Startups hold the solution to corporate diversity. Really.

Let’s face it. Corporate America isn’t where we should be looking for answers to America’s executive diversity problem. So why does it matter that soon not a single black female will hold the position of chief executive within the Fortune 500?

In my view, it doesn’t.

The CEO in question is Xerox’s Ursula Burns, the first and only woman of color to head up a major U.S. corporation, and she is planning to step down by the end of 2016 when Xerox splits into two companies.

When Burns broke through the glass ceiling seven years ago, the hope was that her appointment would throw open the doors to a more diverse, inclusive corporate America.

That hasn’t happened.

But we need to look past this. After all, large corporations aren’t, and never have been, built for innovation. Big companies have never been the best at creating exciting, new products or developing progressive approaches to hiring and HR that encourage and reward executive diversity.

It’s simply too difficult to make meaningful change at that kind of scale; these companies are too entrenched. The way I see it, it is much more difficult to reform an adult than it is to raise a young child to understand certain things and behave in a certain way. Most big companies are past the formative stage of life and they’re not going to change.

In truth, Fortune 500 companies like Xerox aren’t where we should be focusing our attention when it comes to diversity.

Startups are where the solution will germinate.

Stick with me here.

Yes, I know, the tech industry has a well-documented problem with diversity and gender equality. Case in point: Of the 10,238 startup funding deals that went through from 2012 to 2014, only 20 (0.2 percent) went to black women entrepreneurs, according to Project Diane.

But I’m seeing this changing in the Bay Area every day. From the startups and founders that come to pitch us, to the tech conferences I attend, to the hiring numbers we’re seeing from founders, Silicon Valley is becoming a more diverse place.

And it has good reason to. With the spread of mobile technology, businesses have become much more sensitive to the needs of the consumer, and “the consumer” is a diverse group that represents many different types of perspectives.

Companies large and small are slowly starting to understand the importance of having relevant perspectives among their workforces and executive ranks that reflect the markets they are trying to serve, not just for quotas or PR, but to truly understand their customers.

What we’re seeing now is that startups are beginning to understand that to build a really big successful business, you have to deeply understand the different viewpoints of the customer you’re trying to reach.

This is not just about ethnicity, or gender or any one particular thing. It’s about understanding different cultures and perspectives to make better products for them, speaking to the market with honesty and integrity.

There is an important distinction here, as well. You don’t necessarily have to be of a certain ethnicity to understand a certain perspective. You can be a Latino male and understand Asian millennial culture really well, so I don’t think that diversity is necessarily a question of race at all. We have to look beyond that. It’s a question of truly understanding cultures.

Obviously, we still have a long way to go with this, but it’s coming faster than most people think and it’s due to the direct impact that inclusion is having on companies’ bottom lines.

Venture-backed companies that really “get” different viewpoints are doing really well. Look at Thrive Market, look at Sidestep, look at Spotify. Once this mindset takes hold across the business community, it truly will be like opening the floodgates on corporate diversity.

After all, these startups are tomorrow’s Fortune 500 companies. Provided they grow up the right way today — and they are doing so — the executive suites of the world’s largest companies will look very different a decade or two from now.

Trevor Thomas is a general partner at Cross Culture Ventures and a Kauffman Fellow. Previously, he was vice president at Gastronome Ventures, a $20 million consumer-focused fund, and was a member of the investing team at Roll Global, a $3.2 billion diversified holding company in Los Angeles.

Photo of Ursula Burns of Xerox courtesy of Reuters/Eduardo Munoz