International Women’s Day 2021 #ChooseToChallenge
8 Mar 2021

Today is International Women’s Day and this year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge.

At the BVCA we wholeheartedly agree with the notion that “A challenged world is an alert world. And from challenge comes change”.

Our mission is to promote the participation of people from all socioeconomic backgrounds and of all ethnicities, genders and sexual orientation in the venture capital and private equity industry. This includes representation in investment and in senior roles. We set out how we will do this on our Diversity webpage, notably by using our convening power and profile to champion change and working with other groups with shared objectives.

Summarised below are some of the ways the BVCA and our partners are supporting venture capital and private equity firms’ efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive industry.

Upcoming diversity webinars
D&I survey with Level 20

17 March | 13.00-14.00

Join Cheryl Potter, Chair of Level 20, Pam Jackson, CEO of Level 20, and Kathleen Bacon, Founder of Level 20 for an in-depth discussion around gender diversity in private equity and venture capital. This session will also share the key findings of our latest survey which looks at the diversity of GP teams.


Investing in Diverse Founders

21 April | 13.00-14.00

Join Tom Adeyoola, Co-founder of Extend Ventures, Addie Pinkster, CEO and founder of Adelpha Group, Jos White, Chief Diversity Officer at Notion Capital and Sophie Winwood, Investment Associate at Anthemis for an in-depth discussion in how to increase investment in under-represented founders.


Research and publications

The BVCA has collaborated on a number of informative reports and we have regularly highlighted external reports in our weekly missive, Friday Focus. As well as quantifying the scale of the challenge, these reports include guidance that can support firms, regardless of where they are on their D&I journey.

Most recently, we announced the publication of best practice guidelines to help increase investment in under-represented founders and drive diversity and returns across private equity and venture capital. Written by Atomico, Pollen Street Capital, Ada Ventures, Adelpha, Astia, KPMG, Diversity VC and Diversio, these guidelines provide practical advice and best practice suggestions for all investors, regardless of the stage or sectors they invest in. The guidelines cover the following areas: (i) talent acquisition, retention and development; (ii) internal education, culture and policy; (iii) outreach, access to deal flow and unconscious investment bias; and (iv) influence, external guidance and portfolio management.

We will shortly be publishing our D&I survey results with Level 20 (who have also recently published reports on retention of talent). The report will look at gender representation across the venture capital and private equity industry, including investment and senior roles. For the first time, we will also publish information on ethnicity and share a template on how firms can collect this data and navigate the GDPR implications. As the leading industry association, we are best placed to gather data and demonstrate how the industry is improving.

Our Q1 Quarterly Review included a summary of diversity reports from the British Business Bank, Extend Ventures and 10x10 and Google for Startups. We would also recommend reading Level 20’s Inspiring Women collection of interviews.

Black Lives Matter and forums for exchange of ideas

In our statement following the death of George Floyd, we stated that the industry still has a long way to go to increase the representation and inclusion of people from a black and different ethnic background, especially in senior roles. We noted that our member code of conduct promotes the principles of equality and diversity, equal opportunities, anti-discrimination and anti-harassment, and that we remained committed to helping firms instigate change, including where this meant having uncomfortable conversations.

Our series of diversity events is just one of many ways in which we can collectively explore ways to improve diversity in our industry. The events were virtual this year and covered reflections on the Black Lives Matter movement, LGBTQ+ and conversations with senior representatives in the industry. Our upcoming events include a webinar on the D&I report in partnership with Level 20 on 17 March (register here) and discussion on investing into diverse founders on 21 April (register here).

Industry and government initiatives

This year a number of venture capital firms signed up to HMT’s Investing in Women Code which was created following the Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship. The BVCA is a member of the HMT and BEIS-supported board monitoring the recommendations of the Rose Review. The best practice guidelines noted above are designed to support firms that have signed the Code. A report on this is expected later this year.

We also look forward to the recommendations from the Prime Minister’s Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities. This included a working group to explore the barriers to entrepreneurship and access to finance that impact groups currently marginalised or under-represented across the UK.

Diversity VC, alongside Diversio and OneTech, has launched the Diversity VC Standard. The Standard is an assessment and certification process that sets a benchmark for best practice on D&I in venture capital. This was pioneered by 15 firms across Europe and Canada.

ILPA also recently launched its Diversity in Action Initiative, which brings together limited partners and general partners who share a commitment to advancing diversity.

Further information

More details about the BVCA’s work on this vital issue, including on our objectives for our own governance and outreach activities, can be found here on our website.

Wishing you all the best and success as you #ChooseToChallenge.

Gurpreet Manku,
Deputy Director General, BVCA

Further information


 +44 (0)20 7492 0400