Building A Diverse Culture And Team

Brittany posted today about the first USV portfolio diversity summit. Last year we had forty-two portfolio summits all driven by topics that bubble up from our portfolio. Diversity has been rising as a topic that people want to talk about and we reacted to that by hosting a summit on it. We had 28 attendees from 13 different portfolio companies in attendance.

In Brittany’s post, she cites two important reasons to strive for diversity on your team:

  • Do you want your company to increase your company’s competitive advantage? Extensive research has proven that more diverse perspectives leads to more innovative ideas and better financial returns.
  • Do you want your company to one day serve millions of people? It helps if you know how different people in the population think. If companies want to last, they need to think about this early.

She goes on to outline how the portfolio companies are approaching diversity:

  • Getting Started: having the discussion, language, and online tools
  • Company Culture: embracing diversity, inclusive mission vision values, and performance
  • Recruiting: tactics, expectations, interviews, job postings, resources, and external organizations
  • Constant Evolution: Feedback, measuring success, training, and materials

If you are seeking to build a diverse culture and team in your company, I would encourage you to read Brittany’s post which she will follow with dedicated posts on all four topics in the outline.


Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Curious if there was some self-assessment about this, so they know where they were deficient, as it’s helpful to hone in on that.

    1. Brittany Laughlin

      Self-assessment for the companies? Everyone who attended self selected to participate.

      1. William Mougayar

        No, I meant to drill down into specific areas that they need to improve upon.Diversity & culture are broad topics. Typically if you want change, you assess where you are, compare to best practices/benchmarks and your own goals, then you focus on closing the gaps.

  2. andyswan

    Depends on your definition of diversity of course.Diversity of… thought, experience, strengths, weaknesses, approaches, lunch preferences?That’s good shit that can add quite a bit of value to your company.Diversity of… [anything that can be determined by looking at a team photo]?Who gives a fuck.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Lunch preferences? Not so much.

      1. andyswan

        sometimes pizza won’t cut it and you need someone in the room to suggest calzones

        1. Donna Brewington White

          Good point.

    2. Matt A. Myers

      Diversity of cultural experience and experience in general are ones that you can’t really determine by a photo, however may be reflective of visual cues.

    3. Brittany Laughlin

      Great point – diversity’s definition was a topic we discussed and I’ll get a little deeper in the coming posts.

      1. andyswan

        looking forward to it.

    4. JimHirshfield

      As the post above states…Do you want your company to one day serve millions of people? It helps if you know how different people in the population think. If companies want to last, they need to think about this early.So, yeah, you should “give a fuck”, because the way people think about and interact with your product in suburban NY is different than how they think about and interact with it in Miami…is different than Latino areas on L.A….is different than the Islamic neighborhoods of Detroit…{rinse repeat for everywhere around the world}

      1. andyswan

        I’d love to see some examples of what you’re talking about. Here are a few examples of companies that got global market penetration with a team of people basically all cut from the same cloth:UberFacebookDeath Row RecordsPappy Van WinkleFUBUAlibabaNetflixMcDonaldsFord MotorsBirchBoxI understand that you need people on your team that understand the market you’re trying to penetrate… but at the same time we celebrate companies/artists that “keep it real”.Create great stuff, I don’t care what you look like.

        1. JimHirshfield

          I don’t have the diversity make-up of all those companies at my fingertips. But if your implication is that they were all made successful exclusively by white guys, than I don’t buy it.What do I see in startups in Silicon Valley and NYC? It’s not perfect ratios, but I see men, women, straight, gay, Asian, Indian, Latino, etc.Look, if you’re just trying to make the point that one shouldn’t hire less qualified people, OK. I get that. But there are lots of qualified people out there that don’t look like me; and they bring a lot to the table.

          1. andyswan

            I don’t think BirchBox, fubu, alibaba or death row records were made successful by white guys.I’m wondering what examples you have where “photo diversity” was a factor in the success of a company… as I have provided several examples of companies getting massive global market success with a “cut from the same cloth” team — indicating to me (along with my own experience) that photo diversity is at most of minimal significance.

          2. JimHirshfield

            Yahoo, Google, Disqus, Facebook…

          3. andyswan

            LikeFolio is also extremely diverse from a photo perspective (not so much from a experience perspective)… but I don’t consider that an advantage… who cares?I have yet to meet a client that does.

          4. Salt Shaker

            Well, your “meet the team” page on the LikeFolio site is all white and male. Only sayin cause you state your company is “extremely diverse.” Care to share some percentages? I agree that quality should trump diversity in hiring but they don’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive. A blended staff can bring a different set of opinions, experiences, perspectives (and, of course, biases) that can be quite beneficial, and isn’t always transparent during the hiring stages. Never been a big fan of homogenization.

          5. andyswan

            Brandon is no longer with us. Michael (far right) is black. The rest of our team is either female of persons of color. Landon (my brother) and I are the only two white males. We might be adding another person next month… he’s a white dude.I didn’t realize we were so PC until today, TBH. lol

          6. Salt Shaker

            Andy, don’t go there! Calling yourself PC is killin your rebel image 🙂

          7. andyswan

            it was unintentional I SWEAR!

          8. LE

            What’s kind of interesting is that all of those “about” web pages showing the team (and the pets and how much fun everyone has) are directed at getting more applicants from people who would think it’s cool to be around those types of people and also to potentially scare off the pain in the ass bystander applicants “elders or gray beards” who don’t look the same way. Kind of like “don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle”. Where “sizzle” is having fun because you have cool and attractive co-workers.

          9. Jess Bachman

            Right, its not about hiring LESS qualified people. You should never do that. It’s just about widening your net to catch people who are just as qualified, but also bring diverse backgrounds and experiences which might just make them even more qualified.

          10. Dave Pinsen

            Andy’s point was that companies have succeeded globally without having the diversity of the globe. And he’s right.Here’s the top leadership of the biggest company by market cap in the world right now, Apple:…9 white guys and 1 white gal.Does Apple have Chinese employees in its retail stores in China? I would think it does. You need locals when you are doing local, bricks & mortar retail business. But you don’t need the Star Wars cantina to design globally successful products.Same deal with Toyota. Here’s its executive team:…Mostly Japanese guys, plus a Japanese gal and a few white guys. But, as with Apple, their retail stores (dealers) will look more like the local markets they operate in.

          11. JimHirshfield

            Your examples, as I expect most examples herein, have some diversity… so I don’t see how that supports Andy’s point.Additionally, you’re pointing at history and saying, look there’s no problem because these non diverse (ish) companies are successful. That doesn’t prove diversity isn’t better. Can a bunch of white guys produce a successful company? Yes. That doesn’t mean everything’s cool.

          12. Dave Pinsen

            Why do you keep coming back to “white guys”? Andy deliberately included examples of predominantly non-white successful companies, as did I, and yet you still hammer “white guys”. It’s as if your touting of diversity is just a cover for your hostility to (gentile, presumably) white men.

