Companies of all sizes need to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion, but early stage companies, like startups, have a rare advantage—they can prioritize these policies and practices before their culture has taken root. Read more about why our partners at New York City–based startup OneThree Biotech are focusing on DEI right now.
Funding round: Seed
What OneThree Biotech does
At OneThree Biotech we’re building a biology-driven AI platform to better understand the relationships between disease biology, patients, and treatments. With this information, we partner with biopharmaceutical companies to accelerate the development and discovery of new therapeutics for patients with an unmet need.
What does diversity mean to you?
Neel S. Madhukar, CEO and cofounder: To me, diversity really represents acceptance and learning. The first step is accepting people of all different backgrounds—this includes ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity as well as diversity of thought—and creating an environment where everyone feels like they can be their authentic self. Building upon that is the idea of learning from people of diverse backgrounds. OneThree was founded on the idea that bringing new viewpoints together can teach us more than any single view in isolation can, and we try and take this idea of learning from different viewpoints in all of our endeavors.
How do you think diversity will impact your company in the short- and long-term?
As a startup, one of the biggest things we worry about is becoming an echo chamber of the same ideas without taking the time to see what other possibilities are out there. I think by building a diverse team of people who are comfortable challenging existing norms we can continue to build an innovative company. In the short term, I see diversity influencing early company building and strategy as we try and figure out what sort of company we want to be. And as OneThree continues to grow, a continued focus on diversity will help ensure we stay true to the company we want to be while also helping ingrain a multifaceted approach to new problems that come up.
What are some of your diversity goals over the next 24 months?
As we plan the next stage of our company growth, one goal of ours is to increase diversity in the team and hiring process. We have multiple goals here ranging from the top of the funnel metrics to the selection of diverse candidates to join our team. But one area where we will particularly focus on is increasing diversity in company and department leadership.
Beyond partnering with InHerSight, what are some ways you’re already incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion into your company’s growing culture?
To date we've established a few different policies:
- One of our core values is, "We act with compassion and heart," and one piece of this is acting with compassion and understanding of the unique struggles people are going through.
- Another value is, "We look behind the curtain (we try and understand the 'why')." While this has clear implications for scientific discovery, another very important aspect is trying to understand the circumstances and situations that influence someone to think and act a certain way rather than just judging it at face value because that's not something you're familiar with.
- We've become more diligent about tracking applicant metrics at the top of the funnel and have partnered with organizations like InHerSight to increase visibility to new candidate pools.
- While we are headquartered in NYC, we've made the decision to switch to allowing full-time remote work and flexible work hours (even post-pandemic). I hope that will allow us to create a work environment that works for more people.
- Particularly over the past year we've tried to be more open about facilitating dialogue around difficult situations happening in the world/country and make leadership available for any employee who would like to talk about anything they're struggling with or thinking about.