5 Ways to Get More Diversity in Your Startup

Quick, envision the type of person you see as part of a startup. There’s a good chances they’re young (a Millennial), tech savvy, and either live in a metro area like San Francisco or desperately want to move there. They’re probably bright (either college educated or so freakishly intelligent they didn’t need college), are all about social media, and were mobile ready before it was a buzzword. Whether you’re looking to hire a management team for your startup or entry level positions, this likely sums up the kind of candidates headed your way.

Startup Grind Team 2014

That can be a great thing, but too much monotony anywhere, (including this dream team you are dreaming about), is boring and uninspired. There’s no denying that being an entrepreneur is hard, and hiring the right team for your startup can make or break your business. The key to a great department, team, or employee pool is diversity. You know you should diversify everything else from your financial portfolio to your exercise regimen, yet diversification in the workforce often gets forgotten.

Here’s how to do it:


1. Expand where you advertise

When hiring for a new position, search in at least five avenues. This can include an industry-specific job board, working with an HR agency, Craigslist, the local newspaper (print and online), or hosting a job “fair” yourself. You want candidates from all kinds of backgrounds, with a smorgasbord of experiences, and a variety of ages and cultures. This means they’ll all be looking in different areas and have a variety of preferences—cater to them.


2. Embrace “hiring for culture” in moderation

Just because a person seems like they’d be a great fit for your company culture, and you may instantly get along with them, or they seem to share a similar vision, this doesn’t mean they’re the best person for a particular job. For example, if you need someone to manage your Raiser’s Edge software for your non-profit, what matters most is their skill in doing so—not that they’ve always had a passion for serving the community you do. Passion doesn’t make sure databases are error-free.


3. Be flexible

This means more than offering telecommuting options and virtual offices. It might also mean offering both closed office spaces and an open floor plan (even though you’re personally all about the “vibe” of open offices.) It could mean going above and beyond to make your space handicap accessible beyond what’s required by law. Flexibility on the part of the employer can be a great means of attracting a variety of job seekers.


4. Offer concrete benefits

The opportunity to “get in on the ground floor” and “gain experience” is going to appeal to a very small, narrow, and niche market. There might be value in these intangible things, but what more job seekers want (and need!) are concrete benefits. Think childcare discounts, work from home options, alternative healthcare coverage, or a free gym membership. Give more to get more.


5. Let someone else do the hiring

No matter how unbiased you try to be, you’re going to instantly judge anyone who comes in for an interview. You’re going to stick with your preferred means of posting jobs. You’re going to get stuck in the same rut. Hire an HR agency to do part or all of the hiring for you and rest easy knowing an expert is in charge. You’ll still get the final say, but without braving the minefield to get there.

Diversity is crucial for any business, including startups. It keeps your business healthy and prevents bias or nepotism from poisoning your venture.