Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Climate Tech and Clean Energy
At Clean Energy Ventures, we recognize and acknowledge that inequality and bias exists within our communities of venture capital, clean energy and climate tech. For example, venture capital firms, including our own, are dominated by white males. Data shows that this results in implicit bias which drives funding away from startups led by women and people of color. This does not sit well with us.
As an organization, we’re committed to positively impacting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in our communities. We make this commitment because we believe it is the right thing to do – that every individual across our country is given equal opportunity to succeed and contribute to the success of the communities they wish to be a part of. We also make this commitment because we know, from data, that diverse and inclusive teams outperform their homogenous peers. Companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity are 33 percent more likely to have industry-leading profitability. To save the planet from the effects of climate change we need the strongest teams possible positioned for global success.
Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion strategy has four pillars: organization, portfolio, pipeline, and community. Within each of these pillars we’ve established objectives, individual strategies, tactics and measurement tools to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion. Read more below.
Tools & Resources
We’re continually improving on our data collection, tool development and internal training to advance DEI in our communities. Here’s our current collection of resources.
Term Sheet Language
Browning the Green Space
Within Clean Energy Ventures (and our sister organization, Clean Energy Venture Group) we aim to improve the diversity of our constituency across race and gender by seeking new team members and interns from diverse backgrounds. We also aim to enhance our team’s understanding of DEI (its benefits, challenges, and implications) and to identify and manage their own unconscious biases through regular training. Finally, we intend to establish policies within our firm to ensure an inclusive work environment, equitable pay and benefits, and an accessible support network. By achieving these objectives, we hope to improve our team’s ability to identify, invest in and mentor the most promising early-stage climate tech startups across North America.
The climate tech companies in our portfolio are small but mighty. As they grow from early-stage startups to robust, commercialized businesses, we seek to help them: (1) build a diverse, equal and inclusive culture within their organization, and (2) identify and act on opportunities where their technologies and businesses can explicitly benefit disadvantaged communities disproportionately affected by climate change. We aim to achieve this through DEI policy requirements included in our term sheets and tied to our investments; by providing resources and tools that give our portfolio companies the support they need to build diverse and inclusive teams; and by being an active board-level advocate for the importance of DEI within the organization and its commercialization strategies. By achieving these objectives we hope our investments can help drive a multitude of diverse hiring in climate tech, build more financially successful businesses, and take steps to positively address issues of climate justice.
Promising climate tech startups and successful entrepreneurs do not all come from leading universities, they are not all led by white males, and they are not all found in affluent communities. We seek to: (1) improve the diversity of founders and leaders we encounter at each stage of our investment pipeline and (2) provide a level playing field for evaluation. We aim to achieve this by proactively sourcing investable startups from universities, communities and programs who emphasize and actualize diversity; providing additional support and coaching to applicants in need as they move through our evaluation process; and ensuring our evaluators understand how to reconcile their unconscious biases.
Before investing, we will also ensure a company’s DEI objectives are aligned with ours. We include a DEI provision in our term sheets which require implementation of DEI policies and procedures. As part of our onboarding process, we help our companies with this implementation. By meeting these objectives we hope to write more checks for diverse founders and leaders of promising early-stage climate tech startups.
As one of the most seasoned teams of clean energy and climate tech investors in North America, and having helped form the clean energy ecosystem in New England, we believe we are in a leadership position in our communities and have a responsibility to help advance DEI in our communities. We aim to lead, join or actively participate in DEI initiatives and programs happening across venture capital, clean energy, and climate tech. We have already begun this (1) with our leadership in Browning the Green Space, an initiative to bring more underrepresented groups into this sector and more clean energy into communities in need of clean, lower cost energy solutions, (2) through active discussions with relevant incubators and accelerators, and (3) by sharing our DEI plans and tools publicly. By actively engaging with community-wide initiatives we hope to help bring more capital to diverse organizations, improve the diversity of the workforce in these communities, and ensure that progress towards addressing climate change accounts for communities disproportionately affected by climate change.
We commit to continuously learning how to do better. And, annually, we commit to being transparent and reporting on our DEI efforts across these four areas by publishing a report detailing our progress.