For too long, the venture industry has externally advocated for diversity, equity, and inclusion on behalf of its portfolio companies, while not taking actionable measures to address the issue internally. In order to catalyze change in both our industry and society at large, we are examining our own practices as well as supporting our portfolio companies in their DEI journeys.
At GC, we uphold Diversity of Thought as one of our core values. We fundamentally believe that the best investment and business decisions arise from a team with more diverse (and sometimes conflicting) perspectives. This is true of all businesses but is particularly true of venture — an industry that aims to predict the future. What will be the transformative and enduring technologies that best serve the needs of diverse constituencies? In this effort, it’s key to have a team that represents society’s composition in age, gender, race, sexual orientation, and many other forms of identity.
DEI is not a new initiative at GC — we have been on this journey for more than three years and believe we have made significant strides since its inception. We wanted to codify our efforts to not only track our own progress but also to inspire our peers to embrace some of the changes we’ve already made, foster accountability, and encourage ‘radical collaboration’ in the DEI space.
Like most organizations, this wasn’t an easy journey. At the start, we struggled internally with balancing the time it takes to put together a thoughtful approach and having immediate actions to show. It felt like no matter what we did, we were moving too slow for some and too fast for others. However, we believe one thing that has made GC’s DEI journey effective is embracing a growth mindset, a belief that we can all learn more, and that any new initiative naturally entails mistakes and failure. This growth orientation has helped us create a more forgiving atmosphere where hopefully we can be honest about where we’re at and what we don’t know.
One of our most important first steps was the Racial Justice Learning Series. In March 2021, at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement and difficult events and conversations around race, we launched a learning series for the firm, our portfolio companies, other VCs, LPs, and our entire ecosystem. The goal was to continue deepening our understanding of structural racism and its impacts to our business, and to provide a forum for the firm with a safe space to have hard conversations and dialogue. The 6-session series included topics around: History of Structural Racism; What is Racial Justice?; The Impact of Racism in the VC & Tech Industry; How to Promote Racial Justice in Your Organization; Racial Healing & How to be an Ally. This was critical because we needed to start with the why: Why does DEI work matter and why should we care? Without that knowledge, this work risks becoming a box to check off. But continually coming back to the why keeps us focused on our belief that DEI is not just another thing we do, but should be infused in everything we’re doing because it enables greater success and serves as a foundational element of Responsible Innovation.
In late 2021, we developed a comprehensive strategic plan that outlines our goals, actions, and the metrics we will use to measure our progress. We just refreshed that strategy in July 2023, and our most recent Racial Equity and DEI Strategy can be viewed here. Below are a few highlights of the actions we have taken, which we are sharing in the hope that it inspires our industry to learn from our journey so far:
In the last three years, we’re proud of the progress we have made in creating a holistic, thoughtful approach and real, concrete actions with ways to measure progress. But there is still much more work to be done. In line with our mission, we strive to be agents of change, working to transform companies, industries, and the world around us. These words ring true when it comes to the DEI work we have led, and we are committed to continue to be a true catalyst for the change we want to see in the world.