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‘You get to be twice as good:’ This investor urges Black female founders to turn an unfair axiom on its head

October 15, 2020, 12:58 PM UTC

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Anita Hill’s Hollywood Commissions has new findings about bullying and harassment, Audrey Gelman apologizes to her former staff at The Wing, and investors offer advice for female founders. Have a thoughtful Thursday.

– Twice as good. We already know the ugly facts: that the amount of venture capital dollars that go to female and Black founders is far too small.

And amid the pandemic, it’s getting smaller. Recent PitchBook data shows that VC funding for female founders just hit its lowest quarterly total in three years.

At Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen conference yesterday, four investors addressed the alarming trend and how we might reverse it.

Inspired Capital’s Alexa von Tobel said that who’s at the top—who is holding the checkbooks—needs to change. “When you have different archetypes at the top of a firm and you have different investors out there, … you simply have different deal flow,” she said. “So we have to change who the investors are.”

But Cleo Capital managing director Sarah Kunst also offered a reality check, as Fortune‘s Anne Sraders reports. Black female founders don’t have to put off fundraising until that change happens.

“You certainly don’t have to be diverse to invest in diverse founders,” Kunst said. For women of color who are fundraising now, it’s a matter of understanding the saying in the Black community that “you have to be twice as good to get half as much,” Kunst said.

The axiom is undoubtably unfair, but women don’t have to see it as a burden, Kunst says. She advises founders to “flip that and internalize it as, you get to be twice as good…If you are a person of color, if you are a woman, when you do get funded, you should feel pretty good that you probably are better statistically” than the average white man raising funding.

Claire Zillman
claire.zillman@fortune.com
@clairezillman

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

MORE FROM MPW NEXT GEN

- Family business. Actor and producer Yara Shahidi has partnered with her mother, Keri Shahidi, on a recently launched production company. The pair described their relationship and what they've learned from each other through work and outside of it: Fortune

- Do you Zoom? Zoom CMO Janine Pelosi unveiled a forthcoming feature: "On Zoom," a way for everyone from yoga teachers to tax preparers to charge for their services directly via the videoconferencing platform. Fortune

- Dress for success. Retailers—and particularly clothing retailers—have had to adapt to changing consumer preferences during the pandemic. Execs from Good American, Stitch Fix, and more share what they've learned: Fortune

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: GV promoted principal Terri Burns to investing partner; she is the first Black woman at the firm to hold that title. Global Philanthropy Group CEO Maggie Neilson will become VP of philanthropy for The Wonderful Company. CEO of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Raquel Tamez joins the board of Girls in Tech. Getaround hires former NerdWallet CFO Laura Onopchenko in the same role; former Google director, people operations Tia Gordon as VP, people and culture; and former OYO VP, customer experience Ruth Yankoupe in the same position. FanDuel Group hired former Groupon chief product officer Sarah Butterfass in the same role. EY named Janet Truncale vice chair and regional managing partner of its Americas Financial Services Organization. Leslie Kurkjian Crowe joins Bain Capital Ventures as talent partner.

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Under threat. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's Elle op-ed about the foiled plot to kidnap her is a broadside against President Donald Trump and the violent threats female politicians disproportionately face. "It is no coincidence that after months of attacks from the president, I became the target of a multi-state domestic terrorist plot," she writes. Elle

- Survey says. Anita Hill's Hollywood Commission for Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality found in a new report that women are twice as likely as men to experience bullying in entertainment work environments—and that bullying can be a gateway to sexual harassment. Variety

- Calling back. Prosecutors say that Amy Cooper, the white woman who called the police on Christian Cooper, the Black birdwatcher in Central park, made a second, as-yet-unreported 911 call in which she falsely reported that a Black man tried to assault her. New York Times

- Audrey's apology. Audrey Gelman, the cofounder and former CEO of The Wing, responded to protests by her former employees more than four months after those workers called for her resignation. Gelman posted on Instagram yesterday a letter addressed to Flew the Coup, the collective of former staff of the women's coworking chain's physical locations who had spoken out about their experiences with racism and other problems at work. Fortune

ON MY RADAR

Takeaways from day 3 of the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings CNN

Going Sohla Vulture

Simone Leigh is first Black woman to represent U.S. at Venice Biennale New York Times

PARTING WORDS

"Everybody has a voice in the sewer."

-Newsha Ghaeli and Mariana Matus, cofounders of Biobot Analytics, on the importance of studying wastewater. The duo appeared at MPW Next Gen to discuss their company and its response to COVID-19.