When I was writing Integrated Investing, I learned a good lesson: Show, Don’t Tell. This applies not only to writing, but also to marketing and most of all, to leadership.
In the wake of the reports of sexual harassment in the workplace and between VCs and founders, a number of high-profile investors published their own stories and apologies in late June 2017 and early July. For example, Chris Sacca’s post, “I Have More Work to Do” is a great start. Over the past few years, I’ve been following investors such as Hunter Walk and Ed Zimmerman who have walked the walk, championing and naming the CEOs who are women that they have invested in or standing up (and leaving all-male panels) to shine a light on leadership diversity. I have also witnessed leaders such as Erica Joy Baker, Arlan Hamilton, Kieran Snyder, Joelle Emerson, and Ellen K. Pao not only advocate for diversity, but also build tools, resources, and communities that are purposeful, meaningful, and inclusive to many.
For anyone with disproportionate power or influence who is open to feedback about how to improve this place for women and underrepresented groups, start here: Show, Don’t Tell.
- Apply an 80:20 Rule: When you’re writing or speaking, in private meetings or public forums, champion women and underrepresented people in 80% of what you say.
- Name Names: If you have invested in leaders who are women and underrepresented people, name them. Don’t leave them as an aggregated data set or data point, remind people who these people are.
- Highlight Leadership: Pique Fund, an inclusive angel fund that I founded and manage, has so far invested in six tech startups, including Beanworks, led by Catherine Dahl, MuseFind, led by Jennifer Li, Mesh, led by Jessica Pautsch, and ePact Network, led by Christine Sommers. I invite investors to highlight the leadership positions held by the women or underrepresented people that you are championing. Make “CEO” synonymous with women as well.
The diversity challenges in tech are not unique to this industry. I’ve often remarked how certain attitudes, behaviours, and culture recently publicized about some tech communities are reminiscent of those which I witnessed in investment banking in London. The lack of diversity is deeply rooted in many other industries. However, I am hopeful that what we are experiencing now in tech at least is truly a shift towards more inclusive communities and that it is enduring and not just another trendy shiny object.
For more impact investing resources and tools, check out Integrated Investing: Impact Investing with Head, Heart, Body, and Soul, available at all major online book retailers.
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