“Venture capital is a man’s game.” But don’t just take our word for it. That statement comes from the Harvard Business Review (February 2023) which reports that women are massively under-represented among both venture-backed entrepreneurs and VC investors.
But the good news is that, across the industry, women are rising through the ranks at VC firms.
At BTV, we work hard to stay ahead of the curve. BTV came into existence from an idea conceived by Lexy Prosszer, our Investment Principal. Our first MD was female, and women comprise 41% of our 22-person team, an above-average percentage in what is a male-dominated industry.
Our talented, experienced, female team members are in every sector of our company-investment, legal, finance & portfolio, office management and comms.
Yet we know that not every company is as gender-diverse as ours. Women in VC tend to be concentrated in lower-level positions, but figures show that’s mostly changing for the better too.
And while there are far fewer female-founders and female-led start-ups, they are becoming more commonplace. According to Statista, the share of start-ups with at least one female founder is 20% globally. We are proud to count two female-founders in our portfolio (see below).
One of the missions of International Women’s Day 2023 is to forge inclusive work cultures where women’s careers thrive and their achievements are celebrated.
So here’s what some of our female team members and founders have to say...
Aisha Chottani, founder of our portfolio company Moment:
“The theme of IWD 2023 is Embrace Equality. To embrace equity, you have to do three things. The first thing is proactively talk about some of the issues that still exist. If reading this raises awareness and leads to one small action, I consider that impact. Secondly, companies need to make the effort to bring more women into different roles and levels, so there are more role models. That will create an exponential effect by bringing even more women into the fold and transition to more gender equity. I feel the world is finally starting to come together to treat women equally, but barriers still exist. The third thing to embrace equity is to make a structured effort to understand women in their capacity as business leaders. This fosters deeper relationships and breaks some of the barriers that currently exist.”
Dr Min Zhou, female founder of our portfolio company CM Venture Capital:
“The VC industry has been long dominated by males, but CVCs do a much better job in hiring women.I am incredibly grateful to have started my VC career with Unilever CVC, and later have founded a VC firm that is supported by CVCs such as Btomorrow Ventures. Today, more than 50% of my colleagues are talented women. I believe that successful venturing is more and more about industry insights, due diligence skills and value-add capabilities-the old “boys club” myth of VC is waning. At CM Venture, we are institutionalising those core competences, so we all work as a “gender-agnostic” team to make game changers for a better world.”
Debbie Lowther, BTV’s Non-Executive Director in Residence:
“It’s a privilege to be part of BTV and to have the experience of working in such a diverse team. For the first decade of my career, I worked in the accountancy profession and then in venture capital (all in the UK), and while women made up a substantial proportion of the graduate intakes of my employers, there were very few women in senior roles, and as I became more senior, I became increasingly used to being the only woman in the room. I also became increasingly annoyed about the invisible barriers to women’s advancement, particularly the long hours culture and lack of opportunities for flexible working. Eventually, I opted out and began working in the higher education sector. But although the hours were a lot more flexible, in my senior financial role I was still very often the only woman in the room! So being part of a 41% minority in BTV feels like a great improvement to me, and it’s certainly worth celebrating.”
Sarah Newnham, BTV’s Paralegal:
“Being in BTV and having the support of my colleagues, both female and male, is fantastic. Personally,I have always felt inspired being in a team with such strong female leaders. I have always felt supported as a working mum to work flexibly which enabled me to complete my paralegal qualification (which BTV signed me up for) while working, and in the same year as planning a wedding! Being able to work flexibly really helped me to achieve this, so having the support from the team when you are a working mum means so much!”
Andrea McVeigh, BTV’s Social Media & Comms Manager:
“IWD means something different to different women, and in different counties. When I think about the experiences of women in Afghanistan, where most girls are banned from education and women face restrictions in jobs, travel, dress and freedom of movement, or about the sex-based disadvantages women of my mother and grandmother’s generations suffered, I feel lucky to have been born in the UK in the late 20th century. But there’s still so much work to be done, and that’s why IWD is important. It shines a spotlight on the sex-specific issues faced by women across the world, and generates important conversations that are then placed centre-stage. In BTV, women’s experience is valued. What I also appreciate about our team is that older women are well represented too. But I’d like to see that replicated across other industries, with women - and especially mid-life and older women - being visible at all levels and in traditionally ‘male’ industries. There’s a saying: ‘if you can’t see it, you can’t be it,’ - I’d love for girls to be able to see more female role models.”