International Women's Day 2023
The case for diversity leading to better outcomes has long been made. At Albion, we foster a culture that welcomes everyone and have been very intentional about diversity and inclusion initiatives in recent years within our business and for our portfolio companies.
We are fully aware that diversity extends far beyond gender and that inclusion is a key part to make diversity and inclusion initiatives succeed in the long term. But in celebration of International Women’s Day 2023, we want to spotlight our gender statistics. No doubt the road to improving the status quo is long, but this post serves to keep us accountable and to continue the progress.
1. Gender diversity at Albion
Gender snapshot across Albion and our VCTs:
How does this fare with the broader UK community? A Diversity & Inclusion Study 2021 conducted by the BVCA and Level 20 found that venture capital lags the broader FTSE:
Intentionally building new processes
We have partnered with Fair HQ, a D&I consultancy, to establish diversity and inclusion practices and policies and track progress on an annual basis. Part of the process included an annual employee “belonging survey”. Since 2021 we’ve implemented a number of new initiatives: on recruitment, diversity in the hiring funnel is closely monitored and our process was revamped to incorporate blind CVs. Furthermore, we work with recruitment consultants to improve the diversity of our candidates. Our commitment to diversity is made public across the Albion group websites with our Diversity Statement. Encouragingly our Fair HQ scored has jumped from 3.8 (in 2021) out of 10 to 6.1 for 2022. In 2023 we are focusing on new initiatives to improve across diversity, equity and inclusion.
2. Gender diversity in portfolio companies
Albion makes a conscious effort to back diverse company founders. The statistics for the companies we funded under our Venture Capital Trusts, collected from our annual ESG scorecard survey, shows a similar picture:
Once again, women typically make up a larger portion of the workforce but this representation doesn’t carry through to senior management level, with only 30% in senior positions (compared to the industry trend of 31% (Women in business 2021 | Grant Thornton insights).
Interestingly, when looking at the measures that companies use to increase diversity in hiring practices, blinding CVs was found to be an effective method for most of our companies that have over 30% female senior management representation.
3. Embedding D&I into our process
Our diversity and inclusion commitment is integrated throughout the investment process, following three steps:
a) Sourcing: We operate an open pitchdeck to apply for funding via our website and apply D&I lens during deal sourcing. We also actively engage with partners such as female-focused funds and angels to increase the diversity of our deal flow. We build our presence by taking part in female founder office hours and mentoring for female and ethnic minority programmes.
b) Engagement: Portfolio companies work with our Platform team to increase diversity across their businesses. We also recognise that diverse founders face unique challenges in the start-up world so make a point of highlighting role models in our current portfolio through our ‘Women in Leadership’ series and ‘Founder Stories’
c) Tracking: Deal diversity metrics are tracked and regularly reviewed. Decisions are then made on actions to improve top of funnel metrics
We’re only getting started
We truly believe that venture capital firms hold a significant role to drive gender diversity from an early stage. At Albion, we hold ourselves accountable by setting objectives and tracking progress. It also means being transparent about our efforts and sharing successes and failures with the broader community.
While there is still much work to be done, the initiatives taken by venture capital firms jointly, and our own initiatives specifically, are a positive step towards a more equitable and inclusive start-up ecosystem.