Hamburg has serious ambitions to become a truly international city – whatever that means. On 21st March this year, it was announced that our city will be Germany’s candidate for the 2024 (and failing that, 2028) Olympics. This could catapult Hamburg onto the international stage, finally giving Hamburg the international profile that it deserves as Germany’s second largest and arguably nicest city.
In one aspect, the city’s campaign has room for improvement: diversity. In the push to get Hamburg selected as Germany’s candidate city, twelve Hamburg ad agencies stepped in to help. Unfortunately, the image they presented of Hamburg was anything but fitting for an international city: a picture of the founders, owners and CEOs showed a group of twelve white men.
I, and many other people who know the multinational, metropolitan side of Hamburg, felt a bit embarrassed. How can a city launching an international publicity campaign be blind to something so important (and obvious)?
But surely having a startup ecosystem, with disruption in its very DNA, is a chance to turn mainstream society on its head and show how we can get the most out of all people, no matter what race, religion, colour, creed or gender? Not so fast – looking to Silicon Valley, with only 10% of female founders, startup ecosystems seem to be falling short of these lofty aims.
In fact, instead of leading the way it seems that old economy companies like Yahoo (with CEO Marissa Meyer), and Intel (with its $300m diversity drive) are making more progress than their upstart counterparts. And Hillary Clinton, previous to launching her presidential bid, ticked off Silicon Valley for its massive male majority. This is unfortunately one trend that startups around the world not only haven’t set, but have missed completely.