International Women’s Day — #EmbraceEquity. Why equal opportunities aren’t enough
To mark International Women’s Day we have a special Member Insight by Kerry Baldwin, Managing Partner, IQ Capital, and BVCA Chair 2021/22
The venture capital ecosystem has become an integral part of the UK economy, investing more than £22bn in 2022. Yet women only represent 10% of senior decision-makers at VC firms, according to the 2021 BVCA diversity and inclusion report.
Having worked as a Managing Partner of a deep tech venture capital fund for over 25 years I have seen first-hand the lack of female representation across the VC industry. I also quickly came to understand the possibilities for female investors in this evolving ecosystem.
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day campaign is “#EmbraceEquity”. It highlights the critical need to understand the difference between equity and equality. The campaign aims to encourage all to talk about ‘Why equal opportunities aren’t enough’. The call is for recognition that people start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action.
The continued advancement of digital technology is opening new doors for women and girls. I am passionate about mentoring the next generation of female thought-leading founders, investors, and entrepreneurs — opening the doors that have been historically shut.
I am an advocate for the diversity of thought within venture capital firms, founders, and their teams in order to avoid ‘groupthink’ in investment decisions. Gender diversity is an important measure of delivering a diversity of thought — alongside measures such as background and experience.
It is easy to just say that a diverse workforce is beneficial, but these types of claims are hard to prove or quantify, especially when it comes to measuring how diversity affects a firm’s ability to innovate and make bold decisions. Since co-founding IQ Capital in 2006, we have been at the forefront of investment in revolutionary technologies — from novel materials, energytech, artificial intelligence to machine learning models. Our investments are strategically chosen through contributions from our diverse team, helping to create a culture of collaborative work and innovation.
We are beginning to see changes in the ecosystem, with women now accounting for 33% of junior investment roles industry-wide, according to the BVCA report. Encouraging representation in STEM from early career stages will be the key to promoting and continuing the advancement of diversity in the British venture capital and private equity ecosystem. However, we still have further to go. The industry also needs to widen opportunities across the career pipeline — not only for fairness and equality but also for enhancing performance and more successful business practices.
The future of the British investment ecosystem is bright and I am proud to be at the forefront of leading the charge to improving diversity and equality within the industry.
Managing Partner, IQ Capital, and BVCA Chair 2021/22
This article was originally published on 9 March 2023 on the BVCA website.