Over the last few months, numerous scandals have come to light about inappropriate sexual behaviour and abuse of power in the workplace. Specifically in the world of venture capital investing, this has highlighted the clear power imbalance between investors and entrepreneurs and emphasized the gender inequality that is sadly the cultural norm.
Being mindful of that, and along with the fact that we are seeking to address the power dynamics in our work to eradicate extreme poverty, ADAP has proactively taken an inclusive approach to our work, and we continue to evolve and develop our model to refine our approach to make wiser and smarter decisions.
There is a growing awareness of the critical role of gender in impact investing, but how that conversation translates into actionable cultural norms for male investors is still very much up for discussion. Over the last 15 years of working in this sector we have learned a lot, and we continue to try to apply a gender lens across our work at several levels, from our investment decisions to our role in the sector.
Our role in the wider sector
1) Panels - As a male, it has been an honour to be the "token male" on three panels at three different conferences. We fully expect this to become more normal as the playing field is leveled for a more inclusive role of women on panels.
We were recently invited to take the GenderAvenger pledge not to be on an all-male panels at public conferences. While we're not sure that pledge signing is the most effective way to have an impact, we are keen to support this common sense movement; it is unacceptable to continue have male voices and perspectives dominate the discussion. How can we use our male voice to create a fairer and less polarizing working environment?
2) Pipeline - We are actively building the ADAP deal pipeline. Our Deal Room at SOCAP17 was an example of getting stuff done with our "Four-Hour Due Diligence” process, but we want to think outside the box and bring in more stakeholders who have been traditionally on the outside. Reviewing the leading companies in our pipeline, we are encouraged that 69% have at least one woman founder and 50% have a founder who is a person of color. Are these good numbers? And how can we get “better”?
ADAP Guidance Council
3) People - We are openly and directly discussing areas where we have personally struggled with various biases - both conscious and unconscious - and have spent a considerable amount of time creating space to reflect and think about how we can more inclusive. ADAP has established a Guidance Council to receive outside feedback from valuable and diverse perspectives. We hope that this will enable us to move beyond just “ticking the boxes” of having an inclusive approach to actually achieving our goal of being more inclusive so that we can be smarter, better investors and achieve big impact as well as attractive financial returns.