WASHINGTON, DC – The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) today released a set of model documents and resources to help address sexual harassment in the venture industry. Created with guidance from working groups consisting of legal, H.R., and employment experts as well as venture investors, the documents have been created for both venture firms and startups to reference and adopt. These industry resources include: 1) Sample H.R. Policies for Addressing Harassment & Discrimination; 2) Sample H.R. Best Practices for Addressing Harassment & Discrimination; and 3) Sample Code of Conduct Policy. They are available with the NVCA Model Legal Documents as well as on the VentureForward page of the NVCA website.
The H.R. resources come in response to the news reports last summer of incidents of sexual harassment involving venture investors. In the wake of these revelations, NVCA sprang to action, speaking with many of the victims, collecting recommendations via an online form, and organizing a workshop in San Francisco that convened more than 60 industry participants, including managing partners, H.R. professionals, entrepreneurs, limited partners, legal experts, and other stakeholders. After reviewing the industry’s needs and NVCA’s leadership position in the ecosystem, the NVCA Board of Directors voted unanimously in September on NVCA’s path forward, which included: 1) Developing industry standard H.R. policies and best practices for venture firms and startups to adopt; 2) Facilitating education and training for VC firms and startups; and 3) Institutionalizing NVCA’s broader diversity and inclusion efforts via a new initiative called VentureForward.
“Harassment of any kind has no place in our industry, and it remains incumbent upon NVCA to help lead our community towards positive outcomes to address it. We encourage all VC firms to review these model documents and operationalize them into their organizations and existing policies as well as share them with their portfolio companies,” said Bobby Franklin, President and CEO of NVCA. “With the release of these tools and resources, we’ve taken a positive step forward to address sexual harassment and create a more welcoming industry, but more work remains to strengthen venture capital for the better. We will continue to tackle other areas of need our board, our members and our industry have identified as priorities through our VentureForward initiative.”
Accompanying the release of these new resources, NVCA—with help from its working groups—also released an updated version of the Sample H.R. Policies for Attracting & Retaining Diverse Talent, which includes separate policies for Paid Parental Leave in San Francisco, Paid Family Leave in New York, and a Family Friendly Workplace Policy for San Francisco. A previous version of these policies was released in March 2017. Additionally, as part of NVCA’s February 7th release of the updated Model Legal Documents, the Investor Rights Agreement document includes a newly added provision in section 5.11 for portfolio companies to adopt an anti-harassment policy and code of conduct policy.
NVCA is committed to expanding opportunities for men and women of all backgrounds to thrive in the venture ecosystem and ensuring everyone who works in this ecosystem has a welcoming professional culture and safe work environment, free from any type of harassment, abuse, and discrimination. As part of this commitment, NVCA’s VentureForward initiative is the next chapter of its diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts, focused on: providing education and training to VC firms and startups; sharing best practices and policies on D&I, talent management and recruitment, and HR; connecting VCs with a broader talent pool for their firms and a broader pool of entrepreneurs seeking funding; and conducting research on D&I in the venture ecosystem.