How does diversity and representativeness (whether across gender, race, national origin, religion, physical ability) affect both the social and performance of the impact investment industry?
In an era when 90% of US venture capital only flows to white male founders and 90% of East African impact investment flows to ventures with North American/European founders, it’s important to ask ourselves some tough questions.
How do we access and evaluate a pipeline which is more representative of the general market and/or the communities we wish to impact? Are we leaving money on the table by missing important and relevant market audiences and demographics in our portfolio and/or our investment teams? How does representation affect market understanding, access to information and the ability to select the best deals? What are the implications for social impact and financial interns? And what are the best strategies to ensure both through diversity and inclusiveness…..
The panel discussion will be chaired by Bonnie Chiu, Managing Director of the Social Investment Consultancy and Co-Founder of the Diversity Forum.
Gemma Rocyn Jones, Head of Financial Resilience, Big Lottery Fund
Alex Pitt, Co-Founders, Mustard Seed Impact VC Fund
Tara Sabre Collier, Co-Founder, Affiniti VC and Director of Impact Investment, ProNatura
Sheeza Shah, Founder, UpEffect
The goal is to better understand:
A: The extent to which the impact investment sector is inclusive and representative of both the general market and more importantly, the demographics it aims to serve (in terms of gender, ethnicity, national origin, religion, socio-economic background, physical ability or sexual orientation).
B. There appears to be a disconnect between the demographic makeup of portfolio companies and impact investment professionals as a group. How does this affect how impact investments are evaluated?
C. Could unrepresentative internal networks within impact funds limit deal flow from countries or communities with useful insight into social problems we aim to solive?
D. What is the impact on social and financial performance?
E. Can more inclusion and representativeness lead to more effective impact investment? If so, how would we design and co-create this? Is this an issue to be addressed through recruitment and training or through the investment process itself or through other mechanisms?