No more manels, no more excuses: All Raise Visionary Voices seeks to increase female and non-binary representation in tech & VC conversations

Pam Kostka
Sep 1, 2020 · 6 min read

All Raise was founded in 2017 on the belief that people from all kinds of different backgrounds should be able to participate in the founding, funding, and scaling of VC-backed tech startups. We believed then, as we do now, that by breaking patterns that have historically held back women — and especially women of color — from amplifying their voices, we can build a new blueprint for the industry that’s inclusive of all founders, funders, and operators, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, disability status, age, or life experiences.

Nowhere is inequity more visible than on technology and VC event stages and in news stories. At tech events, only 1 in 4 speakers are women.

Even more alarming, only 14% of keynote speakers at tech conferences are women of color — while 68% are white men [source: Ensono]. Women are underrepresented in news coverage by a ratio of 3:1 [source: The New York Times]. From homogenous speaker line-ups and news stories, the talent pipeline myth, and event schedules that ignore the reality of caregiving responsibilities, if you’re a woman in the startup ecosystem looking to elevate your voice, you face an alarming set of obstacles. This is only expected to get worse, with numerous studies showing that female voices are most likely to be negatively impacted by the shift to virtual programming.

The consequences of this run deep in tech and VC: a lack of access to the same profile-building opportunities strengthens invisible and insidious structural forces and stereotypes. Particularly, pattern-matching that reinforces white men as the experts in the room.

Thanks for the inspiration, Alex: https://twitter.com/alexrkonrad/status/1250443237816442880

It shouldn’t be this way. At All Raise, we started thinking about how we could tackle this problem head-on. We looked at what initiatives already exist to understand where the gaps were and spoke to experts in events and the media. We knew we needed to hear directly from those who produce important events and stories to understand how to increase access to speaking and media opportunities.

What we heard, across the board, is that there is a desire for a more expansive network that makes it easier for event organizers to access a diverse pool of talent and voices.

Over the last few months, we have been building the All Raise Visionary Voices speakers bureau, an easy resource for reporters and event organizers to connect with female and non-binary founders, funders, and operators who are visionary leaders and domain experts.

Through this program, our shared goal is to increase diverse representation in tech and venture events and media by making more speakers and sources readily available to event organizers and reporters, complete with self-identified demographic information to make sure we’re radically inclusive.

A few of our Visionary Voices speakers

We know we’ll only be successful if we continue showcasing a diverse group of talented female and non-binary voices, which is why we will continue to accept applications at allraise.org/visionaryvoices/speakers and add more incredible leaders to our speakers bureau.

We’re proud that many reputable partners are publicly committing to this important mission. In particular, we are thrilled that the world’s leading progressive business media publication Fast Company is supporting the program. Additionally, early partners include new media startup Protocol and some of the largest tech industry conferences including SaaStr and Startup Grind. We look forward to announcing more media and conference partners committed to a diversity of voices in the coming months. If your organization would like to be a media partner, we invite you to check out allraise.org/visionaryvoices/partners for more information.

Fast Company writes about where business is going, and our journalists firmly believe the leaders of the future won’t look — or manage — like their predecessors. We’re proud to take the Visionary Voices pledge as a way of underscoring our commitment to inclusivity in our journalism.”
— Stephanie Mehta, Editor-in-chief, Fast Company

“Protocol is proud to be a launch partner with All Raise on Visionary Voices. Protocol’s mission is to cover the people, power and politics of tech. We are committed to highlighting the diverse voices in tech, and as importantly, to make tech media more representative of the communities, readers and customers we serve.”
— Tammy M. Wincup, President, Protocol

“At Startup Grind, diversity and equality are foundational values that we draw upon when envisioning better events, programs and ultimately a stronger global community. Our team is committed to striving for equal representation of women, BIPOC, and underrepresented individuals in the work that we do. As a long time supporter and friend of All Raise, it was a no-brainer to partner up and support Visionary Voices. We look forward to helping bring Visionary Voices to life and working together to set an industry standard.”
— Grace Lancaster, Community Manager & Events Lead, Startup Grind

It’s critical that we keep finding ways to increase access to speaking and thought leadership opportunities that elevate women and people from underrepresented groups to raise their voices and be heard. We hear from the All Raise community every day about what it means when access to the same opportunities as men is straightforward and viewed as table stakes. Visionary Voices is about ensuring that powerful publicity and networking opportunities aren’t simply reserved for a select few and that female and non-binary leaders have an equal shot at becoming the architects of tomorrow who will build, shape, and fund our future.

This is just the beginning for Visionary Voices. There is so much more work to do and this needs to be an industry-wide effort to ensure tech and VC conversations don’t happen without women and non-binary voices. Here are some immediate actions you can take:

Media and event partners

Female and non-binary leaders

  • Although there are nearly 1,000 brilliant speakers who are part of our speakers bureau today, we know we’ve only scratched the surface! If you’d like to nominate someone in the industry as a Visionary Voices speaker or you’re a female or non-binary leader in tech and venture looking to receive more speaking and media opportunities, please apply here: allraise.org/visionaryvoices/speakers. We will be adding new speakers on an ongoing basis.

Everyone regardless of gender

  • Please use the Visionary Voices speakers bureau as a resource to refer women and non-binary individuals for speaking and media opportunities!
  • If you are an experienced, sought-after speaker, leverage your influence to ask event organizers to invite women and other underrepresented people to be speakers as a condition of your participation.

All Raise

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