Today is International Women’s Day (“IWD”) which dates back to 1909, although the UN did not start celebrating IWD annually until March 8, 1975.
With the current global movement for women’s rights and equality, IWD 2018 has spawned numerous initiatives including #PressForProgress and #TimeIsNow. While the hashtags vary, the common theme of 2018 is action. For many organizations, the goal is for these initiatives to launch on March 8th but continue throughout the year and beyond. At a minimum, IWD and the organizations and individuals celebrating it will spark action, continue existing conversations, and force new ones.
At Foundry Group, as part of our efforts to help build a more inclusive tech industry, we’ve joined two initiatives as part of IWD 2018: #StartWithEight and Project #MovingForward.
#StartWithEight addresses the gender disparity in venture capital funding by asking participants to commit to taking eight meetings with women from outside their existing networks during the month of March. The idea there is that “the dynamics will change when capital flows equally to any talented founder, no matter his or her gender, race, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic.” For many VCs, deal flow is extremely network driven and often our networks look a lot like us. At Foundry Group, we’ll do at least eight new meetings with women looking for funding who we’ve never met with before in the month of March.
Project #MovingForward is building an open-source directory that pools diversity, inclusion, and anti-harassment commitments from VCs. We (along with 35 other VC firms) shared information (now public on the site) on how we’re #MovingForward. At Foundry Group, in addition to adopting new policies, we’ve created a portal for internal and external stakeholders to report sexual harassment.
There’s a ton of work to be done to achieve gender equality and inclusivity in tech, but these action-oriented initiatives are a good start. I hope the momentum continues to build and we start to see some real change. K9’s Project #MovingForward submission really sums it up: “Actions speak louder than words.”
The day after the election, Alex Iskold (Techstars NY Managing Director) wrote a great post titled Dear Founders, I Commit to Double My Support For You and Your Startups. It’s vintage, wonderful Alex along with a series of specific things he’s going to do.
Today, Alex wrote a post titled Introducing Techstars Weekly Diversity and Inclusion Office Hours for Founders in NYC. Every Tuesday from 5pm – 7pm a group of Techstars employees in NY will meet with any female, minority, LGBTQ, or immigrant founder about anything. Sign up here.
In addition to Alex, other Techstars folks who will do these office hours include KJ Singh and Jillian Canning who help Alex run the Techstars NY City Program, Jenny Fielding who runs the Techstars IoT and Fintech Programs, Eamonn Carey who runs Techstars Connection, and Jenny Lawton, who recently joined Techstars as a Chief Operating Officer.
Bravo gang – I love seeing things like this just happen.