Beyond the Gender Talk — Breeding Cultural Diversity in Startups

Why Even Bother?

Let’s face it: You and your co-founder(s) just started a new venture and you have a shitload of things to do — not least to worry about. When you have so many things on your plate, why should you care for something fluffy like breeding cultural diversity?

At PreSeed Academy, we recently hosted a fireside chat on TechBBQ Digital 2020 addressing that exact question and the need for cultural diversity in even the earliest stages of startups. During the 30 minute talk, our Senior Investment Manager Helle Uth picked the brain of Nicolas Blier-Silvestri, founder and CEO of Platypus — an HR tech solution that helps you measure what people value at every stage of your talent lifecycle.

Here’s the short answer: It’s a long-term investment that you, down the road, simply cannot afford to miss-out on. And here’s why:

Attracting and retaining top talents

Cultivating diversity in your early-stage startup will impact your hiring opportunities. In the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey, it showed that 19% of Millennials and 27% of Gen Z consider diversity and inclusion ‘very important’ when choosing to work for an organisation. Also, 69% say they would stay beyond five years in a diverse organization compared to only 27% in non-diverse organizations.

So, in terms of attracting and retaining that deal-breaking A-team for your startup, think diversity, because social responsibility matters to the younger generations.

Read more about attracting and retaining top-tier employees or watch our PreSeed Academy event on incentivizing teams and talents.

Diverse Teams Simply Perform Better

The main job in the earliest period of your startup is to develop and grow as fast as possible. Diversity will help you do that.

“The idea of diversity in startups is about creating positive conflicts. It’s about hiring people that think differently than you and make you reflect on what you believe is the right thing to do” — Nicolas Blier-Silvestri, founder and CEO of Platypus

His point is; if you hire an echo of yourselves, you will not evolve as a startup, because you will not be challenged on your thoughts or mindset. Instead, diversity allows teams to disagree in a positive and constructive manner and find solutions that takes into account multiple angles to the problem, making it stronger, well-rounded and optimized. Breeding cultural diversity will therefore make your organization better, faster and simply more efficient.

Also, investors are increasingly looking for diversity in startups because it not only lowers the risk of failure, it also improves bottomline results directly.

Investors Seek Social Responsible Startups

Times are shifting and bottom line results are no longer the only metric valued when investors look at your case. Social responsible companies are becoming more interesting for investors (and their investors) as well, why creating and executing a social agenda will more likely put you on top of the funding-pile.

“When fundraising for our own fund, we’ve been asked by our investors, how we actually make sure that we invest in socially responsible companies “ — Helle Uth, Senior Investment Director at PreSeed Ventures

As a startup, you are a blank piece of paper and can therefore be the change-agents that will change the way we work and live today. Adapting to the needs of the new generations and create workplaces that are inclusive and diverse is simply put required to attract top-tier talent and attract investors in the future.

What Is Diversity?

Too often, we find that the diversity-talk stalls on gender equality. But diversity can also be viewed in the perspective of nationality, background, age, religion, sexuality, behaviours, ways of thinking, values etc.

How millennials and Gen Z define diversity (adapted from 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey)

Some parametres are easier to detect than others and some are even outright against the law to ask about during the recruitment process. However, what you can (and should) do is to make diversity goals for your startup and define exactly what you have and what you want. Then, get help from experienced HR professionals to hire based on these goals.

PreSeed Academy was developed from a strong desire to make early-stage startups succeed. Building a business is without a doubt challenging. The good news is, there are many people who have already done it and that is what PreSeed Academy is all about. See all our events at



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