No Room for Harassment in our Industry

In the past several days, the brave testimonials of Niniane Wang, Susan Ho, and Leiti Hsu have drawn a sharp focus on the unacceptable sexual harassment and misconduct of Justin Caldbeck. This behavior has no room in our industry and opened a critical discussion about how we can work together to make systemic changes to ensure that anyone working in the entrepreneurial ecosystem is not subjected to this type of behavior in the future. NVCA strongly condemns sexual harassment, abuse and discrimination of any form.

Leaders in the industry have come forward with action-oriented perspectives about how to advance inclusion and end harassment in the venture ecosystem. While there may be disagreement and debate on the most productive approaches, there should be no debate about the end goal.

An important by-product of these events is the increased public discourse on these issues. There is value in conversations among partners, colleagues, and teams about how we can strive together to create a more inclusive industry. We believe strongly in the power of public discourse to amplify the shared responsibility we have to build safe, inclusive, productive workplaces. The most powerful outcome is pairing public discourse with action.

When we launched the NVCA Diversity Task Force in 2014, we began hosting focus groups with investors, entrepreneurs, universities and accelerators to assess the obstacles which might be holding the entrepreneurial ecosystem back from greater inclusion, and competitiveness. One insight continued to be repeated: there is a lack of focus on human capital management in the venture industry. Based on these insights, we worked with Proskauer Rose and Miller Law Group to develop a set of Sample H.R. Policies to serve as a resource to the entire industry.

Additionally, we led a Diversity Pledge announced at the White House Demo Day in 2015, published a report on diversity best practices, and in late 2016, published the NVCA-Deloitte Human Capital Survey on the diversity of the VC industry and its talent management practices. What did we learn from the survey? Very simply that intention leads to change. Firms that have a talent management strategy in place have greater diversity. Likewise, we believe firms should be intentional about rooting out harassment in order to see positive results.

At NVCA, we support and advocate for the policies that impact the broader entrepreneurial ecosystem here in Washington, DC, but as a trade association we have an additional responsibility. We will always seek to identify and share best practices that will continually improve our industry, and stop abhorrent behavior. We invite everyone to join us as we continue this important work.

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