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Practicing what we preach: Diversifying Founding Teams (Part 2)

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Pete Schramm, founder and CEO of Lattitude, to discuss his desire to build a diverse founding team. If you didn’t see the first part of our conversation, check it out here.

As we discussed in Part 1, diversity in founding teams has bottom-line value for the business, but there is also an ethical imperative to building DEI into your start-up from the beginning. This is especially true if you are not from a marginalized identity group yourself.

The second part of my conversation with Pete focuses on how he leverages his own privilege to create opportunities for those who have been historically left out to create a more diverse founding team in his organization.

A Conversation with Pete Schramm (Part 2)

Victoria: What does privilege mean to you?

Pete: To me, privilege is the right or ability to do something from an advantage point, the opportunity to have larger access to something. A privilege is something that can be taken away at some point in time, and it’s something that we may take for granted at certain points. Privilege can most often time be in a positive connotation.


From AllyUp Lecture:

Privilege refers to the relative advantage you have because of some aspect of your identity. For example, there’s white privilege and male privilege and economic privilege and education privilege. Privilege itself is not good or bad--it’s neutral.

But the concept of privilege has been twisted in our everyday language. It’s been re-interpreted by majority members as, when being told they have it, that they’re supposed to feel guilty or wrong. Which makes them deny the accusation at all costs. “Check your privilege” has become an insult rather than a call to reflect on how certain aspects of your identity have advantaged you throughout your life. Which you can use to help disadvantaged others.

Being privileged does not mean your life has been easy. And it does not mean that you haven’t faced struggles on your own. It just means that your life hasn’t been made even MORE difficult because you belong to a certain group. You haven’t had to face EXTRA struggles because of some aspect of your identity.

Recognizing our privileges and the privileges of others allow us to identify opportunities to rebalance the power differential that exists because of not what some people deserve, but simply for who they are.


V: How do you leverage your privilege for good?

P: I love bringing people together and it’s my purpose. I have a gift for connecting others, inspiring potential, and igniting opportunities inside of people—to say, "you can do great things and it is possible."

I’m also 6'8” so when I walk into a room, I demand some attention whether I like it or not. How can we channel that and use it as a force for good or good in this instance? For example, I could proactively share the floor with someone else who is getting less attention. It is a privilege to be able to have the opportunity to influence and impact so many lives in so many ways across so many phases of the professional and personal development lifecycle for employees inside of organizations.

Let’s get people excited. Let’s bring the right folks to the table to help us help one another get to where we need to go, not just where others think that we should go. It’s not one size fits all and that’s something that we have to remember over time—a privilege for good must continuously be iterated on and improved upon.

That’s why we have our personal board of advisors, that’s why we have our external business advisors, that’s why we have the people that truly care about us and they understand what we’re focused on doing. We can work with one another to highlight the strengths and opportunities to do more and help one another flourish in and out of the office.

V: What is one thing you want possible applicants from underrepresented groups to know about working alongside you at Latitude?

P: It’s important to know that we are in growth mode and that there are lots of unknowns ahead of us. We know it is important to build this, from the ground up, with people who have come from various backgrounds and have had various lived experiences.

It’s important to know that the team is incredible and ready for these fantastic applicants to work with us, to change the way that we interact and engage in the workforce. We want to build a team that is diverse in terms of race and ethnicity, culture and background, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, and neurodiversity.

It’s important to know that we have an amazing opportunity here and we cannot do it alone. It’s important to know that up to this point most of us have looked similar...I’ll be honest without you we don’t have all the answers today, so it’s important that we continue to iterate and grow together and continue to have a culture of cohesive collaboration and inclusion.

It’s also important to know that we do not have a lot of capital to support large salaries at this time. It’s important to be upfront and honest about everything and all aspects and we can dig into more of this part whenever we have a conversation together.

Three ways to use privilege as an asset in diversifying founding teams

  1. Use your privilege to amplify the voices of those less heard and make sure those voices are both FOUND and HEARD in the recruitment and selection process.

  2. Enthusiastically share the value of diversity frequently as a person who is not marginalized to ensure that others know DEI is central to your organization’s mission and vision.

    1. As Pete said, “Let’s bring the right folks to the table to help us help one another get to where we need to go, not just where others think that we should go.”

    2. Learn more how to be a better ally by checking out our virtual course,

  3. Seek out different perspectives for ways to recruit, select, and retain diverse talent in the founding team of your organization.

    1. What local community groups, non-profits, and different professional networks can you use to find the best talent for your new start-up?

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.

Speaking of Lattitude, the team is growing! They are looking for a Full Stack Developer - see the job posting here.

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