Diversity and inclusion are arguably the most important issues in tech culture right now. Companies on and between the coasts, from startups to global corporations, recognize more and more the positive impacts of improving diversity and inclusion. In fact, our tech censuses in Indianapolis and Cincinnati this year revealed that it’s the top-ranked social issue by members of both communities. Entrepreneurs, investors, and industry leaders are making efforts to honestly assess the state of diversity and inclusion in tech and, more importantly, determine how to create a brighter and more inclusive future.

With this national trend in mind, we held a special pitch night in Indianapolis earlier this month called “Diversity, Inclusion, and the Future of Tech.” As part of our programming, we brought on a guest host and a panel of three champions for diversity in the local community. The conversation was so timely and full of wonderful insights that we decided it needed to be shared with the entire Powderkeg community.

In this episode of the Igniting Startups podcast, Kelli Jones of Givelify leads Danielle Vetter of Cummins, Kelly Schwedland of Elevate Ventures and Rochelle Olaleye of Salesforce in assessing the state of diversity and inclusion in tech today. Over the course of an inspirational and informative discussion, they ultimately explain what entrepreneurs, investors, and business leaders can do to help make their companies and communities more diverse, more inclusive, and more welcoming of different perspectives. And it’s not about optics. It’s about building high-performing companies that attract the best talent and understand their customers’ needs.

In this episode with four champions for diversity and inclusion in tech, you’ll learn:

  • Key ways companies can empower team managers to drive diversity and inclusion.

  • How diverse founders can build “venture-backable” companies to help secure funding.

  • Strategies for weaving diversity and inclusion into your company’s day-to-day operations.

  • The best hiring practices for attracting and retaining diverse talent.

  • Why you should make time to listen to everyone on your team.

  • The crucial role training plays in promoting diversity and inclusion.

Please enjoy this conversation with Kelli Jones, Danielle Vetter, Kelly Schwedland, and Rochelle Olaleye!

  • Listen to it on iTunes.
  • Stream by clicking here.
  • Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”

If you like this episode, please subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes. You can also follow us on Soundcloud or Stitcher. We have an incredible lineup of interviews we’ll be releasing every Tuesday here on the Powderkeg Podcast.

Kelli Jones, Danielle Vetter, Kelly Schwedland and Rochelle Olaleye quotes from this episode of Powderkeg:

“Diversity helps make companies better, it makes people better, and it helps make better business leaders.” — @KelliNikole on @PowderkegCo

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“The more employees can hear leaders talking about diversity and then taking action on diversity, the more it becomes not just a buzzword, but integrated into the company’s culture.” — @better_vetter on @PowderkegCo

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“The piece that was so pivotal for me was giving people space to talk. There were three male, Type A personalities in the room, and a lot of times it was just giving others the freedom and the space to actually open up.” — @KellySchwedland on @PowderkegCo

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“We had to make a cultural shift in order to understand that everyone brings something to the table, and everyone’s voice needs to be heard. A lot of that happened through training.” — @RochelleOla on @PowderkegCo

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Links and resources mentioned in this episode:

Companies and organizations:





Pride IN Tech





Venture capital firms:

Elevate Ventures


Disrupt Indy

SaaStr Europa

Powderkeg blog posts:

"Sales Velocity: The Only Startup Metric that Matters" by Kelly Schwedland


Salesforce Trailhead


Kelli Jones (@KelliNikole)

Danielle Vetter (@better_vetter)

Kelly Schwedland (@KellySchwedland)

Rochelle Olaleye (@RochelleOla)

Tony Prophet (@tony_prophet)

Bob Stutz (@rlstutz)


What stood out most to you about what these entrepreneurs share in this podcast?

For me, it’s the crucial role training plays in promoting diversity and inclusion.

You? Leave a comment below.


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