By Ellen McGirt
Updated: December 12, 2018 3:09 PM ET

Grace Donnelly, raceAhead’s fearless editor, traveled to Finland recently to moderate a discussion about the future of feeding a growing global population at the Slush startup conference in Helsinki.

She also found an ecosystem where inclusion was top of mind.

“This year 93% of funds from venture capital firms in Europe went to startups founded only by men,” she writes. But investors there seem to be taking responsibility for the lack of diversity among the founders they are funding.

“The VC industry has failed on this,” Skype co-founder and Atomico CEO Niklas Zennström said on stage as he and Check Warner, co-founder of the nonprofit Diversity VC, introduced the Diversity and Inclusion in Tech Guide, a toolkit they created in collaboration with about 60 experts and entrepreneurs that aims to help founders grow their startups into diverse organizations.

Companies hoping to secure funding from Atomico should expect questions about their culture, Zennström said. “And if they don’t care about diversity, that’s going to be a big red flag.”

A diversity policy is also one of the requirements in the firm’s term sheets, he added.

Warner said that while many founders understand diversity is important, they don’t know where to begin.

“I think there’s a massive disconnect within the tech industry,” Warner noted. “A lot of people working in it come from these very privileged places and they don’t necessarily realize that about themselves, so there’s a sort of lack of self-awareness.”

You can read the rest of the conversation here and find the free guide online. It offers tips (from understanding bias to getting buy-in from leaders across the company) as well as case studies highlighting how other organizations have implemented their own diversity strategies, that are valuable to those working toward inclusion on any continent.

“I think because the European tech industry is so young, it might be easier for us to make sure we’re getting on the right course early on,” Zennström said.

Time will tell, but let’s hope he’s right.


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