Bootstrapping Diversity: Building Culture from the Beginning

By: Rachael Donaldson, VP of People. Culture. Brand.

The power and inspiration of the entrepreneurial community is palpable at today’s Coinvent/Pulse in New York, where I had the opportunity to share Zayo’s perspective on diversity at a workshop this morning.

Only eight years past startup stage ourselves, we understand competing business demands and the need to use capital to scale. So we approach diversity in the same way we approach many aspects of our business. We bootstrap, relying on our own beliefs, ingenuity, resources and relationships to bring our vision to life.

Rachael Donaldson 'Bootstrapping Diversity', CoInvent 2015
‘Bootstrapping Diversity’, CoInvent 2015

Our belief is not altruistic. It’s based on research that shows that diversity is a business advantage. According to McKInsey, businesses are one-third more likely to outperform your competition if they’re ethnically diverse – and 15 percent more likely to deliver better financial returns if they have gender balance.  We live in a global economy and deeply connected world – and It shouldn’t be surprising that diverse people can generate better performance by infusing ideas, products and systems with varied perspectives.

It’s important to understand that diversity is a composition, a number – an outcome. Inclusion is extracting the value of your talent  – being sure everyone is welcome, heard and understood. It’s easy, and actually natural, to hire people who look and think like we do. In other areas of our lives, we wouldn’t dream of being so homogenous. Do you listen to just one type of music? Read one type of book? Buy just one investment type?

We diversify – to yield a richer experience and better returns.

Multiple perspectives, fresh viewpoints and different approaches in business are the foundation for innovation, success and growth. I encourage every entrepreneur to think about this now as you begin to build your teams and shape your culture. Don’t wait. Marc Benioff is at the helm of Salesforce is now a vocal and committed advocate. He was once in your shoes. So were we, just eight short years ago.

My advice – Go big. Start now. Define a vision that lights up innovative hearts and minds and compels diverse talent to sign up for your dream.

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