Bessemer (BVP): Portfolio Companies Rely on Diversio to Help Them Build Trust & Share In-Demand Data

by: Diversio Blog

The DEI Journey Begins for Bessemer

Bessemer needed to get a pulse on equity and inclusion at their portfolio companies. Not only would this help them lower the risk of being involved in negative press and feedback stemming from any discrimination-related lawsuits and news stories, but it would help them improve and increase investor confidence. Investors are increasingly seeking diverse companies and lawsuits have even been filed against companies by shareholders dissatisfied with diversity and inclusion progress. In this context, Bessemer wanted to measure inclusion and diversity at their portfolio companies, but as a firm that runs leanly, it was clear they couldn’t do this on their own. The resources were not in place, and Bessemer also wanted an external, trustworthy partner. 

Diversio quickly emerged as a front runner, based on Bessemer’s needs. Diversio helped incubate one of the top venture funds in Canada and has had a close relationship with portfolio companies. The company even has services specifically for portfolio company needs

Equally importantly, Diversio understood that the opportunity in this sector is that money can help drive systemic change, so bringing diversity and inclusion to this industry can have far-reaching impacts that reach entire communities. For their staff, it was also important for Bessemer that team members could be fully confident in anonymity. Since Diversio does not disclose raw data or individual level replies from surveys to Bessemer, employees can be fully transparent.

DEI Pain & Opportunities

Diversity Hurdles in the Industry

Bessemer’s sector faces some unique challenges. According to research, in the asset management industry women- and minority-owned firms control only 1-5% of assets under management and comprise 3-9% of the industry. Private equity firms are 1.9% women-owned and 3.7% minority-owned. A report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that while minorities and women account for 70% of the American population, investment firms owned by these individuals oversee less than 1% of managed U.S. assets.

Change in the Finance Sector

This sector is also changing rapidly, with investors seeking data about portfolio companies and the ILPA is expected to potentially require new reporting and information from firms. While these changes happen, portfolio companies are concerned about potential adverse reactions to releasing data — historically, this industry has not always adapted quickly. On the one hand, the changing industry can mean more buy-in to DEI efforts. On the other hand, it creates potential pressure on firms.

Survey Distribution

Portfolio companies may also need to deploy surveys across 100 companies, and bring each one onboard. Traditional HR survey methods are often intended for in-house use only, so deploying surveys across many external companies felt daunting for Bessemer. The need for surveys across such a variety of companies also makes a strong framework even more important, to make data comparable. For Bessemer, this was a concern, since they didn’t have a framework before Diversio to make sense of any data they gathered.

What Working With Diversio Was Like

Bessemer noticed that working with Diversio included both a robust, metric-based approach and a human touch. Diversio began with a three-step process:

  • Deploying Pulse Surveys to collect data from employees
  • Collecting & analyzing the data
  • Recommending action steps

At the same time, Bessemer employees found that Diversio worked with them on a personal level. Virginia Graham, VP of People at Bessemer, notes that “When I was new, Anya [from Diversio] sat me down and taught me to use the Dashboard.”

Working with Diversio, Bessemer began by gathering data on the executive team, so they were able to show portfolio companies how they conducted DEI work internally. Based on the information gathered, Bessemer was able to compare their data to the population and their industry and develop a roadmap they can deploy year over year. Now, Bessemer is looking to expand data diversity data collection across all the companies in their portfolios. 

ROI, Results, & Looking Into the Future 

One of the immediate returns on investment for Bessemer was the data. As Virginia Graham explains, “Investors want to know what our firms look like” and now there is data to share with both the investors and the ILPA. Unusually for DEI surveys generally, Bessemer saw a 71% response rate.

Even more impressive is that Bessemer started seeing results almost right away after implementing recommendations. As part of their work with Diversio, Bessemer found that women and minority representation occurred largely, though not exclusively, in junior positions, which prompted the realization that Bessemer needs to work to ensure minorities and women can progress successfully within the firm. To ensure this inclusion as well as diversity, Bessemer implemented employee resource groups (ERGs) and engaged in employee listening sessions. 

Already, the team has noticed a big difference in the experiences of the support team and investing team and has developed a strategy for internal recruitment and offering equal opportunities. As Virginia Graham notes, “Our group looks more diverse now — mostly on the gender front.” She is also optimistic about the future: “The dialogue has started — recruitment takes time, so we need to be patient.”

It was through their work with Diversio that Bessemer came to another profound realization: that many of the firm’s DEI efforts previously had been ad hoc. Recommendations from Diversio and the structured framework can ensure a standardization that will make sure people who aren’t connected or aren’t comfortable asking for information can still get information. In addition, having an avenue to connect with management about DEI issues itself was an act of inclusion. 

What  Bessemer Has to Say About Diversio

  •  “They spent a good amount of time with me & are very responsive to things we want to see & always asking for feedback.”
  • “I feel like we’re partnering to move things forward.”
  • “Seeing it in data made us act.”
  • “Diversio is a technology company setting the standard for what it means to be a diverse & inclusive investor globally.”
  • “You can’t do it without data — you’re floundering & could focus on the wrong thing. We can’t do 150 initiatives at once — the data shows where we should spend our time & money.”

Are you interested in getting results like Bessemer? Book a demo today.

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