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2024 Startups 100 | Variety, Fairness, & Inclusion Award + Shortlist

2024 Startups 100 | Variety, Fairness, & Inclusion Award + Shortlist 

Defining Variety, Fairness, and Inclusion (DEI) inside an organisation is a bit like attempting to make sense of an optical phantasm. What it seems to be like differs relying on the distinctive make-up of your workforce, and the attitude you convey as chief.

Whereas we would discuss in regards to the UK ‘workforce’ as a collective, we can not overlook that this 30-million-strong group presents a kaleidoscope of backgrounds and experiences, requiring fixed adaptation and adaptability. That’s why agile and enterprising startups are main the cost to embrace rising DEI frontiers like neurodiversity.

We’re highlighting those that are doing it greatest with our specialist DEI award, granted as a part of this 12 months’s Startups 100 index. In collaboration with our professional visitor decide Danielle Bowman, the group rigorously evaluated the DEI insurance policies of every featured enterprise.

Our high 5 shortlisted firms are setting the usual for DEI excellence, making certain each particular person they make use of and encounter feels valued, revered, and empowered. Discover out extra about these pioneering startups, and what they imply for the way forward for folks administration.

Juggling a cane, smartphone, and suitcase on the airport, WeWALK co-founder Kursat Ceylan – who was born blind – tripped and fell over a pole. He realised that know-how had superior a lot, but the normal white cane for the visually impaired was unchanged.

That epiphany sparked the delivery of WEWALK. Its product, launched in 2019, is a tech-enabled cane that pairs with a smartphone app to make navigation simpler, safer, and extra accessible for the visually impaired.

WEWALK’s sensible cane goes past the constraints of a standard white cane, detecting above-ground obstacles {that a} typical cane misses. It gives voice navigation prompts, retains customers up to date on bus and prepare timings, and even has an exploration mode that says close by factors of curiosity like eating places.

Named Amazon’s Startup of the 12 months and a TIME Finest Invention, WeWALK exemplifies the Tech for Good ethos. Placing the ‘E’ in DEI, it has additionally launched a fundraising marketing campaign to supply canes to those that can not afford superior {hardware}.

What did Danielle Bowman should say? 

“WeWALK’s mission to develop applied sciences for the total and equal participation of greater than 250 million visually impaired folks worldwide in social life is unbelievable,” Bowman enthuses.

“It has not solely proven a dedication to DEI in its product but in addition in constructing a group and firm that’s inclusive of each sighted and blind members, and spectacular testimonials displaying a transparent impression on folks’s high quality of life. An admirable mission.”


Frobelles all started with a easy query from a six-year-old Alyssa, who could not discover a single recreation character with Afro hair like hers. Sparked by this realisation, she and her Mum got down to create a gaming expertise that celebrated the sweetness and variety of Afro hair.

Frobelles is a celebration of Afro hair and a platform for youths to specific their distinctive identities. Coco, Kelli, and Krista, the sport’s digital fashionistas, sport beautiful Afro hairstyles that may be styled in quite a lot of methods, from puffy twists to intricate braids.

However at 100,000 downloads, Frobelles isn’t only a recreation; it is a thriving neighborhood the place empowerment and sisterhood reign. Now 11 years outdated, Alyssa (who we additionally nominated for our Younger Entrepreneur award) and her Mum are inspiring youngsters worldwide.

Bowman picks out Alyssa’s involvement as key to the model’s DEI aspirations. “Frobelle’s is a good mission in attempting to sort out the dearth of inclusion within the gaming trade in the case of Black feminine illustration. In having Alyssa concerned, they’ll create genuine content material that’s worthwhile to their audience,” she assesses.

SHORTLISTED – Postpartum Plan Ltd.

Balancing each parenthood and a demanding profession can really feel like a high-wire act with no web. In reality, 75% of oldsters report feeling overwhelmed and careworn when returning to work after childbirth. That is the place Postpartum Plan is available in.

Providing a digital village of help for brand spanking new mother and father, Postpartum Plan is the primary of its variety to increase its providers and assets to all, no matter birthing standing. Whether or not you are a birthing mum or dad, non-birthing mum or dad, or embarking on the journey of adoption or surrogacy, the startup ensures that everybody’s wants are met.

In contrast to different worker advantages that always give attention to equality, Postpartum Plan prioritises fairness. It gives 5 pillars of postpartum help, tailoring the expertise to every mum or dad’s distinctive wants, not the dictates of society.

Bowman evaluates Postpartum Plan as a “actually nice mission with clear targets to sort out an issue that many don’t speak about or that always will get forgotten.” She applauds the model for its measures to stay inclusive for all mother and father.


