Chicago Blend is a collaborative effort of venture capitalists in Chicago who know that diverse teams and inclusive environments are critical foundations for both the startups we invest in and our own venture firms.
We believe that Chicago has an opportunity to be one of the most diverse and inclusive startup ecosystems in the world. We’ll provide access to data, best practices and resources to Chicago’s VCs and startups to positively impact financial returns, attract the best talent, and cement Chicago as the best city to build a business.
We do this because we know DEI matters. The numbers don’t lie: according to a McKinsey study, companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians, and those in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Diverse, equitable and inclusive companies build better products, recruit the best teams, and produce better financial results.
the blend Story
Inspired by our friends in New York, a group of venture capitalists in Chicago launched Chicago Blend in 2018. As individuals who advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion, we’d launched initiatives at our own firms, worked with portfolio companies, and signed pledges, but we knew that the power of the collective would be greater than the power of the individual. So, we decided to collaborate to help make an impact on DEI in Chicago’s venture firms and startups.
We know that launching DEI programs can feel daunting. We also know that data is powerful. Before we get to action, we’re building a baseline understanding of what Chicago’s venture capital and startup ecosystems “look like.” We’ve launched two data collection projects, across local venture capital firms and the startups we invest in, to build an understanding of where our gaps are. Once we have that data in hand, we’ll launch initiatives to impact change.
We’re also sharing a Resource Library, useful for venture capitalists and startups who want to educate themselves, connect with affinity groups, or launch a diversity program at their company.
Importantly, we want you to get involved! Read on to decide on the best route to take.
DATA PROJECT 1: CHICAGO VCs
We ask: In Chicago, how many women and underrepresented minorities work at venture firms, and what is their level of seniority?
We’ve done the digging for you: We’ve learned that Chicago’s VC community is currently comprised of roughly 25% females and 14% non-white individuals. Also, only 14% at the executive level and 41% at the non-executive level are females.
Chicago is a diverse city, and we want to see this diversity reflected at our venture firms. We will line up initiatives to help shift these numbers and report on them on an annual basis.
Click through below for full access to the data, firms included, methodology and summary.
DATA PROJECT 2: CHICAGO STARTUPs
We ask: In Chicago, how many women or underrepresented minorities work in venture-backed startups?
We’re partnering with VCs to collect this information and will share the results in the winter of 2018.
If you are a Chicago-based venture firm with more than $5M under management, are actively making investments, and have not been contacted by us already, please click below to sign up to anonymously share your portfolio companies’ data.
We ask: In Chicago, who are the local affinity groups? What does a sample parental leave policy look like?
There are a lot of DEI resources out there. We’ve curated a list of some we think are the best. Whether you’re a startup launching a DEI strategy or a VC who’s educating your team, this is a good place to start.
Have a resource we should add?
The Chicago Blend Board is a group of venture professionals focused on creating, investing in, and supporting diverse and inclusive investment firms and technology companies in Chicago and the Midwestern ecosystem as a whole.
Our VC Supporters are local Chicago venture firms who have agreed to support Blend by collecting data from their portfolio companies and supporting future DEI initiatives. If you are a Chicago-based venture firm with more than $5M under management, actively making investments, and would like to be a supporter, please complete this form.
7Wire Ventures | BAIRD CAPITAL | Bluestein & Associates | BUILDERS VC | Chicago Ventures | Clean Energy Trust | Connetic Ventures | DUNDEE VENTURE CAPITAL | Energize Ventures | Ekistic Ventures | George Shultz Innovation Fund | HYDE PARK ANGELS | Hyde Park Venture Partners | Illinois Ventures | Impact Engine | InvestHER Ventures | IrishAngels Ventures | KB Partners | Levy Family Partners | LISTEN | MATH Venture Partners | M25 | MD ANGELS | Method Capital | Network Ventures | New Stack Ventures | OCA VENTURES | Origin Ventures | Pritzker Group Venture Capital | PSP GROWTH | PURPLE ARCH VENTURES | S2G Ventures | Sandalphon Capital | SANDBOX INDUSTRIES | Second Century Ventures | Sustainable Local Food Investment Group | STARTING LINE | TECHLETE VENTURES | Tensility Venture Partners | VCapital | VestedWorld | Wasson Enterprise | West loop Ventures | wintrust ventures
Thank you to the following partners for helping us collect and share our data: