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Greenwashing is the act of distributing false information about something being more environmentally friendly than it actually is.

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Tackling the Cost of Living Crisis

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Banking Essentials - Part I

This pathway will walk us through the basics of banks, starting with some of the different types and their main functions, then starting to look at the regulation faced by the banks, both before and after the Global Financial Crisis.

Greenwashing

Greenwashing is the act of distributing false information about something being more environmentally friendly than it actually is.

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Tackling the Cost of Living Crisis

In this video, Max discusses the cost-of-living crisis currently enveloping the UK. He examines its impact on households as well as the overall economy.

CSR and Sustainability in Financial Services

In the first video of this two-part video series, Elisa introduces us to sustainability. She begins by looking at the difference between sustainability and corporate social responsibility, two terms that can be easily confused.

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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at VC Fund Operations

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at VC Fund Operations

Hannah Leach

ESG and VC specialist

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a pressing issue companies are now beginning to take more seriously. Within funds, the data surrounding DEI is irrefutable - a more diverse workforce creates improved business results. Join Hannah Leach as she explores DEI in depth and shows how you can create a good working environment.

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a pressing issue companies are now beginning to take more seriously. Within funds, the data surrounding DEI is irrefutable - a more diverse workforce creates improved business results. Join Hannah Leach as she explores DEI in depth and shows how you can create a good working environment.

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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at VC Fund Operations

10 mins 41 secs

Key learning objectives:

  • Understand the evidence behind diversity in the workplace

  • Outline how to create a culture of diversity

  • Identify good practices for a working environment

Overview:

The data surrounding DEI is now irrefutable. A more diverse workforce creates an environment which enables better decision-making and improved business results, according to data from McKinsey and Harvard Business School. Companies can create a strong diversity culture by codifying it into a public DEI policy or statement and considering how to source and hire more diverse people and how to create an environment where that talent feels included.

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Summary

Why is diversity important in the workplace?

The data surrounding DEI is now irrefutable. A more diverse workforce creates an environment which enables better decision-making and improved business results. Long-term and quantitative data-based research from Harvard Business School makes a similar case. Gompers and Kovvali, through examination of the decisions of thousands of venture capitalists and tens of thousands of investments, have shown that diversity significantly improves financial performance on measures such as profitable investments at the individual portfolio-company level and overall fund returns. 

However, there is some consensus that we, as an industry, veer towards ‘diversity theatre’ and that there is still work to be done if we are to go from hollow virtue-signalling to real, meaningful change. One of the key reasons for this view of the industry is that the vast majority of VCs are still white – minority ethnic VC employees account for roughly 8% and males for 77%.

How can we build a culture of diversity, inclusion and mutual respect in the workplace?

The first step VC funds should look into is to codify into a public DEI policy or statement. Publicising the specific actions that the fund is taking, as well as their targets, forces the fund to be accountable if they don’t fulfil their promises. It also ensures that everyone within the fund knows the policy and can work in tandem to reach it.

A second step that a fund can take to foster a diverse and inclusive environment within a firm involves representing diversity and inclusion. We consider how to source and hire more diverse people and second, how to create an environment where that talent feels included and on an equal footing with the rest of the workforce. 

What are good practices for a working environment? 

One of the first steps is to put in place a code of conduct, which is a set of rules commonly written for the employees of a company. This document does not need to be complex nor does it need to have elaborate policies, but rather, should simply reflect the core values of a company and set boundaries as to what constitutes a violation of these values. Funds must also think about how best to embed it in their firm’s culture, including how to make it a part of a new joiner’s onboarding process, before subsequently revisiting it with the team at key junctures. 

Hiring and retaining talent is a crucial component of running a VC fund, with people having the biggest impact on the creation of a strong and cohesive team culture. When a key employee or partner leaves, a firm loses expertise and resources. Such a loss can heavily impact team dynamics, as well as set the alarm bells ringing for LPs. VC funds should therefore pay close attention to people, one step being to implement feedback mechanisms to maintain awareness of employees’ wellbeing. 

Finally, there is a danger that team issues live with the head of HR, but for strong cultures to thrive within a VC fund, they must have senior buy-in at the partner level. Without these initiatives being widely supported at senior levels, employees are unlikely to put up with a firm with a bad culture for too long.

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Hannah Leach

Hannah Leach

Hannah Leach is a partner at the venture firm Houghton Street Ventures and co-founder of VentureESG, a global non-profit initiative whose aim is to drive forward the adoption of ESG practices in the venture capital industry. VentureESG provides VC funds with the knowledge, tools and peer support to be able to implement more robust ESG practices across their operations and end-to-end investment process. Hannah started her career in international development and has since spent the majority of the last decade working with companies to design and launch new products and services.

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