Estimated reading time: 2 minute(s)

Photo courtesy of Diana Zeng
Photo courtesy of Diana Zeng

Nationwide, the need for increased diversity and inclusion in the startup space has (rightfully) gained more attention. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal government’s anti-discrimination watch dog, recently held a rare public hearing to examine disparities. We asked local leaders in the innovation class to weigh in on what St. Louis is doing right and how the city can improve as we move forward.

Diana Zeng is the founding executive director of Full Circle.

From your perspective, what is the current level of inclusivity in the tech/startup community in St. Louis?

I’ve found it to be very welcoming. If you have the opportunity to discover the community, it’s open and inviting. But opportunity is a big part.

What would a more inclusive ecosystem look like?

One that builds by building up St. Louis as a whole and is perceived to be inclusive both internally and externally.

What are a few things that could be done to get there?

Embrace St. Louis through our actions and mindset. Provide equity of opportunity at all levels. Work together as a local community.

What are some wins that you’ve already seen that show we’re taking the right steps as a community?

We genuinely want inclusivity to be a defining factor of our community. Efforts like Venture Cafe and LaunchCode extend a hand and invite people in.

In your role as a leader in the startup space, how can you use your influence to further progress and make STL’s ecosystem more inclusive?

Introducing young talent to St. Louis early so they get to know it, become part of it, and care about it through not only their work but daily lives.

This story appeared in EQ’s Summer 2016 issue.