Top Venture Industry Group Launches Nonprofit to Add Diversity to its Ranks

Top Venture Industry Group Launches Nonprofit to Add Diversity to its Ranks

As the country reckons with racial inequity forced to the fore by the George Floyd protests, the National Venture Capital Association launched a nonprofit Tuesday with a focus on building diversity.

Dubbed Venture Forward, the $5.5 million effort had been in the works for years and is being backed by Silicon Valley Bank, Deloitte and Gunderson Dettmer along with dozens of individuals.


The 501(c)(3) will help the industry that bankrolls startups and prides itself on fueling innovation to diversify its ranks.

"It's a long term sustainable way to think about how we are shaping the human capital, the culture, the values and the narrative of venture," said Maryam Haque, the executive director of Venture Forward.

The effort has already been underway and was supposed to be announced in March but was pushed back because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The venture will focus on four areas: diversity and inclusion, education, research and history.

"(Venture) has traditionally not been a very diverse and inclusive ecosystem," she said. "We have seen more progress in terms of women partners coming into roles at venture firms, but it's been very little to no progress when you look at partners that are black or Latinx."

The industry has been dominated by white men. Along with the rest of the nation, it's facing a moment of self reflection. Among the programs are an online university with scholarships geared to those underrepresented in venture.

About 21% of investment professionals in the industry are women, up 6 percentage points from 2016

Venture Forward has a separate board from NVCA. Board members include Christy Chin of Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, Bobby Franklin of NVCA, Jennifer Friel Goldstein of Silicon Valley Bank, Charles Hudson of Precursor Ventures, Ray Leach of JumpStart, Kate Mitchell of Scale Venture Partners and Scott Sandell of NEA.

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