“The tech industry can be a powerful force for good. However, there’s not always equal access to the opportunities it presents.” Baroness Martha Lane Fox, CBE Cross-Bench Peer, House of Lords Founder and Executive Chair, Doteveryone Director, Twitter.
Venture Capital is funding the future. Therefore, it’s imperative the decisions made by VCs are free from bias, and that they encourage their portfolio companies to hire from a diverse talent pool. This will have a knock-on effect on the wider tech industry. Unfortunately, VCs cannot promote diversity within their portfolios without first addressing the lack of diversity in their own organisations.
A study of 160 active VC firms and over 1,500 employees, carried out by the non-profit partnership Diversity VC in May 2017, found that:
- Women comprise just 27% of the VC labour force compared to 47% in the U.K. labour force overall. This figure includes non-investment professionals within VC.
- When specifically considering investment roles (from the titles of Analyst to Partner) women are further underrepresented at only 18%. The equivalent figure for non-investment roles (such as Investor Relations, Marketing and Legal) stands at 43%.
- Women represent only 13% of decision-makers in VCs (decision-maker = An individual on an investment committee, typically an investment partner, who makes the final decision over which investments to make)
- Almost half of all firms have no women in their investment teams. Looking exclusively at decision makers, a staggering 66% of investment teams have no women decision-makers.
Diversity VC is aiming to significantly improve female representation at a senior level in the industry, through working with firms to set targets that are both ambitious and achievable. Their industry-wide goal is to see women holding at least 20% of senior decision-making positions in U.K. VC by 2020.
To help achieve this, they partnered with a number of industry experts including two La Fosse consultants, Tillie Hands, and Andrew Richardson, to co-write ‘Diversity in VC: A Practical Toolkit.’ The toolkit is designed to help VCs recognise their own biases and drive diversity within their own teams, as well as their portfolios.
Andrew and Tillie co-wrote Module 4 on ‘Offer Management and Induction,’ including:
- Questions to ask prospective candidates to test how inclusive an atmosphere is promoted within your business
- How to tailor your job offer to suit the requirements of individuals from different backgrounds
- How to design an induction process, PDP and Buddy System which provides employees with a structured support network from Day one