          13. JimHirshfield

            Not at all. Just an example of uniformity. Feel free to swap out for Japanese guys in re Japanese companies.

          14. andyswan

            I’m sorry if I misunderstood you Jim but what I took from your post is that having “cultural diversity” was of extreme importance for companies that want their product to succeed nationally or globally.I gave a list of examples that I thought did a pretty good job of refuting that claim.

          15. JimHirshfield

            My only point is that I think diversity is good. Good for company culture, good for “thinking outside the box”, and as a result (likely) good for company success. It’s not the end all be all, so I think we agree more than we disagree. I too am sorry if I misunderstood your comment about not giving a fuck.Hugs, Fist-bump, Jim

        2. LE

          Damon is sometimes squirming on Shark Tank when the entrepreneur pitching in the Tank is African American.

    5. Joe Cardillo

      Disagree with you here Andy. Obviously there’s a lot more to diversity (as Brittany notes) than setting a quota for the team photo, but thought/experience/strengths/weaknesses/approaches and even lunch preferences are often filtered through race, gender and other classifications. It’s precisely because of the “not one of us” structures (literal barriers, and otherwise) that the team photo never changes at many companies. I think the difference lies in making a conscious effort to say “we’re not doing good enough and we need to be present in the lives of [asian/black//hispanic/female] engineers rather than just sitting back and saying ‘oh we tried but apparently there aren’t as many that want this.” To do that, you have to engage in things like what Etsy does (… ) and sometimes that means changing the team photo, too. But I do think that measuring diversity by the team photo alone isn’t enough so perhaps we agree in that respect.

      1. andyswan

        I can agree with that…. making sure your door is open to all seems like a critical step in finding the best fit.

        1. Emily Merkle

          double upvote

        2. Joe Cardillo

          For sure. And here’s the tough part: making sure your door is open means doing things like thinking through/practicing inclusive language in-house and not just when hiring, finding people that don’t necessarily self-identify into jobs at your co but are an excellent fit, and being willing to invest time & money in training / infrastructure programs that will deliver great candidates over time. Those all take guts to do and are ecosystem level changes. As anyone who’s worked in corporate can attest to, just saying “my door’s open” is not usually enough, particularly if you’re saying it to people who’ve previously had very little access.An interesting parallel is a friend of mine who’s a police officer, he told me the story of when he finally “got it” after being frustrated that 17,18,19 yr old black men didn’t trust / want to work with him…he realized that for most of them the last dozen times they interacted with a police officer were probably negative, and that he had to reach a little further than he expected to develop a relationship. He’s an excellent cop doing great work, and some of the young people he has a relationship with are extraordinary and smart as all get out, they just were never invited before into meaningful work. Dealing in the obvious and absolutes are great for those who want to be right and don’t need to care about actual humans, but for the rest of us finding the best talent by opening doors and inviting people who don’t already have access is critical.

    6. David Semeria

      Yup, team photo = vanity diversity

    7. mstearne

      Diversity of “thought, experience, strengths, weaknesses, approaches, lunch preferences” all generally come from a team photo that shows people that don’t look like you. Your thought process, experiences and approaches often are at least partially shaped by the how you look in the team photo. Not recognizing that someone growing up in Louisville of a difference race has a difference experiences, expertise and knowledge of different markets than you do is shortsighted.

      1. andyswan

        Examples of where racial/gender diversity directly benefitted an early stage startup would be fantastic. In my view, it couldn’t be further from relevant.LikeFolio is visually diverse af but that was an accident of seeking out the best we could find.. It’ll remain the only criteria we use. I’m not lowering the bar for any quota.

        1. mstearne

          The point here is that companies unlike LikeFolio probably aren’t benefiting from the diversity of strengths you enjoy from your workforce. This not about quotas but searching out and finding the best talent and that is often not someone who happens to walk through the door.

          1. andyswan

            agree there. gotta look everywhere. Internet helps a lot.

        2. JoeK

          How about looking at it the other way. Any chance you could point towards companies where an attempt to include diversity into hiring metrics caused an early stage startup to fail?

          1. andyswan

            I’m not the one making the claim. If you want to claim that a visually-diverse team is an advantage, I’m going to need to see some examples, because based on what I see, it is neither here nor there, as evidenced by my list.I just don’t buy the concept that you have to be a single mother from Thailand to sell Crocs in Asia.

          2. JoeK

            But that’s what Brittany did – she even goes as far as providing a list of resources on the benefits of diversity. How about reading it first, then coming back with why you think they are all wrong?

  3. Donna Brewington White

    Enjoyed Brittany’s post and appreciated the thinking involved in the summit.I haven’t often seen this topic approached purely from a capitalistic viewpoint and this has great value.

    1. Brittany Laughlin

      Large companies have had Diversity programs for decades, it’s just a topic not always addressed in small companies. Having a business focus is key to get more things done and to dedicate company resources to it.

  4. Matthew Perle

    It seems that the biggest returns on diversity efforts would come in the earliest stages of a company’s growth. By the time they reach Google/FB size, improvements will only happen on the margins. Transparency in hiring for earlier stage companies like Lyft/Snapchat would be very useful, but there doesn’t seem to be enough external pressure from shareholders or internal conviction from management to release those numbers. Would be nice to see VCs especially push for this more.

    1. andyswan

      Talent + Desire + Work Ethic trumps all. Want to see an investor flip his lid? Tell him you’re now hiring based on anything other than those three things.There’s a reason startups go as long as possible before getting into HR bullshit like this.

      1. Matthew Perle

        I don’t think making an effort to have a diverse workforce and hiring based on talent are mutually exclusive. For example, the Rooney Rule has gone a long way toward improving diversity in the NFL coaching and management ranks, and I don’t think anyone would argue that teams aren’t hiring for talent/desire/work ethic.

        1. andyswan

          How do you think the NFL would react to the Rooney rule applying to running backs, wide receivers and kickers?

          1. Matthew Perle

            I’m not aware of a racial bias in how those positions have been historically filled, but if that were the case then I suppose it could be considered. There were other positions that have had to be desegregated over time:

          2. andyswan

            it’s not bias it just happens to be the people who are best at the job.

          3. mstearne

            Well in our industry VCs most often invest/talk to people they know or have been recommended by people they know/trust. That is a bias just there. The same was probably happening in football coaching. The people that might be the best at a job don’t always get the looks they could be getting.

          4. Matthew Perle

            On that we disagree. I don’t think there’s anything people do that is free of bias, regardless of how objective we try to be.

          5. andyswan

            you’re probably right but you should watch the NFL combine. Those guys are a number set by the end of the week.

          6. Matthew Perle

            I’m on Team Wilbon here – the combine is overrated. Plus I’m a Browns fan so I’ve seen the pitfalls of drafting based on impressive numbers. Or just drafting in general.

