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Watch: "Andres Wydler on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Entrepreneurship" | 1:53

When entrepreneurship is inclusive, everyone benefits

Divisiveness – politically, economically, rural, or urban – makes reality tough right now, Andres Wydler, executive director of StartOut, said.

“Entrepreneurship has the potential to bridge the gap, and we should take advantage of that,” he said. “It’s a very powerful anecdote to extremism if we all have to feed our children, or our moms or dads, or brothers, or whatever that might be. If we can agree on that, and if we can create some of those jobs and in our communities that might be totally divided, those jobs can be the bridges to better communication.”

Beyond social divisiveness, Wydler said there’s one thing most people will agree on: diversity and entrepreneurship is profitable. “It’s that simple,” he said.

“We’re an apolitical organization, we combine investors, who might be Republicans, Democrats, whatever, we all make money, and so as long as we agree that diversity increases performance, that diversity is profitable – higher ROI is something we can all agree on,” he said. “It’s a wonderfully pragmatic approach that totally cuts through all those differences.”

StartOut is the largest national nonprofit to support LGBTQ entrepreneurs. “Our mission is to economically empower our entrepreneurs. Once economically empowered, they’re economically independent and can call their own shot,” Wydler said.

Unfortunately, the inspiration of LGBTQ entrepreneurs to look to isn’t always there. “There aren’t enough role models out there – that’s an important part of our job, to get both the right and left frame, get the inspiration first and then the toolkit to make you successful,” he said. “They have to know that we have their backs.”

Wydler found the most engaging moments at the ESHIP Summit in hearing from other ecosystem building about progress in their communities. “Those individuals’ stories collectively formed this tremendous body of potential and that honestly gets me going every single day,” he said. “That’s what I learned from the sessions – that’s in my daily job – what makes me happy, what gives me all the energy. It’s the collective stories, collective small successes that add up to a tremendous body of improvement.”

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