By Sam Dean
Los Angeles Times
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new initiative called “PledgeLA” may help change the makeup of the tech industry in Los Angeles. The initiative includes a pledge for companies to measure and report their progress to diversify.
Los Angeles Times
On Monday morning, a cross-section of Los Angeles’ close-knit tech investment community gathered on the plaza of the Annenberg Center for Photography to mingle with Mayor Eric Garcetti, drink mimosas, and commit to changing their ways.
The event marked the beginning of PledgeLA, an initiative by the Annenberg Foundation and City Hall that asks venture capitalists and the companies that they fund to make a three-point pledge: diversify their companies at all levels, increase community engagement, and measure and report their progress.
“The tech industry looks a little different because people are wearing T-shirts and flip-flops,” Garcetti said from the stage. “But the boardrooms and C-suites look like something out of ‘Mad Men.'”
The initiative grew out of Annenberg Tech, a project focused on spreading the benefits of the growing local tech sector by encouraging social-impact investing and workforce development.
“Tech cannot keep growing at this explosive rate without engaging with the community,” said Annenberg Foundation Chief Executive Wallis Annenberg. “What I want with this partnership is to say, ‘Let’s all grow together, so everybody benefits.'”
Forty-eight venture capital firms have signed on to the program, representing the bulk of L.A.’s tech investor class. They are joined by 39 tech companies in the city, including heavy hitters such as Dollar Shave Club and Tradesy, an online resale marketplace for women’s fashion.
Data provided by the Annenberg Foundation outlines the scope of the problem. On the investment side, only 11 percent of venture capital partners in L.A. identify as women, and only 2 percent identify as African American or Latino. On the start-up side, more than 90 percent of local venture-backed companies are led by white men.