The purpose of this report is to cast a light on the men and women working in U.K. venture capital. 

For six months, Diversity VC worked with the BVCA and Craft.co to analyse more than 1,500 senior investment professionals at 160 U.K. firms. And it's the very first report of its type.  We hope this contributes to the ongoing discussion around diversity.

While not exhaustive, this report is the very first of its type, and provides a valuable insight into the decision makers who are helping create the companies, jobs, cultures and products of the future.

We would love to get your feedback on further areas to look into at info@diversity.vc

 
 

The Full Report

We have distilled the report into the a few key findings, but feel free to view or download the report below.


Women are underrepresented in U.K. venture capital

We found that women comprise of just 27% of the venture capital labour force compared to 47% in the U.K. labour force overall. This figure includes non investment professionals within venture capital. 

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Women are significantly underrepresented in investment teams

When specifically considering investment roles (from the titles of Analyst to Partner) women are further underrepresented at only 18%. The equivalent figure for non-investment roles (such as Investor Relations, Marketing and Legal) stands at 43%. 


 

Women represent just 13% of decision makers in U.K. venture capital

We classify a decision maker within a venture capital firm as an individual on an investment committee, typically an investment partner, who makes the final decision over which investments to make. Women represent only 13% of these decision makers.

 
 
 
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A significant number of firms have no women representation at all

Almost half of all firms have no women in their investment teams. Looking exclusively at decision makers, a staggering 66% of investment teams have no women decision makers.

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Whilst we’re starting from a low base, we should be optimistic about the road ahead.

There is significant willingness in the industry to redress the gender balance.

 
Familiarity is part of survival. We’re wired to have biases for survival’s sake. That is why diversity is so important. By having people purposely [on investment teams] with a different make up, and with aligned incentives, we’re kept intellectually honest and our biases are checked. That is the best gift you can get in judgement.
— Renata Quintini, Partner, Lux Capital
There’s lot of great work that has already been done by HR departments around the world to screen for recruitment bias. The key to significant change is for the industry as a whole to recognise that there is an issue. Once we accept that there’s a problem, you have to commit to solving that problem – and putting it at the top of the list. Once you’ve seriously committed, the tactics of doing it are actually simple.
— Suranga Chandratillake, General Partner, Balderton Capital
In a deal‐doing environment, there’s an obvious risk that the narrative becomes too macho and gung‐ho, if there isn’t the right balance and range of perspectives within the team. That has the potential to undermine the quality of decision making and produce sub‐ optimal outcomes.
— Calum Paterson, Managing Partner, Scottish Equity Partners Vice Chairman, BVCA (2017-18)
As an LP investing in early stage venture funds, what I observe is that often I am being pitched by 100% male GPs. This may be the state of venture today, however I firmly believe that a diverse roster of VCs and LPs brings a wider range of perspectives to the table, which would be beneficial to deal sourcing, investment decision making and ultimately to the start‐ ups themselves.
— Beezer Clarkson, Managing Director, Sapphire Ventures

 

20% senior women by 2020

We recognise that to significantly improve female representation at a senior level requires an industry‑wide effort.

Our goal is to see women holding at least 20% of senior decision-making positions in U.K. venture capital by 2020 – mirroring the target of Level 20 – and we will work with firms to set targets for themselves that are both ambitious and achievable.
 

 

Our recommended initiatives

  1. Attract more women into venture capital
  2. Retain and promote more women in venture capital
  3. Promote women and diversity in the wider ecosystem
  4. Partner with and promote the work of other organisations
  5. Continue to collect data
 

Further Reading & Organisations promoting diversity

General intro

Race / ethnicity

Education / Human Capital

Gender

Family Status

Sexual Orientation

Immigration

Age at organisation