Inclusion Matters in Entrepreneurship + Innovation

Guest Contribution By: Susan Halverson, Manager of Community Entrepreneurship

In a recent article, LinkedIn published results of their member survey, finding that diversity on an entrepreneurial team is of little significance to most investors and entrepreneurs.

We aspire to more in Entrepreneurship + Innovation at ASU, where diversity is an important consideration. Success is in creating a vibrant and thriving entrepreneurial culture inclusively rather than leaving people out.  Therefore we, as part of a higher education institution, support entrepreneurs from every academic discipline, as well as from every race, ethnicity, residency, income level, and family history/structure, in the ASU community. We seek student, faculty, and community entrepreneurs to represent the diversity of our overall community, and it is essential to our mission as a university that we are inclusive. In fact, our charter reads “ASU is a comprehensive public research university, measured not by whom we exclude, but rather by whom we include and how they succeed; advancing research and discovery of public value; and assuming fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves.”

Women’s and minorities’ lower rates of entrepreneurial engagement are detrimental in large part because of the value they offer to the economy. In fact, global GDP could increase $1.5 trillion (2 percent) if women owned businesses at the same rate as men. And if people of color owned businesses at the same rate as their white counterparts, we would have 1.1 million new businesses and 9 million jobs.

So for a healthy economy, we need to proactively seek to include a more diverse representation of entrepreneurs, rather than passively wait and obey the status quo. We are actively working for inclusion in entrepreneurship by training, teaching, collaborating, hosting, and supporting.

In 2017, with the support of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, we will be redoubling our efforts, working with entrepreneurship programs across the university and our local community as we strive for inclusivity. This will include using design thinking to support entrepreneurship program leaders

Even though inclusion is very important to us, we don’t assume that we have all the answers of how to accomplish it. We’d like to hear from you: we can crowdsource knowledge in this area to create solutions that work for the diversity of communities where we live. Please send us your ideas of how entrepreneurship programs could better fit your needs, and we promise that we will take each idea seriously as we do this work. Also, if you lead an entrepreneurship program, join us on February 16th, 2017 for a daylong design thinking workshop around inclusion. Those programs that participate will be eligible to apply for $5000 of seed funding to experiment with and iterate on their ideas.

Email Susan Halverson to register for the workshop or with any questions.

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