Our Berlin Wall Moment: How Venture is #MovingForward
By: Martina Lauchengco, Operating Partner & Greg Sands, Founder & Managing Partner
“This is a Berlin-Wall-moment where we will look back at 2017 and either say ‘look at what we did to move forward’ or wonder how we wasted the moment.”
-Jodi Kantor, New York Times journalist (Harvey Weinstein story), February 23, 2018
Today, for the first time, 42 venture firms — including Greylock Partners, Sequoia Capital, True Ventures, Canaan Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Foundry, August Capital and Costanoa — are #MovingForward with a single, open, public directory that makes firms’ codes of conduct policies transparent for anyone to see. It’s an open-source directory to which any firm can add their policies. And it is our hope that every major player in the venture ecosystem will add theirs as well.
This new public resource is part of a bigger story and a lot of work being done by great people. Major efforts are underway to build a more diverse and inclusive venture ecosystem. Individual firms, like ours, have been doing our work since before this movement — with programs like our Access Fellowship and Seat @ the Table — and we are proud to say we’ve just recently reached a 50/50 gender split at our firm. But this milestone was years in the making; big, meaningful change takes time.
Some other industry-wide examples broadening awareness, access and action include:
- NEVCA Statement on Discrimination and Sexual Harassment, signed by 28 firms, 1 LP, 47 individuals, and 17 companies
- NVCA’s Path Forward to Address Sexual Harassment in VC, which features standard HR policies, education, a code of conduct templates and the #VentureForward initiative
- Collaboration across firms to create opportunities for underserved female entrepreneurs FemaleFounder.org
Like any industry, the names most hear about in the VC business represent a tiny fraction of the ecosystem. The majority of firms are only recognized by insiders, and many smaller firms are relatively new. This is why responses and code of conduct policies can be so different across the industry. A small firm might have you report directly to partners because there isn’t anyone dedicated to HR or firm operations. A larger firm may hire an external third party for reporting. All are legitimate escalation paths, especially if policies make explicit non-retaliation of any kind.
We know that much work remains, and this new resource doesn’t mean our work is done. But International Women’s Day is the perfect opportunity to highlight how much the venture industry is #MovingForward, especially when it comes to aligning around clear standards of behavior and setting out a path that lets people report questionable behavior. Please join our effort to keep improving the venture ecosystem and spread the word!
Click here to read Costanoa Ventures’ Code of Conduct.
Learn more about #MovingForward at www.VentureMovingForward.org.