Investment in women-founded companies is declining. But why?

By Ellen McGirt
June 29, 2017

Google published its annual diversity numbers today.

In the three years since Google first published this report, there have been only minor improvements. You can get the full raceAhead analysis here.

In a new blog post, Eileen Naughton, Google’s VP of People Operations breaks it down:

In the past three years, women in tech roles have grown from 17 percent to 20 percent (from 19 percent to 20 percent over the last year) and women in leadership roles have grown from 21 percent to 25 percent (from 24 percent to 25 percent over the last year).

In the same period, our Black non-tech population has grown from 2 percent to 5 percent (from 4 percent to 5 percent over the last year). And in the past year, Hispanic Googlers have grown from 3 percent to 4 percent of our employees.

So, not the big bump we’re hoping for. But here’s one thing I really do know: Change takes time.

I recently had a candid conversation with a CEO who is similarly focused on inclusive culture change. His firm employs significantly more people than Google. (On background only, sorry.) As he sees it, one of the many issues they’re facing relates to leadership. Every bad metric on a diversity report is a dotted line to a senior leader who may not yet grasp the new reality or needs additional resources or coaching to do things differently. And that takes time to correct.

“There are people in leadership positions who have been doing what we’ve asked them to do for years when it comes to talent,” he said. Except the policies and strategies have since changed. “We’re having conversations about recruiting and engagement and measuring success in entirely new ways, and I’m obligated to try to bring them along.” Some people may not get there, of course. But by definition, the work of inclusion involves everyone. “If it was as easy as flipping a switch, I would have done it already.”

Google has been making some important strides. Women comprise almost half of its management team. And they are one of only 16 companies on the Fortune 500 list that makes its employee demographics public. Such transparency helps the cause enormously.

As we wait for the numbers to slowly trickle in from all the companies on the Fortune 500, it’s important to keep pressing. We need to know what these powerful corporations are doing, or no longer doing, to bring everyone along. That’s why the recent CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, an alliance of 175 CEOs promising to advance diversity in their workplaces, has so much potential. By sharing best and worst practices, it gets the work out in the open.

Naughton speaks directly to that. “More than other industries, the technology sector is extremely open about its challenges in creating a diverse and inclusive workforce,” she says in her blog post. “We all welcome the conversation and the scrutiny; it helps us raise the bar in terms of this important work and our commitment to it.”

Let the sharing and the scrutiny begin.


On Point

Another vote of no confidence for the Seattle minimum wage study
Josh Hoxie, the director of the Project on Opportunity and Taxation at the Institute for Policy Studies and co-editor of Inequality.org, puts it directly. It’s “utter b.s.” The recent study from the University of Washington, which looked at the impact of the minimum wage increase, was flawed in several ways, not the least of which was that the data excluded 40% of the Seattle workforce. But he also cites other, more credible data showing that raising the minimum wage is good for working class families and communities, and doesn’t contribute to job loss. He offers an optimistic conclusion. “Raising the minimum wage—at the city, state, or federal level, where it remains an unlivable $7.25 an hour—is still a reliable solution to the scourge of inequality.”
Fortune

New ratings for movies and television aim to highlight gender balance
The nonprofit media watchdog group Common Sense Media has created a new metric that it will add to its ratings for family-friendly fare called “positive gender representations.” Inspired by research showing that gender stereotypes portrayed in entertainment can impact a wide range of behaviors such as dating, career and education choices, and even responses to sexual harassment, the metric is designed to help parents who want to make better choices for their kids. Click through to learn how the system works (it can get complicated). Here’s one example: “Moonlight” will be given a positive rating for ages 17 and up, despite the depiction of sex, violence and drugs. “I can’t think of any title that has prompted more talk about what it means to be an African-American young man, about opening up more possibilities, than that movie,” said Common Sense Media’s executive director for ratings and reviews.
New York Times

A new study shows that diverse casts in films wildly outperform homogenous ones
The study and database, which was created by the Creative Artists Agency, shows that across every budget level, films with diverse casts win at the box office. Further, “[t]he average opening weekend for a film that attracts a diverse audience, often the result of having a diverse cast, is nearly three times on average a film with non-diverse audiences,” explains entertainment writer Tre’vell Anderson. The talent agency became interested in audience makeup after a recent report showed that non-white moviegoers made up 49% of tickets sold in 2016, and 45% in 2015. The new Motion Picture Diversity Index is the result of that research. “One of the interesting things that the most successful movies share is that they’re broadly appealing to diverse audiences,” the leader of CAA’s multicultural development group told the Los Angeles Times. “People want to see a world that looks like theirs.”
Los Angeles

Business leaders: Physical accessibility really matters
Two stories on Fortune today really drive the point home. First, The Equal Rights Center filed a lawsuit against Uber yesterday, accusing the ride-sharing company of not being accessible to people who use wheelchairs in Washington, D.C., a violation of both the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as D.C’s Human Rights Act. Then, Japanese airline Vanilla Air, a subsidiary of All Nippon Airways, was forced to apologize after failing to make allowances for passengers who need wheelchairs. One passenger, Hideto Kijima, was forced to crawl up a staircase to board his flight. His Facebook post about the incident got plenty of attention. A Vanilla Air spokesperson told the media, “Boarding in this fashion should never have taken place, and that was not what we had intended.”
Fortune


The Woke Leader

Codeswitch podcast turned one
The podcast, which explores intersections of race and identity — often with exceptional insight and humor — remains one of the best in the genre. The anniversary episode features correspondents Shereen Marisol Meraji and Gene “where my gift at?” Denby, who walked us through their year of coverage. For fans like me, it was a wonderful opportunity to remember just how crazy a year it was: From the Obama legacy to the Trump travesty, police violence, Bill Cosby, immigration, cultural appropriation and beyond. They also revisited some controversy. Turns out, their most polarizing episode by far was called “Hold Up! Time For an Explanatory Comma,” a frank discussion of what cultural references reporters choose to explain and why. (Believe me, it’s a big issue.) The duo says they plan to up their game for year two – so expect some new reporting coming soon.
Codeswitch

The future of work has a heart
Predictions about the future of work tend to focus on the technical – the robot overlords, the intelligence that is artificial but superior, the internet of absolutely everything. But, says writer Livia Gerson, “[m]any of the most important jobs of the future will require soft skills, not advanced algebra.” The softest of the skills, like empathy and compassion, tend to be the most undervalued and under-screened for, but will ultimately be the most essential in the future. (I would argue that they’re the most essential now.) They also are often found in caregivers who live fraught lives. This piece is full of stories and research about the richness and difficulty of emotional work, but here’s one tidbit that caught my eye: “It is becoming clear to researchers that working-class people tend to have sharper emotional skills than their wealthier, more educated counterparts.” 
Aeon

Lin-Manuel Miranda releases a powerful new video from the ‘Hamilton Mixtape’ and it will make you very happy
Miranda debuted the video for “Immigrants (We Get The Job Done),” yesterday, a song inspired by a lyric from the Hamilton song “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down).” The video features artists K’naan, Residente, Riz MC and Snow Tha Product all doing what they do. (Daveed Diggs is supposed to be in there somewhere, but I’ll have to watch it a few dozen more times to confirm.) Manuel has also announced a sweepstakes-style contest to benefit the Immigrants: We Get The Job Done Coalition, a group of immigration-focused nonprofits. Why are you still reading? Click! Get the job done.
Rolling Stone


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