Lightspeed Venture Partners has sent a letter to its portfolio of companies requesting that “at least one candidate from an underrepresented background be considered for every open leadership and independent Board member position in the company.” Although about 17 companies have already signed on, others like HQ Trivia are finding the matter hard due to allegations of one its founders.
Lightspeed is not excluded in the issue of diversity and sexual harassment, however. “Former Lightspeed partner Justin Caldbeck was one of many venture capitalists recently accused of making unwanted advances toward women entrepreneurs. Last June, Caldbeck was ousted from his most recent firm, Binary Capital, rocking the startup world.”
Although the intention seems to be good, people are questioning whether the new letter will actually have an impact. Since the letter has zero goals or metrics to define it (e.g. although you have to interview a diverse candidate, there’s no push to hire a certain amount), many people are projecting that nothing will happen in terms of diversity improvement.
According to Fortune Magazine, if the industry is serious in improving its diversity numbers, a good example could come from the Legal industry. Known as “the Mansfield Rule”, the initiative, mandates that firms “agreed that at least 30% of candidates on a slate for open leadership and governance roles be drawn from an underrepresented minority cohort.” This is backed by research which “shows that 30% in a candidate pool is a real tipping point,” says Caren Ulrich Stacy, Diversity Lab CEO.
Regardless it is a step (albeit the only step) in the right direction and something that may simply be the starting point of something greater.