Best Practice: Gaza Sky Geeks Women’s University Pre-Accelerator
“The importance of soft-skill development became a new focus for us when we noticed that a lack of confidence was hindering the progress of our female members – even those who had brilliant technical and business skills struggled to showcase themselves when speaking to clients and investors.”
Our goal in Gaza Sky Geeks is to support Palestinian youth by providing access to resources which enable their career progression. We have a focus on engaging aspirational, diverse people and elevating women in particular. We decided to integrate soft skills training into our programmes to help these women to present themselves and better showcase their interests and dreams.
How did we integrate this content?
1. We adapted a purchased soft-skills curriculum to suit the needs of the high school students
2. We beta tested the content in our 13-day business and coding camp female high school students
3. We integrated it alongside our regular curriculum
4. We provided our mentors with training
5. We tracked their progress before and after the camp and noted a considerable difference in their confidence and public speaking ability.
Community Engagement & Women’s Inclusivity Coordinator
Gaza Sky Geeks
Corporate Innovation Programmes
Diversity should be a priority in planning any programme If we look at the conditions which are needed for innovation to occur – open-mindedness, critical thinking, a safe environment to freely ideate and challenge assumptions, it becomes glaringly obvious how important D&I is
There are three layers to embedding D&I into corporate innovation programmes:
- Get buy-in from leadership
- Source diverse speakers and mentors
- Recruit a diverse cohort to take part in the programme.
Note: Our experience with programmes in Dogpatch Labs has been primarily in corporate innovation; running accelerators, incubators and hackathons. This section has been developed through that lens although we hope the theory will be applicable to other kinds of programmes run within hubs.
On this page you’ll find
The first step to integrating D&I into your programmes is to get buy-in from the corporate you’re partnering with to deliver the programme.
Use this document to help you consider the ways you can approach this conversation when signing on with these partnerships
Speakers and mentors should fully represent the audience you’re trying to reach. As Marian Wright Edelman said “you can’t be what you can’t see” and a lack of diversity at mentorship level might trickle down to recruiting efforts. From a product development perspective diversifying the expertise shared with your participants is also invaluable.
Broaden Your Network
Intentionally work toward to step outside your immediate network. Our networks tend to be made up of people who are similar to us. Broadening your network can also have other benefits when seeking to diversify hiring, memberships and more.
Use this short document to help you consider some ways to broaden your network.
You can do this by identifying the potential barriers to successfully running a diverse programme and design your process to minimise the barriers where possible.
Attracting Diverse Cohorts
Use this document to help you consider the steps you can take to increase diverse participation in your programme.
Inclusive Culture in a Programme
Use this document to help you consider how you can be intentional in planning your programmes to support engagement and belonging in your programme.
Tracking D&I in Corporate Programmes
You should work toward integrating D&I data into your existing data collection processes for the programme participation and belonging.
Where to capture this data
- Programme Application Forms
- Feedback Surveys
- 1:1 meetings/Feedback
- Exit Interviews
Below you will find some suggestions for metrics you can measure to gain a better understanding of D&I in your programmes. Start with representation (the quantitative measure of which groups are represented in your hub) and belonging scores (the qualitative measure of how those groups feel about your hub). Together these metrics can help establish a baseline for your hub and give insight which will help you decide what else you want to measure.
Note! Remember to set measurable, data-driven goals before you start tracking.
Representation measures the demographics of the people in your programme. It’s a great way to gain insight into the groups who are interacting and engaging with your hub, and more crucially – those that aren’t.
- Speaker Demographics How well does the speaker lineup for the event represent a diverse set of demographics?
- Participant Demographics: How diverse are the participants within the programme?
Demographic data is sensitive information and shouldn’t be attributable to the person submitting it. It should also be stored separately from any attributable data.
You should communicate this clearly when collecting this type of data similar to the example below from UX Collective.
A 2018 Catalyst report found that a feeling of belonging can be connected to higher creativity, higher levels of contribution and higher employee retention rates. As a hub, your primary focus is to create an environment where your startups can thrive. Belonging is a subjective measure and underscored by thoughts and opinions and hub culture.
Type of Data: Qualitative
- Satisfaction with diversity levels & support for diverse peoples
- Are participants confident that there is a place for them—and people like them—in your hub?
Below are more metrics you can measure which can give more context to trends you observe in representation and belonging scores. Where you decide to concentrate your efforts will be determined by your hubs current practices, priorities and the baseline data you gather
Use these D&I metrics to review the practices you use to screen and select individuals/startups applying for programmes in your hub.
- Sourcing strategies
- Scorecards & rubric for the screening process
- Whether your hub provides any supports for URM led startups
- Candidates experience through your recruitment process
- Startup industry
- Startup tenure
- No. of applications
- Reasons for rejected applications
- Success of Startups/Individual
- Pace of growth
- Demographics of the Startup
- Is this startup URM founded?
- Industry Data
- i.e. how does this AgTech startup/product compare to industry norms
Measuring the benefits in your programme can help highlight whether the operational structure might be isolating other groups you’re hoping to attract.
- e.g. free swag, food, etc.
- Extracurricular activities offered
- How enticing those perks are to all members/participants
- How relevant/enticing those extracurricular activities are to all members/participants
- The perceived value of these activities/perks
Retention can be a quantitative indicator of engagement, satisfaction and belonging in a hub. Happier employees stay in companies longer.
- Dropout rates
- Reasons for dropout
- Perceived inclusivity and opportunities available
- Demographic data
Including D&I metrics in your engagement strategy is a great way to capture useful insights into why some individuals or groups may not be excelling in comparison to other groups
Type of Data: Qualitative
- Participants perceptions of
- programme culture
- programme values
- Reasons for a voluntary lack of engagement
- Engagement scores for individuals
- Programme satisfaction
D&I success stories from Dogpatch Labs Corporate Programmes
When Dogpatch Labs first signed on to deliver the Pearse Lyons AgTech Accelerator with Alltech in 2015 it was obvious that the cross over of two traditionally male-dominated industries (agriculture and technology) wasn’t an overly inclusive environment.
In the 2019 programme, 33% of startups were female-led. Globally, only 14.1% of tech founders are female in the average ecosystem, meaning 30% representation is double the average.
Similarly, women made up roughly 30% of the internal mentorship team, considerably more than the previous year.
A gentle reminder from our end about the importance of gender representation was all it took to find a list of world-class female mentors from within their own company.