How to fix the gender balance in start-ups?
When I started angel investing I made a commitment to invest in women. Almost 70% of the 60 plus investments I have made over the past 8 plus years are either led by a woman entrepreneur or one of the co-founders is a woman. It has been a very wise decision. For all of these woman I have invested in their internal motto is failure is not an option. Not that there is nothing wrong with failure because we can learn a lot from failure but every single one of these women are tenacious, smart, good at leading teams, ask questions and listen to the advice, analyze data and have carrots dangling in front of their noses. My biggest hope is that all of these women have incredible exits on their businesses because that will make a statement to all the people that dismissed their ideas and their business models.
I thought a lot about the question that was posed this week. A few things came to mind because it is not just about gender balance in start-ups but gender balance in every business. Hearing the Becky Hammon was named to the the co-captain of the Spurs is a huge step in the right direction. To read data that was quoted in the Atlantic that a study of hedge funds owned or managed by women found the funds to have a 8.95% return rate handily beating the 2.69% return rate generated by an index of typical funds sends a clear signal about the value of women. To read that when Google extended their paid maternity leave for women to five months that their attrition rate decreased by 50% was such a smart decision. Even an analysis from Fortune records better earnings for women CEOs than their male counterparts.
All of these facts should be talked about in every start-up when they think about who are they going to hire and what is their team going to look like. Making a decision from the very onset that they are going to have 50/50 balance of men and women employees. Five years ago I started a conference with my co-founder, Nancy Hechinger, called the Womens Entrepreneur Festival at the ITP division of NYU. We celebrate and showcase women entrepreneurs. Women network differently, then run their companies differently and they think differently than men. We should applaud that. That is why having a balance of men and women in start-ups is actually one of the real keys to success. Those successes will hopefully make an impact on the next generation to come so we can stop having these conversations about gender balance. Tossing a universal childcare program in with that would also be a step in the right direction.
This was an article I wrote for the WSJ earlier this week.