Five Things We've Learned Building Inclusive Startup Ecosystems
Melinder Epler and Wayne Sutton present Change Catalyst's 5 Year Impact Report
Photo Credit: Change Catalyst
21 Nov 2019

Change Catalyst builds inclusive innovation ecosystems through strategic advising, startup programs and resources, and a series of events around the globe. Using culture and behavior change strategies, we convene and advise the innovation ecosystem to drive solutions to diversity and inclusion together: across education, workplace, entrepreneurship, policy & government, media & entertainment, and ecosystem builders.

In 2014, founders Melinda Briana Epler and Wayne Sutton realized the clear need to convene the tech industry to focus on solutions to diversity and inclusion. Melinda has a breadth of experience working as an executive and consultant with Fortune 500 companies, startups, and governments on behavior and culture change, storytelling, and entrepreneurship. Wayne is a serial entrepreneur and accelerator founder, who has worked on diversity and inclusion in the tech industry since the early 2000s. They began the work together in 2014 by mapping out the tech ecosystem, learning where the biggest issues were in diversity and inclusion, and finding opportunities to address each of those issues with Change Catalyst’s work.

Over the last 5 years our diverse team has built an incredible community of changemakers, worked with many of the top tech companies around the world, facilitated hundreds of conversations, logged over 1000 commitments to new action, provided key resources to create change, and catalyzed underrepresented startups.

We've learned an incredible amount from our research, our clients, our speakers, our community partners, our volunteers, and in doing the work every single day.

The following are our top five learnings:

  1. The Issues are Universal. The terminology and who is underrepresented is slightly different, but this is a global problem that we must solve together.
  2. Focus on Solutions. Problems got us here, solutions move us forward.
  3. Design with Inclusion for All. When we don’t, we leave people out and don’t fix the core problem: people, processes, and power.
  4. Companies Must Fix Systemic Problems. Bias training is not even close to enough. Focus on culture, systems, and products.
  5. All of Us Must Be Allies. In order to change the industry, we need to reach a critical mass of allies. All of us must be allies no matter who we are.

We’re excited to see the deepening of the work on diversity, equity and inclusion – going beyond bias training to systemic change. We can’t wait to see the day when opportunity in technology is universal, when products are built by and for the diverse world we live in, and when we all work together to develop technology that is ethical, inclusive, innovative, and builds a better future for all.

Take whatever steps you can today to build that future.

Check out our 5 Year Impact Report here.

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Antonia Ford

Diversity & Inclusion Specialist | Change Catalyst

Change Catalyst builds inclusive tech ecosystems through strategic advising, startup programs and resources, and a series of events around the… More