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More Women in Venture Capital, But Not Enough In Leadership Roles

. 4 min read . Written by Sanjana Bhagwat
More Women in Venture Capital, But Not Enough In Leadership Roles

An analysis conducted by Economic Times shows that the number of women being hired in the venture capital field is higher, particularly in smaller investment firms. However, the number of women in leadership and decision-making roles, especially at the top-tier funds, continues to be in the single digits.

The data collected reveals that women’s representation in funds has increased by 27-31% in the last 18 months.

Smaller Sized Firms Have Seen A Rise In Inclusivity

There has been a growth, in terms of women investors and female representation in the teams, in smaller-sized funds.  

Eight Roads has hired four women in India as investment professionals in the last two years.

Shweta Bhatia, a partner at Eight Roads, says picking the right organisation from the start can help boost your professional career. She began her career as an analyst at Goldman Sachs in the United States. The conversation about diversity, inclusivity, and healthy work culture, she says, had already been initiated there.

 “There were female role models. It helps when the organisation sees women in senior leadership roles,” Bhatia told Economic Times. “In a team when you have two to three women, the dialogue changes.” Bhatia claims that more than a third of the firm’s Indian investment team comprises women.

Several other smaller-sized funds have been hiring more and more women at the lower to mid-levels.

WaterBridge, an India-focused fund, hired Anjali Sosale as a Partner in April. Fireside Ventures has got a woman vice president on board. Blume Ventures hired three women in its investment team, including a principal. The 11-member team at Lightspeed India has 3 women – 2 of whom were hired in the last 18 months.

The director of Blume Ventures, Sajith Pai, believes that one of the most important steps is to widen the interview funnel, and ensure equal opportunities to both men and women. He says that the firm has also been focusing on making their brand voice and tone more inclusive.

Women’s Presence In Leadership Roles In India’s Top VC Firms Is Dismally Low

Sequoia has 4 women investment professionals in its 22-member team. Accel India, that backs Swiggy and Flipkart, has 2 women in its 21-member team. SAIF Partners, one of Paytm’s earliest investors, has 2 women in a team of 24. Matrix Partners has hired 2 women investors at the entry-level in its 21-member team, just in the last few months. Nexus Venture Partners’ investment team has no woman at all.

Avnish Bajaj, Managing Partner at Matrix Partners says, “We don’t plan to hire women for the sake of it. That said, we do hire for diversity of thought and background where women are obviously a more natural fit.”

Jayaroopa, a co-founder of Women in Investing Network, says “Most women VCs seem to hit a ceiling either at the associate or principal level. I’m looking forward to seeing this change.”

There Is Talk Of Change, But Minimal Implementation Within The Industries

The rise in the number of women being hired – even if it is a very recent rise – is a positive sign. It signals a positive future for inclusivity at low and mid-level positions.

True inclusivity however cannot be achieved at lower levels, if women aren’t represented at the top. The pool of candidates may be small, given the historical barriers to enter the educational requirements of the industry for women. However, the pool is rapidly growing, and qualified female talent does exist to fill decision-making roles.

Anjali Sosale, Partner at WaterBridge, says, “When it comes to progression for women at work, most companies focus on saying all the right things externally rather than doing all the right things internally.”

Pai of Blume Ventures agrees. “We all think it (having more women) is a great idea, but I don’t see a concerted effort to truly make it happen,” he says.

The problem then lies in minimal token representation being meted out without any real effort towards progressive diversity, and a lack of support from the industry.

“Venture (capital) is a self-promoting industry, and men are great at that, somehow women are not the best at it,” said an analyst at a venture firm. “There is a lack of support and mentoring from peers as well as senior members in our industry,” she added.

Self-promotion and increased visibility continue to be challenging for women in the workforce, especially in an industry where their presence is already low. In order to perform optimally and climb the ladder effectively, they can benefit from access to role models and an inclusive ecosystem.

This is possible only if more women are brought on board in positions of power and decision-making roles.

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