In search of Diversity at SaaStock4 min read
We built SaaStock on the premise that everyone deserves help in building and scaling their SaaS because it’s damn hard.
We are doing that by bringing together the SaaS community to exchange ideas and lessons learned for three days in Dublin.
In an AMA we recently hosted on the SaaS Revolution Club Slack community, Christoph Janz, Partner at Point Nine Capital, acknowledged the sad truth that “it is absurd that > 90% of the people in our industry are white males.”
We agree. It is absurd for many reasons.
One reason is that homogeneous groups will bring fewer perspectives to complex problems, the kind of problems that growing a SaaS business poses.
Another is that there isn’t equal opportunity for those outside the homogeneous spectrum.
Both are huge issues to deal with that have no easy solution.
However, we have to start somewhere.
This is why we are introducing the Diversity Stock – a bundle of three tickets for attendees of diverse backgrounds. Diversity that gives you a unique worldview, yet its very presence may have hindered you from the equal opportunity to fulfill your ambition.
We want to have the varied ideas that come with diversity!
First some facts
Most of us have heard the McKinsey numbers on diversity: companies with high gender diversity are 15% more likely to outperform competition; racial and ethnic diversity brings that percentage to 35%. When the diversity gets to the leadership, a 10% increase in racial and ethnic diversity will rise earnings by 0.8%; a 10% increase in gender diversity, will increase it by 3.5%.
According to Bessemer Ventures, adding 30% more women in a team increases profitability by 15%. According to a Stanford study, groups with racial diversity significantly outperformthe groups with no racial diversity.
Finding people with diverse background is not always easy. It takes conscious hiring effort. It takes even more conscious effort of integration.
Eating our own dog food
We have tried to champion variety in our own SaaStock team. We are gender balanced. Even though we are just six, our age range spans the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s.
We count Bulgarian, Finnish, Maltese, Sri Lankan, Irish and British descendence.
We are spread between 3 cities.
One of us was the first person in the family to go to university.
Our individual pet projects vary from mental health, through LGBTQ, all the way to animal rights.
We are brought together by the desire to help SaaS founders.
Tech products and tech conferences are the result of creative collaboration. Each of us has the talent, drive, and scrappiness. We add each of our peculiaritieswith an open mind. It’s what gives us the competitive edge and holds the potential for big wins.
We need that diversity at SaaStock too
As a conference, the first source of variety should be the agenda. A global conference with a pan-European heart, we need to dig deeper into other forms of diversity. We know our shortcomings and we pledge to do that for 2018.
We still have time to improve the attendee variety ratio at SaaStock 2017.
We do not want to do this by using minorities as tokens. It’s why we are not simply handing out free tickets. It would be disrespectful to them and it would be disrespectful to those who have paid. It devalues the conference.
However, people of diverse backgrounds experience bias and inequality, in funding opportunities, culture fit, and perceived notions. We cannot naively believe that success boils down simply to hard work.
We want to do our little bit, to help balance the playing field and create a more equal future.
We are acknowledging that fact in the heart of the Diversity Stock – three tickets locked at €499 each and bundled together. We grant it to any group of three humans with diverse traits, regardless if they are from the same organisation or not.
Seek out other minorities and team up to help make the SaaS community more diverse.
Those could be gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability or any other diverse characteristic we haven’t thought of.
There is no application for the Diversity Stock. We trust you will do the right thing. Get the Diversity Stock Ticket.
Diversity Stock is only the start for us
We are doing our best to make SaaStock a safe place for everyone that attends. We have a code of conduct that condemns any form of discrimination and harassment.
We know we need to do more and we are trying to work out what that is. We welcome your ideas.
From September 22nd, after SaaStock 17 is done and dusted, we will actively seek better diversity for the 2018 agenda.
We pledge to have at least 40% diverse representation on the stage and in the audience.
We will look for a more diverse pool of VCs.
Only that level of diversity will create a healthy tension of opinion that brings the best out of all of us and fosters better SaaS companies.
Join us and come chat to us. Let’s see how different we are and what magic will spur out of that difference. If you have any questions drop us a line.
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