          7. Emily Merkle

            yeah. don’t completely agree with weight of combine either.

          8. Emily Merkle

            disagree entirely. that’s a generalization.

          9. Jess Bachman

            The Rooney Rule is about interviewing minority candidates, not hiring them. Increasing diversity on someones team is about widening your view to include all candidates, not just the ones the dominant and unjust systems push forth in their myopia.So yeah, I see no issue with the Rooney Rule for other positions.

          10. andyswan

            i don’t need a rule to tell me to look everywhere for the best talent lol… sad that some do.

          11. Jess Bachman

            Andy you are an exceptional person. If i could trust you with all my hiring decisions I would. But unfortunately we need such rules for all the other non-Andys.

          12. andyswan

            that or they just lose because they didn’t find the best 🙂

          13. LE

            This type of advice applies to venture backed startups spending other people’s money not the rest of the SMB world just trying to stay alive. In that world you want someone who actually shows up, does a good job, gives you no bullshit, and will stick around and not job hop after you’ve trained them.Also it’s funny how with those venture backed startups, the people working there are all cut from the same bolt of cloth. At least if you judge from their “about” pages. Not everyone of course but enough that there appears to be a pattern. They tend to be better looking on average or at least they seem to photograph really well.Then there is this, I love this type of thing, regarding Abercrombie and Fitch [1]:The Ohio-based clothing chain will face another challenge on Wednesday when it will appear before the Supreme Court of the United States to defend its decision in 2008 to not hire Samantha Elauf, a Muslim woman, to work at a Tulsa, Oklahoma Abercrombie Kids store as a sales associate—or a “model,” as Abercrombie calls the position internally. The reason they didn’t hire her? The hijab she wore did not comply with the company’s strict dress code.I love the fact (actually I mean I hate it) that we live in a world where a company can’t simply say “that nose ring is a buzzkill for some of our customers” so please get rid of it. Or “this is a no hijab zone” or “this is a no yarmulkah zone”. Has nothing to do with religious freedom to me either. We didn’t put menorahs in our window as kids in our neighborhood (and this was with my father being in the business of importing them!) because my Dad’s wasn’t interested in attracting (having grown up in an anti semitic country and surviving concentration camps) any negative attention. Was a practical solution to what he perceived as a problem.As always, like Jim Cramer, my objective is not just to educate but to entertain.[1]

          14. Matt Zagaja

            The company is actually able to nix the noserings, but the law gives more protection to religious practices, requiring employers to reasonably accommodate them. Until SCOTUS rules it remains an open question whether A&F’s practice is allowed.

          15. Brittany Laughlin

            Google’s video on Unconscious Bias has some great ideas on how to expand the talent pool that is considered. I think that step is one often skipped.Video link in the full post: http://www.brittanymlaughli

      2. JoeK

        Are you serious with this nonsense? Do you truly believe that talent, desire and work ethic are both so objectively measurable and sufficiently scarce that employee number 7 in your growing startup has to be your age, race, sex, have the same academic qualifications, the same amount of work experience, grew up in the same town, and have the same political persuasions as you? If your response to a woman’s suggestion that hiring based on ‘”diverse perspectives” is to call it “bullshit”, then it’s not hard to figure out why the list of ‘non-diverse’ startups that you so proudly tout does not include one you started.

        1. andyswan

          I never said anything about anyone having to be the same as me. Where do you come up with this stuff? Logic isn’t your strong suit, I see.Our company is visually very diverse. That wasn’t intentional nor do I see it as an advantage. We simply hire the best we can find.

          1. JoeK

            I’ll explain my logic. The article suggests that maybe you should actively consider hiring people that are not like you, people with a diverse perspective. You call that bullshit. Your magic formula is to focus on talent, desire, and work ethic, implying, whether deliberately or not, that those three attributes are in some way mutually exclusive with diversity. What did I miss?

          2. andyswan

            I specifically said that “photo diversity” as a goal is bullshit, but diversity of experience, strengths and ideas was beneficial.I have specifically stated that the color/gender/etc of a person has NO BEARING on whether or not I want them on my team. Get it? No bearing whatsoever. I don’t care about that. At all.

          3. JoeK

            I’ll quote you again.Andy —>”Talent + Desire + Work Ethic trumps all. Want to see an investor flip his lid? Tell him you’re now hiring based on anything other than those three things”.On the other hand,Brittany —> “Do you want your company to increase your company’s competitive advantage? Extensive research has proven that more diverse perspectives leads to more innovative ideas and better financial returns.”Who exactly was pushing for diversity of experience, strengths and ideas? At no point does she state that diversity is purely about color or gender, but that was the very first connection you drew, before calling it HR bullshit.

          4. andyswan

            I’m in agreement with Brittany.  I didn’t call her stuff bullshit.  Her and I agree that defining diversity is important.  What I did was attempt to do that, by calling a clear distinction between diversity of quality attributes and diversity of skin deep nonsense.I called “reporting numbers” bullshit…which was proposed by the commenter above, not Brittany.

          5. JoeK

            There isn’t a clear distinction between diversity of quality attributes and diversity of skin deep nonsense. If you believe that there are women, minorities, or older people that are just as talented and driven as you, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with targeting your recruitment to include more of them – in fact, there are benefits to it, some of which studies that Brittany links to, point out. You say now that you agree with Brittany but you’re on completely different pages – she clearly talks about measuring metrics, having transparency, sharing diversity numbers … all of which you call bullshit. It’s your right to hold that position, but trying to make it out that you don’t when you clearly do is not going to fool anyone.

          6. Jess Bachman

            So, as a thought experiment, would you have an qualms leading a company that was comprised of 25 white men?

          7. andyswan

            Not at all.  And you can change either descriptor to whatever you want and my answer stands.

          8. Jess Bachman

            Well kudos to your conviction then. ( ^_^)o自自o(^_^ )

          9. LE

            I think you are younger than I am so you’ve probably read about this but not experienced (in real time) the birth of it, but back when I was in high school and college this was known as “quotas”. In general large companies hired specifically based on skin color in order to have “diversity” theater. The perjorative name for it was “token” iirc.

          10. Emily Merkle

            and remember “integration” in public schools, when black kids were bussed in an hour each way to achieve “diversity”? It achieved pissed-offed-ness and tension. Kids were tired.

          11. LE

            Yep. And part of the problem with that was also that they returned to the same shitty influences in their local neighborhood that the white kids didn’t have to deal with. Or with their home life for that matter.

          12. Emily Merkle

            thank god it did not last long. there was major tension in my middle school.

          13. JoeK

            yep, i will do that for you but guess what you cannot go diverse in these fields no matter how much you shout over the top.The list below is a given so don’t plan on diversity in these professions. You might get scorchedSports – African AmericanMusic — African AmericanAcademics — American WhiteInnovation — German Business — JewsHardskilled labor — ChineseHi-skilled labor — IndiansDoctors and Medicine — Americans/Asians

          14. Emily Merkle

            those are massive and denigrating generalizations.

