Episode 49 Evolving DEI within Venture Capital with Gayatri Sarkar of Advaita Capital

Tech Uncensored - An Altitude Accelerator Podcast

Mar 22 2024 • 58 mins

Today we’re facing headwinds in this fast-paced tech economy.  There is this global race to win in the advancement of Artificial Intelligence between the East and the West, however there are clear impediments that persist to drive change in current technologies that are hampering the speed to win.

There is this realization of the how brittle our systems are because of the harms, the bias and the deep fakes, pervasive scraping of data that have permeated platforms and communication systems creates an increased risk that resulted in more regulatory attention, public awareness in lockstep with the pace at which the technology is advancing.

Ethics, Safety are now synonymous with Diversity Equity and Inclusion and is now front in centre when it comes to AI, because it more pervasive across sectors, across culture and society because of its importance in ensuring that technology works for everyone.

This Increasing awareness has bled into Venture Capital. What technologies get funded continues to be dominated by large VC institutions, that have historically not been diverse. Some stats of how DEI is evolving within Venture Capital:

Female Representation: Women represented 26% of the VC workforce, vs.  15% in 2016.

The percentage of firms that reported they do not have any female investment partners decreased to 57%, down from 68% in 2018.

Black Professionals: Black employees represented 5% of investment professionals in 2023, up from 3% in 2018, while senior level positions held by Black professionals totaled 4%, a percentage increase from 2018.

DEI Strategies: Nearly 50% of VC firms surveyed are incorporating DEI strategies (up significantly from 15% in 2016), with 60% of firms saying they have a staff person or a team responsible for DEI.

These statistics highlight the ongoing efforts and challenges in improving DEI within the VC sector.

Gayatri Sarkar is the owner of Advaita Capital, a series B fund and one of the only growth VC funds in the US, that is a women-led, POC-led Venture capital company in an already small industry.

We welcome Gayatri to talk about the state of VC, especially when it comes to disproportionate investment for underrepresented founders. We will talk about DEI its evolution. Is it working? We’ll also address the exciting innovation they are investing in, where AI is headed.  We also talk about her ventures: Advaita Capital, a series B fund; She-VC, an organization that seeks to level the playing field in curating women and diverse GP’s, LPs to drive change through diversity, equity and inclusion. We’ll also discuss her most recent appointment to the Princess Grace Foundation of Monaco.