Friday Letter: On diversity and women of influence

The venture world may have a number of top-performing VCs who are women and multiple firms led by women, but female VCs face their own unique struggles, too. The Women of Influence list will recognize the top performers who happen to be women.

This is the last Friday of March, meaning we’re nearing the end of Women’s History Month.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out we’re also closing in on the April 6 deadline to submit your nominations for Venture Capital Journal‘s inaugural Women of Influence in Private Markets list, which celebrates trailblazing women in alternative assets, including venture capital.

I know there of a lot of qualified candidates, and I look forward to reviewing the nominations. For more info, you can click here.

There’s no denying that GPs, who are women or are people of color, are in the news a lot. They’re getting hired or promoted, raising funds, receiving more attention from LPs and are the subjects of studies that show how their returns stack up well against their peers.

In regard to compiling a list of women of influence, I’ve been asked about our coverage of diversity and women in VC.

One such inquiry came this week from Jillian Manus, managing partner of Structure Capital in San Francisco. Manus, whose firm was an early investor in unicorns Carta, Sonder, Uber and Wag, wrote on my LinkedIn that she sees herself as a venture capitalist who happens to be a woman. Not as a woman who is a VC.

As Manus points out her firm backed Los Angeles-based Quilt, maker of an audio platform, not because the company is led by co-founder and chief Ashley Sumner, and the investment checks a box. But because she believes in the company’s mission.

In a follow up call, Manus and I discussed how women VCs put up with a lot of rubbish. This brings to mind how our affiliate title Buyouts recently published its own Women in Private Equity list and which looked at the dearth of women in dealmaking roles in PE. The coverage led to a number of reader responses about sexism, bias, an entrenched power structure and the impact of the “mommy track” on women in PE.

The venture world may have a number of top-performing VCs who are women and multiple firms led by women, but female VCs face their own unique struggles, too, which is why I view the Women of Influence list as important part of our coverage of VC and diversity.

Manus mentioned that founders she mentors complain about being bucketed and that even female VCs are viewed as a checked box for filling a board seat, for example.

Manus said that she doesn’t want to be looked at as checking a box.

“The only way to gain true equality is for the checked box to become irrelevant. Once that happens, we will no longer be a gender. We will simply be a person on par with everyone else.”

I agree.

Tell me what you think. And if you have any questions or comments about the Women of Influence list, let me know. You can drop me a note at agoldfisher@buyoutsinsider.com.