The Pulse on Gender Equity in Seattle & Beyond

Launch of diversity survey for Seattle startups

SeattleMartha BurwellComment

Before we begin: a note from Martha.  Friends, I'm sorry I haven't posted in far too long! It's been an exciting year and my projects have grown.  I am not abandoning my passion project EqualiSea.org, and have some exciting posts coming up.  Thanks for reading, and for your support. 

Seattle is a very special place. Whether you moved here for the tech scene, for the access to the outdoors, or for the coffee, you know it has it’s own je ne sais quoi that sets it apart from any place in the world.

The startup environment here is also unique. Last year, I began my own entrepreneurship adventure and launched a small consulting business, focusing on diversity and inclusion.

As I learned and grew, had countless conversations over coffee, and met with dozens of startup leaders, the seed of an idea began to take shape in my mind.

I had worked with startups in the past, and had done gender equity work as well, but always separately. I began to realize—those two worlds needed to collide. 

Image  by  Eric Ringsmith  is  licensed under   CC BY 2.0.

Image by Eric Ringsmith is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

“Fixing” gender inequity once it was already built into the way we run our businesses, though not impossible, is incredibly difficult. What if we prevented it from gaining a foothold in the first place? What if we worked with entrepreneurs to create businesses that were not only profitable, but also equitable? 

As I began to explore this concept, I looked around to see what already existed. 

The truth? Not much. 

Yes, there were trainings. There were consultants, and academic papers. But nearly all of the existing resources were designed for established businesses, and didn’t translate well to startups. Startups move extremely quickly. They pivot, they iterate, they grow in spurts. Teams are small, and overhead is low. They value innovation and fresh thinking; they have a different relationship with risk. Much of which clashed with the way traditional diversity and inclusion training worked.

Next, I looked around for data on inequities in the startup world. I found a few national pieces, and some interesting studies out of San Francisco. But none applied directly to the unique startup world that we have in Seattle. Like our natural environment, the startup ecosystem here is complex. Many of our startups exist on the fault lines of ideologies—the drive to do good, and the drive to profit. Just as much as the existence of our mountains depends on the crashing together of tectonic plates, the brilliance and innovation that emerges from Seattle startups depend on the discomfort and risk that this collision of ideologies brings. 

And, as the lack of research showed, those fault lines are often just as hidden as the ones that lie under our feet. 

I wasn’t content accepting that void of information, so I reached out to Christy Johnson of Artemis Connection, and Ruchika Tulshyan, author of The Diversity Advantage, to collaborate on a project that would help us understand diversity in the Seattle-specific startup scene. 

Today, we are thrilled to announce the launch of the first survey on gender and racial diversity in Seattle startups. We’ve included questions about both gender and race, to gain a more complete picture. 

Whether you are a CEO or a brand new hire, if you are employed by a Seattle-area startup of 250 employees or less, we would love to invite you to take our survey. Your individual responses are confidential - only aggregate information will be shared. The survey takes about 10-15 minutes. Click here to begin

Lastly, after taking the survey, please forward it to one or more people you know in the startup world, and invite your colleagues to participate.  If you do not work for a startup, please invite those from your network who do. 

Seattle is a leader, both socially and in the startup world, and we’re so glad to have you’re help on pursuing this next great adventure.  

Take the survey here.