I’ve been in the technology industry for 25 years as an engineer, an exec, a founder and a VC and, in every one of those years, I’ve had difficult first-hand reminders of one of our industry’s biggest challenges: a massive lack of diversity.
While I’ve met many people thinking about and working on this problem, I was inspired by Check Warner and her team at Diversity VC from the first time we met and signed up to help on their board three years ago.
What was different about Check and her team’s approach?
First, I liked Diversity VC’s perspective that change has to start with investors. Investors are hugely influential in our industry because they get to pick which idea gets the capital to be put into action and there is now a mountain of research that shows that people invest in people like themselves (hello unconscious bias!). This means those early financial decisions set in motion a lack of diversity that then propagates and compounds over time and across the entire industry.
Secondly, unlike some similar groups, Diversity VC has always been staffed by full-time, professional VCs who did this in their ‘spare time’. As a result, there was always a ruthless focus about the way the team spent its time – carefully picking the next domino they felt they needed to knock over to get their mission accomplished. This time-starved execution mode has meant the team has also been amazing at prioritizing achieving real progress every year.