Diversity in tech – why it matters and what you can do

Nadina Osmani, November 1, 2018 3 min read

Recently we published a brand new report about the diversity of tech company directors, and found that companies with diverse boards have 0.7% higher turnover. We also found that companies with internationally diverse boards raise 453% more investment than boards from a single country.

We want to change this, which is why we’ve joined a consortium of companies including J.P Morgan, Capital Enterprise, Diversity VC, Your Startup, Your Story (YSYS), The Accelerator Network and others to form One Tech – changing the face of startups. One Tech aims to double the number of female and BAME tech founders by 2020, with an initial focus on three London boroughs.

People often say “You can’t be what you can’t see,” so the initial programme launch has been accompanied with inspirational stories from successful female and BAME tech founders. Though the stories focus on founders from these areas, the inspiration and advice they give is applicable to companies all across the nation.

We know that diverse teams perform better, and that diverse boards yield a better bottom line, so we asked the inspirational One Tech founders how and why companies could make their workplace more diverse and inclusive.

Solutions you might never have imagined yourself

“It just brings an extra dimension” says Sukhi Jutla.

Sukhi is the Co-Founder of MarketOrders; an online platform that allows independent jewellers to purchase gold and diamond jewellery directly from manufacturers.

“It’s important for startups to be diverse and inclusive because it just adds to the ideas and creativity within the business. So I love taking my issues and my problems to my other team members who come from completely different and diverse backgrounds. I’m guaranteed that they will come up with a solution that I would never have imagined,” she says.

Suhki Julta, photo by Moyesa.co

Sukhi Jutla, photography by Moyesa.Co

Get to know your colleagues

“Companies can make their workplace more inclusive by engaging with the people that they work with. Take time to understand their culture, their religion, their gender. But most importantly, take time to understand how those individuals have an impact on the business.” says Kurt Henderson, Founder of Kompas, a personalised city-mapping app.

“It’s imperative that individuals in the business, especially founders, engage and educate ourselves so that we don’t breed an environment that isn’t healthy for the people that work there.”

Kurt Henderson, photo by Moyesa.co

Kurt Henderson, photography by Moyesa.Co

Prior to securing investment, there was a point where Kurt couldn’t even afford to get into London for business meetings, and had to cycle from his home in Croydon. Now, Kompas is a successful travel-tech company.

Create mindful teams

Emma Obanye, photography by Moyesa.Co

Emma Obanye, photography by Moyesa.Co

Hiring people from diverse backgrounds is only the first step towards creating an inclusive business. How can you then retain those people, and build a culture to get the best from them? Serial entrepreneur Emma Obanye suggests considering mindfulness techniques when building your company culture.

One of her current businesses, Mindful Teams, helps companies run continuous health checks and retrospectives, building a culture where everyone is focused on giving structured feedback and having open conversations.

“It allows companies to have those conversations on a frequent basis, about anything, and it allows anyone on the team to have a voice.”

The idea for the company came from her experience of selling her first business, Buddybounce, to Crowdmix in 2016.

“I had a team of 30 people, and morale was very low. I thought: ‘we need tools for better transparency along with more quantitative data’. After we built our MVP, initial trials showed that happier staff increased productivity by about 40%.” says Emma.

Takeaway tips

  • Diversity can bring an extra level of creativity to your team, as well as helping your problem solving ability.
  • Having a diverse team can make you more profitable.
  • You can build a diverse and inclusive team as a founder if you take an active interest and educate yourself on your team and how their gender, race, religion or culture might contribute to your business.
  • Make reflection a part of your culture, conduct regular reviews or retrospectives, or general feedback sessions to improve morale and make sure any potential issues are heard.

You can find out more about the One Tech project on their website or follow the programme on twitter.

Data & research, London