          15. JoeK

            No, they are not. this has been going for centuries together so there is no offense there. you will just to accept that as a fact

          16. Emily Merkle

            this is my non-response.

          17. JoeK

            meaning.. ?

          18. ShanaC

            Guys….stop being angry pissed at each other and talk substance

          19. Emily Merkle

            Shana, there are some assertions that cannot be discussed. Not many but some.

          20. andyswan

            Ya I got fairly close to pro ball but ultimately I just wasn’t good enough.  Realized that after about 16 min trying to stop Garnett lol

          21. JoeK

            see, i told you 🙂 you probably got boxed out of bball for life.

          22. JoeK

            same with Garnett. He will not dare meddle with you in your profession. in toto, diversity won’t you said, it is bullshit

          23. curtissumpter

            But this just doesn’t seem to be true. Research shows that people have latent biases all the time. Even if you don’t care or other people don’t care that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t register and impact your decisions. If you acknowledge your biases you can account for and work around them.

          24. andyswan

            how exactly do you “work around” your biases if they are latent? Do you have to intentionally give someone else in the “I’m probably biased against her I just don’t know it” an advantage?

          25. curtissumpter

            Well you have to be conscious of them. There’s a great article about Google and how they first decided diversity of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. was a real value add in terms of revenues and product excellence. Then they started using the data to figure out why different people weren’t progressing in their organization. They found that it was due to latent biases. They were giving people that fit a certain mold the benefit of the doubt during employee evaluations while others were being disadvantaged by evaluations which were the most subjective part of their promotional process. They concluded through expert lectures at the C-suite level that they had to be aware of their own tendencies to rate people they were similar to much more highly than people they were dissimilar to. This resulted in an increase in diversity promotion with no decrease in product performance. You have to pay attention to it. It’s important.

          26. Emily Merkle

            moving from “latent” – which is subconscious, to “conscious” – is a year on the therapist’s couch, not a C-suite lecture.

          27. curtissumpter

            But not according to top tech company executives. The top tech firms are putting a lot of money and time into this because it’s very important. Steve Jobs was half Syrian. Perhaps this impacted his aesthetic. If you look at design aesthetics from around the world different people see things differently. Diversity is very important. Executives are taking it seriously because it can seriously add to their bottom line. I would be very disappointed as a shareholder if a large company didn’t look to increase all types of diversity. Different people bring different cultural tastes and in a globalized world the utility of those viewpoints can’t be overstated.

          28. Emily Merkle

            I refer to bias, not diversity.

          29. curtissumpter

            But bias is the enemy of diversity. It’s the other side of the coin. You can’t have diversity and meaningful contribution unless you deal with bias. And it’s important to deal with. It’s a business decision.

          30. Emily Merkle

            and back to my point: latent biases are subconscious. They do not materialize into full consciousness and oractice with a couple lunchtime lectures. the subconscious is a tough nit to crack, and what leads to each person’s biases is different and often multifaceted.

          31. Emily Merkle

            your comment at 38 mins refers to dealing with latent biases in performance reviews. That is what I was responding to.

          32. andyswan

            All of that means nothing to me. It’s like HR puked all over my screen. Tell me, as the founder of a small team… what exactly I should be doing in the interview process to overcome assumed, unverified, unverifiable latent biases?

          33. curtissumpter

            First, having a dismissive tone toward ideas you don’t agree with based on feelings is so unlike any good developer I know. Great devs often are first and foremost logical. Don’t dismiss ideas until you can dismantle them empirically and or logically.Second, start with the idea that these biases aren’t unverifiable. Because they aren’t.https://implicit.harvard.ed

          34. Emily Merkle

            dress like Freud and charge $250/hour

          35. Agustin Gonzalez

            You didnt miss anything. Swan just got owned… you nailed it.

          36. Emily Merkle

            it’s in the interview, not the CV, not the pedigree, not the gender, not the skintone. it’s who someone is that truly makes them diverse.

          37. Emily Merkle


          38. Emily Merkle

            say that louder

          39. curtissumpter

            I think there’s a question here. How do you measure talent, desire, and work ethic? What does work ethic actually mean? Is it equivalent to effort or results? What does talent mean? Did you go to Stanford or have you built amazing products or both? Would Evan Williams a college drop out be deemed as talented? And how do you measure desire? Plus the evidence is ridiculously clear about unconscious bias. I’m not sure your clear concise answers actually are an algorithm that can be applied due to fuzziness or worse opacity.

          40. andyswan

            I do my best

          41. Emily Merkle

            all you can do.

      3. ShanaC

        I know of at least one very productive startup which would love to hire women and do care about some of this hr stuff. They are five people. Talent first obviously, but they realize this stuff matters.

        1. Emily Merkle

          talent first, but if you are not truly gender neutral you are acting with bias.

          1. ShanaC

            They are concious of it

          2. Emily Merkle

            that’s a fuzzy word to me, can you explain what that means to you?

        2. Emily Merkle

          then they can invest the time to recruit talented females that meet or exceed their perceived needs. but bias is bias, whether you call it “hr stuff” or not. works both/all ways.

          1. ShanaC

            They realize this. It’s largely about finding qualified candidates that fit what they want. How to find people is actually a hard problem

          2. Emily Merkle


          3. Brittany Laughlin

            Thanks for your comments here. In the second post, included reference to bias: unconscious and conscious, that was a big way for us to group our summit discussion.

          4. Emily Merkle

            no problem; great to hear 🙂

      4. Emily Merkle

        could NOT agree more.

      5. Joah Spearman

        Well I would argue that pursuing what makes investors happy is just as silly as pursuing diversity as an early-stage startup. If you’re making your users/consumers/customers happy, that’s the key. If that comes easier by having a more diverse team, then it’s a worthy pursuit. I’m a Black founder/CEO. My co-founder and first two engineers are white males. My investment team is very diverse. I interview two Black engineers, but neither could handle the risk based on what I saw, but that’s OK. It’s not about each individual hire to me, it’s about instilling the value into our company so when we have millions of users of all different backgrounds, we’re not trying to figure out what needs each different audience may or may not have.

  5. pointsnfigures

    Very good reasons to value diversity. Diversity for diversity sake is not a good idea. Talent wins. Yesterday I was talking to a Chinese businessman/developer. No way would I try to attack the Chinese market without someone that understood it really well on my team.

  6. Nathan Guo

    I think it’s pretty common to hear VC’s say that they evaluate startups based on the founders. Do you actually give extra points for having a diversity of founder backgrounds versus a concentration of skills?

    1. Brittany Laughlin

      I think the most common example of this in startups is the desire to have someone with technical expertise and someone else with business, design or sales fundamentals. Talent mix on the team is huge.

