This week, ICIC released a report sponsored by JP Morgan, “Creating Inclusive High-Tech Incubators and Accelerators: Strategies to Increase Participation Rates of Women and Minority Entrepreneurs.”

The report articulates the root causes of the gender gap in incubator participation and how business incubators contribute to the overall gender gap in entrepreneurship. The report concludes that two of the common approaches that incubators have employed to help recruit more women are actually having the opposite of effect. Creating separate “women” programs and using traditional word of mouth marketing not only limit women’s access to incubators, it maybe widening the gender gap.

The research also goes a step further to articulate simple communication strategies that incubators can use to help reserve the trend, pulling from current best practices and giving examples of where these strategies are working well. Several of the recommendations are in alignment with the Empowered Lab CommunicationsIncubator Checklist for attracting and serving women business owners, which simplifies the implementation of these strategies.

Key strategies articulated in the article include:

  • Expand recruitment networks through diverse leaders and partners
  • Create diverse selection committees and adjust the selection process
  • Intentionally design programs for women and minority entrepreneurs
  • Create an inclusive culture

Inclusive High Tech IncubatorsThe report is the next step in discussion on gender diversity and entrepreneurship, moving past questions of whether gender diversity is a real challenge worth addressing and towards a strategy where all parts of the ecosystem recognize the implications of gender on their programmatic success and everyone’s responsibility to address this broader economic challenge.

Click here to read the full report: ICIC_JPMC_Incubators_post

I felt the research was insightful and extremely valuable. It was overly critical of “women” specific programs. Created effectively, separate women programs do have significant value and can strengthen existing programs.

So how does gender affect your program? What best practices work for you? And let’s be honest, is your program guilty of the common mistakes that incubators have been taking? Please share what stood out to you in this research and how you are going to implement some of these recommendations into your program.
Strategies to Increase Participation Rates of Women and Minority Entrepreneurs.

If your not sure how gender affects the bottom-line of your program or if you would like help reviewing your current efforts to see how you can improve the overall effectiveness of your program through diversity, please contact Empowered Lab Communications for additional information on programmatic reviews and support.


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