‘Reverse Engineering’ a More Equitable Startup Ecosystem
Drawing on her own experiences as a female founder of color, venture capitalist Shruti Gandhi, ’12, is carving a path for underrepresented entrepreneurs.
- By September 15, 2020
- Venture Capital
Diversity in venture capital isn’t only an equity issue; it’s an innovation issue. In an article for Chicago Booth Review, clinical professor at Chicago Booth and the Polsky Director of the UChicago Global Entrepreneurs Network Waverly Deutsch noted that employees from companies with diverse staff say their colleagues are 90 percent more likely to take risks and 72 percent more likely to challenge the status quo.
Furthermore, having a more diverse staff and leadership team allows companies to reach a wider consumer base. They’re 45 percent more likely to report improving their market share and 70 percent more likely to report capturing a new market. “Inherent diversity is instrumental in helping a company discover and meet the needs of a diverse customer base,” Deutsch wrote. “In fact, the data suggest that homogeneity actually stifles innovation.”
Gandhi said this makes sense. “If you truly want to be a global company, how do you think you can build that by hiring the same kind of people? If you want a diverse customer base, you need diverse teams.”
For Gandhi’s part, she aspires to elevate more people from ethnic and gender minorities into decision-making positions, which she hopes will have a trickle-down effect on diversity across the board—if diverse decision-makers invest in diverse founders, those founders are more likely to hire diverse talent.
“I’ve continuously chosen a career path that is harder and harder to accomplish, but that doesn’t stop me,” she said. “It drives me and motivates me to accomplish it so I can set an example for others. My hope is that they realize they can dream, because I decided to dream.”