      1. Nathan Guo

        I mean I guess when I hear diversity, I’m usually thinking of gender/racial/other diversity rather than professional experience diversity, which happens a lot more naturally. Did I misread that in your post?

        1. Brittany Laughlin

          You understood correctly, diversity in race, gender, background, education, sexual preference, socially economic class, nationality all are part of the it. Your question on whether there are extra points for founder diversity vs. concentrated skill set, is definitely a yes for bringing different skill sets. We don’t bias on race, gender or physical components. We’ve seen there are advantages as a founder to serve a market you understand.

          1. Richard

            These seem to be very old school measures of diversity. Is this list outdated? I don’t see age in your list ? years of experience ? Number of failures ? Number of successes? Interests ? Personality type ?

          2. Brittany Laughlin

            Yes, age, experience, etc – I lumped them into “background” in that response. These were all things mentioned, thanks for pointing them out here. I’ll be a little more explicit of all of these factors in the coming post.

  7. Donna Brewington White

    And diversity keeps changing. For instance, a group of my kids’ friends representing different ethnic backgrounds is much less “diverse” than that same mix would have been 20 or even 10 years ago.

  8. laurie kalmanson

    broader networks, broader pool. if everyone you know is just like you, try harder

  9. Daniel Lu

    The tough part is often times getting both diversity and alignment. And actually issues surrounding alignment often show up as diversity problems.I’ve seen a few companies really lack in diversity because they can’t get alignment throughout the team without everyone sharing a lot of the same background (sometimes this background is they used to work for the same company).This shows up as a lack of diversity, but the root cause turns out to be things like non-inclusive mission values. Let that stew for a little while and your applicants/candidates start self-selecting into a narrow group as well. So by the time you notice, you are actually in quite a bit of management debt

  10. LE

    Extensive research has proven that more diverse perspectives leads to more innovative ideas and better financial returns.Are there links to this research? (I’m not seeing any in Brittany’s post.)

      1. JimHirshfield

        That’s just one article I found in 10 seconds. Just sayin’ you can look further if you want.

        1. LE

          I don’t agree. If someone says “extensive research” (Brittany, not Fred quoting Brittany) then they should offer links to the extensive research. They don’t have to footnote everything but they should footnote some things. Or at least mention at least one article or take a snip from it to illustrate the point.

          1. JimHirshfield

            Sure, that would be courteous and standard. But can you provide links to show where it says “they should offer links”?

          2. LE

            Glad you asked.You see I didn’t state that what I said was based on anything else other than just my thoughts and perhaps my opinion. And typically, my practice as well [1] I try as much as possible not to leave people reading, guessing or having to research. That said I’m simply writing a comment, I’m not an employee writing a blog post for wide distribution.In other words there is a difference between what is offered as observation and/or anecdote vs. if I were to say “I think that many people who do comedy have psychotic personality traits” vs. “I’ve read that research has shown that people who do comedy have psychotic personality traits”. [2]In a study in the British Journal of Psychiatry, researchers analyzed comedians from Australia, Britain and the United States and found they scored significantly higher on four types of psychotic characteristics compared to a control group of people who had non-creative jobs.[1] Q.E.D.….[2]

          3. andyswan

            he’s asking the king of footnoted disqus comments

          4. JimHirshfield

            #irony upvoted

          5. LE

            Why don’t you read my reply before patting ‘yerself on the back as I’ve already illustrated the difference between the two situations.Not to mention that all I did initially was ask a question “Are there links to this research?” which were there and both of us missed that (as pointed out by Joe Cardillo).

          6. JimHirshfield

            I didn’t pat anything

          7. Brittany Laughlin

            Added a second link at the bottom of the post.”For the full list of Diversity Resources, including the research mentioned above, you can view the list here.”

          8. JimHirshfield

            Yeah, I get it.

          9. LE

            Yup you are right. I missed that.

  11. Adam Lemmon

    I love this discussion! For teams that are looking to source a more diverse team with limited resources: AIESEC is an amazing global organization that can help you source talent easily:

  12. LE

    I’ve always thought that Google fails in the diversity area in a non obvious way.In order to get hired by google (unless you are acquihired) you have to apparently (at least as told in stories that I have read about the hiring games that they play and the hoops applicants have to go through) have a fair amount of intellectual superiority and have a certain degree of accomplishments that, let’s face it, are not typical of “normals”.As such some google offerings that are customer facing tend to be a bit more difficult to use and comprehend simply because they were developed by the best and the brightest. People that are to smart and accomplished sometimes have a problem seeing the world the way the majority of the world does. To me that’s just as important as the other types of diversity.

    1. andyswan

      Putting Google Wave and Google Glass in front of 2 normals would have saved them millions

      1. LE

        Perhaps there is a drug that they can take that will simply slow down their “clock speed” to the level 12 steps above moron.

    2. Matt Zagaja

      Agree so much, developers should see and experience the pain their technology creates in the real world.



    4. Brittany Laughlin

      I think they realized this and are making an effort to change it. I thought this was a great recap of this (posted further up in the comments too):

  13. Guest

    This past weekend I was a developer mentor in a Qeyno Labs ( ) youth hackathon in Oakland. Here is a little perspective on what they are doing to combat the diversity problem…… . Brittany they are holding an event this summer in Brooklyn that would be great venue for USV to support or be a judge.

    1. Brittany Laughlin

      Hi ‘Guest’ — those would be great resources to add to the Hackpad here:

  14. mstearne

    This past weekend I was a developer mentor in a Qeyno Labs ( ) youth hackathon in Oakland. Here is a little perspective on what they are doing to combat the diversity problem…… . Brittany they are holding an event this summer in Brooklyn that would be great venue for USV to support or be a judge.

  15. Joe Cardillo

    Since some folks seem interested in bashing Brittany’s post without reading, here’s where she thoughtfully references a ton of relevant research about the advantages of diversity, including with financial performance:

    1. Jess Bachman

      I think its too be expected and is also my experience trying to talk about diversity. Many just look at it like a zero-sum game and more diversity equals less opportunity for them. It’s quite easy to take a “everyone should be judged on merits alone” when their ‘majority group’ as afforded them all the benefits that led to those merits.

      1. Joe Cardillo

        Right, that’s a good point – the meritocracy argument is usually filtered through one’s own experience which is problematic. I also see that a lot in tone policing where black and hispanic youth are told to clean up language in exchange for fitting in, regardless of how amazing a dev / designer etc they might actually be… which is the merit that makes more sense to me in that scenario.

  16. Guest

    It would be interesting to see the diversity breakdown on the 28 attendees.

    1. David Semeria


      1. Dave Pinsen

        To see to what extent USV portfolio cos eat their own cooking on this issue.

        1. Matt Zagaja

          If the attendees were already diverse wouldn’t it render the utility of the summit rather moot?

