In the past two years, I’ve seen a rise in awareness about diversity and inclusion in the global venture community.
When I startedin 2012 and launched Pique Fund, an inclusive angel fund, with a focus on leadership diversity, pioneering investors understood the value and benefit, however many people still thought it was a novel strategy and “nice to have”.
My, how things have changed.
- Ellen Pao files a in 2012, verdict delivered in 2015.
- , a non-profit that uses data and advocacy to accelerate diversity and inclusion solutions in the tech industry, launched in 2016.
- in early 2017 about harassment at Uber goes viral.
- The Information breaks news of in the summer of 2017.
- Canadian government announces in December 2017, proposing to invest $400 million into the Canadian VC ecosystem, with a specific focus on gender balance.
- Time Magazine names the as Person of the Year in 2017.
- and campaigns launch in 2018.
- launches in April 2018 and is profiled as part of the .
But with the rise in awareness, there is a mix of deep dives, hard work, and bandwagon jumping. How do we ensure inclusion strategies are not just lip service and that venture capital investors are walking the walk? Here are some of the steps venture capital firms can take to become more inclusive.
- Recognize the value and benefits of being more inclusive. It’s good for business and is more sustainable in the long-run.
- Reflect on why their firm isn’t inclusive to begin with. What are the assumptions and biases held by the leadership and management team? What kind of culture have they created within their firm? If there are significant leadership and cultural barriers, the firm will need to address these first before doing anything else.
- Understand what being an ally means and looks like. Diversity and inclusion for VCs isn’t just allocating a percentage of capital towards women-led ventures or adding one woman to your advisory board. Being an ally means amplifying other voices, developing others as leaders, understanding how you’ve contributed to an exclusive environment, and understanding what you can do to change yourself.
- Envisage what a more inclusive firm would look like.
- Get advice from diversity, inclusion, and belonging experts such as and .
- Get buy-in from the existing team.
- Develop a plan for more inclusive hiring and partner development. Bake this into the firm’s strategic plan. Use technology such as to improve your written communication (including job postings).
- Be patient and understand that change doesn’t happen overnight. There will be discomfort, friction, and maybe even confusion as we all figure out new language, new culture, and new ways of being and doing in order to be more inclusive. The world is no longer binary (it never was!)
- Keep learning and improving. Enabling a more diverse and inclusive environment within a firm is not a one-time thing. It’s ongoing action and leadership.
We live in interesting times. I’m optimistic about a future that embraces diversity, inclusion, and belonging.
This post was originally published on Quora. Ask me anything on Quora.
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