Diversity is quite the topic in tech. Not only since yesterday is the problem of this field being driven by white male middle class kids in discussion. But when I talk to fellow founders of startups they are looking at their own "startup culture" and find that "not many people fit" their culture and that way justify not hiring in a more diverse style. But they got it all backwards, because if the culture isn’t based on diversity it is going to fail them in the long run.
Why do we want diversity?
A question barely looked at by those leading the discussion. But the question is raised, for e.g. by an honestly unknown or young person, the answer usually is about privilege and power. And while those are true there is a really simple case we teach kids in the 6th grade to explain why diversity is part of nature and serves an important benefit: the example of the forest.
In 6th grade we explain kids a very simple principle of nature: if you run a forest as a mono culture - meaning you grown only one type of tree for example for goal of higher output of wood and chop down everything else, it is much more vulnerable for infections and parasites. As they are only surrounded by other hosts, infections can spread easily, go wide and fast and within weeks can destroy the entire forest. But the more diverse the longer it takes for infections to spread and the less like it is that one infection can kill your entire forest as not everthing is a host. Diversity is a natural barrier for infections and that is why you always want a diverse set of plants and trees. It is just to risky to run your forrest in any other way.
Why is that relevant for company culture?
The same is true for company cultures. If you only recruit with the focus on throughput you create a mono-culture of very like-minded and one-direction phasing individuals. In such a company which is missing cultural diversity, you are much more likely to convince everyone of certain things but won’t find any ground for other things. Allowing bad habits and trends - the “infections” of culture - to catch on much quicker and wider. And standing up against it just becomes this much harder and those few having an opposite opinion will drop out making the company culture even more narrow. Until one trend comes along that makes the whole company stir blindly into the wrong direction and run against a wall full speed.
Instead nurture a company culture of questioning, not only the status quo but also upcoming trends, and make sure that your employees are of diverse cultures and background from early on. Make speaking up a core value and don’t rest when you here someone quit or was fired because “they didn’t fit to the culture” (any more). You narrow your culture, are more exposed and less secured against bad habits. A diverse company is the only way to make sure that even if a bad trend comes along, it does not cost you the entire operation. Oh and diverse teams are proven to be better to communicate internally and externally and make the better decisions, too.