dot.LA Summit: Going Beyond Lip Service on Diversity and Inclusion is ‘A Matter of Respect’

Harri Weber

Harri is dot.LA's senior finance reporter. She previously worked for Gizmodo, Fast Company, VentureBeat and Flipboard. Find her on Twitter and send tips on L.A. startups and venture capital to harrison@dot.la.

dot.LA Summit: Going Beyond Lip Service on Diversity and Inclusion is ‘A Matter of Respect’
Pledges to boost diversity and inclusion are widespread in the tech and startup world, but the industry chronically fails to realize its own goals.

That's no coincidence. The venture capital world, which provides much of the capital fueling fledgling startups, remains a boys club with a bias towards white male founders. And that bias has a ripple effect, warping industry hiring practices and decision making. The problem is repelling workers, too, as post-lockdown resignations skyrocket and companies weigh new policies, such as remote work and hybrid schedules, to retain staffers.

"It's about being able to show up at work as your full self, said Ricardo Vazquez, executive officer at the mayor's Office of Economic Development, in a dot.LA Summit panel on building diversity and inclusion within startups and larger firms.

"I'm Mexican American. I can't just leave that in my apartment, so that means creating a space where I feel comfortable being Latinx and being Mexican American," Vazquez said.

The discussion was hosted by Form senior program manager Andrea Zak and also featured Leila Lee, the mayor's director of small business and entrepreneurship, and AnnenbergTech program lead Calvin Selth. The talk comes as employees in the tech industry press their employers to go beyond the usual lip service on inclusion.

Just last week, members of Netflix's trans employee resource group organized a walkout over the streaming giant's handling of Dave Chappelle's standup special, "The Closer." Friday's panel touched on Netflix's bungled response.

"I think for me it's just a matter of respect. I think we kinda lost that," said Lee. "And I think at Netflix, there was a little bit of a lack of respect, in my opinion," she added.

And expectations continue to evolve. "We're seeing more employees expecting more alignment between their own values and the social impact missions of their companies," said Selth.

"You can't be stuck in the 90s or old notions of diversity, you have to continue. We're not having a Thanksgiving conversation with our uncle. We're talking about how we're going to run our business and impact peoples' lives," he added.

Lee argues this is an area where startups actually have an advantage. It's "where startups can really make a whole lot of difference at creating a culture that really respects each person," she said.

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Rivian Issues R1T Electric Truck Recall for Faulty Airbag Sensors

David Shultz

David Shultz is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara, California. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside and Nautilus, among other publications.

Rivian Issues R1T Electric Truck Recall for Faulty Airbag Sensors
Courtesy of Rivian.
Rivian Automotive has issued a recall for 502 of its R1T electric trucks due to a potential problem with the front passenger airbag sensors. The recall affects vehicles built between Sept. 21, 2021 and April 12, 2022. The issue stems from a problem with the sensors in the seat, which are designed to detect whether a passenger is present and whether to deploy the airbag in the event of a crash.
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Venture Deals in LA Are Slowing Down, And Other Takeaways From Our Quarterly VC Survey

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

Venture Deals in LA Are Slowing Down, And Other Takeaways From Our Quarterly VC Survey
Shutterstock

It looks like venture deals are stagnating in Los Angeles.

That’s according to dot.LA’s most recent quarterly VC sentiment survey, in which we asked L.A.-based venture capitalists for their take on the current state of the market. This time, roughly 83% of respondents reported that the number of deals they made in L.A. either stayed the same or declined in the first quarter of 2022 (58% said they stayed the same compared to the fourth quarter of 2021, while 25% said they decreased).

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