The Venture capital (VC) industry is often deemed a “bro-club” where men dominate the field. It’s been a decades-long problem of solving the diversity issue—the gender gap.
There is generally a small number of female executives in the industry at the senior level and an even smaller number of women who actually receive venture capital money compared to male counterparts. For example, KrASIA reviewed 34 different VC firms in Southeast Asia and found that only 12 of these firms had a woman appointed in a senior position. Rishika Chandan, Venturi Partners’ managing director, stipulates that in order to overcome the gender gap in the VC industry, companies must tackle the problem at an organizational level. Where HR mandates at least 50% of the firms’ employees to be female and should follow a meritocracy.
But what makes the hiring process hard in the first place?
There are various factors that come into play in diversifying the VC industry. According to Harvard, “bro culture," "gender bias," stereotyping, and a very masculine culture has an impact on the diversity of VC firms around the world. In order to overcome this, firms need to take the following steps to ensure the diversity among male and female employees.
In order to increase the number of female venture capitalists, they must
(1) Elevate current female role models
(2) Offer career opportunities and incentives to women
(3) Promote access to female talent by VC firms
Melisa Irene, partner at Jakarta-based East Ventures, is an example of the growing women power at a senior level in the field of Southeast Asia VC. Although only 5% of the founders in East Ventures are women, Irene foresees the constant improvement of women entering her line of work. According to Irene, contrary to popular belief, Southeast Asian companies have a positive attitude towards women. “People rejoice at the promotion of female professionals in the industry,” she said. As it is not a rare occurrence for women to undertake more senior roles of work in Southeast Asia, as seen in other professions such as teaching and management.
There is still a long way to go for companies in the VC industry to diversify and reduce the gender gap. However, in Southeast Asia, women are slowly making it into the limelight as one of the most sought-after talents in the VC industry. Their ability to be empathetic and nuanced in solving company issues can become an advantage compared to male counterparts in business.
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