In the past few weeks, several venture capital firms have published different variations of the same pledge: we’ll do a better job supporting the Black community.
My timeline, and I’m assuming yours too, has been filled with statements from non-Black venture capitalists saying that they will rethink how to be more inclusive with their hiring and wiring.
There is no need to applaud firms for taking long overdue steps to treat others equally. What is more important is how we’re going to hold these firms accountable going forward, after a history of inaction.
In a memo published on Friday, Matchstick Ventures outlined a series of commitments to fight racism and underrepresentation. The firm, which manages nearly $37 million dollars and is led by Ryan Broshar and Natty Zola, turned to Black entrepreneur Clarence Bethea for advice on how to proceed.
The pledge stood out for two firm reasons: It is more robust than most promises we have seen by high-profile firms, and it has actual numbers and a deadline, which are key to benchmarking progress.
Disclose your current diversity statistics
Matchstick says 7% of the companies it has invested in have Black founders or founding team members, which is seven times the industry average. Portfolio diversity data needs to be more largely released by the VC community because it’s the only way to determine if progress is being made. So far, beyond Matchstick, we’ve only seen Initialized Capital release diversity metrics. Union Square Ventures said that of more than 100 investments, only a few have been in self-identified Black founders.