          1. Emily Merkle

            Have we anywhere, today, defined exactly what “diversity” is and what constitutes “diverse” in an organization?

          2. Charles

            Not necessarily.It is possible that the attendees were more or less diverse then the overall breakdown of the companies they were representing.

          3. Emily Merkle

            again: what is “diverse” ultimately?

          4. Matt Zagaja

            I don’t really understand what you’re getting at, the Oxford English Dictionary has already defined diverse.

          5. Emily Merkle

            no, we’re talking tech 2015. What is diversity and why is it important?

          6. Joah Spearman

            You’re missing the point, unfortunately. Diversity isn’t a destination. It’s not “oh, 3 out of 10 of us aren’t white males…so for tech, that means we’re diverse so we don’t need a summit”. Diversity in this context is about pursuing something as a goal, an initiative, a value. It’d be like saying not to have a meeting about next year’s goals because this year went so well.

          7. Brittany Laughlin

            I like that definition. Much in the way that ‘leadership’ is a goal, not something that is solved and then put on the shelf.

  17. Brandon Burns

    If you want to build a diverse environment, *be* someone with diverse interests. Cultivate those interests. Travel and live in other countries. Keep close friends from different backgrounds. Eat the weird thing on the menu.*Be* diverse, and you won’t have to read articles that tell you how to fake it between 9a and 5p at your company.

    1. andyswan

      if in US a passport isn’t even necessary. Extremely different cultures are usually within 3 hours by plane or auto.

      1. Jess Bachman

        Or a few bus stops in most cities.

  18. awaldstein

    The only quota I believe in is hiring the best.That is the only way to win.I’m also very sensitive to the reality of workforces and the real world being mirrors of each other ideally.Good news is that this is becoming more and more true. Less so on developers but moreso in every other aspect.

    1. ShanaC

      How best is defined is an open ended question

      1. awaldstein

        Not to me.It’s up to interpretation of course as is everything but businesses create value. Really that simple.There are stages. There are fire drills. But at the end, its all about creating value for shareholders through a model that satisfies the market in a margin rich way.Business is an art and ambiguous is many ways, not by how you judge whether it is a success though.

        1. ShanaC

          Value for a business can have many diverse causes which is why resumes often fail. Probably the most interesting comment on the labor market I’ve read is here:

          1. Emily Merkle

            I love it. to make it more palatable, I would equate marxist spirit with game theory, and the goal to be meritocracy

          2. ShanaC

            The writer is the finance minister of Greece and one of the world’s experts on game theory, actually

          3. Emily Merkle

            awesome. the path.

          4. awaldstein

            Thanks for the share Shana.Truth be told is that how we recruit and the work of recruiters is the one piece of business that really hasn’t changed at all at its core.

          5. Emily Merkle

            there’s recruiting and there’s “recruiters”. big difference.

          6. awaldstein

            Do share the difference from your point of view pls.

          7. Emily Merkle

            Sure. I will not make a sweeping generalization, but in my 16 years’ exp., “recruiters” are what I call human traffickers. Little due diligence on company, position, candidate. Professional recruiters act as both the hiring company’s trusted and expert arm and as the candidate’s up close and personal interviewer and advocate, if a match is found. win-win is what you want, and recruiting done right is not a numbers game, it’s a best mutual match game. Those are the recruiters I respect. In fact I recruited for a major media company and in four months placed just two candidates – but they were senior, they stuck, and the hiring co. paid me well for it.

    2. Jess Bachman

      There two factors at work… hiring the best people… and where/how you find them in the first place.It’s like saying “I will only eat the best pizza… in this mall food court”, when the haven’t been to Antonio’s Pizzeria in Flatbush.

      1. awaldstein

        Yes and no Jess to me.Talent is everywhere. It’s marketing to me, creating the pull to get the best to want to be part of your team.Sometimes you have to commute it in, work it remote or move it to where the center is.I simply see it as part of one thing not really separate.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. LE

            You know back in the day doing something like that at a small company (and let’s face it many startups are “small”) meant that people thought they were going to lose their job. They would see a classfied ad and think “oh shit I’m going to get canned”. It’s funny how in the current day and age you can always be recruiting because the employees take for granted that the need for good people is endless.

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          3. LE

            PLUS NEVER KNOW WHEN GREAT TALENT BECOME AVAILABLE MULTIPLIED BY IT DEFINITELY NOT AVAILABLE WHEN YOU NEED IT.Hopefully, for their sake, the people who are being raised in the environment of money not being an object (or certainly less of an object) will achieve lift and success. Or if they don’t, they will be able to play in the same environment for their next gig (whether it be their own or someone else’s). Because out in the real world there is no such thing as keeping and/or hiring people in advance of when they are needed or even having the money to do that type of thing. In other words “every dollar counts” there are no margins to be able to piss money away or to make mistakes.MORE DEMAND FOR TALENTLike fracked oil my guess is that there is talent that is located in places that people aren’t looking. This idea that the only good people are the people that are clued in and talk the talk and walk the walk really doesn’t make much sense.

          4. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          5. Brittany Laughlin


  19. Supratim Dasgupta

    Funny to see there are only 4 comments on Brittany’s original post and the number is touching 80 here! too diverse! Oops. I too forgot to comment on the original post! Like everyone else!

  20. Matt Zagaja

    I think there are few assumptions I find strange after reading the comments:1. That anyone is actually hiring the best. I’m guessing it’s probably the best that you can afford, and that’s going to be an important distinction. I’m sure there are many arguments to be had about what constitutes the best and how to measure it, but in general I think it would be fair to suggest that if you are not in the 0.001% top salary band for a profession you have not hired the best person in that profession. You have merely hired the best person you can afford. There may be other ways to measure this, but I think salary is a reasonably good proxy.2. That the best people are automatically not diverse and that’s what is driving it. I think if you’re hiring it’s easy to confuse the easiest to find good people with the best people.3. Strongly disagree with @matthewperle:disqus comment about size and gains. One of the reasons large companies have and need to focus on diversity is that the larger you are the harder it becomes to find exceptional people, and the only way to find these people at the top of the bell curve is to make sure that bell curve encompasses the broadest possible population. This is no different than the dilemma faced by increasingly large pension funds having trouble finding investments that beat the market, because the larger the fund gets the more it becomes the market.

    1. LE

      “The Best” isn’t even the only factor. For example if you hire people who are “the best” then those people may not have the staying power and will be constantly being offered other lucrative opportunities.

      1. Emily Merkle

        disagree. for “the best” it’s not max about cash.

        1. LE

          You can substitute another feature for cash then. Lucrative might mean cash but a new opportunity could be lucrative or more appealing in other ways. The point is people who are really good get more opportunities. I think that needs to be taken into account. You need the right tool for the job not the best tool with features that you don’t need.Look, let’s take dating as an example (or marriage). If you have a wife, girlfriend, or a husband, boyfriend and they are “super hot and attractive” they will be hit on and given plenty of opportunities to cheat or to enter a new relationship. Doesn’t mean they will, but there will almost certainly be more of a temptation then if they aren’t “hot”.