Within the UK, ladies retire with 40% lower than their male counterparts. That is not only a statistic; it is a actuality that is holding ladies again from monetary independence. Enter Propelle, a mission-driven fintech startup decided to shut the gender wealth hole.

Founder Ayesha Ofori, a former Goldman Sachs banker, left the company world behind, feeling unfulfilled by the pursuit of wealth for the already rich. She knew there was a greater means to make use of her experience, one that would make an actual distinction within the lives of girls.

Born out of this conviction, Propelle is revolutionising the funding panorama, breaking down obstacles which have historically saved ladies from gaining full monetary management. In a single 12 months, it has developed a thriving beta platform with 6,000+ signal ups, serving to ladies workers take cost of their funds at main organisations like Google and GiffGaff.

Bowman commends Propelle’s “admirable mission in serving to to shut the gender pay and wealth hole.” She particularly praises the agency’s supporting DEI supplies, reminiscent of its firm ideas, for demonstrating “that the product is efficient and aligns with their DEI values.”


Inexperienced big UNDO Carbon makes use of revolutionary enhanced rock weathering know-how to dramatically speed up the method of carbon seize. However UNDO is not only about saving the planet. It’s also about empowering folks.

Recruitment is a key space of focus for UNDO’s DEI efforts. It employs an inside device to trace hiring and prepare managers on unconscious biases, and likewise works with recruiters who concentrate on discovering various candidates – one purpose it now has 40% ladies in management positions towards a tech common of 28%.

Working in communities throughout the mining and farming industries, UNDO places relationships first. Native farmers usually function on skinny margins, so UNDO gives them with free, nutrient-rich silicate rock to unfold on the land. It additionally hires domestically, and is dedicated to giving rural farming communities a say in how its tasks are designed and applied.

“The mission is nice in attempting to cut back CO2 and make our planet liveable,” Bowman praises. “Dedication to serving to the native communities they work with suggests UNDO is attempting to create a extra equitable future for staff. Its gender range can be spectacular.”

SHORTLISTED – Zero Gravity

Rising up in West Yorkshire in a single-parent household, Joe Seddon skilled firsthand the challenges confronted by people from low-opportunity backgrounds. Impressed, he got down to begin Zero Gravity, a tech startup that is rewriting the principles of social mobility.

Zero Gravity is a launchpad for top-performing college students in deprived areas, offering mentoring, masterclasses, and scholarships to propel them into high universities and careers. By way of strategic partnerships with companies like HSBC, it has harnessed know-how to pair college students with graduate mentors, skyrocketing their possibilities of securing work placements.

Having already partnered with over 500 state colleges, Zero Gravity captures a big 20% market share. In simply three years, it’s already main the motion to show that with the fitting help, anybody can obtain greatness.

“Zero Gravity is tackling a systemic downside that wants addressing,” Bowman assesses. “It’s a superb mission that impacts a large group of individuals from all walks of life.” Her conclusion? “Zero Gravity is a enterprise with a far-reaching impression and information to again it up.”

2023 has been a tough 12 months for companies. Disaster has piled onto disaster, as power challenges triggered inflation which pushed up the price of dwelling to untenable charges for customers and enterprise homeowners alike.

This example is forcing companies to make powerful choices, and a few are deprioritising DEI initiatives because of this – threatening to undo years of progress. In line with Monster’s January 2023 future of labor report, 11% of employers surveyed stated that DEI packages “are among the many first to go when they’re compelled to chop prices.”

This shortsighted strategy is akin to taking pictures oneself within the foot. As companies gear up for progress and restoration in 2024, backing out of DEI commitments is a surefire technique to hinder success and hamper an organization’s capability to draw high expertise, an important ingredient for scaling up.

When firms make a real effort to create a various and inclusive recruitment course of, they ship a robust message that they’re open to expertise from all backgrounds. Doing it proper additionally does not require an enormous cheque. As Bowman explains, all companies want is a brilliant strategy from HR managers.

“Make sure that your dedication to DEI and company values are clear and visual throughout all touchpoints of the enterprise,” Bowman advises. “Whether or not it’s the product, social media, web site, job adverts.”

DEI additionally has a profound impression on current workers. When people really feel valued and revered for his or her distinctive views and contributions, they’re extra engaged, productive, and fewer prone to depart the corporate. This interprets into decrease turnover charges and better retention of expert labour.

As we enter 2024, it’s crucial for companies to search out methods to embed DEI into their core methods. This won’t solely assist them climate the storm but in addition emerge stronger and extra resilient.

“Variety, Fairness, and Inclusion are extra vital than ever,” Bowman stresses. “Not only for buyer buy-in however for hiring and retaining employees. You possibly can’t develop with out both.”

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