Europe’s tech startup scene is coming into its own – and Silicon Valley is struggling to keep up.
According to a report by investment firm Atomico, 69 European startups went public between January and September this year. Across the pond, that figure was just 28. In the same period, share prices of European startups increased by 222%, compared to a 42% rise for US companies.
The research also identified 17 new unicorns (companies valued at $1 billion or more) in Europe this year. That was double the amount that emerged in 2017!
However, despite all the investment in European tech, not everyone is benefitting from this boom. Findings from The State of European Tech 2018 report reveal a “shocking” lack of diversity across Europe’s startup sector; 93% of all funds raised this year went to all-male founding teams. Meanwhile, just 6% of larger startups had a female chief executive, and 80% of chief marketing officers and chief financial officers roles (often held by women) were held by men.
The report also revealed there is a problem in terms of awareness of the situation. Almost half of those questioned believed the tech industry was already inclusive. More than half of black, African and Caribbean respondents said they had experienced discrimination based on their ethnicity.
Let’s be clear, building a diverse company – whatever the size – is not easy. But, if companies focus on taking relatively small actions, progress can be made.
If you are serious about fostering diversity at your startup, here are three steps you can take to get you started.
1. Be brutally honest with yourselves
When you start a conversation about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, you need to be as objective as possible. Ask yourself key questions – and be honest in your answers.
How diverse were your five most recent promotions or hires? Who are you rewarding and recognising? Was there any commonality in the background or circumstances of the last five people to leave the company?
2. Be loud and proud about your commitment to diversity
If you are building a more diverse team, let people know. That could be case studies of employees who consider themselves in the minority (e.g parents of young children, workers aged 50-plus, or anyone who didn’t follow a ‘traditional’ education pathway), blog posts highlighting diversity issues, or supporting local diversity meetups. Think about the message portrayed by the imagery you use on your website, too.
3. Stamp out unconscious bias
Hiring the right people is essential to success, however startups often spend little time, resource and effort to ensure their recruitment processes and decisions are consistent and objective. Whether we admit it or not, we’re all unconsciously biased about the world around us.
The challenge is minimising the impact of that bias. Hiring people who are ‘just like you’ will create a monoculture, and creativity levels will suffer. Train staff to get better at interviewing candidates, provide tailored interview kits and insist on consistency in the interviewing process.
Setting yourself small goals and chipping away at the challenge will soon place diversity at the heart of your company. This is a long-term commitment and needs to come from a genuine desire to make a difference. After all, this is about celebrating talent, diversity and difference.
If you would like to make your recruitment processes more diverse and find talent that will help your startup grow, get in touch with our team today.