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  • Writer's pictureBarsha Singh

Inclusion and Diversity in Venture Capital

It's very hard to maintain a diverse culture if team members don't feel equally welcomed, appreciated, and heard. Let's be clear about something: There has been a dearth of diversity in the venture capital business. The good news is that the sector is making strenuous efforts to improve. Many advocates for equality and inclusion have argued that the venture capital industry need a fundamental cultural shift.

The venture capital (VC) business looks to be moving in the right direction in terms of gender, racial, and cultural diversity. There has been some success in increasing the number of women in leadership roles, notably among investment professionals. Furthermore, more VC companies are implementing diversity and inclusion policies than in the past, and these businesses report having more diverse workforces than other Venture Capital firms. However, development has been inconsistent across various groups, with minimal rise in Black and Hispanic employee participation in the broader business and in leadership roles. Few of the companies surveyed undertake employee surveys to measure their progress in developing a more inclusive workplace at the talent management level. While the advances are encouraging, the data shows that the business still has work to do in order to attain a long-term diversified workforce.

Why is it critical for the Venture Capital industry to advance DEI?

Diversity - Diversity is defined as the representation of numerous aspects of identification in a group, such as race, ethnicity, nationality, gender identity, LGBTQ+ status, socioeconomic position, ability, religion, and age (but not limited to).

Equity- Equality occurs when all individuals are treated equally, regardless of historical or institutional hurdles or advantages. Equity is the result of diversity, inclusion, and anti-oppression, in which all individuals have equal access to resources, opportunities, and power to flourish, with historical and structural obstacles and advantages that produce oppression taken into account and eliminated.

Inclusivity- The efforts done to recognize, appreciate, and exploit the unique qualities and features of identity for all persons so that they feel welcomed, respected, and supported may be characterized as inclusion. It is more than just a depiction. Gender, color and ethnicity, age, degree of education, professional level, marital status, veteran status, individuals with impairments, and dependent care obligations are all considered in our research.

Given the importance of talent and human capital in business, boosting diversity, equality, and inclusion has been a priority for many venture capital organizations. Firms should prioritize finding, inviting, and embracing diverse people in order for the sector to attain its full potential and have the greatest influence on innovation, financial performance, and the economy. Supporting budding VC investors from a variety of backgrounds with younger startups may also assist the ecosystem. Each company must determine where they are on their DEI journey and what further measures they may need to take to overcome the obstacles to recruiting exceptional individuals from historically underrepresented backgrounds and evaluating them as investment targets.

Given the low turnover of senior investment positions at established firms, increasing diversity among investment professionals at established firms is critical. However, given the low turnover of senior investment positions at established firms, the industry has seen an increase in the number of investors starting their own firms. However, it seems that women and minority racial and ethnic groups face major obstacles in beginning their own businesses. The dearth of diversity in the leadership of VC-backed start-ups seems to be a result of the general lack of diversity among VC investment professionals.

Outperformance and opportunity

Capital and having diverse talent to identify and source these startups may be key to the future of innovation. Disruption and investing in the next groundbreaking idea are foundational to Venture Capital, and capital and having diverse talent to identify and source these startups may be key to the future of innovation. One of the most compelling arguments for DEI is that diverse and inclusive workplaces may benefit businesses by improving financial performance and increasing innovation—in the case of venture capital, this implies better deal sourcing and talent recruiting.

In the workplace, women are still underrepresented-

Women continue to be underrepresented on investment teams and in positions of decision-making, while their numbers are progressively increasing. Women account for around one-fifth (21%) of investment professionals, up six percentage points from 2016. Women, on the other hand, held 95 percent of administrative roles and 74 percent of investor relations, marketing, and communications professions.

According to one research of the venture capital business, companies that raised their number of female partner recruitment by 10% experienced an average annual gain of 1.5 percent in total fund returns and 9.7% more lucrative exits.

Women now occupy a higher percentage of senior-level jobs in venture capital companies, accounting for 29% of senior-level positions overall and 14% of investment partner roles (compared with 11% in 2016). 68 percent of companies, on the other hand, claim to have no female investment partners at all (compared with 79 percent in the 2016 survey). Furthermore, 74 percent of those who do have female investing partners only have one.

Racial Diversity Is Still a Problem

In comparison to 2016, there are only minor advances in Black and Hispanic representation in the most recent poll.

Black people make up 4% of workers at Venture Capital companies examined, and they make up 3% of investment partner roles. The majority of companies (93 percent) claim to have no Black investment partners. Despite the fact that Black and White workers have essentially comparable levels of education, 42 percent of Black VC employees have graduate or postdoctoral degrees, compared to 47 percent of White employees.

Although Black workers are underrepresented in numerous businesses, they are much more prevalent in related areas such as consulting and investment banking.

By 2045, racial and ethnic minorities are expected to make up a majority of the population in the United States; by 2027, they will be a majority of those aged 18 to 29, even sooner. As a result, VC firms' ability to recruit talent from these categories will be critical to their continuing success.

Will venture capital ever broaden its scope?

Venture capital and diversity may not seem to be mutually beneficial. One of venture capital's two core tasks is to seek for innovation that cannot be found in traditional market structures. The other is to earn money, of course. There is a lot of money. The lack of diversity among venture investors must be addressed, but rather than seeing it as a human resources problem, businesses should examine the statistics and begin to consider diversity as a profit creator.

Over the last decade, there has been a lot of lip service paid to diversity in Silicon Valley, and even that took some time given that California is usually recognized as ground zero for the worldwide export of diversity ideals. Andreessen Horowitz's establishment of Talent x Opportunity (TxO), a series of non-profit programs targeted at supporting and training under-represented entrepreneurs, is one example of practical efforts. TxO launched its inaugural cohort in October 2020, which was a positive step forward but still a tiny step in the right direction in terms of addressing the present dearth of diversity among founders.

Changes that VC firms may make right away:

  • Venture capital businesses may establish a code of conduct that governs how they handle women and people of color, both as workers and as prospective and existing investors.

  • VC firms may establish specific diversity requirements for their portfolio businesses.

  • VC firms may shift away from happy hours and toward more casual parties that do not include alcohol.

  • VC firms may be open and honest about their financing procedures and criteria.

  • VC firms may provide detailed comments on why a business did not get funding rather than providing input solely on whether or not a company has met particular milestones.

  • Fund managers and others may speak out against prejudiced statements, educate those who may not realize their comments were incorrect.

  • VC firms, general partners, and others in the ecosystem may cease labelling entrepreneurs of color as "discounted investments" or perpetuating the myth that entrepreneurs of color get "help" or "resources" while white entrepreneurs receive genuine money.

Create the next generation of venture capitalists.

Extend your recruiting efforts outside conventional campuses—many non-traditional educational institutions are growing increasingly interested in Venture Capital and have special cocurricular groups to prepare students for the industry. Consider establishing a minority-focused scholarship fund, fellowship opportunity, and/or sponsorship program to help build a pipeline of new investors and operators. In addition to Venture Forward, community organizations such as All Raise, BLCK VC, LatinX VC, and HBCUvc offer programs, tools, and access to talent from historically underrepresented groups in VC.

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