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How Building Inclusive Community Fosters Innovation

By Amanda Lewan 
Co-founder & CEO, Bamboo Detroit

At Bamboo Detroit we started off just like anything else: an idea. The idea was simple, providing flexible workspace Downtown. We also started with a diverse team and open arms welcoming all to join us starting up in the city. Three years ago when we opened we were the first co-work space in Downtown Detroit. Now we’ve expanded into a brand new hub at 1420 Washington Blvd that inspires growth to 150 entrepreneurs of all ages, stages, and ethnicities.

What we learned most over the years is that focusing on an inclusive culture will foster innovation. An inclusive culture builds a stronger community. Bamboo Detroit

But, why is this? There are pages of data and research that shows us more diverse teams lead to innovation, and often more successful startup companies. Having a woman co-founder on your team or board can lead to an investor’s greater return on investment. If you want to build a product that reaches everyone, a diverse team helps you build a product for everyone with everyone. An inclusive culture makes sure you’re inviting and bringing top talent of all backgrounds.

Want to hear more from Bamboo Detroit? Be sure to register for the Detroit Policy Conference to talk to a Bamboo team member.

But how do you do it? What if you need technical talent? In an industry that’s suffering horribly at bringing in women and minorities in the workforce, how do you build a diverse team? Or what if you are limited on resources? Or what if you just don’t know that many people and need to open up your network? How do you build your own community or culture that drive inclusiveness?

Here are a few tips for building an inclusive culture that have worked for our Detroit co-working space, Bamboo Detroit.

Be Open to Others

Through many free or low-cost events, we’re always welcoming new people to our space and our city. We have to start with a welcoming environment first to inspire collaboration. New people coming in brings in new ideas, connections, and collaborations for our members too. Are your doors open? Are you inviting others in? Are you going to them? Sometimes this can be the first step to opening new connections. Just start with something simple, coffee and invitations.

Listen Before Creating

Take time to listen to your customer, to your coworker, to the people around you. When you’re entering any new or established community, recognize its strengths and opportunities. You do this by listening first. Listening leads to stronger collaboration and helps everyone to feel as if they are seen, heard, and included. This is how we started and this is our key pillar to community engagement and community building.

Support Each Other

One thing that makes Bamboo special is that we’re entrepreneurial led. We are entrepreneurs helping other entrepreneurs. We’re all in it together. Starting or growing a business is hard work. We recognize this and create a culture of peer-to-peer support that helps you out anytime you need it. From events, to resources, to random questions for the whole community – we’re in it together. This makes others feel comfortable to share their ups and downs. How do you foster a culture of support? We believe if you feel supported, and surrounded with other talent, you will be willing to take risks and innovate further.

Speaking of invitations, we invite you to see us at our new location 1420 Washington Blvd anytime and check out our upcoming events for business and creativity.

Bamboo Detroit is a promotional partner for the 2017 Detroit Policy Conference. Register for the Conference today.