The Importance of Investing in Women and Minorities in 2021
Why is it so important that we take steps to invest more heavily in women and minorities? Day three of the Women & Worth Summit explored this question in a panel discussion moderated by Juliet Scott-Croxford, CEO of Worth Media. She was joined by Fernanda Carapinha, founder and CEO of Women Entrepreneurs Global (WE Global), Cat Hernandez, general partner and founding team member at The Venture Collective (TVC), and Katie Loeb, partner at Lockstep Ventures.
To start off the discussion, Loeb emphasized how over the past year, we have undergone a racial reckoning that’s leading many people and organizations to create active change in order to shape the future. 2020 highlighted the hardships that minorities face and the importance of having diverse boards in organizations. She stated that “to not include [women and minorities] in the conversations and solutions is an incredible misstep.” Employing diverse teams helps create long-term success.
Echoing Loeb, Hernandez added that the pandemic has impacted underrepresented groups and there is a real funding gap problem that investors should be looking at. Investors and companies should look to educate themselves and those around them, instead of looking down at these groups like charity in order to meet a quota. Diverse teams have proven that they can outperform non-diverse teams. Loeb also stated that diverse organizations create trust for underrepresented groups. Founders should look for those who want to create these changes and are willing to invest in them because in the long term, those are the relationships that will be able to succeed.
Carapinha further elaborated that there is currently an opportunity for women because they feel as though they have nothing to lose and are willing to take their ideas to be pitched to venture capital firms. Showing that these companies are willing to fund founders with a great idea should create conditions that they can thrive in and create a level playing field. She added that companies should work with schools to educate young adults about the funding environment and what it takes to be successful in order to create the pipeline of the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Loeb then stated that there are billions of dollars in funding for founders wanting to start their own business, yet specifically Black women receive less than 0.5 percent of it.
So how do we level the playing field and take action? Wrapping up the conversation, all three women agreed that companies can take the first step by creating pledges and initiatives to help underrepresented groups show their intent and value. Having solid metrics that are incorporated into companies’ yearly goals helps create conditions that will help these groups grow. Companies have the platform to do so, now they just need to do it and “walk the walk.”
As a college student, who is both a woman and a minority, with a dream to start her own entrepreneurial journey, this shift of more companies willing to help support and create such initiatives is empowering and will help change the future for all entrepreneurs.