Part of our efforts around diversity, inclusion, and belonging at Holler have been focused on driving urgent conversations around race, gender, and sexual orientation/identity. Beyond these internal conversations, we’ve also been thinking intentionally about the stakeholders that surround Holler, including our investors. It’s important that we attract investors that support our business in the context of our values.
Earlier this year, we hosted Paul Grossinger for a fireside chat. Paul is the co-founder of Gaingels, an NYC-based investment syndicate. Gaingels was originally founded to support the LGBTQ+ community and its allies, and has more recently expanded its portfolio to include other minority-founded businesses. They’re on track to invest $300M+ by the end of 2021, seeking to influence social change through business by investing in companies with underrepresented leadership.
We talked with Paul about his journey in founding Gaingels, the gaps in corporate America when it comes to diversity, and what we can do at Holler to help. Here are some of the key takeaways:
Be Proactive in Finding Diverse Talent:
Lack of diversity runs deep in the VC world, but there are a number of firms and networks, like Gaingels, that are committed to supporting underrepresented founders. Of the companies in the Gaingels portfolio network, over half have a female founder or senior leader, and over a third have a non-white founder or senior leader. When asked how they’ve managed to achieve this level of representation, Paul responded that a big part of it simply lies in consciously putting in the time and effort to proactively seek out diverse founders. It’s not enough to rely on individuals of diverse backgrounds and experiences to come to us; we need to actively seek these individuals out.
Open the Role:
Paul mentions that a common mistake we see in early-stage companies is the tendency to hire solely within their networks, resulting in a lack of diversity. He stresses the importance of actually putting together a job description and posting the role. In doing so, organizations are taking an inclusive approach of inviting all interested candidates of varying experiences and career paths to apply.
Pay Attention to What Matters:
When inquiring as to how we can support our LGBTQ+ neighbors, friends, and colleagues, Paul recommends honing in on the issues that matter most: Nondiscrimination, hiring, and healthcare are areas that come up often as being important to individuals identifying as LBGTQ+. These need to be top of mind as organizations periodically review benefits plans, recruitment strategies, and company policies.
At Holler we’re working hard to keep diversity, inclusion, and belonging at the forefront of everything we do, but it’s not enough to focus our efforts internally. The discussion with Paul highlights how valuable it is that organizations surround themselves with external stakeholders who share common goals when it comes to advancing diversity, inclusion, and belonging priorities.
Many thanks to Paul for joining us, and we look forward to future conversations!