Reaching out to the SBDC for advice was the key to helping Elizabeth Lang from Diversity Focus make the right decisions during her business journey.

Diversity Focus is a research, consultancy and training business that was established in 2017, inspired by the vision to create a more equitable and inclusive world.

Founder Elizabeth Lang said that given we all spend a huge part of our day, and one third of our life, at work, she saw the workplace as fertile ground for her vision.

“I saw a gap in the market as I worked for other providers who focused solely on training,” she said.

“As someone with a research background, and who naturally sees things holistically, I wanted to create a service that was research-led, informed by lived experience and provided tailored professional development services.”

Invest in relationships for B2B success

Elizabeth said that business to business service enterprises, like hers, have a different marketing mindset as they don’t sell a physical product that people can see and touch.

“Relationships are vital so you must invest in relationship building which has trust at it’s very core,” she said.

“I meet with the clients in person as much as possible ahead of the program and throughout to review progress to keep communication open and flowing.”

You are not alone

Looking back at the early days of her business, Elizabeth said that a common mistake all fledgling businesses make is assuming they are the only ones facing a certain type of issue.

“Another common mistake is also thinking you must figure it all out on your own,” she said.

“It’s important that you tap into the resources available to help you.”

Elizabeth made use of the free business advisory services offered by the SBDC when making important business decisions.

“The information regarding commercial tenancy leases was just so valuable when I was considering rental office space,” Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth also has also learnt the importance of asking questions along her business journey and not being afraid to ask for help even from within her own team.

“Delegation is an important skill I have also had to learn through practice,” she said.

Values outweigh skills

Elizabeth advises other enterprises that are business to business focused to place a greater weight on values rather than skills when hiring staff.

“While skills are important, they can always be developed or enhanced through training, but it’s very hard to do that with values,” she said.

“Finding employees who are aligned with our goals and vision is key for us due to the nature of our work being people-focused.”

Photo of Elizabeth Lang, Founder of Diversity Focus. She is standing in her business's office location.
Diversity Focus founder Elizabeth Lang.

Workshop participants shared less online during COVID

Diversity Focus was already well-accustomed to having meetings online and delivering online workshops, so pivoting to more of it during the COVID period was not difficult.

However, Elizabeth did find that, as people generally shared their more challenging and sensitive experiences of workplace exclusion in workshops, the loss of in-person workshops made it difficult to create a safe environment online, which meant that people did not engage or share as much during that time.

“Thankfully, now that the COVID restrictions have lifted, we are doing most workshops face to face, so the level of personal sharing has increased again,” Elizabeth said.

What’s next for Diversity Focus

Elizabeth’s roadmap for the next period is to do more in the education sector.

“We have been receiving more and more enquiries from schools for anti-racism workshops to help teachers with issues of race-based bullying and racial bias,” Elizabeth said.

“We also have plans to do more in the AI space helping organisations where, its use, may potentially produce inequalities.”

More information

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Small business stories
27 October 2023