TECHNOLOGY

1 New York Investor Did More For Startups in 1 Tweet Than Most of Silicon Valley This Year

Josh Kopelman got 15% female applicants for his new position. Then, he did this.

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BY Lisa Calhoun - 19 Jul 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Josh Kopelman, one of the general partners at New York early stage venture capital firm First Round, is looking for talent. News is, he knows how to not stop looking when he's exhausted his immediate network. Mr. Kopelman's surprising tweet pinged into my feed retweeted from another investor, Kirsten Green at Forerunner. When I saw what he was up to, I retweeted it to my follower base, which has a lot of power women:

This is a new and much-needed power move in tech in general, and venture capital is specific

A strong response, that's not a normative response from the population, isn't enough.

Maybe Mr. Kopelman believes he should expect about 50% of the talent pool of emerging associate talent to be female, and it wasn't. The fact is, he noticed that a 15% response rate wasn't enough for their standards.

This next simple tweet from Mr. Kopelman shows the path forward:

• Have a fair standard

• Measure and monitor your performance to that standard

• Get help when the bar isn't being met

• Be transparent about the process

Innovation doesn't have to be hard

If we take care of the little things, like hiring the front line of the venture capital community or the tech community, the big numbers like diversity take care of themselves over time.

This one tweet from a prominent white male venture capitalist in an industry that is too complacent about its ratio of 95% white male decision makers, and where women VCs have actually been declining (now at 6% down from 10%), is a call to action. It elegantly shows the investor community how easy it is to change the ratio and find diversity even from a starting point of no diversity. First Round's general partnership is eight white guys.

Thank you, First Round for showing an easy grace in a time when founders, talent and investors need strong examples

Action, like reaching out when you don't meet your own diversity standards, goes far beyond a boring decency pledge, although it's straight up decent behavior by any standard. Simple steps like these, in a context of similar smart decisions, can change the game and make First Round, or any other employer that wants to win, an instant magnet for the better people and the better decision making that is a direct result of diverse perspectives.

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