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06.2

Call to Action

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Exposing biases

There is strong agreement across the European tech and VC community about the importance of creating a more diverse and inclusive industry.

The launch of a new diversity 'standard' for VC firms in September 2020 by the non-profit organisation Diversity VC aimed at standardising the approach to diversity across the industry and drive meaningful action has been adopted by already 11 VC firms. The survey includes a number of questions each year to explore the progress made on building a more diverse and inclusive European tech industry in the past 12 months. While many feel better informed and more empowered to take actions towards this goal and /or continue to change their behaviours, it is also clear that for many the industry is a long way from creating equal opportunity for people of all demographics, backgrounds and experiences.

Until we see the change we want to see, we need to look at this as an injection to the DNA, the rewriting of the algorithm, not an add-on for the sake of diversity.

We need to understand that [hurdles to underrepresented founders raising capital] are a structural problem. With this I don't mean that the structures are not working, in fact it is the very opposite. The structures are working exemplary by only benefiting those who define and design the current structures. There isn’t a design error in that sense and the only way we can create better outcomes for those other than the typical funded entrepreneur, the white cis man, is by designing and building new structures. There are existing examples of new types of VC’s and new structures and I am positive that more will follow. Until we see the change we want to see, we need to look at this as an injection to the DNA, the rewriting of the algorithm, not an add-on for the sake of diversity. As a new player in the world of venture I am on the mission to rewrite these algorithms and I believe these will be unconventional.

Nora Bavey

Unconventional Ventures

Partner

Progress in building a more diverse, equitable and inclusive European tech ecosystem has been slow. The increased attention on ethnic diversity heightened by the “Black Lives Matters” movement has further highlighted that the way systems are structured today benefits certain privileged ethnic groups at the expense of others and, consequently, impedes the progress of the disadvantaged. These systemic issues exist within the European tech ecosystem, too. According to our survey, 59% of Black/African/Caribbean women and men have experienced discrimination in some form in the last 12 months versus 8% of White men.

In the last 12 months, have you experienced any form of discrimination while working in the European tech industry?

Source:

Legend

  • Men
  • Women
Note:
Sample sizes across different respondent groups are lower when multiple segmentation filters are have been applied, such as job function, ethnicity and gender. Please interpret the data with this in mind.

Looking at the data from a gender perspective shines a harsh light into the challenges that men and women face working in the tech ecosystem. When we asked different respondent groups about the kinds of discrimination they have faced, the split becomes very clearly distinguished. An overwhelming 87% of women are challenged by gender discrimination compared to 26% of men. Men more frequently experience discrimination pertaining to socio-economic status, nationality and ethnicity than their women counterparts.

What kind of discrimination have you experienced?

Source:

Legend

  • Men
  • Women
Note:
Respondents were able to select up to all types of discrimination applicable to them.

While it's important to examine the disparities in sentiment and experiences across gender groups, it's equally important to do the same across different ethnic groups. When we took a closer look into the types of discrimination that individuals face across different ethnic subsets, we found that larger shares of respondents who did not identify as White more prominently face ethnic discrimination. 86% of respondents who identify as Black/African/Caribbean have faced discrimination due to their ethnicity compared to 12% of respondents who identified as White.

What kind of discrimination have you experienced?

Source:

Legend

  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Age
  • Nationality
  • Communication style
  • Language
  • Socio-economic status
  • Physical appearance
  • Education
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disability
Note:
Respondents were able to select up to all types of discrimination applicable to them. Sample sizes across different respondent groups are lower when multiple segmentation filters are have been applied.

The impact [of the Black Lives Matter movement] led organisations to face what they had been avoiding for centuries: the fact that racism exists and is prevalent in our workplace, communities, and businesses.

The impact [of the Black Lives Matter movement] led organisations to face what they had been avoiding for centuries: the fact that racism exists and is prevalent in our workplace, communities, and businesses. Here in the UK, the impact led to organisations embarking on D&I workshops, holding safe space forms, reviewing their process, volunteering with their community and so much more. But importantly, it strengthened the bond and unity between black communities all over the world, from US, to Nigeria, recognising the injustice the black community experiences is happening on a global scale and requires a global response. At YSYS we hosted The Rise of Black Tech Communities event bringing together black community leaders, to reinforce this bond - discussing resilience, strength and activism - turning our pain into power!

Deborah Okenla

YSYS

Founder

When we asked respondents if it is more difficult for them to be successful in tech because of their background or identity, it became clear that many demographic groups face this challenge. 72% of respondents that self-identified as Black/African/Caribbean and 52% of respondents that identified as women agreed that their background or identity makes it more challenging for them to be successful.

It is more difficult for me to be successful in tech because of my background and/or identity

Source:

Legend

  • Agree
  • Neither agree nor disagree
  • Disagree
Note:
Numbers may not add up to 100 due to rounding. Sample sizes across different respondent groups are lower when multiple segmentation filters are have been applied, such as job function, ethnicity and gender. Please interpret the data with this in mind.

When asked about the type of discrimination survey respondents experienced in the last 12 months, gender and age discrimination are the most often cited with 63% and 43% of our respondents experiencing this respectively. Further, almost 1 in 3 respondents experienced discrimination based on their nationality and ethnicity. Notably, 64% of respondents who answered this question shared that they have experienced more than one type of discrimination and almost 40% had experienced discrimination of three different forms or more.

What kind of discrimination have you experienced?

Source:
Note:
Respondents were able to select up to all types of discrimination applicable to them.

