KPN Ventures takes action for a diverse, inclusive and harassment-free environment; commits to #MovingForward

KPN Ventures takes action for a diverse, inclusive and harassment-free environment; commits to #MovingForward

KPN is a company which actively strives for a diverse and inclusive working environment, free from discrimination and harassment. We want people to feel free to be themselves. Working together with people from different backgrounds, and with different ideas and styles, leads to better ideas and faster innovation. It stimulates creativity and flexibility. Diverse organizations perform better. Therefore, KPN has a code of conduct for its employees and also for its suppliers, promoting diversity and inclusion, describing unaccepted behavior and providing for a clear complaint procedure. KPN also has a target number for female candidates for leadership positions.

With KPN Ventures we are active as an investor in the technology and venture capital industry and unfortunately those worlds do not yet offer a very diverse environment.

In September last year a research was published in the Dutch Financial Newspaper stating that only 1.6% of the start-ups that received funding by Dutch VCs during the time window of 2010 until 2018 is led by a woman. Thereby, only 6.8% of the funding was invested in startups with diverse teams, all other funding was invested in startups that are founded and led by men only. Shocking numbers!

This research performed by Eva de Mol, PhD researcher in diversity of teams at Berkeley and the Amsterdam VU University, illustrates the problem in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, we are barely different than other countries. For example, also the British Business Bank performed research that shows similar outcomes. And also in Silicon Valley, where diversity in venture capital matters perhaps more than any part of the tech industry because of just how much weight investors carry in Silicon Valley, the problem is real.

The lack of diversity within the startups is only one side of the problem, the lack of diversity in venture capital teams itself illustrates the other. Numbers show that ‘white’ people make up 70 percent of the venture capital industry, and women make up only 18 percent of the VC industry. Many studies have shown that investors tend to have unconscious biases against ‘unknown’ founder profiles and also have prejudices against female entrepreneurs, which negatively skews screening and investment decisions. Thus, in general we can say a lot of action is still needed on creating a diverse, inclusive and harassment-free workplace in technology venture capital.

With KPN Ventures we are taking the following actions to help change this:

  • We have created a KPN Ventures code of conduct, as an addition to KPN’s code of conduct, to make our commitment to a diverse, inclusive, discrimination- and harassment-free environment, specifically in tech VC, more explicit.
  • We are committing to the global initiative #MovingForward, highlighting VCs that are publishing their policies, contacts and efforts to create a diverse, inclusive and harassment-free workplace.
  • We strive to create a safe and open environment for founders to meet us and present their companies and we will address potential unconscious biases in our screening process to improve our decision making.
  • When recruiting for our own team or for the boards of our portfolio companies, we will actively look for candidates from diverse backgrounds and we aim to have female members in the boards of all of our portfolio companies. We will include this objective in our term sheets and investment proposals.
  • We will not participate in all-male panels at events

 

We acknowledge that we still have a long way to go. Unfortunately, the lack of diversity in our own investment team and in our startup portfolio is not much different from the rest of the industry and still dominated by male investors, founders and board members. To change the status-quo we think action is needed and we need to do this together. Therefore we hope we can stimulate others to take action as well and we are also very much open to feedback to improve our efforts. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please let us know!