          1. Emily Merkle

            the people who are the best are interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them. they don’t want to job-hop.

          2. Emily Merkle

            then properly gauge your oppty with the talent. it’s about the fit.

        2. Rick

          sort of. like they say, don’t hire the best ‘cuz they are peaked out. hire the hungriest possible. cash seems to be the least criteria compared to the challenges they impose on themselves.

          1. Emily Merkle

            you can’t hire “the best” because they are running their own companies.

          2. Rick

            running the companies by virtue of being the best ? not necessarily. there are plenty of all-stars on the street trying to challenge the best they are the ones that you need to look out for to make a difference.

          3. Emily Merkle

            well: what is your definition of “best”?

          4. Rick

            best is a relative term, it is not from within, neither from genes. hungry is an urge, a passion, and a drive to accomplish is very much genetical.the best’s are all sugarcoats, or so I felt.

          5. Emily Merkle

            I agree. being a geneticist and all.

  21. ShanaC

    Note that there are a lot of dimensions to diversity. Here is a unique example.…Here is another appearing in academia overall showing lack of diversity:…Gender, race, religion (or lack thereof), ethnicity, socio-economic background, education attainment, are often just starting points about how an individual thinks. You could be creating a non diverse environment in some cases while a totally not in others.

  22. Emil Sotirov

    Here is how they do “culture fit” at RunKeeper (”You’ll fit right in if you…- Communicate best with animated gifs- Like to argue about types of beer- Like to reminisce about your favorite X-Files episodes”======The biggest irony is that this is a job posting for a “Senior UX Designer”… for a product serving fitness minded people… 🙂



    2. Pierre

      I guess they’re genuinely wondering why they only have 10% women in their team.

    3. Brittany Laughlin

      A candidate may see this and say, that’s so cool!Another candidate who abstains from alcohol for personal or religious reasons, this says to them: “you will not fit in here.”The question is if the company knows that’s the message they’re sending or if they overlooked that external signal.

      1. Emil Sotirov

        I hope you notice how age defining is that message too…A candidate can also see this and say – hmmm… the (most probably) guy who wrote this job description has obviously no clue about the very active ongoing discussions about the lack of diversity in tech startups. I kind of think this (most probably) guy might not be, in fact, quite intelligent. Hmmm… what does this tell me about the company… hmmm… I probably don’t want to work there.

  23. Sam

    Talent is king. Diversity is a subset of Talent. Sometimes diversity (by whatever definition) adds to the talent your business needs to move forward. But it’s not too difficult to imagine situations where diversity actually slows you down.Diversity can be a blind spot for many people. Which is why it can also be a talent lever if you’re open to asking the question.But talent trumps all. Talent aligned to the task at hand.

    1. Emily Merkle

      outlier talent is what makes one diverse.

  24. awaldstein

    An aside but telling.It just pays to kick yourself and be open. Not to fill a quota but to think outside the mold.Case in point. For an investment in a kitchen environment which is really hard physical work, they hired a women who is completely hearing disabled. She had the experience and just something about her.Turns out she is a master–a damn Yoda–of Google Docs and beside her excellent kitchen work designed the back end of the biz off a shared drive that is just astounding.Take i for what it’s worth.To me it said–hire the best but be unencumbered about hat it means.

    1. JoeK

      Hire the best is such a misleading mantra. Simplistic as it is, the law of averages should be a good pointer. If you’re the average start-up, it is highly unlikely that your 10th employee will be one of the world’s top 100 in whatever they do. They will sit right in the middle of a category of people that numbers somewhere from the thousands to the millions. And within that category, you can rest assured that there are enough diverse candidates for you to find an equally qualified one manifesting whatever alternative metrics you choose to measure. It’s a choice of course, but one that has been proven so many times to be the right one.

      1. awaldstein

        People and their brilliance defy the law of averages all the time.Hire the best is the only mantra. Our success in building teams especially at an early stage is weighted heavily towards the CEOs gut feel for people and their comfort with decisions.Little else matters.

        1. JoeK

          A great CEO, a balanced team, a savvy investor, an opportune market niche and a timely idea are what matters – not a bunch of CVs.If little mattered other than hiring the ‘best’, then the VC model would be simple. Go look for four of the ‘best’, offer them each a 10 million dollar starting salary and 15% stock, then sit back and watch them build you a billion dollar company. Simple really ….

          1. Emily Merkle

            “best” is relative to mix, situation, scope, job at hand, synergy

          2. JoeK

            The best rarely exists, if ever. In the incredibly unlikely event that there is only one person that can get the job done, they will not work for you, as you have zero leverage as an employer. You can hire the best among a small group of individuals you considered, but you can be smart about how you come up with that list of alternatives, making sure you maximize opportunities for diversity while still hiring smart.

          3. Emily Merkle

            true. “best” don’t work for anyone. let me qualify by “best possible”

  25. Guest

    So where’s the data that shows causation and proves there’s a direct relationship between diversity and revenue?

    1. JoeK

      You’re asking this question after thinking really hard about it, and then reading through the post and it’s references?

    2. Emily Merkle

      in the ansence of such data, as none exists, you could argue that diversity of thought borne of diversity of experiemce and education would yield > revenue, dependent on situation of course.

      1. Nicholas Marx

        Thanks Emily. I’m also skeptical the data exists. I’m always looking for an edge to make me more competitive. I think most entrepreneurs are. But if I’m making hiring decisions on diversity alone, I’d like to be more data driven as my other executive and product decisions are…

        1. Emily Merkle


      2. Rick

        diversity as not in cultural background but as in academics is what this country needs. diversity as in color , race, origin will only spell doom to any economy in the long run.

  26. Nicholas Marx

    So where’s the data that shows causation and proves there’s a direct relationship between diversity and revenue?I could say that people with bigger feet are better at math, and “prove” it by plotting math test scores and shoe sizes of primary school students. But students in the 6th grade will likely be better at math than they were in the 3rd grade and their feet would have grown too in those 3 years. The data would suggest that people with bigger feet are in fact better at math.Can anyone point me to data that shows causation and not correlation between diversity and revenue?

    1. JoeK

      Prove it to a 3rd grader perhaps 😉 ….Maybe read the references in the original post?

      1. Nicholas Marx

        Not here to argue JoeK, I’m here to learn, and I learn by asking questions. I went to the original post. One of the links is broken and the other full text pdf’s you have to purchase.

        1. JoeK

          My apologies! The data could be a red herring though – go with your gut. And if your gut says it is not important to have a diverse workforce, then don’t.

