Free Ways to Support Diversity and Inclusion in Your Startup

Amelia Peckham, the CEO and Co-Founder of Cool Crutches & Walking Sticks personally knows the importance of genuine diversity and inclusion policies in the workplace. Having worked in a selection of startups throughout her career, she believes that they do in fact benefit from being smaller companies that can act faster. Decisions can be made quicker and red tape is minimal so it’s easy to pivot and adjust as things progress.

Ensuring inclusivity means that you are genuinely supporting diversity in the workplace to create a more positive environment for all your members of staff. Workplaces should also be mindful of physical accessibility and make sure that the basic needs are met for disabled employees so they can easily move around the office. Remember that embracing diversity and promoting equality in a startup is not just about meeting social and ethical obligations, it’s also a strategy that can encourage productivity and helps to attract and retain top talent.

Embracing diversity in the early stages of your company not only fosters a positive work culture but also brings in unique perspectives, creativity, and a broader range of skills and talents. Not only that, but it can position your startup for long-term growth and competitiveness. Here Amelia shares some actionable ideas to make your startup a more inclusive and diverse space without incurring significant costs.

Visibility and Transparency

Be open and honest about your policies and practices related to diversity and inclusion. Share them on your website, in marketing materials, on your job advertisements and at board meetings. Let the public and your employees know that diversity and inclusion are core values for your startup. By demonstrating a commitment to these principles, you can attract like-minded individuals who appreciate and support your stance.

Language Matters

The language we use can significantly impact the perception of individuals with disabilities. Avoid euphemisms and embrace direct and confident language when discussing disability-related matters. Use terms like "disabled" and "disability" instead of dancing around the topic with phrases like "differently abled" or "handicapped." Recognise that "disabled" and "disability" are not negative or derogatory terms; a disability should be seen positively and the more businesses incorporate inclusion the more they will come to realise this!

Inclusive Decision-Making

To ensure genuine inclusivity and diversity, involve minorities in the conversation. Seek input from people with lived experiences, especially when creating policies or guidelines related to disability. Including genuine perspectives ensures that the decisions made are relevant, empathetic, and considerate of the unique challenges faced by the individuals you currently employ, and also those you hope to!

Actively Seek Feedback

Regularly and proactively seek anonymous feedback from all staff members. Create a culture that encourages open dialogue and empowers employees to share their thoughts, concerns, and suggestions without fear of repercussions. Actively listening to feedback allows you to identify areas of improvement and implement necessary changes to make your startup more inclusive and accessible.

Embrace Flexible Work Options

Adopting flexible work options, such as hybrid or remote working models, can significantly support and sustain diversity and inclusion efforts. Remote work benefits not only disabled individuals but also many others who may have different needs and circumstances such as working parents. Flexibility in work arrangements acknowledges that employees should be able to easily balance their personal and professional responsibilities.

Zero Tolerance for Discrimination

Create a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination, harassment, and bias. Ensure that your startup maintains an inclusive environment where everyone feels safe, respected, and valued for their unique contributions.

Promoting diversity and inclusion in your startup doesn't have to cost the earth. By taking these free and practical steps, you can create a workplace culture that celebrates differences, welcomes diverse perspectives, and empowers all employees to thrive. Remember, even small actions can lead to significant positive change.