Balancing Equality In Canadian Private Capital – My Thoughts For IWD
As we got closer to International Women’s Day, I was asked to give some thought as to where I stood on a number of the issues that still dominate women’s career paths and reflect on my recent appointment as the CEO of a male-dominated sector. There is much education and work to be done in improving women’s work experiences and their ability to naturally grow in their careers. I am encouraged by the numerous meaningful conversations I have had with the CVCA board and membership on the need to tackle diversity and inclusion since my arrival.
Among these conversations has been the repeated call to continue to push for greater representation of minorities, including women, in the industry and particularly at the partner level. As we’ve seen in recent reports—including #movethedial’s “Where Is The Dial Now” report and the “Women In Venture” report authored by two CVCA members, Female Funders powered by Highline BETA and Hockeystick—it’s clear, our industry has a critical need for improvement in this area.
We know, as recently as 2017, that only five percent of founders in the Canadian tech space had a solo woman founder and only 13 percent of Canadian companies had a woman on the founding team. As recently as last year, only 14% of partners at Canadian VC firms were women. And, most of the VC dollars in Canada were controlled by investment teams with no senior women.
The CVCA recognizes its influence and responsibility to support the leadership of its members to make changes. My appointment as the leader of the industry association demonstrates the willingness to embrace diversity and gender equity and, is a signal that woman can and should aspire to be in leadership roles within the VC and PE sector.
There are a number of CVCA members that are financing the women behind great Canadian companies:
- BDC Capital Women in Technology (WIT) Fund is one of the world’s largest venture capital funds ($200M) dedicated to investing in women-led technology companies
- StandUP Ventures, powered by the MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund, invests in companies with at least 1 woman in a C-level leadership position within the company and an equitable amount of ownership
- Female Funders, an investor accelerator program for corporate and technology leaders
- Disruption Ventures is investing in companies that have a founder that is a woman or has women in leadership roles
- Dream Maker Ventures, a VC fund built around supporting diverse, underrepresented founders within the tech community
Not only is combating inequality long overdue, but women-founded companies outperform those companies without any women founders.
A report released last year by the Boston Consulting Group, proved that startups founded and cofounded by women actually performed better over time, generating 10% more in cumulative revenue over a five-year period: $730,000 compared with $662,000.
Not only has the ROI of diverse teams caught the eye of experienced private capital players, the Canadian government also recognizes the importance and opportunity here.
The Canadian government’s Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative (VCCI) program has allocated $450M through three streams. Stream 1 invested in large funds-of-funds to support Canadian VC fund managers. Stream 2 invested in emerging managers, underserved regions and sectors, and alternative fund structures. The first two streams required all interested candidates to address the improvement of gender balance among Canadian VC fund managers and companies. We will begin to see the deployment of these funds into diverse and innovative Canadian companies this year.
Next week, we are releasing our Q4 2018 Year-In-Review Canadian Market Overview. It’s extremely motivating to see that nine out of the top ten VC deals for the entire year had a woman founder or a woman or women in leadership positions at the companies receiving funding. Of these nine deals, that’s $947M in funding for companies that have women at the seat at the table.
I know, and the CVCA knows, this is only the beginning of this important work. We will continue to allocate time and energy towards improving both diversity and inclusion in the sector.
The CVCA will continue to engage our membership, through our largest committee, the Diversity and Inclusion committee, to bring a broader program-level approach to foster greater diversity of thought in the industry.
The committee will continue to strive to source and provide diverse talent through our events and industry job board. We will help to attract more underrepresented groups to the industry through our University Outreach program, we will celebrate success through our publication, CVCA Central, and share best practices through our diversity and inclusion resource library, available on our website.
Together let’s continue to celebrate the success and advancement of women, take action and help #BalanceForBetter.