Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people each account for less than 8% of the Professionals category in U.S.high tech industry labor data (link). According to the Harvard Business Review, in an investigation of the state of venture capital between 1990 and 2017, only 8% of investors were women and less than 3% were Black and Latinx. This problem carries forward into community and employee development and leads to massive employee attrition reflected in the fact that POCs are most likely to leave companies due to unfairness and cultural insensitivity (link).
At Forum Ventures we want to play a small part in changing this narrative. On July 16th, we made a commitment to developing and maintaining diversity, inclusion, and equity at Forum Ventures – within both our team and our portfolio of companies. As part of staying accountable, we will provide updates on our initiatives as we build them. Our first update is on how we plan to achieve greater diversity in our workforce by transforming our internal hiring, talent development, and retention practices and helping our portfolio companies do the same.
1. Hiring: Change start at the top of the funnel.
We plan to fix our funnel in the following four ways:
1. Intentionally source underrepresented talent for all of our hiring needs through communities and professional organizations that serve and target them.
2. Actively work to diversify our talent pipeline, by partnering with public minority serving institutions in New York, San Francisco, and Toronto to develop a program that brings talent in directly from these sources for biannual internships.
3. Create a culture of belonging from the start by working to re-codify our future job listings to ensure that hiring ads do not contain language that would dissuade people from underrepresented groups from applying.
4. Focus on increasing diversity within our investment team, specifically, as these are the folks who can push the needle on who we decide to invest in. We recognize that as venture capitalists, we are in a unique position to be able to contribute to solving this problem by reallocating capital to more underrepresented founding teams. If our investment team is equally represented, we will have equal voices at the decision table, as well attract a more diverse group of founders seeking investment.
Our team is actively working towards formalizing partnerships with minority serving professional organizations and institutions as you read this and we will release updates on the status of these partnerships in the near future.
2. Talent Development: Equal opportunity inside our doors.
A more diverse workforce does not stop at hiring. From a development perspective, we are actively working towards crafting career development and community building opportunities for present and future team members. This includes creating resource groups and programming for our underrepresented founders and employees to connect with each other and professionals that can speak directly to their goals and lived experiences.
We are also implementing an anonymous feedback tool firm-wide to create a safe space for employees to anonymously and safely send feedback to each-other and the leadership.
3. Talent Retention: Create a culture of belonging.
After conducting a deep dive into our previous hiring practices and instances of attrition among underrepresented employees in the wider tech ecosystem, we’ve learned that a lack of community, cultural understanding, and transparency plays a huge role in talent leaving.
Some of the initiatives we’re spearheading to this point include a mandate for firm-wide participation in educational programming to learn about and be aware of lived experiences outside of their own and equity-related issues to reset behavioral expectations. We are also doing a full third party investigation into our compensation and promotion trends to eliminate biases and set and publish a transparent standard for all current and future employees.
This is only one part of a much longer and very important conversation. We recognize that this is merely a starting point and we hope that this strategy will evolve with time to create meaningful change in the tech ecosystem. We are taking this journey with you all, the Forum Ventures community, with equity and accountability as our foundation and will continue to post updates as our initiatives continue to develop and roll out.
We are always learning and very open to feedback, so please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss.