DEI Newsletter | June 2020

Startup Grind Steering Committee Newsletter - June 2020 

Who Are We? 

After the 2019 Global Conference, Startup Grind HQ formed the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Steering Committee (DEI). The DEI committee is tasked with developing initiatives, programming and identifying opportunities around the topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

We aim to help chapter directors understand how to incorporate diversity and inclusiveness in local chapter events to help foster a more equitable startup ecosystem using the Startup Grind values of connect, educate, and inspire. Through education and empowerment, we strive to improve how the organizational culture surrounding issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion are embraced and communicated to global partners and stakeholders. 

Steering Committee Members

What is DEI? 

Diversity includes how people differ, encompassing the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. Equity is the fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. Inclusion is the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate.

Recent Meeting

In response to the most recent spate of racially-motivated murders of Black men and women at the hands of White police officers, on June 9, 2020, Startup Grind’s founder Derek Anderson issued a letter to our global community declaring Startup Grind’s position of solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement, detailing Rules of Conduct and soliciting suggestions for how to affect change from our global community.

In response to Derek’s email, LaKeisha Harrison, Memphis chapter director and member of the DEI Steering Committee suggested we have a community conversation and offered to take the lead on facilitating this sensitive, emotionally charged topic.

On June 16, 2020 the HQ Team organized and set up a global community event with directors, to provide a forum for discussion regarding DEI as well as the #BlackLivesMatter movement. The DEI Steering Committee led and facilitated this initial discussion, you can find the recording here.

It will certainly take more than one conversation to explore how we as individuals, and Startup Grind as an organization, can find ways to address the systemic racial inequity and racially motivated violence that continues to plague the United States and elsewhere, but this initial conversation is a start.

Our goal as the DEI Steering Committee is to be the standard bearers for this and other topics around Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and we invite your input. We will have continued discussions and, hopefully with increasing input from our global community, devise ways to take action.

How do Directors Feel About DEI? 

Earlier this year, the following questions were added to the annual Startup Grind Director's Survey about diversity, equity, and inclusion: 

  • Have you done any diversity & inclusion initiatives in your chapter? 
    • If yes, what initiatives have you done? 
  • Have you ever used or obtained data on Diversity & Inclusion in your city?
  • What does “Diversity & Inclusion” mean for you? How (if at all) is it reflected in your chapter or your community? 
  • I'd love to be more involved with DEI Initiatives 

83 respondents were recorded. 

The Results:

If yes, what initiatives have you done? 

Some examples were: 

  • More than 55% of our speakers have been females. 
  • Personal outreach and participation in women's, minority, underserved, inner city groups and initiatives with open invitations to attend chapter events. 
  • Showcase and feature DEI groups in our events and newsletters. 

What does “Diversity & Inclusion” mean for you? How (if at all) is it reflected in your chapter or your community? 

The response was mixed; revealing that DEI is not universal nor embraced by all. 

  • Diversity and Inclusion mean[s] creating an working environment of persons (especially females) from backgrounds that tend to shows that they are welcomed and can all work towards achieving a common goal. 
  • I don’t know what it is.
  • It’s a state of mind. I don’t see ‘colour’. 
  • Overheated topic for people with low self esteem.
  • This means that we are able to bring everyone on board and that they feel that they are part of the community...
  • It means to include and welcome all type of entrepreneurs, startups, and speakers irregardless of their sex, race, financial background, and citizenship...
  • Including different religions, disability and people.
  • Include un[under]served communities or social sectors.


There is still work to be done in our organization regarding attitudes and activities surrounding DEI. 

As a global community, DEI has many implications. As a committee we will work with and engage directors to understand how to navigate the different cultures and norms that currently exist in their city or country regarding DEI. 

What's Next 

  • Expanding the committee to include more international voices. 
  • Events featuring panels, workshops, and speakers on DEI topics for directors. 
  • Fun initiatives and challenges to increase DEI activity among directors. 
  • Continue to gather data and use it to guide director training and development as well as Startup Grind program development. 

Contact Us! 

If you have questions, suggestions, or want to be more involved, contact us at