Non-profit organisation Diversity VC is launching a new ‘standard’ for VC firms. It’s the investment equivalent of the Fairtrade mark — a symbol for those firms which are following diversity and inclusion best practice.

The hope is that the ‘standard’ will encourage VCs to up their game when it comes to sourcing and investing in diverse founders and employing diverse talent — but also help all the firms which go through the assessment and certification process to figure out what ‘good’ looks like.  

“It’s always been an aspiration to create something that would standardise the approach to diversity across the industry and drive meaningful action, as opposed to a one-off pledge or press release,” says Check Warner, co-founder of Diversity VC.

Diversity VC has been actively reaching out to funds to encourage them to apply. But, given that Europe’s venture scene has hundreds of players, take-up has not been huge — yet. 

“Some people really don’t feel like they’re there yet,” says Warner. “They’re so far away from meeting the criteria that it doesn’t make sense to go through certification.”  

“Some of them have a ‘not invented here’ attitude — they want to do their own thing, and don’t care if it’s not consistent across the industry,” she adds. And then there are those who just didn’t apply (and perhaps, just don’t care).  

For many VC firms, it isn’t a huge indictment if they don’t get involved; plenty of firms are one- or two-man bands (and often man bands). Implementing the kind of processes — whether with regards to hiring or sourcing — that much larger firms have (and which benefit diversity and inclusion) is perhaps unrealistic, suggests Warner.

For the standard to have a real impact, it needs to pick up momentum and, like the Fairtrade mark, become something that founders and talent alike know to look for when dealing with a VC firmWarner hopes that will happen as “really good funds pioneer it and shout about it”. Funds which achieve the standard will be able to add a badge to their websites, and ideally, founders will learn to look out for it — and only choose to work with those funds which have it.

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