As a small business owner, I am constantly bombarded with business suggestions. While some I take to heart and immediately implement, most do little to help me grow my business today. In some ways diversity is that for many in the startup and venture capital world. In a recent survey of 285 venture capitalists, Linkedin found that “just 2 percent said building a diverse team was their “top priority,” and just 4 percent said investing in diverse portfolio companies topped their list.” In addition “40 percent of male investors and 37 percent of male founders believe “the media spends too much time focused on the issue.”
But who can blame them? No I’m serious! If an issue doesn’t affect you why should you care? "85 percent of white founders and 73 percent of white VCs say they have never “experienced any episodes of racism.” It’s a similar breakdown for sexism — 85 percent of male founders and 66 percent of male VCs say they haven’t experienced sexism.” Tech startup and VC culture is setup for a specific type of person to succeed. It’s not the only industry like that, it’s just the one making the most money right now.
In situations like these, for change to happen, a strong revenue stream must be created outside of the norm to “move the needle”, and so far no needle moving moment has occurred. I truly believe these type of numbers and thinking will continue to control the market until separate success stories in an Atlanta or Nashville or Miami prove that money can be made outside of the Tech hotspots.
Take Austin, Texas as an example. Texas was never known for their tech culture until a group of people got together, leveraged their music scene, and grew a festival into one of the largest tech conferences in our nation. Now millions of dollars are being poured into the city with small businesses expanding at high rates. These are the type of stories that must happen to grow diversity in tech. Until then, slow stagnant growth will continue.