Earlier this year we set out on a mission to increase the diversity of OpenView and that of our portfolio companies. We made a public commitment to do so by joining NCWIT’s Pacesetter’s program – a division of the National Center for Women & Information Technology specifically committed to rectifying the underrepresentation of women in computing. While there’s been a tremendous amount of conversation around this issue, conversation is only a first step towards solving the underrepresentation problem. That’s why Pacesetters goes beyond just talk.
As a member of Pacesetters, we are mandated to set specific, quantifiable and aggressive goals that span two years. Doing so pushes us to go above and beyond in terms of finding new avenues for sourcing diverse candidates and board members. Publishing these goals publicly holds us accountable to ourselves and the broader tech community.
When we announced our membership in June of this year, we laid out the following goals:
- Women should comprise 25% of all onsite interviews for technical roles directly sourced by OpenView
- Women should comprise 33% of all onsite interviews for sales roles directly sourced by OpenView
- Women should comprise 50% of all potential board seat introductions made by OpenView
At the start of our engagement with NCWIT, we found setting these goals daunting. Would we be able to come anywhere close? Would all of this work actually make an impact? Despite the hours we would have to pour into this effort, we knew all the while that it would be well worth it. Afterall, organizations with a more diverse employee base have been shown to be more collaborative, effective and efficient. Building companies with workforces that represent the broader communities in which we live and work is just good business – not to mention good for society.
So six months in, where do we stand? Well there’s still work to be done for sure, but we’re progressing towards our goals. In the last six months, we’ve achieved the following:
- Women comprise 25% of all onsite interviews for technical roles directly sourced by OpenView
- Women comprise 40% of all onsite interviews for sales roles directly sourced by OpenView
- Women comprise 19% of all potential board seat introductions made by OpenView
Where we’ve failed to make a vast impact, specifically around board introductions, we’re taking action. Today we are joining theBoardlist, a talent community which helps VCs like OpenView discover and connect highly qualified female leaders with opportunities to serve on company boards.
According to theBoardlist, between 75 and 78% of privately funded tech company boards have no women, precisely why we set such a specific goal around board introductions in the first place. Gender diversity at every rank and stage of a company’s life leads to greater performance. And through our partnership with theBoardlist and the work we do with NCWIT we will continue to march towards achieving all of our goals.
Now more than ever before, we feel that making a concerted effort to increase diversity in our industry is paramount. The world is changing in a way that many of us could not have predicted a year or even six months ago. Opportunities for minorities and women might slip away if a real effort is not made to keep intact the progress we’ve already made while also blazing a path towards increased diversity.
In addition to allowing us to build a more diverse and therefore representative firm and portfolio, we hope that our efforts inspire other VCs to set action-oriented goals around diversity, keeping in mind that every small change can add up to have a huge and lasting impact.
Much of the community has already realized the need to put more focus on these issues and we couldn’t feel more hopeful or encouraged by the work of partners and friends in the tech industry. Big ups to initiatives like Project Include, Suit Up, Work-Bench’s #HacktheNetwork and many others that have all formed in the last year. We’re also encouraged by the willingness of leading tech companies like Twitter and Pinterest to focus on hiring goals rather than just the current makeup (by race and gender) of their employees. At the same time, we are disappointed by delayed diversity reports and a failure to move the needle in any meaningful way by certain companies. However, awareness is building. There is a mounting realization that reporting on diversity statistics alone is not nearly enough. There is now a bias towards action.
We know that our work will never be done, but through steps large and small, we are confident that we will build a more inclusive society. On to 2017!