All Raise launches Board Xcelerate to diversify the boards of high-growth tech companies
Board Xcelerate’s 90-day program has already resulted in five independent board director placements
We hosted a meeting among iconic investors (in the before times) about why change stalls at the top. It was a spirited discussion about how to lend power and influence, and where the roadblocks exist to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Recurring theme: frustration specifically about boards, and how many independent seats were sitting open. Among the 10 VC firms present, there were about 300 independent board of directors seats sitting empty. There’s clear demand, so where was the supply? In that moment, we realized that our All Raise community, full of amazing female, non-binary, and other underrepresented operators, was it.
What else was holding CEOs, founders, and investors back? Obviously not the pipeline, but perhaps where they were looking. And what would it take to help accomplished executives from underrepresented groups access these opportunities, creating a more inclusive center of power? TL;DR: this is a solvable problem.
Board diversity pays dividends
Independent board directors are incredible assets and mentors for CEOs, helping them to see around corners, set company strategy, and accelerate growth. Unfortunately, corporate board seats, like all the other powerful positions in this country, are dominated by white men. In 2020, people from underrepresented ethnic and racial groups made up only 12.5% of board directors and women represented just 21% (Institutional Shareholder Services). Black directors made up 4% of boards and Black women just 1.5%.
Those dismal stats fly in the face of well-established research. Diverse boards drive more successful business outcomes by decreasing a company’s risks while increasing their innovation, efficiency, and other key performance metrics. When boards better reflect the demographics of the employees and customers they serve, their companies keep up with trends and spot new market opportunities faster. As tech continues to transform society and our daily lives, more diverse boards can reshape company cultures and ensure companies design products and services that do more good than bad for the world. Change starts at the top.
Frustrated by the old way of doing board searches? Us, too.
The average independent board search takes nine months to execute, and most take even longer. The roadblocks are clear: time and networks. These confidential searches are often delayed as CEOs and existing board members try to solve through existing network referrals. It’s a heavy lift for CEOs, founders, and investors, so they rely on their immediate network to fill these powerful positions. As a result, underrepresented voices are frequently overlooked for these board opportunities and independent BOD seats languish unfilled. A missed opportunity for all parties.
Fortunately, the winds are shifting. Savvy CEOs already know the value of diverse boards in helping them grow faster towards an exit in today’s highly competitive markets. Latecomers to this realization are waking up, too. Last year Goldman Sachs, Nasdaq, and the state of California all introduced various board diversity mandates — now the industry needs to get its act together.
“It’s time to accelerate access for women, non-binary individuals, and those from underrepresented groups to critical decision-making roles at the board level — and keep them there. That’s why we’re proud to announce a new offering from All Raise today, our Board Xcelerate program.”
— Pam Kostka, CEO of All Raise
Introducing Board Xcelerate
Board Xcelerate tackles the board diversity gatekeeping and entrenched bias problem with a new approach — bringing powerful stakeholders together to design a solution. By tapping into our vast community of influential leaders in tech and VC, we are providing a way for high-growth tech companies to get on board with diversity at the highest level. The most impactful way to achieve something incredible? Together.
By convening multiple industry players, All Raise is accelerating the change that needs to happen at the very top. We start by talking with investors, talent partners, and CEOs who want to fill their open independent board seats. Then, we kick off a fast, 90-day closed search process through a pool of talent sourced from our own network and an external advisory committee, supported and executed by a retained executive search firm. Finally, we connect the companies and candidates to interview and determine the best fit.
The Power Players
Influential VC investors
We have access to top-tier board director seats across the portfolios of leading VC firms like Sequoia, GGV Capital, and Sapphire Ventures. As founding partners of Board Xcelerate, they were instrumental in designing the program and enabling our first board searches. They are joined by many other top-tier venture firms like Battery, Bessemer Venture Partners, Cowboy Ventures, Greycroft, Greylock, IVP, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Playground Global who have committed to offering this program for their portfolio companies’ board searches.
Leading CEOs who are redefining the future of their industries and tech
Our Board Xcelerate clients include trailblazing tech companies, from enterprise software to consumer platforms. We are proud to announce the successful placement of senior female operators on the boards of five high-growth, private tech companies — Contentful, Electric, Handshake, InfluxData, and WorkBoard.
Premier executive search firms
We match your needs to the highest quality search firms that bring best practices to the table for the most successful, efficient placements. 3FORTY3 is our founding executive search firm partner conducting our 90-day processes and we also recently created partnerships with Heidrick & Struggles and Rich Talent Group.
“By actively expanding talent pools beyond the usual suspects, we help companies find and recruit exceptionally talented women and people from underrepresented groups who have played key roles leading, operating and advising the most successful tech companies in our industry. We’ve built a massive network and a bespoke 90-day process that delivers exceptional outcomes.” — Mark Jacobson, Partner, 3FORTY3
Diverse network of executive talent
Through our community and partnerships, such as our founding partners Pivotal Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank, we have assembled thousands of talented operators who are highly qualified to join high-growth companies as an independent board director. These leaders are women, non-binary individuals, and men from underrepresented groups (e.g. Black, Latinx, or LGBTQIA+).
Advisory committee with illustrious board directors
We’ve formed an advisory committee that includes the most in-demand founders, operators, and veteran board directors. They contribute their expertise and broker access to vetted talent in their networks.
“Board Xcelerate is about being intentional in increasing diversity on boards. As a Black woman, I want to see more women and especially more women of color represented on boards. They will better reflect the customers that they serve and represent the population. It’s been proven that companies with diverse boards perform better in the long term. I’m looking forward to changing the face of the board room to increase accountability for companies around the world and to drive better success for their customers and their shareholders.” — Stacy Brown-Philpot, member of All Raise Board Xcelerate Advisory Committee and board member of HP, Nordstrom, Black Girls CODE
“There are so many board seats, and too few women get the chance to be considered. If we can help more women get their first board seat, they will naturally each get more calls in the future and the network impact of referrals will happen faster. All Raise’s Board Xcelerate program creates a scalable, organized process with ongoing resources for companies and candidates that will make it much easier for opportunities to be more visible — faster — to female and other underrepresented candidates. I’m delighted to be a part of it and offer my experience and network to make more diverse boards possible.” — Elisa Steele, member of All Raise Board Xcelerate Advisory Committee and Board Chair of Cornerstone and Namely; Board Director of Splunk, Bumble, Procore, JFrog; Board Advisor of Tile, people.ai
As of February 2021, our advisory committee includes:
Other organizations supporting the success of our board directors
We’ve partnered with compensation firm Aon, whose Radford product brings valuable access to data for fair and transparent board compensation. We are also partnering with Extraordinary Women on Boards (EWOB) to provide our newly placed board members with support, guidance, and access to their community of experienced women board directors.
Learn more about Board Xcelerate
With ongoing searches underway with hot startups like Haus Laboratories (founded by Lady Gaga), this is just the beginning of Board Xcelerate. Not only will we expand our networks, we will also partner with other organizations who share our mission. With this infrastructure in place, there are no more excuses to have a homogenous board. By combining all our efforts, we can rewire the industry together and ensure directors at tech companies will finally reflect the people they ultimately serve.
To learn more about our Board Xcelerate program, check out: allraise.org/boardxcelerate.