Diversity and Inclusion: The Key to Social Innovation with Sharon Vosmek of Astia | Episode #57

Diversity and Inclusion: The Key to Social Innovation with Sharon Vosmek of Astia | Episode #57

Learn the science behind why diversity leads to social innovation and some practical ways you can improve in this area + Rank & File's plan for diversity and inclusion.
The Rank & File Podcast

The Rank & File Podcast

Hosted by Kari Elizabeth Enge - Certified Life and Business Coach for Purpose-Driven Entrepreneurs at Rank & File

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter Movement, we as purpose-driven entrepreneurs are asking ourselves — What can I do to become more inclusive, diverse, and anti-racist as a founder and a leader of my company?

Just like when you first began to learn about social entrepreneurship, the key to getting started is committing to learn and let your continued learning drive your actions to make an impact over time.

Learning, paired with practical actions is what today’s episode with Sharon Vosmek is all about. Sharon Vosmek is the founder and CEO of Astia — an organization that provides inclusive teams and their ventures with unparalleled access to capital and advisory support at all stages of growth through to exit.

Sharon is also an educator on how diversity and inclusion actually is the key to social innovation — an exciting piece of research for all of us as social impact entrepreneurs.

Astia has historically been focused on diversity and inclusion as it relates to gender — advocating for women’s access to capital, but I was so encouraged to see in their recent newsletter that they are taking steps toward more inclusion as it relates to women of color as part of their mission.

Today’s episode was recorded a few years ago, but I wanted to release the audio recording of my conversation with Sharon because it’s so relevant now.

Sharon is going to teach you why inclusion is important for social innovation and share practical ways you can create a more inclusive culture at your company.

Our conversation is centered around gender, but as you listen, I want you to think of not just gender, but race as well.

I’m going to begin by reading Astia’s recent newsletter to you because it really sets the stage for all that Sharon will teach you today:

Dear Astia Community,

As we witness the horrific events over the past couple of weeks, Astia stands in solidarity with the movement seeking long overdue racial justice, equity, and foundational change to a system that only benefits those who created it. We can all do better. We must do better.

Astia was founded out of a need for greater equality for women in access to funding in the entrepreneurial ecosystem — a key driver in wealth creation. Our call to action and our need to do more and to do better remains clear — while women receive 3% of Venture Capital, Black women receive 0.0006%. While a level of racial diversity is present at Astia at all levels — from our portfolio of investments, investor network, and Board of Trustees — we acknowledge that we need to do much more.

To further the work that we’re actively doing, we commit to:

  • Invest in more Black female founders
  • Further amplify the work of the Black founders in our portfolio
  • Work with funds & organizations that will help us increase the number of Black female founders in our investment pipeline and ensure that we’re casting a wide and inclusive net in our sourcing practices
  • Further our work to remove all forms of bias, including racial bias, from the investment process
  • Strengthen our operational practices to hold ourselves to account, which includes our community of investors and advisors, internal hiring practices, and supply chain 

We will do everything in our power to fully live our mission of inclusion, innovation, and investment.

We hope you will join us.

The Astia Team and Board of Directors

Rank & File’s Plan for Inclusion and Diversity for Rank & File

I hope that you are encouraged by Sharon to take small but important steps as a founder, no matter how big or small your team is, to bring more inclusion into your organization. I was really inspired by Astia’s newsletter, that since receiving it I also met with the Rank & File team to create a Plan for Inclusion and Diversity for Rank & File. I hope that you will do the same as you seek to deepen your impact as a purpose-driven entrepreneur. 

To further the work that we’re actively doing, Rank & File commits to:

  • Actively seek out more black and minority founders to be featured in Rank & File Magazine and on the Podcast.
  • Fight the White Savior Mentality by carefully choosing to feature companies who work alongside beneficiaries in an empowering way, and who have included local and internal team impact into their missions
  • Audit the rest of 2020 content to ensure a balance of gender/race and empowering models for upcoming contributors/interviews, and create a pipeline for 2021 for diverse/inclusive features, which includes the formation of an advisory board of directors 
  • Immediately replace founder photos with empowering beneficiary photos on our magazine covers  — shifting culture away from the “entrepreneur is the hero” storyline

We can all do better. We must do better. So, what will you commit to doing to expand your impact as it relates to inclusion and diversity?

If you don’t know yet, that’s OK. Commit to continue learning. As you learn, your actions will become more clear.

Thank you everyone for joining me weekly here on the Rank & File Podcast -as you commit to continue your learning about the intersection of impact and business.

Keep good. Keep giving.




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Issue 19 Rank & File Magazine for Purpose-Driven Entrepreneurs | Social Enterprise Magazine


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