Drilling down further into age, respondent groups between the ages of 31-40 experience the most discrimination. Of the 31% of respondents aged <30 years old, 47% have experienced age discrimination.

Age groups of respondents experiencing discrimination

Source:

Legend

  • All respondents
  • Respondents who have faced age discrimination
Note:
Sample sizes across different respondent groups are lower when multiple segmentation filters are have been applied, such as job function, ethnicity and gender. Please interpret the data with this in mind.

Call to Action

Respondents were asked to review a number of statements and select the ones which they felt meaningfully changed, whether in a positive or negative way if at all. Respondents were overall more positive about the steps taken to increase gender diversity in the workplace but less positive around progress made on diversifying the ethnic makeup of their organisation.

In your view, which of the statements below (if any) have meaningfully change since 12 months ago?

Source:

Legend

  • Share of respondents for which it has 'meaningfully improved'
  • Share of respondents for which it has 'meaningfully worsened'
Note:
Respondents were able to select up to all choices that were applicable for this question. Please interpret the data with this in mind.

Respondents mentioned that in the last 12 months, the focus on recruiting, retaining and growing talent from different genders has become a bigger focus. It is clear though that this focus is happening at the "junior" layer of these organisations as very few have seen meaningful progress in senior leadership change, except perhaps for employees at tech start-ups and scale-ups who are noticing more positive steps taken in their workplace.

In your view, which of the statements (if any) have meaningfully improved since 12 months ago?

Source:

Legend

  • The priority level of my company to recruit, retain and grow talent from different genders
  • The gender makeup of senior leadership in my company
Note:
Respondents were able to select up to all choices that were applicable for this question.

Close to one quarter of all respondents have seen improvements around the ethnic makeup of their company, but they all report very little change happening at the leadership level.

In your view, which of the statements (if any) have meaningfully improved since 12 months ago?

Source:

Legend

  • The priority level of my company to recruit, retain and grow talent from different ethnicities
  • The ethnic makeup of senior leadership in my company
Note:
Respondents were able to select up to all choices that were applicable for this question.

The change also needs to take place on the “other side of the table”, the investment side: Decision- & dealmakers need to get more diverse on all levels (junior to senior).

The change also needs to take place on the “other side of the table”, the investment side: Decision- & dealmakers need to get more diverse on all levels (junior to senior). If we look at the ratio of female/male partners at VCs, we realise, there is still a long way to go. This obviously goes beyond the question of gender, and also should include other aspects of diversity. Having a more mixed group of people discussing a potential investment will lead to different investment decisions. In addition to that, this will also lead to a broader and more diverse funnel for investors, as this is going to attract teams that might not have felt that they were the target group before.

Nina Wöss

Female Founders

Co-Founder

An obvious but perhaps important point to reiterate is the need for VCs to continue to diversify their network in order to rebalance the flow of investments going to founders of different ethnicities. Although an imperfect measure, the percentage of family and close friendship circle that is non-white is a helpful proxy of 'trusted network' diversity.

What percentage of your family and close friendship circle is non-white?

Source:

Legend

  • 0-5%
  • 5-20%
  • 20-50%
  • Over 50%
Note:
Numbers may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

It's time to be accessible: get on the frontline and start volunteering, mentoring, hosting office hours, attending diverse events you would have never considered before, make your statements bold, use diverse jobs boards.

If investors don't know by now that the first thing to do is go beyond their immediate network, then they have been hiding in the bushes. Diversify your network! Investors always say there is a pipeline problem, and the talent is hard to reach, but have they ever considered that they are the ones who are hard to reach? It's time to be accessible: get on the frontline and start volunteering, mentoring, hosting office hours, attending diverse events you would have never considered before, make your statements bold, use diverse jobs boards. You can start with using YSYS jobs board, but don't end with us only.

Deborah Okenla

YSYS

Founder

There are still a number of actions that tech startups and scale ups can take to improve diversity and inclusion. A diversity taskforce with representation from across the firm (all seniority level and teams) can drive progress while keeping the whole firm accountable. Similarly setting quantifiable objectives is an effective way to push for better alignment across the organisation.

Amongst the following list of actions, which one(s) if any did your company not adopt yet

Source:
Note:
Respondents were able to select up to all choices that were applicable for this question.

Europe Diversity Initiatives

A powerful reason to be optimistic about building a more diverse and inclusive European tech ecosystem is the growing number of initiatives working directly to achieve this goal, like the top 25 organisations and initiatives that Sifted identified this year.

10x10

10x10

United Kingdom

23 Code Street

23 Code Street

United Kingdom

50inTech

50inTech

France

Ada's List

Ada's List

United Kingdom

Blooming Founders

Blooming Founders

United Kingdom

Colorintech

Colorintech

United Kingdom

Czechitas

Czechitas

Czech Republic

Female Founders

Female Founders

Austria

Femstreet

Femstreet

Online

Foundervine

Foundervine

United Kingdom

Fundright

Fundright

The Netherlands

Girls in Tech

Girls in Tech

Switzerland

Google for Startups

Google for Startups

Europe

Inklusiiv

Inklusiiv

Finland

La French Tech Tremplin

La French Tech Tremplin

France

One Tech

One Tech

United Kingdom

Portuguese Women in Tech

Portuguese Women in Tech

Portugal

Rails Girls

Rails Girls

Finland

SheTech

SheTech

Italy

Station F Fighters Program

Station F Fighters Program

France

Willa

Willa

France

Women in AI

Women in AI

Online

Women in Tech DK

Women in Tech DK

Denmark

YSYS

YSYS

United Kingdom

#BcnTech4Women

#BcnTech4Women

Spain