- A British campaign group set up by young venture capitalists to boost diverse representation in VC is expanding to the US.
- Diversity VC will be backed in the US by Female Founders Fund, VC firm Insight Venture Partners, Entrepreneur First, and law firm Cooley.
- 2017 was a shocking year for US venture capital, with high-profile figures such as Uber investor Shervin Pishevar, 500startups founder Dave McClure, Binary Capital cofounder Justin Caldbeck and many others accused of sexual harassment.
A British initiative set up to tackle venture capital’s monoculture will launch in the US, where the industry is currently reeling from multiple sexual harassment scandals.
Diversity VC was set up by five young venture capitalists in March to highlight the fact that most British venture capital investors are middle-class white men, with a knock-on effect on which startups get funding. It released a landmark report in May showing that almost half of British VC firms had no women on their investment teams.
Diversity VC founder and investor Check Warner told Business Insider that the group had decided to expand to the US after multiple requests from venture capital associates.
“What’s been lacking in conversations in the US is that basis in fact, [research into] why we have such a big problem,” Warner said. “There wasn’t anything comparable to what we had done.
“People got in touch to say ‘It would be great to have something like this, a system and process to start uncovering this.'”
Warner and her cofounders set up Diversity VC only a few months before a wave of harassment scandals hit US venture firms.Six women accused Binary Capital cofounder Justin Caldbeck of inappropriate behaviour, resulting in his leave of absence from the firm. Subsequent scandals engulfed Uber investor Shervin Pishevar, 500 Startups founder Dave McClure, and Tesla investor Steve Jurvetson.
“It’s been interesting to see these things come out,” said Warner. “It’s reflective of the culture not including people, and having this sense of entitlement. You don’t have checks and balances on behaviour.
“The lack of female diversity around the table is a contributing factor to people getting away with what they got away with.”
Like its UK counterpart, the US chapter of Diversity VC will promote greater diversity in venture capital through four initiatives, including helping underrepresented groups build a VC network, getting minority interns into VC firms, and publishing data about diverse representation.
The group has three main US backers to support its first international launch: Female Founders Fund; Alibaba investor Insight Venture Partners; and the US arm of startup factory Entrepreneur First. Law firm Cooley is giving financial backing.
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