Unlearning racism in venture building & investing :: with Lindsey T. H. Jackson
In this episode of Ventures, my guest Lindsey T. H. Jackson (https://www.linkedin.com/in/lindsey-t-h-jackson/) and I discuss the journey of anti-racism and anti-oppression work in ourselves, in venture capital, and in startup ecosystems. We discuss the nuances of dismal representation numbers in venture; how to approach Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) conversations in the workplace and beyond; how to develop a regular practice to self-reflect, define your community, and “fail fast” on your own anti-racism journey; and how to encourage others to consider embarking on the journey themselves.
2:10 - Tee-up and introduction for the episode
3:18 - Lindsey’s introduction, background, brief story, about LTHJ Global (https://lthjglobal.com/)
8:11 - Will’s perspective/background, growing up in navy-town USA, anti-racist influences in his youth.
10:30 - What got Lindsey into DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) consulting work?
13:30 - DEI & anti-racism work as intriguing to all entrepreneurs (it’s about collecting and responding to data, to work safer and smarter)
14:34 - Will’s journey coming from graduate work in a bioengineering lab, gathering and responding to data, influence from Dr. Viola Vogel as he got into venture building & investing.
17:13 - Common references to The Matrix in DEI work, why people ignore data, and listening to the market. “Why am I afraid to talk about racism?”
20:20 - Companies that make great products are made up of people. Importance of unlocking greatness in people.
20:56 - More diverse companies perform better. (Check out: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-numbers-dont-lie-diverse-workforces-make-companies-more-money-2020-07-30)
21:56 - Unlearning racism; reflections from Will’s personal journey
23:54 - How does Lindsey start the conversation without triggering people who think differently?
28:30 - “Calling in” (instead of calling out) - about the term “underrepresentation”
29:19 - Shockingly bad statistics regarding diversity in venture (see: https://www.wired.com/story/vc-pledged-better-diversity-its-barely-changed)
30:24 - LTHJ Global often runs a thought experiment: “Do a count in a given day: How many people do you engage with that are outside of your intersectional identity”
30:57 - One identity as “black”; she doesn’t know where her people come from because of chattel slavery - this part of her ancestry erased. (Plus, other identities)
32:52 - Dismal numbers in terms of percent of VC dollars going to businesses owned by black women.
36:04 - Cognitive diversity
36:29 - For those listening in who are new to this conversation, what are recommended next steps to begin their anti-racism journey? (Three things: 1. Find a language/practice to constantly interrogate yourself. 2. Don’t define your community by who you exclude. 3. Fail fast, and give yourself the grace to do so).
45:00 - Will’s quick recap of these three recommended steps.
46:25 - Analogous to Jim Collins’ flywheel language - anti-racism journey can/should be similar.
47:32 - For people on their anti-racism/anti-oppression journey, what is Lindsey’s recommended way to talk about this with others and/or publicly?
49:28 - Referenced author quote from social media: “Dear white-bodied people, as it pertains to racism, this is your work to go get your people” (and analogies to others groups and their people as well)
51:15 - By the age of 5, black and brown children experience racism 5x/day, which increases in frequency as they get older.
51:11 - “How do I know I’m moving forward?”
54:00 - Recapping the various topics we’ve opened up. Consider the venture of anti-racism. Consider unlearning racism as joyful and freeing.
56:05 - By nature, anyone who considers themselves an entrepreneur is well poised to unlearn racism.
56:46 - Lindsey’s work: https://lthjglobal.com/ // https://www.linkedin.com/in/lindsey-t-h-jackson/ // Reach out and book her for a speaking gig // Subscribe to learn more about her upcoming book “Unlearning Racism” → http://eepurl.com/htLZyv