Last month, we released the second edition of the NVCA-Deloitte Human Capital Survey, which captures critical data on the workforce at venture capital (VC) firms, measures progress against our 2016 survey, and uncovers the current state of diversity and inclusion (D&I) across the industry.
TL;DR – The U.S. VC industry has made important—albeit small—progress toward increasing D&I at venture firms. Firms with strategies, i.e., intention and implementation, in place have driven progress. D&I strategies at VC firms are associated with greater gender diversity. And more diverse VC firms have been found to record better financial performance. Tapping talent from underrepresented groups of professionals and including a broader range of experiences and viewpoints at VC firms are critical to unlocking opportunities in our industry to ensure it reaches its full potential.
If you’re still with me…
In addition to the report, this week, NVCA and Deloitte released an interactive dashboard. The dashboard provides information on who works in the VC industry; whether gender, ethnic, or age groups have differing experiences; what firms are doing to enhance D&I; and how the industry has evolved from 2016 to 2018. The dashboard also allows VC leaders to benchmark against peers and identify opportunities to advance D&I at firms.
Not sure where to start? Here are 7 charts with trends and takeaways.
Recap of Our Discussion Last Month with VCs
On June 27, NVCA and Deloitte hosted a breakfast in San Francisco at Battery Ventures’ office with 40 VC leaders across the industry, including managing partners and operations professionals tasked with leading D&I at their firms. After Heather Gates of Deloitte kicked off with a review of the findings from the Human Capital Survey, NVCA President & CEO Bobby Franklin moderated a panel of VC leaders: Roger Lee (Battery Ventures); Kate Mitchell (Scale Venture Partners); and Patricia Nakache (Trinity Ventures). Kerry Francis of Deloitte led an interactive inclusion lab to cap the event.
The rich discussion included specific examples of initiatives and programs firms have adopted to address D&I at organizations across the industry. The conversation was under Chatham House Rules, but three key themes emerged:
Keeping D&I as a priority at VC firms
Results from the latest Human Capital Survey are positive, but these are still the early days. The workforce at VC firms doesn’t change frequently (i.e., firms don’t hire often), so the pace of change has been—and will be—slow. And most of the progress has been on gender, not race or ethnicity demographics. An important trend is that the industry has seen an overall increase in the percent of firms with D&I strategies; however, only about 1/3 of firms have a human capital strategy. Firms prioritizing D&I with urgency through intention and implementation have a competitive advantage, and they are critical to moving the needle. Furthermore, the group discussed limited partners (LPs) more closely eyeing firms’ D&I data, progress, and programs (note: our survey found that 36% of VC firms said LPs had requested their D&I data in the past 12 months).
The industry has seen growth in programs focusing on pipeline and recruitment…
Examples of programs and initiatives mentioned in our discussion included: 1) prioritizing D&I in discussions at team offsites; 2) implementing the Rooney Rule; 3) incorporating diversity at every step of recruitment, i.e., phone interviews, in-person interviews, and offer letters, and keeping track of the data; 4) identifying clear criteria and metrics when evaluating candidates to mitigate unconscious bias.
…but retention and promotion are just as critical
Sentiment among the group suggested firms should evaluate retention and promotion practices to ensure diverse talent reaches the highest levels of leadership once they’ve been hired. Several cited mentorship programs at their firms as valuable and effective in addressing this challenge. Others suggested training leaders on microaggressions and their negative impact in the workplace.
If you couldn’t make it to the June event and want to weigh in, our goal is to host similar discussions throughout the year, so we welcome your feedback and invite you to engage. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. And a huge thanks to everyone who joined us, as well as to those who participated in the Human Capital Survey.
Two parting questions, and ones that we hope you and your team consider often, whether you’re a VC, entrepreneur, LP, or other stakeholder in the startup ecosystem: what are you doing to take full advantage of the all the talent available that’s currently underrepresented in the startup ecosystem? And how are you promoting a more inclusive culture?