Treatment of women & diversity in angel investment

Shabby, unkind and unprofessional treatment of women by men (and sometimes by other women) whether in venture capital or more broadly is unacceptable. While women have had the rough end of the stick for hundreds of years, being treated fairly and kindly should not be gender specific.

It is not about being a woman or a man or even religion or ethnicity. It’s about the values we choose to live by and which values give us a greater crack at success – however we define success!

How we treat each other and the importance of diversity is about a set of values and two values in particular – kindness and respect.

Supporting and scaling start-ups is no walk in the park. It’s often challenging and down right terrifying – for founders and investors. The fear of failure and rejection is always skulking in the shadows of fund raising, closing a sales deal and hiring senior employees. It’s anxiety inducing.

More kindness and respect would not go amiss. The AANZ believes both are key components of success, particularly when it comes to successfully scaling high growth startups.

We need to acknowledge that tough conversations are often necessary in our world. These may feel unkind but the pain can be minimised if respect and empathy – without bias – are at the heart of these conversations too.

Values complimenting kindness also support the importance of diversity. Kindness requires open-mindedness, curiosity and exploring different points of view. Successful founders live these values and these values are at the heart of the informed pivot and the ability to create and build value.

Kindness must underpin ensuring there is diversity in our deal flow, at our events and in our governance. Diversity mustn’t be about tokenism or ticking a box. Delivering diversity is about trying and looking harder to ensure it exists. It’s about valuing people to create value. We should select women (or Maori or Chinese or Buddhist) founders, speakers and board members based on their ability to shine and help others to shine. To do anything other than this is unkind – to everyone, and especially to the ‘box tickee’.

The AANZ Code of Conduct can be found here. We have added two clauses to the behaviours we expect. They are to be:
– Kind and respectful, and
– Supportive of diversity

As an industry we take responsibility, individually and collectively, for reflecting the behaviours set out in the Code of Conduct. We will talk quietly to those we are worried might not be reflecting these. We are not advocates of naming and shaming. That’s not kind or respectful.

The AANZ Constitution, however, makes it clear that our members must be “of good standing in the angel investment community” and there is provision for members to be expelled when this is no longer the case. The profound potential for common good inherent in angel investment is squandered when the self-interest reflected in unkindness is prioritised.

We all have circles of inspiration and impact – we must be the change we want to see – it’s powerful stuff.

Onwards…

Suse Reynolds
Executive Director

“Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.” – Albert Schweitzer

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More money for entrepreneurial women

A government-backed investment fund has gone into partnership with ArcAngels, a group of private individuals focused on investing in female-led business start-ups.
The New Zealand Venture Investment Fund (NZVIF) will invest dollar for dollar alongside ArcAngels through its Seed Co-Investment Fund (SCIF).
ArcAngels chairwoman Cecilia Tarrant, a director of Fletcher Building and former Morgan Stanley managing director, said it approached NZVIF to form the partnership on the back of other relationships the fund already had with angel networks around the country.
Tarrant said the deal means it would have access to more capital than the size of its membership suggested.
“That makes us more attractive for entrepreneurs.”
ArcAngels was launched in 2014 and has around 30 members although Tarrant said it hoped that would grow to around 40 by mid-year.
So far it has invested $1.6 million in eight transactions including into Pictor, Fuel 50, Acuite and Engender.
Tarrant said with the NZVIF partnership it would hope to increase its investments to around 10 per year both through new companies and follow-up investments.
NZVIF investment director Bridget Unsworth said the ArcAngel partnership was the 17th it had entered into through its SCIF.
To date NZVIF and its angel partners had co-invested around $142m into more than 150 companies.
Unsworth said the ArcAngel partnership would double the capital available to companies.
“The past year has seen continued healthy investment activity across New Zealand with more than $60 million invested by angel funds and groups.
“There is a healthy level of syndication of investments among different angel groups meaning they are likely to invest in opportunities throughout New Zealand. Early stage investing is a high-risk investment class and so diversification is important.”
Tarrant said around one-third of start-up companies in New Zealand were led by women or had a major female component but the number of female-led companies which attracted investment was lower.
At the same time the number of women angel investors was also lower.
Tarrant said the group hoped to replicate the success of the New York-based, women-led angel group, Golden Seeds, which has invested more than US$80m ($114m) in more than 76 women-led companies.
“Our principal aim is to make successful investments. But we also want to empower more women entrepreneurs, strengthen their competitiveness and maximise the success of New Zealand’s small business engine for greater economic growth in the long term.
“Many of our members are experienced angel investors with the capacity and capability to be able to provide mentoring and ongoing support to the female-led ventures the group invests into.”
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Lead Partners

NZTE NZVIF PWC

Expert Partner

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