Diversity, equity, and inclusion is a top priority for Underscore VC. But our words don’t matter here, our actions do. So we would like to share specifically how we’ve actively woven diversity and inclusion into the fabric of our firm. We started with our firm’s vision statement:
Underscore VC aims to create a better world where technology entrepreneurs and investors are aligned in a diverse community that creates outsized value and impact beyond the reach of any individual, company, or portfolio.
Our firm-wide goals trickle down from our vision statement and have diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) intentionally threaded into them. These goals are reviewed and adjusted bi-annually and monitored for progress monthly.
Additionally, Underscore has implemented an ESG policy and formed a cross-functional ESG Working Group that meets monthly. Within the ESG policy, DEI is a particular area of focus for Underscore VC. We strive to be an industry leader moving the needle to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive tech ecosystem. In turn, the ESG working group is measuring DEI goal progress across six buckets: team, portfolio, community, content, partnerships, and limited partners.
To solidify our commitment, Underscore became a Principles for Responsible Investment signatory, firmly committed to developing an inclusive global financial system. This is a commitment that we as a firm are excited to make, as it will hold us accountable, reinforce our values, and improve our world for generations to come. We report to the PRI annually.
What does success look like for us?
Success isn’t a statement on our website. It isn’t a badge, an award, or a press piece on our successful DEI efforts. And success definitely isn’t a quick win. Success is a long, hard grind resulting in a team, community, portfolio, and LP base that reflect the diversity of the geographies in which we invest.
We won’t always get it right, and when we don’t, we encourage your feedback. We are committed to actively evolving and continuing to work toward a world that is equitable and fair.
Where will you see our DEI efforts appear in our investment process?
Before your first investor meeting, you’ll receive a diversity survey that we ask you to opt into taking. This is to track the diversity of our investment opportunity pipeline.
When you advance to a partner meeting, you should expect to be asked how you’re thinking about ESG, as ESG factors are an element of our investment scorecard.
When you’re given a term sheet, you’ll note that it has a diversity, equity, and inclusion clause that asks that you adopt policies to ensure acceptable workplace behavior, encourage the creation of diverse teams, foster the growth of under-represented groups, and support workplace efforts to improve diversity, equity and inclusion.
If we’re lucky enough to partner with you, your onboarding will ask you to voluntarily self-report your demographic information. This is to track founder diversity in our investment portfolio. And, as a portfolio company, as a part of standard financial reporting, you’ll be asked for your company’s ESG metrics, including those related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The best companies are thinking about DEI from day one, but we recognize that it’s not always easy to navigate. That’s why we’re committed to serving as a support system and safe space for you as you implement and evolve your DEI best practices. We encourage you to ask us about these services when we’re pitching you.