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Practicing what we Preach: Diversifying Founding Teams (Part 1)

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Peter Schramm, founder and CEO of the employee connection, wellbeing, and mentorship software, Lattitude, to discuss his desire to build a diverse founding team. Executive-level diversity is a core value for us here at Mattingly—a principle that we’re proud to represent and help our clients achieve.

We know that it is easier to build diversity into the foundation of an organization if it is done from the start. This is especially true for start-ups, who are in a particularly advantageous position to embed DEI from the get-go, as they are more agile and in high-growth mode compared to their larger and more established counterparts.

Startups have much to gain by getting DEI right from the onset, including:

Pete is a great example of a CEO trying to get diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) right from the start. See our conversation below for more on how to commit to DEI at the outset:

A Conversation about Diversifying Executive Teams (Part 1)

Dr. V: Why do you want to grow your founding team?

Pete: “If you want to go fast you go alone, if you want to go far you go together.”

We are scaling together so that we can provide the value our customers and partners need, the customers of today and the customers of tomorrow. I am not able to do all of this work on my own and I only have so many thoughts and ideas and perspectives to contribute to this effort.

There’s also a strategic need to build the team and expand beyond the current team that we have to reduce risk and provide more value to our customers and partners. It is also fun to work with a large team and although we’re not going to be a large team today, tomorrow, or next week - step-by-step growth shows continuous progress towards getting to a larger team. It’s fun being with great people growing together.

V: Why is diversity at the founding/executive level important to you?

P: We are what we repeatedly do and it’s important to walk the walk and talk the talk. If we’re going to continue working with organizations of all sizes and employees of all kinds of backgrounds, we need to show that we are also taking diversity into consideration throughout the entirety of our business lifecycle, which includes the building side of things.

As we continue to grow, we will be able to access more resources to do this more efficiently and effectively - let’s face it, not every situation and job function is the best fit based on financial opportunity and timing with everybody else that could participate in it. Diversity comes in all shapes and sizes and sometimes we cannot see it with our eyes.

Having diversity at the founder and executive level is important because it helps us get better as a business and in doing so, we can provide more value to our customers. This means proactively including people of diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds, people of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expression, neurodiverse people and people of different abilities, and people of both religious and non-religious backgrounds. This is what matters at the end of the day.

Three ways to diversify founding teams

Pete provides a great example of a founder looking to diversify his team of executives. How can you do the same?

  1. Build diversity and inclusion into your mission, vision, and values to show potential co-founders that these are core values of your organization.

    1. As Pete said “we need to show that we are also taking diversity into consideration throughout the entirety of our business lifecycle, which includes the building side of things.”

  2. Consider where jobs are being posted for recruiting new employees. What is the demographic make-up of the different talent pools? Is the organization’s hiring process structured so that there is a representative pool of applicants before moving onto the next stage of the interview process?

  3. Be sure to consider how your organization will retain top talent once they are selected—especially those who belong to underrepresented and historically disadvantaged groups.

Hear Dr. V, Pete, and Mattingly’s co-founder, Sertrice Grice in action by checking out this podcast.

Looking to attract and retain your diverse talent at your organization? Contact Mattingly Solutions to learn more about how we can become your trusted partner, helping you create a more inclusive workplace. Together.


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