VC Taskforce celebrates a pioneer in diversity in Silicon Valley
On October 23, the Silicon Valley venture capital community will gather at the VC Taskforce 2013 Innovation Catalyst Award Gala to honor Ann Winblad, one of the valley’s most successful venture capitalists and a pioneer for women in technology. Global Upside is a proud sponsor of the event, and some people have asked me why Global Upside is so supportive of this tribute. Here is what I tell them.
I feel very strongly that Silicon Valley is a model for the world on the economic and social value that can be created when diversity is allowed and encouraged. There are many companies that would not have succeeded without Ann Winblad’s vision and support over the years.
Ann paved the way for women in the venture capital business, and the business is better for it. Innovators from around the world come here to start businesses because they know that investors make decisions based on the merit of ideas, providing opportunities to succeed that might not be available elsewhere. Recent studies have shown that management teams that are gender-diverse deliver better results than management teams that are dominated by a team from a single demographic. Because of this, other regions have changed their business practices as they have seen the value that can be created when the door is open to everyone, and they want to capture that value in their own communities.
It also just so happens that Global Upside was co-founded by a woman–my wife Gita. We founded Global Upside to provide finance, accounting and human resource support to help companies succeed and grow. We are very proud to be a part of this dynamic, innovative, diverse community that continues to change the world in so many ways.
Opportunities for women and minorities in the valley have expanded. There are now two angel funds, the Women’s Venture Capital Fund and Golden Seeds, that focus on funding startups with all-women or gender-diverse management teams. Women run companies like HP and Yahoo. In a recent survey by Equilar of Silicon Valley public company board members, the top-paid board member in 2012 was a woman, Diane Greene, at Google. In the accounting world, Deloitte recently named a woman, Teresa Briggs, as the head of its Western region. Previously, she was the first woman to head the firm’s Silicon Valley practice. Nationally, 60 percent of accountants are women.
Regrettably, there are still regions, industries and companies where women do not have the same opportunities to succeed, due to many factors, such as lack of access to education and cultural biases. Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, calls attention to the fact that men hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and business. The tech community is far from perfect and there is still room to grow, but it is among the most diverse industries in the world, and Silicon Valley is the epicenter of the tech industry. Ann Winblad and the women and minorities that followed the trail she blazed, and continues to do so, have played a huge role in enabling this transformation.
In today’s connected, global economy, the technology industry offers more access than ever to education and jobs that can provide paths out of poverty and can drive cultural change that promises to replicate these opportunities. For example, by outsourcing key support functions to Global Upside, clients enable us to provide finance and human resources support to growing companies, enabling us to employ talented, highly qualified, and highly trained accounting and HR professionals throughout the world. It is an exciting time to be in business, and it is a privilege to be in a position to participate in helping people create better lives.
These are some of the reasons why Global Upside is sponsoring the VC Taskforce innovation award event. I hope you will join us in celebrating the accomplishments of Ann Winblad, and supporting the culture of diversity and opportunity in Silicon Valley and the tech industry.