Stop "looking" for diversity
There’s been a considerable furore over the remarks made by Sir Michael Moritz during his interview with Emily Chang. Then, a lot of media outlets went to town about the dismal representation women have in VC. There is a well documented understanding of an unconscious bias towards women in Startups as well.
A similar argument has been made about the lack of minority team members as well, both in VC and in Startups. However, I feel that you really don’t need to go “looking” for diversity, or “lower your standards” to find exceptional people. You just look for the best person for the role you want and make it easy for them to be “right” for that role. Startups are not looking to hire inefficient, substandard people or adjust with bad culture fits. They need the very best talent to succeed.
That talent needs the right environment to let them grow and thrive.
Which means you need to stop creating artificial structures, barriers and fake systems that prevent people from doing their best.
1. Top Down: Look for women as part of your executive team, or founding team Early in the life of your startup / firm.
2. Stop making rules to prevent your team from finding Work-Life harmony: Expect output, not input.
3. Build a mentorship / training culture no matter how Early Stage you are.
4. No Asshole Policy. If you see anyone disrespecting a team member, THROW THEM OUT.
5. No bad culture fits: The best team members quit silently. They don’t protest. Make sure you’re listening to what they don’t say.
6. Set clear expectations, then Get the HELL out of the way. If your team is delivering, hiring, and doing well, stop making it tough for them to perfom by micro-managing them. Stop looking concerned or worried when they have a personal crisis.
7. Be sensitive but not inquisitive. Make them realize they can trust you with issues and you won’t over-react.
8. Be FIRM with your expectations and do NOT do any favours. You’re building a team that runs a world-class business, not building a diversity challenge. Don’t hesitate to set high goals, and expect a lot from your team. But communicate it empathetically.
By Pranay Srinivasan
The writer is the Co-Founder and CEO of Sourceeasy. His company has over 50 percent women across teams in US, India, China and SouthEast Asia.