At Philly Startup Leaders’ 2018 Diversity Dinner, a discussion around diversity in innovation economies proved more urgent than ever, as the country grapples with soaring financial inequality and the rise of hate crimes.
About 200 people gathered at the Center for Architecture and Design on Nov. 8 to discuss how Philly’s tech ecosystem can become more diverse, inclusive and equitable.
At the event, more than 20 stakeholders — from Philly councilman Allan Domb to Amino CEO Will Luttrel — broke down their definition of inclusion during an episode of Shades of Success, a podcast from Camden, N.J.-based design company Penji.
Hosted by Penji Director of Partnerships Sekinah Brodie, the 17-minute recap gives insights into attendee’s concepts of diversity, and what some are doing to make their companies reflect that.
“One of the answers is to create positions and create mentorship opportunities,” Luttrell said. “You might not necessarily be looking for the role that a diverse candidate may be coming in to fill, but maybe you should consider creating one. That’s going to bring that voice around that table.”
Kiera Smalls, PSL’s executive director, drilled down on the importance of representation:
“When you don’t see people who look like you, then you don’t think it’s for you,” Smalls said. “You’re not able to operate at your best because you’re so focused on trying to assimilate or figure out a best way to contribute without sticking out like a sore thumb.”
Brodie, a grad of the Hopeworks ‘N Camden program, had herself a salient concept of what diversity means.
“Diversity means acceptance, responsibility, authenticity, and representing those without a voice,” Brodie said.
Listen to the podcast below:
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