In a new research report, Inner City Business Growth and JPMorgan Chase & Co. address a long-time issue: the inclusion of women and minorities in high-tech incubators and accelerators. Although women and minorities independently make up almost 50% of the millennial population, neither of these demographics fair well in venture capitalism when compared to their white male counterparts. Worse, neither women nor minorities make up even a quarter of entrepreneurs, let alone entrepreneurs of high-growth, high-tech firms.
The barriers faced by women and minorities fall into four categories: recruitment, selection biases, culture, and program design. With psychologists noting that investors are more likely to seek out and select people who look and act like themselves, marginalized groups rarely make the cut. When they do, they may be deterred by an exclusive or perceived-to-be exclusive culture or a program design that simply does not fit their model of work. Consider the working mother who may offer insight into untapped markets but cannot commit to the popular night hours of incubators and accelerators. What about low-income families, who tend to be minorities, that cannot afford the often on-site travel requirement? These populations lack the opportunity to bring their fresh insight and original ideas to the marketplace.
Women and minorities must be specifically targeted in recruitment, selection, and implementation of tech accelerators and incubators. While accelerators like Dreamit have already seen a “dramatic increase of founders of color in their application pool” as a result of intentional efforts, onboarding also plays a large role. In recent years, women-focused, minority-focused, and even veteran-focused incubators and accelerators have established themselves. Other organizations have built targeted programs such as Dreamit’s Athena program, in which the company brings in a minimum of four women-led startups to each cohort with the backing of a Pennsylvania State grant.
This effort is only the beginning of an increasingly discussed issue. Click here, to read more.