After winning a contentious gender discrimination suit filed by Reddit’s former interim CEO Ellen Pao, Silicon Valley’s top venture capital firm is looking to diversify its staff — starting with its leadership.
Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers is bringing on Arielle Zuckerberg, 26, the youngest sister of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as a “personable” partner to work with startups, TechCrunch reported.
Hiring Zuckerberg, who previously worked at Google and mobile startup Humin, aligns with the firm’s desire to be more inclusive after fighting a three-year gender discrimination suit that made the world take notice of workplace inequalities in the tech industry.
Speaking at TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, longtime Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr said diversity is a priority for the firm; he alluded to Zuckerberg’s hiring and announced that of electronic payment service Square’s Swati Mylavarapu and Tencent’s Muzzammil Zaveri.
“I made it really clear even at Kleiner Perkins, where I’m deeply committed to diversity, we have done more and should do more to get to a 50–50 world where everyone can make a difference,” Doerr told conference-goers.
“In an ideal world the future [of Kleiner Perkins] reflects the founders, the entrepreneurs we’re trying to serve… more diverse, more technical, and will have a point of view of what’s important, but we’ll be open for business for the best ideas.”
Even though they struggle with the same homogeneously white, male-dominated culture as tech companies, venture capital firms haven’t followed suit in terms of diversification — and women and minority-led startups are paying the price.
Fewer than one in 10 VC partners are women and just over 8 percent of VC funding goes to female-run businesses. And according to a Babson College study, firms with women as partners are twice as likely to fund women-led startups.
The numbers are even more stark when it broken down by ethnicity: African American entrepreneurs received less than 2 percent of VC funding. Black women only get a tenth of a percent.
Those bleak figures are likely attributed to venture capitalist firms’ veiled, behind-the-scenes nature. “Many people across the United States and the world know what Facebook, Google and Twitter are, but not many people are going to know what Venrock, Benchmark, Sequoia or Andreessen Horowitz are,” Venrock vice president Richard Kerby told the International Business Times in August. “There’s less of a microscope on us, and therefore the conversation is less steered toward us.”
As a result, venture capital firms haven’t been investing in diversity like their tech company counterparts, despite research that shows diverse teams are more successful.