On Thursday, First Round, a leading early-stage venture firm, released the results of its annual state of startups report.
And to no one’s surprise, lack of diversity is still a big problem.
First Round polled more than 700 founders (including companies outside its portfolio) to get their thoughts on everything from over-hyped industries to what time employees came into work. For starters, of the 700+ founders polled, 83% of the group were men, compared to 17% of women.
As you might expect, the prominence of male founders also meant a predominance of all-male or mostly-male companies.
Simply put, tech companies don’t make diversity a priority.
While the topic has been given a lot of lip service over the last year, most companies are still ignoring it. Here’s some proof in the numbers from the First Round survey:
- 61% of companies are either all-male or mostly-male. Only 8% are either mostly female or all-female. Nearly a third say they’re split 50-50 between men and women.
- That diversity drops off when it comes to boards. 61% of the organisations’ board of directors are entirely male. An additional 23% (or 84% in total) are mostly male.
- Only 14% of startups have a formal plan to promote diversity and inclusion in their companies. The majority, 54%, said they have a strategy but nothing formal in place. Even Facebook, with its best-laid plans, has struggled with promoting diversity and inclusion in its ranks. Startups who think they have a strategy but don’t have anything formal in place to hold themselves accountable or measure themselves by are deluding themselves.
- Nearly a quarter of startups have no plans to promote diversity and inclusion and no plans in the works. Let me repeat that: Nearly 1 in 4 of the startups surveyed — despite the widespread recognition of the diversity problem in the industry — have zero plans to address it.
- 30% of startups say they haven’t even talked about diversity and inclusion inside their company. While the majority of startups have acknowledged it in some talks internally or externally, nearly one in three companies hasn’t addressed it at all.
While those statistics reflect the well-known problem, the most startling chart from the results is the difference in how men and women view the cause of tech’s diversity problem in the first place. Nearly half of all men surveyed pointed to the classic pipeline excuse: There simply aren’t as many women or members of certain minorities qualified to do the jobs tech companies need done.
If you ask the same question to women, they come up with a different root cause: Women in tech largely attributed the industry’s diversity problem to unconscious bias in hiring or promotions followed by a lack of female role models in the industry.
It’s not a problem in itself that men and women splintered on the topic — after all, multiple points of view is exactly what diversity is all about and what startups need.
Yet it’s proof that men can’t continue just talking to men and hiring men and agreeing amongst men that the problem is the lack of qualified women.