Aussie venture capital funds are making significant strides in boosting the diversity of their portfolios, but women still make up only a tiny percentage of the investors in the sector.
A survey conducted by The Australian Financial Review of 10 of the top VC funds in the country revealed that of 448 investments made since the inception of the firms, 35 per cent had female co-founders, up from 26 per cent this time last year.
The 9 percentage point increase in a year is a huge jump for the industry, with the leading funds on gender diversity being Brandon Capital, Artesian, OneVentures and Rampersand.
Leading funds on gender diversity
In the last year Brandon Capital has increased the number of companies in its portfolio with a female co-founder from 21 per cent to 45 per cent, out of its 40 investments.
Artesian, which has by far the largest portfolio of any venture capital fund in the country with 192 investments, was also a high performer, with more than 40 per cent of its investments having a female co-founder. Almost 40 per cent of Michelle Deaker's OneVentures and Paul Naphtali's Rampersand's investments also had at least one female co-founder.
Managing partner of Artesian, Jeremy Colless, told The Australian Financial Review the most important steps it had taken to increase diversity were trying to remove selection bias and employing an equal number of male and female VC analysts from diverse backgrounds so as to ensure a more diverse group of investors in the future.
"Artesian's early stage (seed/angel) VC strategy is to undertake due diligence on accelerators, incubators, university programs and angel groups to identify the groups with the most diverse deal flow, broad alumni and networks of mentors and investors," he said.
"Artesian then generally invests in all of the start-ups that have been selected to participate in these program cohorts.”