As leaders in the community, we have a responsibility to make space for more diverse voices in the startup and venture industries. I have not done enough. I could have done more before. And the reality is, the murder of George Floyd (among countless others) and the global protests are a wake up call for myself and our firm.
I, and we, are here now. We stand with the Black community in saying Black Lives Matter, and are committed to ensuring that all of our practices as a company are not just inclusive, but proactively Anti-Racist. This is our plan to establish and track OKRs to turn these actions into results, which we look forward to sharing.
As a team and community that prides itself on questioning the status quo to drive innovation, at The House Fund and the UC Berkeley community we serve, we have not adequately questioned the lack of diversity or equity in our innovation ecosystem.
Our community, UC Berkeley, is anchored in ideals of freedom — of identity, ideas, speech, and rights. Yet getting into UC Berkeley is not equitable. Representation in our student, faculty, and alumni community is not evenly distributed, nor is the community of innovators we serve.*(see UC Berkeley admissions statistics below)
Our firm is deeply rooted in community — it is so important to us, that we named ourselves The House. We want our community to feel welcoming, like you are home. But in this moment, our pledge rings hollow until we adjust our values, relationships, how we invest, and how we serve our campus and community.
We have been listening, learning, and thinking deeply about where we can do better. The best way to progress is to set business goals and execute. So here’s our plan. We commit to take action and increase equity at The House Fund in the following 5 areas: campus, team, investing, startups, and community.
Campus — We have to make sure Black students on campus receive the right resources. While the school has a big task ahead to make sure Black students are adequately represented in the student body, here’s what we’ll do to make sure those who are on campus get entrepreneurial access.
- We will grow, establish, and foster relationships with student communities of color to increase access and create more opportunities in the venture capital and startup industries. We are starting outreach now to some great organizations on campus, and we look forward to sharing the details once confirmed.
- We will continue to partner with and support DE&I campus organizations. To date, we have partnered with Bold Venture Partners, She256, and Diversatech, who are all doing great work.
Team — We will reevaluate the white-dominated culture present within VC and our own House, evaluating ways we can make our team more equitable.
- We plan to increase diversity on our team. We are currently 59% White, 23% Indian, 18% Asian. We are currently 27% Women.
- We will engage experts to establish training for all employees to understand Anti-Racist principles and how they apply at The House Fund and the community we serve.
Investing — We must do more with our funding. Investing in more Black founders is a direct way to increase the representation lacking in the startup ecosystem.
- We will set OKRs to increase diversity in our portfolio. Today, 4% of our portfolio includes Black founders and another 4% includes LatinX founders. We will publicly share our founder demographic data annually.
Startups — We help our startups grow, and have an opportunity to ensure we foster Anti-Racist companies from the earliest stages.
- Once we complete expert trainings ourselves, we will share these resources with all portfolio founders, for use at their own companies.
Community — We will reexamine our communities, understanding how they can be exclusionary, and make way for new perspectives and voices.
- We will proactively create more opportunities in the venture capital and startup industry by growing, establishing, and fostering relationships with alumni and communities of color.
- We will partner with organizations to increase diversity in our future events. We are starting outreach now, and will share the details once confirmed.
Our north star goal is to get to 15% total Black representation in both our team and portfolio. This may take time.
Venture Capital as an industry has a long way to go to end systemic racism, starting with who we hire and who we fund. This is our public commitment to do our part as The House Fund to ensure Black founders and individuals in our community get the support they need to flourish.
As I sign off, the one thing I’m still gnawing on is how complex this issue is. It’s not enough to just take trainings and look for more Black entrepreneurs. While these are a start, they do not address the lack of representation of the Black community at Cal and in our entrepreneur ecosystem. In reality, the worlds of education, venture capital, and startups must address the systemic racism that persists within our industries, as well as many others. We are ready and eager to engage in discussions with anyone in the industry on what more can be done, especially Black leaders, but it will take all of us together, collectively, to push change in the right direction.
This is our commitment. We will report back on the results of our action. We are learning and welcome your feedback. Email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeremy & The House Fund Team
*2019 Fall enrollment data shows undergrad Freshman at 2.8% Black students. Overall data, including grad students, indicates less than 2% representation. These numbers are obviously far below the 15% of Black Americans across the nation. UC Berkeley has a long way to go to become more equitable, as do we at The House Fund.