Tuesday, February 7, 2017

How to Change the Ratio Now

One of our core values at 500 Startups is diversity and inclusion. It’s well-documented that women are dramatically underrepresented in the technology industry including startups and venture capital.

So in Silicon Valley today, how can you get 50/50 (or more) gender balance in a growing organization of 100+ people?

The technology industry pipeline problem exists for women with barriers at every life stage, from being discouraged to pursue math and science as children, to lack of support for balancing work and parenting as mid-career professionals and many steps between. No one can eliminate every source of structural discrimination overnight.

But what if you still want to change your organization today?

I manage the 500 Startups Growth Marketing and Series A team. Here’s what we do. It’s very simple.

We aim to hire the best candidate for the job and we focus 100% of our recruiting effort on women.

The nature of our work means that we have large industry networks and receive  a consistent flow of high-quality people through referral. Logically, this inbound flow reflects the tech industry and growth-marketing average demographics. To counteract the averages, we primarily hire through active, outbound sourcing of referrals from our network and focus our effort on women. We work extremely hard to meet 3 or 4 women for every man when we are trying to add to our team. And this gets us very close to a 50/50 ratio.

Do this well enough and your organization will develop a reputation that precedes you. The most recent person we  hired told me that she only considered joining after hearing from trusted friends about our commitment to diversity and inclusion.

I’ve described one method that we use to diversify our staff at 500 Startups, but here are many other dimensions to diversity and inclusion.  

Changing the ratio is hard but it’s not complicated. Just start doing it.

You can follow me on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/matjohnson