The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) is spearheading efforts to address the sexual harassment issues looming across the industry, and is standing firm that “harassment of any kind has no place” in the VC world. The Washington, D.C.-based trade organization has released a set of resources and guidelines for venture firms, startup companies and limited partners to adopt in order to get ahead of the epidemic that has permeated the sector for far too long.
NVCA’s resources intend to curb harassment and discrimination with documents that include: sample human resource policies, sample best practice guidelines and code of conduct policies as well. The association responded to the industry’s plague after “speaking with many of the victims, collecting recommendations via an online form, and organizing a workshop in San Francisco” bringing together more than 60 industry professionals from managing partners to human resource leaders.
Dave McClure, the former CEO of 500 Startups, is most notably one of the many venture capital professionals to step down following allegations of misconduct in the workplace. Justin Caldbeck, co-founder of Binary Capital, had also stepped down after a report accused Caldbeck of making unwanted advances toward half a dozen women.
“Harassment of any kind has no place in our industry, and it remains incumbent upon NVCA to help lead our community towards positive outcomes to address it,” states NVCA chief executive officer Bobby Franklin. “We encourage all VC firms to review these model documents and operationalize them into their organizations and existing policies as well as share them with their portfolio companies. With the release of these tools and resources, we’ve taken a positive step forward to address sexual harassment and create a more welcoming industry, but more work remains to strengthen venture capital for the better.”
More work is indeed needed to address the harassment and discrimination issues that have lasted for decades, and NVCA’s efforts are a step in the right direction. Some firms, like Union Square Ventures and First Round Capital, have recently appointed women to general partner, a first for both firms. Rebecca Kaden joined Union Square Ventures in October 2017, while Hayley Barna joined First Round in November.
In an industry where men represent approximately 90 percent of investment partners at venture capital firms, according to a 2016 NVCA report, it’s a sign that the VC world is slightly improving in terms of diversity though minority recognition should be the next step. “You cannot have a diverse ecosystem without diverse talent,” said Rodney Sampson, the inclusion and equity partner at TechSquare Labs, during a one-day diversity summit hosted by 500 Startups in June 2017.