Where's the Diversity in the Venture-Capital Industry?

New research shows only minimal gains in this industry in gender and racial diversity.

Racial and gender diversity continues to be limited at venture-capital firms, with only minimal progress in the younger ranks. New research from the National Venture Capital Association and Dow Jones VentureSource finds the industry has had little change over the last three years from its predominantly white, male demographics.


The 2011 Venture Census survey shows that of the executives in investment roles, 89 percent are men and 11 percent are women (down 3 percent since 2008). Eighty-seven percent are white (down 1 percent). Nine percent are Asian (up 1 percent), 2 percent are Black or Latino  and 2 percent are of mixed race. In 2008, 2 percent were Latino and 1 percent were Black; mixed race was not reported. For more on this issue and existing wealth gaps, read about Goldman Sachs and the sub-prime lending crisis in DiversityInc magazine's May 2010 issue.

The 2011 Venture Census polled approximately 600 professionals (79 percent male, 21 percent female) in both investment roles and administrative functions, such as chief financial officers and marketing and communications professionals. The first survey was conducted three years ago in 2008.

Diversity in gender data was a little more promising within the 2011 CFO positions (53 percent women and 47 percent men). Higher percentages of women were reported in the life-sciences (18 percent) and clean-technology (15 percent) industries, followed by information technology (12 percent business-to-business, 11 percent consumer). The sector for non-high-tech products and services only had 8 percent women investors.

Younger generations of workers saw higher levels of racial/ethnic diversity. Those in the industry less than five years totaled 77 percent white (down from 82 percent in 2008), 17 percent Asian, 3 percent Black or Latino and 3 percent mixed race. Of those younger than 30, 28 percent were women. The percentage of women decreased as age increased: 27 percent in the 30s age range, 22 percent in the 40s and 50s age ranges, and 13 percent at 60 or older.

However, these numbers are still low when compared with the demographics in The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity. In these organizations, top executives—CEOs, direct reports to the CEO, and reports to the CEO's direct reports—total 11.9 Black, 7.9 percent Latino and 7.3 percent Asian. More than half (53.1 percent) are women.

Here's what people are saying about the data:

2011 Venture Census Results Out Today

Mark Heesen, president of the National Venture Capital Association, shares on his blog that the NVCA recognizes the need for more women in the venture-capital industry and its ties to business success.

Venture Industry Shows Few Diversity Gains In New Survey

The Wall Street Journal compares the 2011 Venture Census data to research from other companies funded by venture firms. It notes apparent tendency of individuals to associate and bond with similar people among investors.

Venture Capital Remains White Boys Club

Fortune reports the Venture results with a fitting image that reads "Help Wanted. No Black Women Apply."

2011 Venture Census Survey Results From NVCA

A personal blog, Signal to Noise, positively notes the hope for more diversity among future generations and offers links to an article about gender and diversity gaps in Silicon Valley.

Newsflash: Grass Is Green, Sky Is Blue, VCs Are White Men

The Venture Valkyrie blog discusses the potential connection between gender and racial gaps in the venture-capital industry and a lack of jobs for traditionally underrepresented groups in a struggling economy.

Guess How Many Venture Capitalists Are Black or Latino

The Ethnic Majority blog highlights the racial gaps in the industry, noting that the percentage of Blacks and Latinos in the United States each make up more than 10 percent of the total population.

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Referenced Articles:

As Wealth Gap Between Whites, Blacks & Latinos Grows, What Can Your Company Do?

Study: Women Still Not Getting to the Top Levels

Generational Employee-Resource Groups

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