Bobby Franklin

by & filed under Diversity, NVCA Blog, VentureForward.

Last month, we issued a call to action, requesting that anyone who wants to be part of NVCA’s efforts to address sexual harassment in venture capital join with us to develop a plan of positive actions. The response has been encouraging, and we are grateful for everyone who has taken the time to submit their thoughts and recommendations or raised their hand to work directly with us.

In addition to crowdsourcing recommendations via our web form, we are actively engaging in direct conversations with a broad swath of individuals, organizations and interested stakeholders from across the ecosystem to solicit their thoughts and ideas. Over the last several weeks, I have spoken to GPs, LPs, entrepreneurs, academics and, most importantly, many of the women who bravely came forward to share their unsettling stories. They also have shared their thoughts on what positive actions should be taken. Collectively, all these recommendations generally fall into three broad buckets: 1) Policies and Best Practices, 2) Training and Education, and 3) Reporting Capabilities.

Speaking to the victims directly has been incredibly important—both for me personally as the leader of NVCA, but more broadly to better assess what role NVCA can play to help lead our industry towards a positive outcome from all this. These conversations fit into the broader strategic effort underway right now around information gathering and determining how best NVCA can convene and lead our industry and the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

My most important priority in all this is to get this done as right as possible, rather than as fast as possible. To simply rush out of the gate with recommendations without taking the time to hear from as many interested parties as possible—including, most importantly, the victims themselves—would be disingenuous, and to not solicit the knowledge and input of legal and HR experts would be careless. Without taking these two very important steps, it could also lead to unintended consequences that are detrimental to the overall effort. NVCA will continue on our path of convening and connecting with an eye towards meaningful leadership not tied to artificial deadlines.

We also know that harassment is interconnected with diversity and inclusion. Our work now to address sexual harassment ties into the long-term objective of ensuring we lead on efforts to support a diverse and inclusive venture capital industry where everyone has the chance to play an important role. And once they are in this industry, they have the opportunity to succeed in a safe and welcoming professional environment. If we focus on these in tandem, we are much more likely to make a meaningful impact on our industry in the long-run.

All of this was discussed  recently at a special meeting of the NVCA Board of Directors. This was the first time in my tenure the board was convened for an unscheduled meeting to discuss a single topic, demonstrating the seriousness by which leaders of the industry are approaching this important matter. Our board is in agreement with the approach NVCA is taking and is committed to helping rally the industry to address this.

In the coming weeks and months, we look forward to continuing this conversation and convening the ecosystem to work collaboratively to drive towards positive outcomes. If you’re interested in getting involved, please connect with us. Together, I hope we can create lasting change that will strengthen the industry for the better.