Friday Letter: Talking about diversity and inclusion is the new normal

D&I is a common talking point. A recent study by researchers at UC Berkeley aims to shed more light on the impact of gender and age when it comes to the performance of VC-backed start-ups.

There’s the old saw that “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”

When it comes to diversity and inclusion, you most definitely can say that everybody talks about it. But, unlike the weather chitchat, folks are certainly trying to do something about it.

Not a day goes by when I talk to someone one in the venture world that the topic of D&I isn’t brought up. How are venture firms promoting or hiring diverse partners? How are LPs supporting fund managers who are women or people of color. And what are venture firms doing to back diverse entrepreneurs?

They’re all great questions. And with Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March, now is as great a time as any to discuss it.

Many people I speak with refer to the Kaufman Fellows and its 2019 report on start-up diversity. Kauffman, which offers leadership development and networking for VCs, found that venture-backed and gender-inclusive founding teams perform better, that start-ups with one female founder hire up to 2.5x more women, and that women venture capitalists invest in up to 2x more female founders.

The Kauffman research is compelling and the conclusion that the venture community needs more women is tough to argue with.

It’s why I was drawn to a study, which we posted this week online, conducted by the University of California, Berkeley on the relationship of gender and age to the performance of VC-backed start-ups. Eric Ball, of Impact Venture Capital, and UC Berkeley shared the data exclusively with Venture Capital Journal and prior to publishing the academic research online.

The research looked at two decades worth of start-up exits and found the research refutes the notion that male or younger entrepreneurs perform better than their female or older counterparts. The study also concluded that the presence of at least one female founder shortened the number of years required for start-ups to exit and that age has a positive impact on the value-added ratio of female biotech CEOs.

There’s a link to the study in my story, and I hope you all take a look at it. After all, why just complain about the weather when you can actually do something about it?

Let me know what you think. You can drop me a note at