Jessica Straus & Maryam Haque

by & filed under Diversity, NVCA Blog, Research, VentureForward.

We just released our diversity study. Our study is different. We set out to survey all VC firms active in the U.S. to establish a benchmark of the current demographics of the industry and to take a closer look at firms’ talent management practices.

If you’ve spoken with a member of the NVCA staff over the past two years or one of our Board Members, the topic of diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the venture capital industry has likely come up. Since the launch of NVCA’s Diversity Task Force in December 2014, NVCA staff, its Board, and its members have focused on building a more inclusive innovation ecosystem. In our report Building a More Inclusive Entrepreneurial Ecosystem this summer, we outlined many proactive NVCA efforts and industry resources, highlighted a few firms who are leading the pack in terms of diversity initiatives, and referenced third-party data on D&I in VC.

But we knew we had the opportunity to effect change by providing the industry with actionable insights. Since the formation of the Diversity Task Force, we knew that improving D&I in the industry could only come after a dedicated effort to measure—and continually measure—both the demographics at firms and firm talent management practices. Understanding how firms recruit and support talent is a critical piece that we wanted to address.

With this vision, we started reviewing the different angles existing research has tackled on D&I in VC. We found the right partner in Deloitte. The Deloitte University Leadership Center for Inclusion and the Deloitte Emerging Growth Company practice brought their incredible expertise, passion, and tremendous intellect to our partnership. Jim Atwell, Christie Smith, Stephanie Turner, Emily Anderson, Kim DeVera, Lisa Beauchamp, William Harkins, Jeremiah Puleo and many others put forward an unflagging commitment to take this important first step of creating a benchmark of the D&I practices of the industry.

The results of our rigorous nine-month-long process went public last week when we released the NVCA-Deloitte Human Capital Survey conducted by the Deloitte University Leadership Center for Inclusion via a report and interactive dashboard.

Adding to the Existing Field of Research on D&I

We believe the NVCA-Deloitte Human Capital Survey takes several new approaches to understanding D&I in the venture capital industry:

  • We examine the industry holistically and include people working across all functions, including operations and administrative roles, as well as firms across various sectors. Many surveys focus solely on the makeup of partners and the most active firms in the industry (which are mostly in the tech sector).
  • The study extends beyond gender and race, and includes other facets of diversity such as age, education level, veteran status, disability status, marital and dependent care status.
  • The study provides a first look at firm talent management practices across the industry, including programs and strategies designed to enhance D&I.

Survey Background and Key Findings

  • We collected information from 217 VC firms representing a total of more than 2,500 VC employees.
  • Women only comprise 11% of Investment Partners or equivalent (‘Investment Partners’ defined as Managing General Partner, Managing Partner, General Partner, Founding Partner, or Managing Director; or a Partner designated as Senior and Investment Professional) across the industry.
  • Black employees comprise only 3% of the workforce in our study sample and no Investment Partners in the sample were Black; Hispanic or Latino employees comprise 4% of the workforce and 2% of Investment Partners.
  • While most firms do not collect demographic information regarding veteran status or disability status (28% and 26% collect this data, respectively), of those reporting, only 2% of employees are veterans and less than 1% reported a disability.
  • Firms that have a Human Capital Strategy were found to have an average of 54% female and nonwhite employees overall, while firms without a Human Capital Strategy have an average of only 41% female and non-white employees.


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The NVCA-Deloitte Human Capital Survey is just one important element in the journey to improve D&I in the venture community. Stay tuned for additional resources, events, and content from NVCA in 2017.

A special thank you to Kate Mitchell, Ashton Newhall, and Carmichael Roberts for their leadership on NVCA’s Diversity Task Force to see this research through from start to finish.