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.

Join EqualiSea founder for a free panel on strategically increasing diversity in business

Gender Equality OverallMartha BurwellComment

Join EqualiSea founder Martha Burwell at a free panel for Seattle Startup Week with 6 Seattleites who are experts on diversity, and learn how to make your startup or workplace welcoming and inclusive for all types of people.

When: Tuesday, October 27 3-4pm
Where: Seattle Impact Hub 220 2nd Ave South 98104 (main event space)
Cost: Free! But you must register in advance via Seattle Startup Week.

Good for Business and the World: Building Diversity into your startup

Data shows that having a diverse* team is good for both business and social equity.  Yet, it’s something that very rarely just happens.  Our unintentional default, in fact, tends to be to surround ourselves with people just like us—to stick to our social circles. 

Entrepreneurs have the unique opportunity to intentionally design their business foundation and culture to be welcoming and attractive to many types of people. This panel will discuss strategic ways to build inclusion into your new venture, from defining core values to hiring staff.  Join us – and let’s think outside of the circle. 

*our definition of diversity is broad, covering such areas as ethnicity, gender, LGBTQ, age, background, socioeconomic status, and more.

Moderator: Martha Burwell

Martha Burwell is an independent consultant who specializes in sustainable project design and gender-balanced teams. She is based in Seattle and works with nonprofits and small businesses. She also blogs about intersectional gender equity in Seattle at www.EqualiSea.org. An avid traveler, she’s visited over 30 countries and lived and volunteered in 4. See www.marthaburwell.com for more details.



Elayne Wylie

Elayne Wylie is an event producer, educator, and filmmaker who trains business professionals in workplace equality. Elayne has also served as the chair of the Seattle Regional Affiliate with Out & Equal, Workplace Equality Associates, and is the current Board Chair of Gender Justice League. She is also a professional filmmaker, trained at the UW in journalism and documentary film. She has a passion for volunteerism and community service, and enjoys roadtripping the Pacific Northwest.



Matthew EchoHawk-Hayashi

Matthew Hayashi is the principal organization development and leadership consultant for Headwater People. They help brilliant people do transformational work and offer a variety of strategic consulting services such as organization learning, strategic planning, change management, process design, and executive coaching. His passion is to help connect groups to the core mission of their work through collaborative and innovation and whole organizational health. Matthew and his wife and children make their home in Seattle, Washington.

Elizabeth Scallon

Elizabeth Scallon is the Associate Director of CoMotion Incubator for the University of Washington’s CoMotion, which focuses on nurturing UW startup companies from innovation to impact. Elizabeth spent part of her early career as a Lab Manager and Research Associate at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and more recently held a position as the Senior Operations Manager for VLST Corporation, a biotech firm in Seattle researching novel approaches to autoimmune diseases.
She holds volunteer position as the Chief Operations Officer for HiveBio Community Lab, Vice President of Pygmy Survival Alliance, and is on the Board of Trustees for the World Affairs Council of Seattle.

Ruchika Tulshyan

Ruchika Tulshyan is the author of The Diversity Advantage: Fixing Gender Inequality In The Workplace (Forbes, 2015). Ruchika co-found a business in Singapore, where she's from and also led content marketing strategy at a Seattle-based startup before deciding to get back to writing full-time. Her articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Time and Bloomberg, among other media. Ruchika has reported from six cities across four countries. She holds degrees from Columbia University and the London School of Economics.

Eric Osborne

Eric Osborne is Co-Founder of Here Seattle a non-profit networking and professional organization for underrepresented minorities.   He is actively working with minorities and companies within the tech and creative industries to create more opportunities and inclusion for underrepresented minorities in the Greater Seattle area.  He is transplant from Florida by way of Los Angeles and is an avid  reader, reading at least a book a week.