93 %? This number shows the percentage of VC funds raised by in 2018 by all-male founding teams. Saying that women and minorities are underrepresented at every level of the ecosystem is a clear understatement.
On my way back from Slush 2018, I was thinking about the most important information I got attending this event. This is the most important thing I have learned. We would have a lot to celebrate in the VC industry regarding 2018, another extraordinary year for European tech investment (that will reach a record of more than $23 billion). But while the money is flowing, diversity is stalling.
We already know that the lack of diversity issue in the Tech scene touches all aspects of the industry: hiring, board membership, entrepreneurship, big tech company demographics. So, what’s wrong with VC funding in 2018?
WE HAVE A PROBLEM
In another impressive year, investment in European tech reached many records: More money, exits, unicorns, CVCs, VCs, entrepreneurs…
Despite, we can mostly highlight the fact that all-male teams get more than 90% of European startup funding. This is the “uncomfortable truth” so called by Francesca Warner CEO of Diversity VC.
With record investments in startups, Europe’s tech scene has a lot to celebrate. But on diversity, there is a lot of work to do, as we didn’t improve at all for the past 10 years.
These massive demographic breakdowns will take years to reverse. And it is not a coincidence that the amount of capital raised by minorities and women closely resembles their representation among venture capitalists.
WHY IS IT A PROBLEM?
If you are not Caucasian, male, without disabilities, with a good socio-economic background, it will be harder for you to raise money. Even if your project is greater. Even if your ideas are better. Even if your capacities are stronger.
We are not just talking about female representation in the ecosystem. There is, in addition, a clear lack of educational institution diversity, and representation of all kind of minorities.
Less than 0,2% of funding is raised bu women of colour in Europe
Diversity is about success.
- Attracting and retaining talents,
- Performation better financially,
- Demonstrating and improving channels of communication,
- Improving social impact…
Inclusion is the act of making someone feel part of a group
It doesn’t mean people have to compromise (for example in recruitment). Entrepreneurs still have to work with the brightest and most-skilled people. But it is about leading and building a culture of high performance at the best of everyone abilities, including people from diverse background, culture and origin.
Diversity is about inspiration
How a woman will have the guts today to start a company seeing that it is almost impossible for her to raise? Already knowing that raising money is a long and hard journey…
The future of tech will be a collaboration of people from different backgrounds, origins and experiences. Excluding talents from minorities means excluding ideas and new inspiration.
Diversity is about the future of the digital economy
People have to realize that today, the future of technology is on the hands of an undiverse minority. The industry that tackles some of the biggest problems in the world is not representative of the customers, users, or targets to their businesses.
WHAT ARE THE SOLUTION ?
More than 5,000 people responded to a survey for the 2018 State of European Tech Report. It leads Atomico and Diversity VC to release a Practical Guide for Entrepreneurs on Diversity & Inclusion in Tech.
In my opinion, VCs have to take the lead on building diversity and inclusion strategies. VCs’ decision drives the tech-economy (sectors, amount, startup valuation…). It is now the time for them to act, to take time and energy to influence a more diverse ecosystem (and with less discrimination…).
How we can change the VC industry and making it more diverse and inclusive? I have started to list a few solutions to engage the debate:
- Solution 1: make everybody conscious of it: especially investors have to understand bias and share information about it. Every VC should read the Atomico report and talk about it, internally first.
- Solution 2: promote diversity in business: VCs has to highlight women lead investment in their portfolio. Every VC should have a Diversity & Inclusion internal policy. VCs have first to create an inclusive workplace.
- Solution 3: Talk about it and promote early-stage investment for diversity startup founders in the ecosystem. Allocate budget people and time to promote and highlight leaders from diverse demographic experience or gender.
- Solution 4: Hiring more talents from diversity. VCs aren’t looking widely and deeply enough for diverse talent.
- Solution 5: other types of investors have to do part of the job: every accelerator, incubator, school-program, coworking spaces…has to engage more events encouraging and inspiring minorities in tech-business.
Diversity and inclusion in tech To tackle the diversity issue, Atomico has partnered with Diversity VC to launch a practical online guide for technology entrepreneurs on how to do just that: be diverse and inclusive. Starting by reading it is already something!
And what about France?
The conscientiousness about diversity in the French Tech ecosystem is also relatively young. But things are moving forward with two recent initiatives (among others):
- The “Galion Project” a French think tank of high-performing entrepreneurs has released a “gender-agreement” to help companies to create a more fair and inclusive workplace in the tech industry.
- The “wearesista” initiative wants to address the low rate of women-led startup funded by Venture Capital in the Frenchtech.
Other initiatives are existing for a long time, and are now more active and highlighted: women in tech, Led by her, techfugees…
It feels like there is a change coming in France. The French tech ecosystem is growing up faster than other in all kind of metrics (Yes, I know, I am a bit “French” by saying this). Let’s be optimistic and create all together the most diverse tech ecosystem in the world!