The National Venture Capital Association has created new resources to address sexual harassment in the venture industry following a number of prominent cases in the last year.
The Washington DC-based trade body has written sample policies for venture firms to address harassment and discrimination, produced with guidance from working groups consisting of legal, human resources and employment experts, as well as venture investors and victims of harassment.
The NVCA is also working on education and training for venture firms and start-ups and will institutionalize the NVCA’s broader diversity and inclusion efforts via a new initiative called VentureForward. It will provide education and training on diversity and inclusion as well as connect investors to a broader talent pool of potential employees and entrepreneurs seeking funding.
“Harassment of any kind has no place in our industry, and it remains incumbent upon NVCA to help lead our community towards positive outcomes to address it. We encourage all VC firms to review these model documents and operationalize them into their organizations and existing policies as well as share them with their portfolio companies,” Bobby Franklin, president and chief executive of the NVCA, said.
The NVCA’s response comes after a number of venture investors last year admitted to sexual harassment including 500 Startups founder Dave McClure and Binary Capital’s Justin Caldbeck. Binary co-founder Caldbeck and another partner, Matt Mazzeo, both resigned from the early-stage investment firm which will now be wound up.
The cases have also prompted a legislative response. California state senator Hannah-Beth Jackson has proposed amending California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which prohibits sexual discrimination at California businesses, to cover relationships between entrepreneurs and potential investors, which the current law does not explicitly mention.
In early 2017 San Francisco-based ride-hailing app Uber was accused by an ex-engineer of “systemic” sexual harassment. The subsequent investigation led to more than 200 cases of sexual harassment being brought against the multibillion dollar company and the firing of 20 employees.