It’s often said that two heads are better than one.
But what if those two “heads” have the same socioeconomic, gender and racial compositions? What if their life experiences mirror one another so closely that they arrive at the same conclusions or generate the same general ideas?
It’s no secret that diversity can foster the development of nuanced ideas and different strategies that may not have otherwise been considered. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a think tank on entrepreneurship, has long maintained that diversity — both in types of business and among entrepreneurs themselves — is vital to a startup community. In a recent report on how to “cook up a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem,” the foundation encouraged diverse participation in the community by actively including women, minorities and immigrants.
Despite such recommendations, Kansas City could still improve.
“When mentioning diversity, hopefully we won’t just talk about race, but gender, too,” Sarah Jones wrote in a Startland discussion on the matter. “It is very common for me to be in a room with ‘start-up’ people … and I am the only woman there.”
KCSourceLink CEO Maria Meyers agreed that Kansas City could improve its efforts to spur a more diverse startup and entrepreneurial community.
“We can do a better job of being inclusive, across industries, across all types of startups,” she said. “It is important that we use all the strengths and talents that we have in Kansas City to make it a great region. Like entrepreneurs, we need to find ways to reach out to new audiences, listen to their needs and find value-added partnerships that can make our city grow.”
Meyers, whose organization provides a plethora of entrepreneurial resources in Kansas City, said KCSourceLink recently prompted a conversation around how it can better invite and include diverse audiences in its programs. The discussion yielded the Multicultural Business Coalition, a collaboration among 17 organizations that will continue a conversation on diversity and develop ideas to help KCSourceLink bring more diverse audiences to its programs and events.
Others in Startland’s discussion argued that diversity was important to fostering a more exciting and magnetic community.
“If there aren’t new perspectives being brought to the table from folks of different cultural backgrounds and life experiences: 1) It’s boring; 2) new ideas are hard to generate; and 3) the best people will go someplace else,” Reader Suzan Hampton wrote. “Self-referentialism is a curse in tech. I don’t know how Kansas City can break through that barrier but it behooves us to find out, and quick.”