Data please

How do we increase diversity and inclusion in all companies?  The answer is data.

The conversation has changed over the past decade and even most so over the past year around diversity and inclusion.  That is the good news.  The fact that CEO’s, founders and investors are talking about making deliberate choices inside companies focusing on diversity and inclusion decisions.  Change takes time but the conversations are hopeful.

I spoke to Marie Klawe, the President of Harvey Mudd, this week.  She is not only leading the charge in cultural transformation, she has proven you can change the ratios.  At Harvey Mudd, she increased the female computer science majors by 10% by changing the number of women on the computer science faculty over threefold.  No doubt having female role models in the computer science program spurred interested from younger women.

We talked about how she wants to change companies from ground-up focusing on the start-up space.  I believe the key is pure data.  What are the questions we should be asking on an annual basis through LP’s and VC’s for their companies to pull together information about the impact of diversity and inclusion?  I want to see KPI’s aggregated annually from thousands of companies answers that I believe will provide data that proves that when there is inclusivity and gender balance in a company we will see healthier cultures and balance sheets.

Here are some questions I would like answered.  Are more women getting funded this year than last year?  Are women getting worse valuation than their male counterparts?  How many men and women are working in your company?  How many women are on your investment team?  What is the correlation between women on the investment team vs no women on the investment team in regards to how many women get funded from that fund?  How many women are on the C-team?  How many minorities work in your company? Has your culture changed with balance?  Has your bottom line changed with balance?

The most important thing about these questions are the answers and seeing the data year after year.  Because if it is obvious that companies with diversity and inclusion are absolutely more profitable, then even the ones that tend to not really care about this but are only concerned with the bottom line, will make changes because if the data is affecting your bottom line, you tend to do something about it.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Pointsandfigures

    Data would help because then you could build a data driven unbiased feedback loop

  2. Guest

    Would this data include the percentage of employees with more traditional/conservative views that lean towards the GOP? If not, why not? Isn’t intellectual diversity a good thing, as well as being inclusive of various political views?

  3. Anne Libby

    Graduate schools of business already publish reports for the starting salaries of their grads. I want them to start breaking this number down and reporting it.(Yes, you have cases where some new grads should be paid more — the edge cases like the MBA/MD, or a grad with significant experience.)

    1. Gotham Gal

      Data is key

  4. icopaolo

    I’d like to clarify that data by itself is not enough for D&I. I’ve recently founded a SaaS startup ( and a research initiative at CCNY ( based on the premise that we need to understand the underlying, causal mechanisms that connect the characteristics of individuals to the overall performance of a company. Data is useful if it is based on a sound methodology to determine what metrics really matter, and, more importantly, what specific tactical initiatives lead to meaningful changes. Trying an initiative and waiting to see if data seem to yield the desired results is costly, risky, and of very limited value – witness the hundreds of millions of dollars wasted by Silicon Valley tech companies that has barely moved the needle. How long do you need to wait to see an impact? If you don’t see an impact (or if you do), how do you know what other factors may have influenced the outcomes? Without a formal methodology (which uses data judiciously in support of the analysis), things will continue to stagnate or even lead to backlash.

  5. Jeremy Robinson

    About ten years about Minority Corporate Counsel Association sponsored an initiative for Offices of General Counsel in large corps to start keeping statistics on the number of women and people of color in the private law firms they did business with. Then they adjusted their aperture, and requested the number of women and lawyers of color who worked directly on matters regarding their corporations. If VCs require similar accountability from start-ups they fund, this begins to move the needle. You say, you can never find women engineers or engineers of color? OK, look harder. Or go get the money somewhere else. You’re committed to changing things as an Angel or a VC? Ok, put your money where you mouth is. Indeed I know you already do this Joanne. It’s just that others need to move their feet more quickly to follow in your foot steps. Data is key and demanding transparency about the data is the key to the key.

  6. Heather Wetzler

    I went to an awesome event last night – and this was the topic – Diversity and Inclusion.…Freada spoke and was just mind-blowing as always. I learned about the AI company – Catalyte uses artificial intelligence to identify individuals, regardless of background, who have the innate potential and cognitive ability to be great software developers. Totally takes unconscious bias out of it. If this could be deployed to expand past just software developers, but for all hiring managers-could have amazing results.And to your point Data-driven.The take away from the event last night is – – it is bad out there for diversity and inclusion. Not getting better yet.We need more town hall forums – in very city – to help support those struggling. It is super important right now. We need to start to build our own community of diversity and inclusion. We can not forget about Binary and Sofi once they are off the front page.Last night was super inspiring and I came home feeling excited. Can’t remember feeling that way since Trump won. But it is up to all of us to start moving the needle and pushing for change. These town halls really help.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Love Freada!

  7. JLM

    .Data is good. Pictures, initially, are better. Get a pic of the enterprise and count the females and minorities. That is the easiest way to see what’s really happening.Take your favorite VC firm. Look at their group pic. What does it tell you?Today, it tells folks that there is a lot of sanctimonious lecturing going on, but damn little real follow through.Pictures. They’re worth a thousand words.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  8. PrIyAnGsHu BG

    I have always been a data oriented person. I believe whatever we do, we must make decisions based on data. So, whenever I get confused whether to make a decision or not, I make up a hypothesis, do my research / tests using enough sample, and finally come into a conclusion based on the results of my research. Anyway, thanks for sharing this great article.Regards,PriyangshuEditor,