Equality and Diversity: the Startup Pioneers

Why is diversity and inclusion an important trend in the startup space? And which of the SU100 businesses are leading the way? Read on to find out more...

The Startups 100 2019 marks the 11th time that we’ve run our yearly ranking of the freshest, hottest startups in the UK right now. During the past ten years, Startups.co.uk has profiled some of the top 100 British businesses that have launched within the last five years.

One of this year’s themes is equality and diversity, and along with some of the other themes, including health tech and eco warriors, it shows how startups are shaking up the traditional world of business.


Diversity and inclusion in the startup landscape

gender pay gap uk stats

We’re living in turbulent times. Uncertainty is present in many aspects of life in the UK, including environmentally, politically and socially.

And it’s apparent around the world too, with the rise of global movements like #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter calling out injustices and demanding change. While the struggles may be different, what’s clear to see is that the need for equality, diversity and inclusion transcends borders — and boardrooms.

What does this mean for the business world, exactly? And what opportunities does this offer for startups in the UK?

A quick Google search reveals a number of rankings of top companies for diversity, showing this is a key focus for both business and the media alike.

Equal opportunity in a company could be understanding the differences between how each generation likes to work, or it might focus on fostering an environment where people from all walks of life can succeed in the working world not despite but because of their differences.

It’s evident that diversity and inclusion in the workplace is increasingly seen as an essential element of determining how businesses create strategies and measure success.

In 2017, the Equality Act was changed to make companies with 250+ employees publish data about the average pay that men and women receive, highlighting the gender pay gap.

But it’s not only up to large organisations to promote equal opportunities in the workplace – some of the smallest businesses can have a big impact when it comes to championing the need for equality and diversity.

Read on to find out which startups are opening our eyes to this important issue…


Meet the woke startups pioneering inclusivity

Here, we profile three of the Startups 100 that are promoting diversity and inclusion in companies in the small business world.


brand advance equality startup

Brand Advance

Founded in 2018, Brand Advance offers a diversity driven media network – the first of its kind in the advertising and marketing sector.

Brand Advance’s media services include buying, planning and creative strategy. It connects agencies and brands with diverse audiences around the world, including BAME, LGBTQ+ and Gen Z communities. Brand Advance helps craft authentic communications to resonate with the target audiences.

Offering access to more than 100 million active users, and having worked with ASOS, Boohoo and TalkTalk within its first year, Brand Advance is showing that understanding and embracing ‘minority’ audiences can have a major influence.


big youth group

Big Youth Group

Ranking at number 43 in our Startups 100 index, Big Youth Group’s mission is to improve the odds for young people aged 18-30.

In the next five years, Big Youth Group has committed to six pledges that will help and inspire young people around the world to realise their full potential.

And how will it achieve this? One way is by creating a youth-first network that focuses on education, employment and enterprise. It offers the myFuture app, a safe community for young people, businesses and youth initiatives to connect.

Just one year in, and Big Youth Group has some impressive achievements:

1,200 ambassadors
1.7 million young people
200+ brands

Big Youth Group extends beyond its marketplace, saying it’s a global youth movement aiming to transform the lives of five million young people by 2025.


maddox events gender diversity startup

Maddox Events

With a turnover of £4.1m in the last financial year, and with no external investment or debt, Maddox Events is a true standout startup. But that’s not all – it’s the only conference company on the globe that creates conferences centred around gender diversity.

Maddox Events works across major industries (which are also often traditionally male-domainted sectors) such as construction, finance and tech. Plus, it’s held events in some of the key business hubs around the world, including Hong Kong, London and San Francisco. This is all with the aim of promoting women’s empowerment. In addition to conferences, it also creates diversity and inclusion focused content.

Since starting out in 2015, Maddox Events has experienced triple digit revenue growth year-on-year and its client list includes Adidas, Google and HSBC UK.


Next Steps

If you want to learn more about businesses that have a positive social impact, check out our hub of green and social business content.

Or, why not read our guide on how to be a successful female entrepreneur.