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Alternative Market Briefing

VCs wrestle with unconscious bias even as they work to improve diversity

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Bailey McCann, Opalesque New York:

Hiring women as investors doesn't automatically mean that more women-owned businesses will be funded, according to delegates at the recent Opalesque Diversity Roundtable. In many cases, women with experience at financial firms learn to look for men just as often as men do. This unconscious bias means that women can remain at a disadvantage even though there are more women in leadership roles.

Anya Navidski, Founding Partner of Voulez Capital says that they've stopped having pitch days at her firm in an effort to stop enabling unconscious bias. According to Navidski, pitch days "disadvantage everyone that does not fit into this mental image of an entrepreneur that we all seem to have."

"I was at one such event a while ago and afterward investors praised a certain male founder, saying how amazing he was," Navidski said. "After a while, I intervened, pointing out certain cues from the female entrepreneur pitching in that same batch, the traction she was getting, the pragmatic, solid decisions she was making in building her business. My colleagues were shocked: 'Oh gee, how did we miss that?' Well, they missed it because they are looking for the wrong cues."

Kamal Hassan, Partner at Loyal VC noted that men often get rewarded for their irrational self-confidence in these environments, while women get looked down on as being less interesting because they have detailed, specific plans that lack grandiose goal stateme......................

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