Building a diverse team isn’t just about avoiding lawsuits

If you’re starting a new business in Austin, you have access to a diverse employee pool that entrepreneurs in other parts of the country or even the state don’t have. 

Hiring a diverse workforce isn’t just about avoiding discrimination suits (although that’s certainly important). Nearly every business can benefit from diversity. It’s crucial to understand what true diversity looks like and how you can achieve it from the start.

Diversity isn’t just about protected classes

Certainly, it’s crucial not to discriminate (or even appear to discriminate) against anyone based on gender, race, age, disability or other group protected under state or federal law either in hiring or in any aspect of employment. However, it’s also beneficial to have a diversity of socioeconomic background, education, experience and more.

One human resource professional notes that there’s a difference between “inherent diversity, attributes we are born with…[and] acquired diversity, ways of thinking acquired by experience.” 

Recruiting for diversity

Your recruitment strategy, both at start-up and as you build your business, can help you attract a more diverse team. Let’s look at some ways you can do this:

  • Expand your recruiting pipelines. If you’re only working with universities, for example, you may want to consider recruiting from community colleges or trade schools for at least some positions.
  • Use gender-neutral terms that will appeal to a wide range of people. For example, don’t use terms that are often perceived as masculine, like “ambitious.”
  • Consider using diversity recruiting software that focuses on qualifications.
  • Work with local and national organizations that represent people of specific races, ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientations.
  • Use a personality assessment as part of your hiring process.
  • Offer flexible workplace policies.
  • If you offer things like flexible schedules and the option of remote working, you can attract talented people who might not be able to have a “typical” 8-to-5 job.

If you’re like most people starting a new business, you may feel more comfortable with people you know or have worked with before. That’s understandable. However, that tends to be people who are “like us” – whatever that means. By moving out of your comfort zone, placing the focus on bringing in talented, hard-working, creative people, you can build a more successful business that will appeal to a broader customer base.