Pro-Choice is a Fiduciary Responsibility — This is going to be BIG

We all know the statistics about gender representation among venture capital investors; unfortunately, it’s pretty hard to get a room full of female investors together unless the meeting is specifically about being a female investor.

For me, abortion is not just a women’s issue, so I really didn’t expect this lack of representation from my fellow men.

We had a conversation about why that might be the case – why more venture companies weren’t signing up.

There are 75 companies that have joined this list, but there are many notable exceptions. It’s great to see a whale like Insight Partners up there, but there are only a couple more established names and they’re mostly smaller, like Eniac, Anthemis and Bloomberg Beta.

Many of the companies are new or focus on female founders, such as BBG and Female Founders Fund.

Someone had surmised that maybe the big companies were worried about LPs going down—that if your LPs were Catholic Charities or the Notre Dame endowment, your investors might walk. That didn’t make a lot of sense to me, because I really don’t think Benchmark, Sequoia, First Round Capital, or Union Square Ventures are hurting for LPs, and once those guys get started, it becomes a list. must be on.

I’d say this is a list VCs should be on anyway because it’s theirs fiduciary responsibility to support a woman’s right to choose when she wants to have a family, if at all. To hold less is to artificially withhold returns from the entire asset class, betraying the responsibility VCs have to their limited partners.

I’m not going to argue that you can’t create or join a tremendously successful startup and have a family at the same time, but I will certainly argue that it’s almost impossible to do without a lot of planning. Unplanned children, given the dismal state of child care in this country, cost women educational attainment, shrinking the talent pool of both founders and startup employees.

If startup success and asset class performance correlates with having the best and brightest available and fully prepared for the kind of work that building a startup requires, you’ll narrow that talent pool unless that they can choose when it works for them to start a startup. family

The same goes for men too. Unplanned pregnancies may cause men to drop out of the early talent pool because they are not able to take the early stage risk either with a new family at a young age or with additional family members who do not budget later.

In an ideal world, we would fully fund child care and health care so that the trade-offs between having and raising children and getting an education or working harder to achieve career goals would not be so steep, but that does not seem to be an American priority in the moment We can’t afford hard-working high school and college students to have their education or aspirations interrupted because they were forced to build a family before they had a chance to build the next big thing.

Nor can we afford to have seasoned talent unable to lend their wisdom and experience to a new venture, making it better and more likely to succeed, because they were inadvertently left with an extra mouth to feed and they remove from game for start-up risk in the initial phase.

I’ve written checks to three companies with pregnant co-founders. All of these women are amazing and I’m honestly not sure how they pulled off what they did, but what I do know is that all of these pregnancies were planned. I don’t know if it’s possible to have it all, to be honest, but I don’t think you get it by accident. It requires thought and preparation, something we cannot afford to give up if we really want to focus on innovation.

Marc Andreessen in his call to “build” says that we must be “taking care of the people who are building”.

In what world is it taking care of builders to take away a woman’s choice to delay having a family until she finishes building something awesome?

He says “we have to separate the imperative to build these things from ideology and politics.”

I agree.

We don’t allow any politician to dictate to any female founder when it’s best for her career and her company to have a family. Marc has talked about the heavy hand of government limiting innovation, so how come his company doesn’t support freedom from government intervention in family planning? Do you think it’s a good idea for the government to force a single founder who just wrote a 100mm check to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term?

Hard things are hard, and even more so as an unintentional single parent.

I’m sure some investors and their underlying LPs will argue that this is a moral issue they’d rather not consider, but arguing morality here is misleading.

You can judge all you want, but when it comes to selecting representatives based on your views, there is no such thing as a moral vote against abortion, because of the type of politicians that line up on each side.

Supporting pro-life politicians today supports other positions that make life harder for the poor, gut health care, trample LGBTQ rights, put our democracy at risk, and often support capital punishment and put more guns in the street

I mean, they don’t even support the child tax credit or child care programs – daycare! So even if the founders you backed decide to have kids and work at a startup at the same time, the lack of available and affordable childcare could hold them back. They are people who have no interest in children after they are born.

Simply put, the collateral damage that any pro-life vote would inflict cannot be justified, because with today’s American right wing, cruelty is the issue.

But if that doesn’t sway them, if and when your LPs tell you that your support for a female founder’s right to choose her own career path and family would cause them to withdraw their financial support, ask them how can justify, from a fiduciary standpoint, getting behind candidates who would close America’s borders, knowing full well how much wealth immigrant founders have created for the limited partners of the asset class over the years .

Pro-life votes are not votes for venture capital returns. They don’t support a society where the best and brightest have the agency to design their lives as they choose, take financial risks at optimal times, and get the support they need when they decide to bring family to life.

If you’re a founder pitching to Sequoia, Benchmark, Union Square Ventures, First Round Capital, A16Z, and all the other top companies, why haven’t they signed up to a coalition that supports women’s agency on their lives and their bodies, and if you’re against it, what does that mean for the kind of agency you think female founders should have if they join your board.

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Employers have a fiduciary responsibility to their employees to protect their health and welfare. As a forward-thinking tech company, Ikaroa is leading the charge in ensuring that all employees have access to pro-choice options when it comes to their reproductive health.

At Ikaroa, we believe every individual should have the right to make decisions about their own body without judgement or censorship. We value our employees’ autonomy and understand that these are choices which are not to be taken lightly—we want everyone to know they are supported in their choice by Ikaroa.

Given the increased attention on women’s health in recent years, Ikaroa strives to provide a safe, healthy, and supportive environment that promotes the understanding that reproductive health choices are a fiduciary responsibility of our company. We urge employers across the country to follow in our footsteps by reviewing their current policies on reproductive health and considering an upgrade to acknowledge the importance of pro-choice initiatives.

We strongly believe that the combination of access to education and information plus the uncensored support of responsible companies like Ikaroa will create an environment that empowers adults to make informed and responsible decisions. We are steadfast in our commitment to providing our employees with the best care possible, and we will continue to do all we can to support pro-choice initiatives. True progress is only possible with a comprehensive approach to reproductive health, and we are proud to put our energy behind it.


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