Bobby Franklin

by & filed under Diversity, VentureForward.

Four weeks have passed since news first broke of incidents of sexual harassment by a member of the venture community.  Since then, several other instances of inappropriate behavior involving individuals from our industry have come into the spotlight.  As much as it pains me to say this, this is probably not the end but the beginning.  Other brave women are likely to come forward to share their stories of sexual harassment and mistreatment.

Their bravery for stepping out of the shadows should be applauded.  As a husband and father of three including a young daughter, I would never wish for this to happen to them, just as I would never wish for this to happen to anyone that has been mistreated.  However, if their bravery leads to real change in our industry, let it not be in vain.  This is an opportunity to take the necessary steps towards a better future for venture capital.  Let’s seize it.

Naturally, the industry is looking to NVCA for leadership at this time and we stand ready to provide it.  Harassment of any kind has no place in our industry and NVCA will continue to lead with policies, procedures, and best practices to stomp it out.  However, we also know we can’t do it alone nor do we have a monopoly on good ideas.  Over the last several weeks, we have heard from many in our industry and across the ecosystem—VCs, entrepreneurs, LPs, and others—who have come forward with proposals for NVCA to consider and we welcome that.  Everyone has a role to play in ending this behavior.  We view all ideas as good ideas and we encourage anyone that wants to be part of the solution to come forward to not only end sexual harassment but to promote a safe and inclusive work culture for everyone.

So where do we go from here?

We formally request that anyone who wants to join in NVCA’s efforts to develop a plan of action to root out this behavior join us.  Whether it is a code of conduct for our industry, new model H.R. policies, management training or a mechanism where bad behavior can be reported, all recommendations are welcome and worthy of discussion and consideration.  Just as we believe diverse teams make better decisions, we also believe that a variety of ideas on how best to accomplish this will lead us to a better plan.  We all have a role to play and we encourage anyone who wants to contribute to join the association and be a part of the solution.

Do you have a recommendation for NVCA to consider?

Do you have a recommendation you want to share?  Anyone interested in being a part of the solution should get in touch with us by filling out the following form.  The NVCA board of directors, NVCA staff and leaders from our industry will carefully review all of the submissions we receive.  The NVCA board will decide what appropriate part NVCA can play in solving this problem and how we can partner with others.  Ultimately, we all have a role to play and everyone from our industry, not just NVCA, needs to be a leader.

When can we expect a plan to be presented?

We understand everyone is anxious for solutions.  We are too!  However, we are also mindful of the fact that artificial deadlines can lead to bad outcomes.  We are going to be thoughtful and deliberate in charting a path forward for our industry while also being mindful of timeliness.  We’d much prefer to get it right than to just get it fast.

What happens next?

In the coming weeks, NVCA will be making other announcements related to NVCA’s ongoing commitment to support a more inclusive venture industry.  In 2014, NVCA launched the Diversity Task Force to develop a clear and measurable path to increase opportunities for men and women of diverse backgrounds to thrive in venture capital and entrepreneurship.  Along the way, we have learned some important lessons, and through the leadership of our board and others, we have spent the past few months considering these lessons and developing a plan to integrate them into the next chapter of NVCA’s diversity and inclusion work.  Based on what we have learned, and the pressing need to address sexual harassment in our industry, we will be announcing updated details of NVCA’s diversity and inclusion initiative to address both the lack of diversity in our industry and making sure those in the industry have a safe and professional work place.  Stay tuned!