Diversity VC is a volunteer-run non-profit partnership that was officially launched 3 years ago today, on International Womens’ Day 2017. At the time of launch, we had a scrappy squarespace website, a makeshift logo, zero subscribers but a strong desire to make a change.
Since then, we have been on a remarkable journey in our efforts to build a fairer, more inclusive Venture Capital industry. We wanted to share our learnings from the last three years, celebrate our progress and look forward to the exciting future ahead for diversity in Venture Capital.
What we have researched
As we first set out to mobilize the industry, no fact-base existed to highlight the degree of homogeneity that VC faced. Fast forward 3 years later and we have published a number of first-of-their-kind studies and partnered with several organisations to illustrate the state of the problem;
- Women in UK Venture Capital — the first study to highlight the stark lack of female decision makers in UK VC
- Female Founders in partnership with the British Business Bank — the first study to highlight the funding gap between genders in the UK
- Diversity in US Startups in partnership with Ratemyinvestor — a study to highlight the lack of diversity in venture-backed US startups
- Inclusion in Tech in partnership with Atomico — a step-by-step guide for planning, deploying, monitoring and improving Diversity & Inclusion strategy in companies
- Diversity in UK Venture Capital 2019 — an in-depth look at diversity within UK venture across a broader set of metrics (including gender, ethnicity, education and career background)
- Venturing into Diversity & Inclusion 2019 — a study highlighting the practical steps that funds can take to promote diversity and inclusion within their teams and portfolio companies
Our findings over the last three years have highlighted that opportunity in VC has been biased towards those with demographic privilege and that funds are not doing enough. Our 2019 study, Diversity in UK VC, broadened the conversation beyond gender only, and also discussed inequalities that occur across ethnicity and background.
Our research has prompted a clear call to action.
What we have implemented
We have since launched Future VC, a first-of-its-kind internship programme, aimed at providing an unparalleled opportunity to traditionally overlooked candidates in gaining experience at leading funds in Europe. The inaugural year in 2019 welcomed 30 candidates, selected from 850 applicants, who benefited from a bespoke training programme and hands-on experience in funds such as Balderton, Atomico, Accel, Backstage Capital and more. Several of the future VCs are now working full time in venture for Tier One funds. Future VC 2020 is set to launch the second programme this June.
Alongside Future VC, we have aimed to make recruiting in venture more transparent through the creation of the jobs section on our website, and hosting events/one off masterclasses to help individuals break into Venture.
Within the industry itself, we have co-led trainings in partnership with Fearless Futures and Frontline Ventures ‘Investing in Inclusion’ where venture partners from ~40 VC funds have attended (Seedcamp, Atomico, JamJar, Connect and many more) and have reported a marked increase in their depth of understanding, and confidence in taking action.
Topics discussed in the training include:
The ways in which privilege and inequalities manifest across race, gender, class, sexuality, faith and ability, and what may occur when they overlap.
How people’s proximity to ‘the default’ informs who is deemed risky or safe, credible or not, and likely to receive investment.
The ways masculinities manifest as a possible issue in the sector and the behaviours that inform and enable issues like sexual harassment.
In addition to our trainings, we have been delighted to partner with fantastic organisations that are committed to making a positive change. Our latest report, Venturing into Diversity & Inclusion 2019 partnered with OneTech, an organisation connecting opportunities within the London tech scene to underrepresented minorities through workshops and masterclasses.
Alongside the internship programme, trainings and our partnerships, we have been focused on building a wider community of people who share our mission and have been humbled by the passion of the wonderful people we have met. Our community meetups have always been one of the most rewarding parts of our work — as we see connections being made and fill venues with diverse, energetic people who are committed to change. Our newsletter has grown to nearly 3,000 subscribers from across the globe and we hope to further engage new members, issue important thought leadership and make a positive impact going forward.
The industry is listening
From day one, we have been heartened by the reception that our work has received. Since our launch was covered by Business Insider and CityAM, and our first ever study garnered coverage in the Financial Times and BloombergTV, we have never looked back. Conversations with the BBC, Sunday Times, TechCrunch and many more have followed. Each time, we are overwhelmed with fantastic inbound and interest from funds and venture partners. As we are on a mission to make real change to the venture capital industry, it is phenomenal when we can see that the industry is ready to start meaningful conversations and wants to engage.
We have learned a tremendous amount over the last 3 years, including the need to be data driven, build a team of trusted advisers and find people passionate about the cause. We have benefited from excellent partnerships, an incredible team of volunteers and have been extremely grateful for every ounce of support we have received. As for what’s next, we have big and bold plans that we are excited to share later this year.
Thank you for joining us on our mission.
- Shriya Anand, Diversity VC