Change is happening. Our commitment has not changed.
Last spring, our firm entered a period of deep inquiry that resulted in the formation of three DEI working groups across the firm: Investing, Hiring & Retention, and Portfolio Services.
Where we started:
We focused intently on moving the needle for DEI within our firm and the broader venture and growth equity community. The working groups focused on addressing specific categories of opportunity and met regularly over the past year, establishing goals and timelines for impact.
We focused early on alignment within the firm to ensure impact and success. Observable impact (short and long-term), given our values and goals, was an essential mindset for the entire firm. It was clear that this mission would be a journey, not a quick fix.
Each working group conducted extensive research and surfaced tactical opportunities for us to begin making a difference.
What we know today:
We are just getting started. As business leaders, we know we play a powerful role in our industry, and we take this responsibility to heart. We continue to focus on steering our firm toward a more inclusive, empathetic, and diverse future.
Since our last update, our three working groups have continued to focus on immediate and impactful efforts as well as long-term goals for the future. We want to share with you some of the recent steps we have taken in our continued work and commitment to DEI at Norwest and in our industry. We’re making progress, and we have more to do.
We’re also honoring Juneteenth again this year by giving Norwest employees a paid day off on June 18 to recognize this day of reflection and celebration of the end of slavery in the U.S.
INVESTING IN DIVERSE FOUNDERS
Our Investing team is focused and committed to expanding our investments in Black and Latinx-founded companies. We’re committed to giving diverse founders their fair share of our attention and, as such, have invited numerous Black and Latinx-founded companies to present to the partnership.
In the last year, the Norwest Investing team has:
- Invested in Praxis Labs, a groundbreaking DEI learning and development platform founded by a Black woman. Praxis uses virtual reality to empower people to develop empathy and identify factors of inequality in the workplace.
- Invested in Ulu Ventures – a leading seed-stage venture firm focused on diverse founders. Ulu raised $138M for Fund III, exceeding its initial $100M target.
- Invested in a second fund founded by a woman of color (announcement coming soon).
HIRING & RETENTION
We are committed to expanding opportunities in our industry by bringing more diverse colleagues into the organization at all levels. To do so, we have made strides in widening the hiring and candidate funnel. As a first step, it was important for us to expand beyond our traditional channels when searching for candidates.
We continue to work with supportive recruiting partners who have helped us meet our goals. We are extremely motivated to continue these efforts that are focused on creating a more diverse work environment and community at Norwest.
We set aggressive goals for ourselves to widen the funnel to ensure we are interviewing more people from under-represented backgrounds for all our roles in the firm. We track and report results to our hiring managers monthly. Thirty-three percent of our hires over the last year are Black or Latinx. We continue to equally focus on ensuring we have an inclusive culture for retention.
- Announced a strategic partnership with BLCK VC, a nonprofit advocacy organization focused on connecting, engaging, empowering, and advancing Black venture investors by providing a focused community built for and by Black venture investors. The organization is skillfully pushing firms to double the number of Black investors by 2024.
- At Norwest, we know the power and long-term impact of mentorship. Through our partnerships with the Stanford Graduate School of Business and NVCA, we have mentored students of color over the last year.
- We have helped place several mentees at Norwest and at our portfolio companies.
Our portfolio services team is committed to developing resources and scalable programs that will actively support diversity and inclusion in our portfolio companies. In the last year, the team has:
- Increased focus and traction building relationships with executives from URM backgrounds and introducing these candidates to portfolio companies. The Norwest Talent team is actively sourcing and recruiting executives through direct outreach and strategic partnerships.
- Hosted panels and one-on-one meetings between portfolio company leaders to share challenges and best practices around DEI. For example, Norwest Talent & People Advisory hosted a virtual DEI recruiting roundtable with Black, LatinX, and LGBTQIA+ Chief People Officers & Talent Acquisition speakers from Norwest portfolio companies Udemy, Grove Collaborative, Singular, and iRhythm to share knowledge and learnings.
- Became an inaugural partner of Valence’s BONDS program in May. BONDS is a mentorship program aimed at empowering Black professionals on the executive path. Members sponsor emerging Black leaders to help them engage with exclusive resources and mentorship that position them for the C-suite.
- Provided special portfolio pricing on Talkspace to our founders, portfolio company employees, and their families who have been affected over the last year.
- Promoted Karat’s Brilliant Black Minds initiative – A flagship purpose program, Brilliant Black Minds honors the heritage of genius and brilliance in the Black community while removing barriers to the information, networks, and resources Black engineers need to ascend to the highest heights of tech.
WE ARE NOT DONE
We are committed to a growth mindset, which for us equates to doing more and doing better. Our growth mindset is the fuel behind our DEI initiatives – now and moving forward. We take the responsibility that is inherent in investing seriously, just as we know how important it is that industry leaders act as conduits of positive change. Although small changes can yield transformative shifts, we’re aiming for big changes. We’re ready to keep growing, and we invite Black and Latinx founders to engage with us directly. We also encourage our network to send Black and Latinx-founded businesses our way.