Why we’ve launched applications for a Gender Advisory Committee

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In case you missed it, Accelerating Asia has opened applications for our Gender Advisory Committee. Why have we decided to appoint a Gender Advisory Committee?

Well, for our first year of operations, we think we’ve done pretty well in promoting a safe, inclusive and diverse ecosystem, as well as initiatives that drive this forward. Our first cohort included 40 percent female-led ventures. We have an incredibly diverse team ourselves and are one of the few venture capital funds in the region (and globally) with a female General Partner.

But we know there’s still more we can do to recognise and remove existing barriers, moving closer to achieving equality of opportunities across every spectrum.  

For us, the Gender Advisory Committee builds on the work we already do. Here are some of our reasons for starting it.

Mentors & subject matter experts

Mentors are the backbone of our accelerator programs. Our most engaged mentors and industry matter experts play an active role not just throughout the program, but also on selection day providing input, where we choose the final 10 companies that are invited to join our program.

Mentors get involved with Accelerating Asia  for various reasons, but most commonly to share their knowledge, meet new people and learn new things. It’s also not just a one-way relationship - we have seen mentors go on to be investors, official advisors and even employees of the startups  they work with.

However, despite trying different mentor recruitment methods, changing up the format and timing of mentor events and other initiatives, we have been unable to really shift the needle in getting more women involved as mentors.

We hope that the Gender Advisory Committee will support Accelerating Asia in opening up networks to more women who are interested in getting involved in the startup ecosystem as mentors, advisors and subject matter experts.

Women in Investment

It’s not an uncommon sight for me to be one of the only females in a room of investors or angels. While it’s true this is changing, we think at Accelerating Asia we have a platform to help move this forward quicker.

We’re keen to explore what initiatives can we run to support more women become angel investors and who we can partner with in the ecosystem to make an impact in this space. The Gender Advisory Committee will advise Accelerating Asia on strategies and initiatives to increase women in investment.  

A safe ecosystem for everyone

By its very nature, the relationship between investors and founders entails a power dynamic differential that we always strive to balance - not just for the protection of our founders but in the interests of long-term success for both parties.

In our experience, it’s also clear this disproportionately impacts members of marginalised groups, including women, non-binary people and sexual minorities.

We are committed to creating a diverse and safe tech ecosystem for all founders. Everyone who engages in our community must accept and adopt the Model Code of Conduct. Pioneered by Blackbird Ventures, Startmate, Airtree Ventures, Square Peg Capital, Rampersand and Blue Sky Venture Capital in 2018, Accelerating Asia has adopted this Code of Conduct for all our work in the community.

We know that creating a safe ecosystem is more than just a Code of Conduct, so we’ve been experimenting with other activities to see how we can do better. Some examples include anonymous reporting of incidents and changing up our various event formats, dates and/or times to make them more accessible for different people.

The Gender Advisory Committee will take an advisory role in supporting us do this better.

Taking a Gender Lens approach to investing

The majority of venture money still goes to startups that have no women on their founding team. According to PitchBook’s 2019 report, in the US, only 2.8 percent of venture capital investment was directed to female-only founding teams with just 11.5 percent invested into male and female founding teams.

At Accelerating Asia, our approach is not just about ensuring equal access to investment for female-led ventures, it’s also about investing in startups that are improving the lives of women. In many cases, particularly in regional Southeast Asia, empowering women is proven to have an exponential impact on their surrounding communities.

For example, our portfolio startup, BeamAndGo empowers overseas migrant workers (mainly women) giving them power over how they remit their money back home. We know that Gender Lens investing can be complex so we’re looking for ways we can improve our approach and better incorporate gender lens investing into our portfolio.

Our Gender Advisory Committee will provide strategic advice on our gender lens investing initiatives.

A platform for leadership

An MSCI Women on Boards report found women held 11.2% of board seats in MSCI Emerging Market Index companies lower than the MSCI World Index (21.6%), US (23.4%). The same report found over a fifth of the MSCI ACWI Index companies still had all male boards, only 11 companies had majority female boards.

We know that we cannot work in isolation and partnering with different organisations plays an important role in providing a platform for leadership for women. Accelerating Asia already has partnerships with various organisations including multinationals, government, development programs and universities. But one of the reasons we’ve created the Gender Advisory Committee is to take our partnerships to the next level.

We want to engage in research and thought leadership activities with venture capital funds, angel groups, corporate, community groups and governments to deliver new ideas, provide a platform for leadership and create partnerships that have a positive impact on the startup community and gender initiatives.

Accelerating Asia’s Gender Advisory Committee

The Gender Advisory Committee will deliver strategic advice on Accelerating Asia gender related initiatives. We’re looking for experienced professionals from all industries who are active members of the startup and investment community, or looking to get involved.

The ideal Committee will come from a diverse range of skill sets and experiences ranging from academia, corporate, non-profit, government, investment and startup backgrounds. We are looking for wide as well as specialised perspectives that can be applied from different initiatives and industries across all areas of our work. The Committee will meet twice a year to provide strategic advice to the Accelerating Asia team on insights and actionable initiatives that can be implemented throughout our work in the startup and investment ecosystem. This opportunity is open to everyone to apply. Applications close on 17 January. Apply here


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