive, diverse environment. Similarly, last year saw the release of the government’s new Tech Talent Charter – an employer-led initiative that aims to put gender balance at the very forefront of business’ strategies and priorities.

Imagining Change

When it comes to driving real and lasting change, the stories that we tell are as important as the rules, quotas and initiatives we put in place. That’s why our list of must-read business books to inspire you through 2018 included a recommendation of Ellen Pao’s brilliant memoir Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change – an account of her unsuccessful discrimination case against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. While Pao was taking on a giant of the venture capital world, her insightful perspective and desire to achieve the equality she knew that she deserved is a timely reminder that is applicable to any workplace – from corporate boardrooms to a London coworking space.

Anyone who has visited The Brew’s Eagle House location may have noticed our mural of computing pioneer Ada Lovelace, as diversity within the tech and startup community is an issue close to our heart. From our position among Shoreditch’s thriving startup and tech community, we are ideally placed to observe first-hand the innovative businesses who are proactively driving change, and we’re proud to be playing a part.

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