As we shared last week, the technology industry has certainly seen better days with tales of bad executive behavior plaguing news headlines. And while it’s easy to dwell on the negatives, we think it’s also worth sharing some of the more positive steps people are taking to create a more inclusive and socially conscious tech community. This is in our best interests if we want to bring better ideas to market and ones that matter too, right?
Specifically, here are some VCs we’ve seen proactively moving things in a better direction (since they bankroll the tech community after all). We may not agree with them on everything, but we do think there’s a lot here others can learn from:
Dave McClure, Founding Partner, 500 Startups. McClure’s 500 Startups is an early seed-stage investor and incubator that’s invested in companies like Behance, TaskRabbit and Intercom. They’ve also backed an extraordinary (comparatively) number of female-led start ups—100+ as of early 2014. Earlier this year they also launched what’s called a “Syndicate” on AngelList aimed at funding females: 500 Women. It’s rare to see investors put together this much effort to support women. And, based on its track record, we won’t be surprised to see more women-focused initiatives in 500’s future.
Jason Calacanis, CEO at Inside and angel investor. In addition to being at the helm of a growing mobile news startup, Calacanis has been an outspoken supporter (and first investor) in HandUp, a startup that’s tackling the homeless problem one donation at a time. Calacanis used his network to publicly call upon his peers to invest as well, and tackle an uncomfortable issue that frankly is very far removed from a lot of investors’ daily lives.
Hunter Walk, Partner, Homebrew. This January, Hunter published a blog post announcing his seed-stage firm would begin to track the diversity of the people pitching them, including both gender and race. As they say, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” And while this stops short of direct action, we think it’s a good step by a VC to better understand who they are attracting—and not attracting. As Hunter notes, “We can’t fix bugs in our system unless we have a bug tracker.”
Theresia Gouw and Jennifer Fonstad, Aspect Ventures. The dearth of women in venture capital is extremely well-documented. So when Gouw and Fonstad launched their own firm in February, the industry took note. And beyond bucking the male domination of VC, we are impressed by how they say they’ll incorporate diversity into the business itself—right from the start. As Gouw told TIME earlier this year, “We are in the business of making money for our investors and our entrepreneurs. Diversity makes a difference for business and the bottom line.”
Are there other VCs doing positive things to support diversity in tech? Give them a shout in the comments!