Leadership

National Venture Capital Association: Let's Solve Our Diversity Problem

By / Dec 9, 2014 (iStock/Thinkstock)

In an effort to improve diversity in the startup world, the National Venture Capital Association announced a task force this week to tackle the issue at its source. But the task force faces a diversity problem of its own.

The headlines a few months ago didn’t exactly say great things about the tech world’s inclusiveness.

Company after company released reports detailing a significant problem plaguing the tech industry as a whole: not enough women and very small numbers of minorities on staff.

Some associations are already addressing the issue, but the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) is in a position to help work on it from the roots. That’s because the venture capital field is active in funding the companies that have the potential to grow into the next Twitter, Facebook, or Google—and investors suffer from some of the same diversity issues that dog tech giants. And that problem often hinders how far startups led by women or minorities can go.

On Monday, NVCA announced the launch of a new diversity task force focused on increasing opportunities for women and minorities in the startup arena. It will be made up of 11 current and former NVCA board members who have leading roles at high-profile venture capital firms such as Andreessen Horowitz and GE Ventures.

“The greater the number of diverse investors and entrepreneurs at the table, the greater capacity we have as a nation to innovate and bring the best ideas to bear,” NVCA President and CEO Bobby Franklin said in a news release [PDF]. “Working alongside the many individuals and organizations focused on increasing inclusion, we look forward to these efforts helping ensure our innovation economy reflects the diversity of our nation.”

While the effort generally met with praise, USA Today reporter Jessica Guynn noted something curious about the task force that may raise questions.

“Yet even the task force the National Venture Capital Association has appointed to promote diversity is not diverse,” Guynn wrote. “Seven of 11 members are white men. Three are women. There are no African Americans or Hispanics on the task force.”

However, Scale Venture Partners founder Kate Mitchell, one of the three women on the task force and its cochair, doesn’t necessarily see that as a bad thing.

“I love the idea that the white guys were clamoring to be on it. This is not a check-the-box commission,” she told the newspaper. “We wanted the leaders of the industry to put their stamp on it.”

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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