Y Combinator’s quest for diversity

Entrepreneurs, investors, press and other tech enthusiasts are flocking to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View later today to take part in yet another Y Combinator Demo Day. Diversity hasn’t always been a priority at YC, but its president Sam Altman has been relatively vocal about diversity and the accelerator’s push to increase it in recent years.

In YC’s Winter 2017 batch presenting today and tomorrow, 8.6 percent of the companies have a black founder. Across the board, 8.3 percent of all the founders in this batch are black. But representation of Latinx founders is significantly lower. Only 4.3 percent of the startups have a Latinx founder and just 3.8 percent of all the founders in the batch are Latinx.

“The percentage of women who apply to YC is roughly the same as the percentage of women who get funded,” YC President Sam Altman wrote in YC’s annual letter last month. “The same is true for Black and Latino founders.”

The last time YC released batch-specific diversity data was in January 2015, which reported that only 4 percent of the founders in its most recent batch were black and 3.7 precent of the founders were Latinx. So, this batch is definitely more diverse than that batch, but we can’t conclusively say that the numbers are getting better batch over batch; hopefully YC will continue to make this demographic data available for all batches moving forward.

Last year, YC funded 68 female founders at 52 companies and 52 black and Latinx founders at 29 companies. In total, 22.3 percent of the companies YC funded had a woman on the founding team, 12.5 percent of the founders YC funded were women and 11.6 percent of the founders YC funded were black or Latinx.

Fellow startup accelerator Techstars fared a bit better in regards to both underrepresented minorities and women. Last year, 25 percent of all the founders at Techstars were “ethnically diverse” and 19 percent of the founders were women.

Where YC shines is in its representation of international founders, with about 40 percent of its companies coming from outside the U.S. In total, this batch of founders represents 22 countries.

Achieving diversity and inclusion at the startup level is as important, if not more important, than diversity at companies like Apple, Google, Facebook and the lot. Startups are, in theory, the future of the tech industry, and it’s easier to get diversity and inclusion right at an early stage, rather than when the company already has thousands of employees.

TechCrunch will be on the ground today and tomorrow at YC Demo Day, so be sure to check back for highlights.