Investing in Diversity: Generating Stakeholder Value

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From left to right: Jody Rose (NEVCA), JoAnn Price (Fairview Capital), Kush Parmar (5AM Ventures), Leslie Henshaw (Deerfield), and Caitlin McSherry (State Street)

On September 25th, the NEVCA co-hosted an event with Biogen and Liftstream to address the challenging conversation around diversity in the venture capital industry. This event gathered investors, CEO’s, academics, and more to hear from an impressive lineup of individuals who are inspiring their firms to take action in moving the needle.

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NEVCA President Jody Rose

The first panel, moderated by NEVCA president Jody Rose, explored the importance of investing in diversity — in hiring, in investment decisions, and in attitude. Panelists spoke about how diversity is important in making informed decisions by tapping into their personal anecdotes that showcased how the makeup of the boardroom affects the nature of the questions asked to CEOs, which subsequently influences the way the organization operates as a whole.

Featured speaker Amy Schulman, partner at Polaris Partners, boldly voiced her perspective that to drive change, we must tolerate discomfort. Her advice to women in the room was to make themselves known as players and connectors by not simply earning, but “spending their political capital”.

The speakers left the audience with the promise that the focus on diversity isn’t going anywhere, particularly in this industry, and while change is slow, firms must continue to grow in order to be competitive. The statistics are improving, it just takes people, like the folks in the room, who care enough about this movement to speak out and drive it forward.

Follow us on Twitter @NewEnglandVC to hear about upcoming events we’re hosting & participating in this fall.

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New England Venture Capital Association (NEVCA) members support entrepreneurs winning. Great VCs depend on great entrepreneurs.

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