VC's diversity problem amplified by lack of alma mater diversity

Posted Aug 5, 2018 by Lisa Cumming
The diversity problem in venture capital funding starts at where the majority of venture capital investors went to school, writes Richard Kerby, a partner at Equal Ventures.
Cambridge Harvard Square
Cambridge Harvard Square
Muns / (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Kerby conducted this analysis by manually pulling data off of nearly 200 firm websites (the full dataset is compiled in a Google Sheets document).
In a blog post, he laid out that 70 per cent of the VC industry is white — an improvement from 74 per cent in 2016 — 26 per cent of the industry is asian, three per cent of the industry is black, and one per cent is hispanic.
Further extrapolating from data on gender, Kerby found that 58 per cent of the industry is still white and male. Asian men make up the next largest category at 20 per cent, white women follow at 11 per cent. While these three categories have experienced growth since 2016, black men and women, and latinx men and women have barely, if at all.
In an attempt to add just one more layer of data, Kerby decided to look at where investors earned their undergraduate and graduate degrees. He looked at the profiles of around 1,500 investors and found that 40 per cent of them had attended Stanford University of Harvard University.
"With 82% of the industry being male, nearly 60% of the industry being white male, and 40% of the industry coming from just two academic institutions, it is no wonder that this industry feels so insular and less of meritocracy but more of a mirrortocracy," Kerby writes, adding that more than 50 per cent of black investors in VC attended Harvard or Stanford. "The bar to create a more diverse industry is difficult when one looks for folks that most resemble themselves; and while talent is evenly distributed, unfortunately, opportunity is not."