How do I get a more diverse population in my startup?

Since starting this blog, I’ve received a few questions and want to share them. I’ll archive them on the ‘Dear Su’ page.


Dear Su–Given that I don’t use interviews, job ads, or even really any top down selection process at all in recruiting for my startup – how do I get a more diverse population base for the company?


Dear DC–Regardless of your recruiting method, the key to getting a diverse population in your workplace is three fold:

  1. Craft your job description and qualifications appropriately.  When thinking about new hires, our default is to rely on past roles we’ve filled and finding folks who are most like us (in terms of education and work experience), but a new hire is a great opportunity to consider whether getting someone with a different set of life experiences can improve your business outcomes.  As you draft your job posting, think about the impact of word choice and if it’s a preferred qualification (as opposed to a minimum qualification) say so. For example, men apply for a jobs when they meet 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100%. allows you to run your job description through their algorithm so you can remove some of the expressions or phrasing that might discourage otherwise qualified candidates from applying for a job.  For more tips on writing gender neutral job descriptions, click here.
  2. Cast a wide net. Especially when you don’t use formal recruiting processes, its easy to rely on personal networks (which tend to be homogenous and reflect our background).  If you want a diverse workforce, you need to start with a diverse talent pool.  In most professions, there are minority or women focused professional groups you can share the opportunity with and ask for help spreading the word.  For example, if looking for a software engineer, consider reaching out to the local chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers or the Association for Women in Computing
  3. Take bias out of the selection process.  It’s easier to remove bias from the hiring/interviewing process than to try to remove bias from the folks making the hiring decision. For some quick tips on minimizing bias in hiring, click here.



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