Viewpoints

Access for All: Investing in Relationships to Facilitate Diversity and Inclusion


July 7, 2020 –

In 1992, I landed on the campus of Stanford without a network or a map for how to survive in America. I never would have made it without a fellowship endowed by a generous donor and coaching from mentors and people who gave me the benefit of the doubt. I believe that everyone deserves an equal chance in this country.

At Mayfield, we’ve been closely following the #BlackLivesMatter movement and want to offer constructive actions that go beyond supportive words.

One of our firm’s core beliefs points out that “it’s often the founders who don’t come out of central casting that have the grit necessary to succeed against seemingly insurmountable odds.” The venture industry has fallen behind on championing founders who represent America’s diversity. We regret that and are committing publicly to do everything we can to make meaningful change and amplify what Mayfield already does. Over 50% of our current founders are from diverse ethnic backgrounds. However, our portfolio doesn’t live up to our own expectations when it comes to representing female founders and founders of color.

Starting today, Mayfield has decided to pledge 1% of our management fee and carry every year, which can amount to millions of dollars, to causes that support diversity, health, hunger and education. This commitment expands on our firm’s 50 year tradition of philanthropy.  We are also working on an Access for All Program, under which we will affiliate with leading community organizations to address systemic barriers to opportunity. We have already started working with some of them including College TrackMission ASAP, and Him For Her to create opportunities for student interns, job seekers, and board leaders and are in conversations with many more. We have also participated in Crunchbase’s diversity spotlight initiative as we believe that transparency will impact outcomes.  We realize, however, that change will take time and are prepared to be patient investors in relationships to facilitate diversity and inclusion.

Over the past 50 years, Mayfield has led through times of economic, political, and social cycles. To thrive through the next 50 years, we need to incubate the next generation of tech leaders, and one thing we know for sure: they will look very different from the last generation’s tech leaders.

Please share your thoughts and feedback at accessforall@mayfield.com as we have just started and have a lot more work to do.

 

Originally published on LinkedIn.