11 takeaways from the VC Human Capital Survey

News & Insights

Last month, Venture Forward, the National Venture Capital Association, and Deloitte released the findings of our latest VC Human Capital Survey. The survey, which collected data from 315 venture capital (VC) firms in the United States, provides a comprehensive look at the state of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the industry.

This fourth edition of the survey also provided a first glimpse into outcomes from initiatives that many VC firms made following the summer of 2020 when social justice and racial equity were a heightened focus for the industry.

We hosted a launch event in San Francisco to present our top 11 takeaways from the survey results. If you couldn’t make it in person, check out the results below!

Click through the following presentation as you read along, or download the PDF.

  1. There has been steady progress in female representation. Women made up 19% of VC investment partners in 2022, a steady increase from 11% in 2016. 43% of VC firms reported having one or more female partners. While these are encouraging trends to see, gender diversity progress has varied among racial and ethnic groups (see #4 below).

  2. Progress in Black representation has been uneven. VC firms reported some increases in racial diversity among their overall workforce, investment professionals, and investment partners–though the representation of Black employees in the industry remains disproportionately low. Black employees only constituted 4% of all VC investment partners, up from 3% in 2020.

  3. There has been some improvement in Hispanic representation. Hispanic employees comprised 5% of investment partners in 2022, up from 4% in 2020. To put that in perspective: Hispanic employees constitute 18% of the U.S. labor force.

  4. Intersectional approaches to DEI are critical to achieving more even progress across underrepresented demographics. Individual experiences can be based on multiple identities that intersect and may expose individuals to double or even triple barriers. This can lead to uneven diversity progress. For example, while women comprised 19% of VC partners in 2022, Black women comprised only 1% of all partners.

  5. More VC firms have DEI strategies and staff assigned to lead them. In 2022, 46% of firms reported having a diversity strategy (vs. 43% in 2020), and 60% reported having a staff member assigned to promoting DEI internally (vs. 55% in 2020).

  6. DEI strategies are correlated with greater gender diversity. VC firms with a diversity and/or inclusion strategy have a higher representation of women (28%) across their investment teams than those with no strategy (24%). Intentionality does lead to outcomes.

  7. 40% of firms have established DEI goals, and another 23% of firms said they plan to within the next six months. These numbers are encouraging to see more demographic diversity in future survey editions.

  8. Recruiting and hiring programs with a focus on DEI are becoming more widespread. The VC industry is relatively small with low turnover. This means that firms often rely on their connections when it comes to sourcing candidates, which can lead to affinity bias. The latest survey showed that more firms (65%) are posting open jobs publicly so that opportunities are visible to people outside of their networks.

  9. More VC firms have talent retention programs in place. Once talent is in the door, more firms are adopting programs so that they can best nurture and support that talent to thrive. However, only 32% of firms said they administer employee surveys to assess inclusion.

  10. More VC firms have DEI programs in place to promote talent, however, the factor cited most often in assessing employees for promotion was soft skills at 94%. Analyzing an employee’s soft skills, such as attitude or cultural fit, can result in unconscious bias. It’s not enough to help underrepresented groups get a foot in the door–real change happens when they are set up for success to reach senior investment decision-making roles.

  11. There is more interest in DEI from limited partners (LPs), and more VC firms are focusing on DEI in their portfolio companies. LPs play an important role in the ecosystem. Many have become intentional about collecting DEI data, which naturally has a trickle-down effect to VC firms and their portfolio companies. In 2022, 47% of firms surveyed reported that an LP had requested their DEI details in the last 12 months (vs. 41% in 2020).

Be sure to read the report for more data and actionable steps on how to advance DEI at VC firms. To see different data cuts and benchmark against peers, view the interactive dashboard.

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