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For female VCs bias is a branding issue

It’s a relatively new name for her firm, which was originally called Female Founders Alliance. Feinzaig rebranded in 2021 in an effort to attract a more diverse set of founders and check-writers into her portfolio. “The number one risk that we fall into is inadvertently stamping our own portfolio with a diversity signal,” she said. “And I mean that in the negative context of the word: We want our founders to stand on their own for being amazing founders. So what do we need to do? We need to become a super, high-signal VC.” In her view, that meant departing from a name that made her firm sound like it was making “diversity investments” and finding a name that didn’t include gender as a brand. Now, she said, when she enters a room, “It’s very different to be Leslie, the CEO of Female Founder Alliance, than Leslie, managing director of Graham & Walker. Nobody questions it; it sounds like it belongs.” That said, the investor still found a way to insert the mission into the name: Katharine Graham was the first female Fortune 500 CEO, and Madam C. J. Walker was the first female self-made millionaire. The goal of being a VC is to generate returns for limited partners, and there’s an understanding that a diverse startup ecosystem will lead to better outcomes for all. Balancing those two, for female VCs, has often manifested in different, often frustrating ways. A new generation of female venture capitalists is ditching institutional firms to start their own or steadily rising through leadership ranks. According to a survey analyzed by TC+, the share of women represented in director and principal positions has significantly increased over the past two years, while the percentage of women in higher-level positions, such as managing general partner or senior managing director, stands below 25% and has for the past two years. The ranks are diversifying. Slowly. To put it simply: More women in venture means that bias and strategic branding are increasingly relevant for a larger fraction of check-writers.

For female VCs bias is a branding issue by Natasha Mascarenhas originally published on TechCrunch


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