    2. Emily Merkle

      it cannot be gotten when posed in such a general fashion

      1. Rick

        It is not gotten when we wanted it. It sure is gotten as we possess it. Diversity by no means is a key to revenue generation model. It spells more racistic than revenue’istic

        1. Emily Merkle

          just redefine “diversity”. The affirmative action movement flopped; I fail to see discriminating on gender either way as ethical…but keep an open mind there too

          1. Rick

            Like I mentioned below, as long as the definition of diversity is all about lateral thought process and inside-the-box ideas, I don’t see any reason to not encourage it. But if it is meant to please a section of a society, the tradeoff can be huge.

          2. Emily Merkle

            see andyswan 2 comments below

    3. Joe Cardillo

      I doubt that exists. A company is an ecosystem and in an ecosystem almost nothing, even revenue, can be easily attributed to one factor, nor is it the only way to measure a company’s success. Others include: properly balancing risk v. reward behaviors, looking at long term social and environmental impact, and how many people from a company go on to other ventures to increase overall size of that market. Credit Suisse did release a thing a couple years ago that looked at the correlations pretty well on this topic, though:… (and h/t to Brittany, that report is listed in her hackpad).

      1. Nicholas Marx

        Cool thanks Joe. When people say you should hire diversely (perhaps at the expense of other things) and provide that it will help your bottom line as the underlying reason, I feel there is something else at play, like they have some kind of agenda or something, just because you cannot prove that it does help the bottom line… So it just makes me wonder: why are they giving that reason as fact if it cannot be proven as fact? It’s all very interesting to me. Personally I try to surround myself with diversity because I can learn new things from people who are not like minded. Bespokeable is 9 people in 5 countries, but that is just an accident as we hire for the best person. Sometimes the best person happened to be a female…I guess I’m just for finding things that work and understanding why they work without ambiguity… I think most entrepreneurs are, as most would do ANYTHING to become successful, and don’t care about color, or gender, or whatever… I would hire a team of crickets if it made me more successful…

        1. Joe Cardillo

          I do believe it will help your bottom line, but how that happens is different for different companies. You may not be able to immediately point at having more women on your team as helping your financial performance but it may give you better decision making frameworks, which affects your revenue. And to be fair you can’t really attribute that in the other direction with white men who have trust funds, either…at least not on the basis of the work, obviously the existing access / relationships can do that but I’d argue it won’t mean a better product and that’s a long term problem.Also I think the reason people make the causation argument for diversity = revenue is because existing frameworks constantly reinforce the opposite, and that’s frustrating. Personally, my co-founders and I (all men, one is from S. America) have decided we want to look for candidates outside of our normal networks, especially PoC and women (we have plenty of friends who don’t look, act, and think like us but few in tech, sadly). We’ll hire the best person we can find but we won’t make excuses for not properly looking far and wide. For us it’s especially critical since we’re working on a location driven social network and we believe having a variety of perspectives when building it will help us deal with / avoid long term blind spots that most tech co’s have.

    4. Cam MacRae

      Congratulations! You’ve successfully identified multicollinearity in your model. You might remedy that by discarding one of the highly correlated predictors. After some reflection you choose shoe size. I mean seriously, what were you thinking?!You run your model again, and find that it explains much of the variance in test scores. After a few routine statistical tests you conclude that grade is a good predictor of math test score for primary school students in grades 3-6.You’ve now established predictive causality.Much philosophical debate ensues. The French propose an alternative model in which “grams of crepe consumed” is shown to be a good predictor of math test score but this is dismissed as pseudoscience.

      1. ShanaC

        A better way out of collinearity is to gather more data

        1. Cam MacRae

          Preferred. “Better” is very much model dependent.



  28. Arpi22

    I need help using the word sinuous in a sentence

  29. Emily Merkle

    If we are looking at diversity as a mirror of culture, and find ourselves biasing our hiring to achieve that mirror, perhaps we should look to the root cause of why that mirror does not happen automatically, and address that.

  30. Joah Spearman

    If the tech industry is reflected by the commenters on this post, you can see precisely why there’s a diversity issue in the industry and why it’s important to bring more diverse perspectives to the table. Does that mean quotas or affirmative action or a lower hiring standard? No. It means listening because you may not be hearing as well as you think you are.

  31. Chimpwithcans

    QUOTAS…….all good until they discriminate against progress…….South African context – hate them.

  32. Anne Libby

    Thanks, Brittany and USV, for “voting” on this critical issue with the most important currencies: your time, attention, and resources.

  33. Jim Ritchie

    Does anyone have any thoughts on how trying to hire for diversity (still not clear to me what that exactly means) may potentially clash with trying to hire for your company culture?I’ve always found that my best and most long term employees and co-workers bought in to the company culture and lived it each day at work. Trying to hire based on physical traits seems silly to me be it height, weight, sex, color of skin, etc., but I certainly can appreciate how diversity of thought and experiences can bring value.

    1. Emily Merkle

      superficial diversity in hiring absent of merit is discrimination. works both ways. I go with personality (team synch), experience as applicable and also diversity of, palpable drive, perspective that brings something new to the table. no matter the physical makeup.

      1. Jim Ritchie

        Agreed on hiring approach.If I had time I’d like to dig in to some of the studies that are referenced on the hackpad from Brittany’s post. The first article/study struck me as it stated that companies from the S&P 1,500 with “female representation in top management leads to an increase of $42 million in firm value” among other positive traits.Would be interested if anyone else has dug in to this study to see if this was just observed correlation or did the authors go deeper than that.

        1. Emily Merkle

          that is correlation, not causation.

          1. Jim Ritchie

            Yes, what I was getting at.

          2. Emily Merkle

            ay sorry i scanned over your last 4 words 🙂

    2. Brittany Laughlin

      I think defining company culture is a huge part of it. Culture should include your mission, vision and values. It’s also communication style.Serving beer on a Friday is not culture. Valuing cross-team collaboration could be part of your values.It may push you to consider that someone who’s not interested in beers on a Friday (due to family time, abstaining from alcohol, etc.) should be considered when planning events. So maybe you change from Friday beers to Friday morning bagels. Time for teams to spend together but in an environment that doesn’t exclude anyone.

  34. Brittany Laughlin

    I haven’t heard of that book before, thank you for sharing.

  35. Emily Merkle

    I have that on my LinkedIn profile.

  36. Emily Merkle

    I am diverse. Carl, do we cancel eachother out now?

  37. Emily Merkle

    whew. got a little queasy there.

  38. Brittany Laughlin

    What do you think of Google’s unconscious bias video? It seems to grapple with a lot of the questions here.…Not THE solution, but maybe directional thinking of where we trip ourselves up when we thinking about hiring.

  39. Brittany Laughlin

    Lisa Lee from Pandora, she heads up their diversity initiatives. Twitter’s head of Diversity would be great too.Any recently IPO’d companies that started as small shops would provide good insights into where did they start, where are they now, and where are they heading in terms of diversity initiatives.