Yesterday, I joined our Founding Partner Terry McGuire and a number of leading venture capitalists for the first Demo Day held at the White House in Washington D.C. For the better part of the last year, Terry and I have been working on the National Venture Capital Association’s Diversity Task Force which was formed to develop meaningful research and solutions to support diverse groups of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs in order to build a stronger innovation ecosystem. In short, we recognize that there are not enough women and minorities in venture capital and at our companies, and we want to be part of the solution that fosters inclusion and improves diversity. Come September, there will be more opportunities and tools rolled out from the Task Force to help firms do better. We are very happy to be engaged – and took an important step yesterday at the White House
As part of yesterday’s program, approximately 45 firms – including ours – signed a letter to the President, making a commitment to help make a difference by taking the following actions:
- Distribute and participate in the National Venture Capital Association’s 2015 Venture Census survey to measure the diversity of the U.S. startup ecosystem.
- Adopt HR policies within our firms to create work environments that foster respect and dignity for all.
- Contribute regularly and actively to programs and initiatives that encourage women and underrepresented minorities to consider, pursue and thrive in venture capital and entrepreneurship careers.
- Commit to visible leadership by sharing regularly within our community and throughout their portfolio the best practices that demonstrate a long term commitment to change.
In addition to this collective commitment, Polaris will continue to support programs that promote women and underrepresented minorities such as the Women’s Private Equity Summit and events at Harvard and MIT that direct a diverse group into careers in venture and entrepreneurship. We will also proactively sponsor and recruit diverse candidates for executive positions at our companies, on our boards and organizations, and at our firm, with an ultimate goal of 50 percent diversification throughout the Polaris ecosystem.
As Terry shared in our press release announcing our commitment, “If you aren’t part of the solution, you are most definitely part of the problem.” We look forward to working together with the NVCA and our colleagues to identify, explore and implement solutions that make a difference at our firm, in our companies, and within the ecosystem overall.