It’s been a year since we shared our statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Sierra Ventures and made the commitment to doing better as a firm and playing our part to support diversification and inclusivity in the VC and tech communities.
We are sharing the progress of our efforts as part of holding ourselves accountable to our commitment and to our community.
Here are a few of the diversity, equity, and inclusion related efforts and practices Sierra Ventures has implemented over the past year based on the goals we outlined in June 2020.
FIND AND INVEST IN UNDERREPRESENTED FOUNDERS:
- Established a DEI committee that meets bi-monthly to focus on DEI efforts within the firm and where we have influence in the VC and tech startup ecosystem.
- We are now working to get more access to communities of underrepresented Founders by participating in diverse networking groups, speaking at diversity-focused events and workshops, and increasing access to entrepreneurs by hosting workshops directly with targeted founders. We know that our portfolio does not yet have an increasing percentage of underrepresented Founders, which is consistent with the VC industry in general, and we are focused and looking to increase these percentages.
- We established formal check-ins with our investment team members to set and review goals for meeting with diverse entrepreneurs.
IMPROVE DIVERSITY IN THE TECH COMMUNITY AND OUR PORTFOLIO COMPANIES:
- Hosted a Workshop on Best Practices for DEI at Startups for our portfolio companies to encourage awareness and provide recommendations and resources for how to think about and implement initiatives. Takeaways from that session can be found here. We plan to continue hosting similar Workshops and providing more resources and tips.
- Establishing vendor relationships and resources for our companies to encourage and promote DEI in the hiring process and employee experience. Current partners include Jopwell, Incluzion, CEOX, Lean DEI, Diversio, Collective, and SixFifty DEI.
EDUCATION – WE NEED TO HELP BUILD THE PIPELINE:
- Held initial conversations with HBCUs, VC firms, and networks dedicated to supporting and investing in diverse founders. We look forward to collaborating with these organizations on initiatives including internship opportunities, investments, and educational experiences.
- Providing entrepreneurship workshops to diverse founders through communities like The Loop.
- Participating in a fellowship program within EVCA (a nonprofit for VC non-partner investors) to provide mentorship opportunities for college students from underrepresented backgrounds that are interested in venture capital.
OUTSIDE THE VENTURE COMMUNITY:
- Have an “open door” policy for employees to surface social causes for discussion and firm action that correlates with our core venture investing and entrepreneurship activities.
- Host quarterly all-team Workshops to discuss diversity issues in VC and tech and provide personal growth opportunities such as unconscious bias awareness and building an understanding of diverse experiences through literature and dialogue.
- Firm-wide sharing and curation of DEI-related resources and events through email and Slack.
Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in VC and tech is an ongoing effort and we are looking forward to reaffirming this commitment and continuing to make progress in the year ahead.
If you have any ideas or opportunities to collaborate on efforts related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the VC and tech communities, please reach out to Allie Klun at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Managing Directors and Partners have years of experience growing businesses of all sizes not just as investors, but as entrepreneurs and operational executives in charge of engineering, finance, marketing, and operations. The seasoned leaders on our Operating Team provide high touch support through business development, strategy, and partner relations and are always finding opportunities to help our portfolio companies grow and scale. Additionally, our broader network and members on our CXO Advisory Board act as an extension of our team, providing valuable guidance and insights into the Enterprise.