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Paving the Way for Minority Ethnic Groups in a Startup: Impala

2020 has taught us all so much about collaboration, connectivity and trust, but it’s also demonstrated how much work we all have left to do when looking at Diversity and Inclusion.

As a startup we made a commitment from day one that we wanted to do things differently, and challenge the status quo — particularly around the stereotyping, discrimination and exclusion that can exist within the tech startup world.

Our D&I initiative existed long before discourse on this topic became so poignant; however, as a commitment to supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement, we wanted to become more public in advocating the conversation.

When you think of a startup, what do you think? Ping pong tables? Beer fridges? Disjointed, yet energetic work cultures? For many startups this may be true, but these assumptions carry a sinister effect for the wider startup community.

Startups are known to lack awareness when it comes to growing sustainably and diversely.

We wanted to challenge this, and talk about our D&I initiative and how internal processes at Impala can positively impact minority ethnic groups, and address the specific barriers faced by those groups.

Why we’ve acknowledged this

For the sake of this article, we place individuals who identify as Black, Asian, Mixed or Other under the umbrella of ‘minority ethnic’ (‘ME’), as we believe that these demographics face discrimination and prejudice more than White individuals.

As a company we want to address that, systematically and individually. As a disclaimer, we want to make it clear that we do not assume nor want to imply that these demographics are in any way similar to one other.

We hope that talent from minority ethnic groups will read about Impala and know that they’ll be supported and treated equally, thus being inspired to apply.

We also hope as a by-product we encourage other businesses (startup or not) to look at themselves and their current processes and do the inner work. It’s important that you don’t pay lip service to D&I, and this is another reminder that it should be a continuous driver in your company.

The barriers for ME individuals

There can be a lot of conversation about the main barriers for minority ethnic individuals being around conscious or unconscious bias in an interview process.

Although this is undoubtedly a contributing factor, we have to acknowledge that the barriers actually exist too before an application is made, and after a candidate has been hired.

Research suggests that a ME individual may be less inclined to apply to a startup due to issues around imposter syndrome ingrained by society, as well as concerns over stereotyping, and being deeply concerned about discrimination. Research also suggests that concerns over pay and growth opportunities may be a barrier too.

If it’s not obvious that you’ll be included and psychologically safe at a company, then there’s no incentive to take a step further.

We reviewed all of our internal processes to ensure that these concerns are all addressed at Impala, and we wanted to highlight those processes.

Breaking down D&I

Although one cannot exist without the other, to have a strong D&I initiative we break up and think about Diversity and Inclusion separately, so we can assess and adjust how we are performing in each respectively.

Diversity relates to the makeup of the team, and hiring processes play a huge part in this. This means we needed to look at our current recruitment strategy and what we could implement to support diversity.

Inclusion relates to the extent which individuals from a diverse range of groups, backgrounds and ethnicities feel included, and most importantly — safe at work. This has a direct correlation to hiring, but also has a deeper meaning when someone has physically joined the business.

What do we do to address this at Impala?

We have a strong focus on growth and learning for everyone: £1,000 budget no matter your role or seniority, as well as access to tools to make it easy to track and progress. You’ll also get support from managers to identify the best areas to develop in. Bi-annually you’ll sit with your manager to discuss career plans as well as internal promotions laterally or upwards.

Imposter syndrome training: We understand that regardless of seniority or background, imposter syndrome can hold you back from achieving your full potential, so we combat that through training in group settings.

Fair salary banding: No smoke and mirrors, no lip service. Everybody at Impala is paid fairly for their role and seniority level. Objective frameworks and payrise formulas keep us in check.

Equity and equality: We offer higher payouts in our referral scheme for those who refer ME candidates, thus allowing for a more diverse and inclusive talent pool when hiring, and to further instil a mindset of inclusion internally.

Blind screenings and bias training in hiring: Internally everybody who is part of the hiring process at Impala will receive bias training. We also have blind screenings so there is no room for unconscious bias, and we can assess a candidate purely on factual information put before us.

Company-wide bias and inclusion training: Separately and in addition to interview-specific hiring training, we also conduct recurring internal compulsory training for all Impalans, to ensure that an inclusive mindset is not embedded by osmosis across the entire team.

We know that amazing talent simply wouldn’t be possible without a diverse and inclusive workforce.


For more on what we do to promote Diversity and Inclusion at Impala, take a read of our D&I Deck!

We’re currently hiring: https://careers.getimpala.com/ and we’d love you to be a part of our team!