In 2019, the Wall Street Journal published a special report titled “The Business Case for More Diversity.” Helmed by WSJ research analysts, the study ranked industries and companies for diversity and performance and revealed direct linkages between such characteristics and performance. For example, the 20 most diverse companies in the study had an average annual stock return of 10% over five years, while the 20 least-diverse companies had a return of just 4.2%.
The WSJ report came on the heels of a similar study undertaken by global consulting group BCG. In the report, BCG shared a plethora of data points that showed “a strong and statistically significant correlation between the diversity of management teams and overall innovation.” Companies with management teams characterized by above-average diversity generated significantly more revenue from innovation (45% of total revenue) than companies with below-average leadership diversity (26% of total revenue).
The upshot: diverse leadership teams lead to more innovation and, thus, more profits.
Women-led tech ventures still lag conspicuously behind those led by their male counterparts (women-led startups received Just 2.3% of VC funding in 2020, according to the Harvard Business Review), but they are steadily making inroads.
Highlighting women tech leaders shaping emerging technologies
Here are some of the many female-powered tech concerns driving this long-overdue change of the guard. Special shoutout to the companies and female technology leaders part of our technology ecosystem; Tego Cyber, Appify, Hyro, Usermind, Elevate Security, and Appify. Read on to learn more about these innovative market players and the experienced, innovative women helping to urge them forward into the future.
Founded in 2019, Tego Cyber is a Las-Vegas based firm with an automated threat intelligence platform that helps enterprises identify threats in real-time and put them in context, speeding time-to-resolution. Using a proprietary process, the Tego Cyber Threat Intelligence platform doesn’t simply identify bad IP addresses – it provides the details necessary to identify and counteract threats so that security teams can spend less time on why and how a threat is bad.
Tego Cyber is led by CEO and co-founder Shannon Wilkinson. Wilkinson, whose experience includes a nearly 12-year-stint with the United Nations, received awards from Las Vegas Women in Technology in 2018 (Cybersecurity) and 2017 (Entrepreneur). She is also the author of the book Ripping Off the Hoodie: Encouraging the Next Generation of STEM Girls, which examines the challenges facing young girls and women in STEM, including unconscious bias, discrimination, and overt sexual harassment in the workplace.
Appify’s low-code development platform allows users to build mobile apps that accelerate their work. The Silicon Valley-based company, founded in 2017, helps organizations lower costs, drive productivity, and digitize workflows by making it easy for “citizen developers” and professional development teams to speed time-to-deployment for enterprise apps.
Previously a limited partner with Stage 2 Capital, CEO Jen Grant was recently recognized as one of the Top 100 Princeton Technology leaders in 2021 and a Woman of Influence in Silicon Valley by the Silicon Valley Business Journal (SVBJ). A recent SVBJ profile quoted her as saying that “women in leadership roles have to abide by a giant set of undisclosed rules: Not too forceful, but "leaderly" and strong; friendly and approachable, but holding people responsible; expressing strategy thinking, without making anyone feel undermined. It's a minefield.”
Hyro turns complex data into simple dialogue with natural language automation and computational linguistics. By replacing enterprises’ rigid, intent-based chatbots and IVR systems with adaptive conversational experiences, Hyro automates digital interactions in any conversational setting, helping companies communicate more efficiently with customers and collect actionable customer insights.
Michael Blumental has served as the San Francisco-based company’s COO since 2019. Before joining Hyro, she built the US sales organization for Spot, an Israel-based DevOps firm that NetApp recently acquired. She has also been active with Women2Women, a mentorship program aimed at increasing the number of women in key positions in Israel.
Recently acquired by Qualtrics, Usermind provides experience orchestration software that helps enterprises use what they know about customers to actively shape experiences in real-time. With Usermind’s XO Platform, companies can monitor customers and orchestrate 1:1 experiences across channels, systems, and teams, enabling enterprises to transform how they interact with customers and create stronger, more profitable customer relationships.
Jessica Lanier joined Usermind as CFO in 2020. Currently Global Head of Finance Strategy and Operations for the company’s new owner, Qualtrics, she oversees 100 team members. She has direct oversight of accounts receivable, accounts payable, renewals contracting and billing, M&A integrations, cross-functional business transformation initiatives, and finance systems and processes, among other responsibilities.
Berkeley-based Elevate Security was founded in 2017 to address one of the most challenging aspects of building an enterprise security program: getting ahead of breaches before they happen. Its software helps company security managers gain in-depth visibility into their most significant organizational risks to thwart ransomware, account takeover, and data loss.
Co-founder Masha Sedova is president of Elevate Security. Before Elevate, Masha was a security executive at Salesforce, where she founded the company’s security behavior training program. Masha has been a member of the Board of Directors for the National Cyber Security Alliance and a regular presenter at conferences such as Blackhat, RSA, ISSA, Enigma, OWASP, and SANS.
Tivity Health provides health improvement, fitness, and social engagement solutions at scale. The company’s integrated portfolio of brands works directly with hundreds of healthcare practitioners and many of the nation's most extensive payers and employers to improve clinical outcomes, reduce healthcare expenses and create possibilities to feel better, work better and live better.
As CIO of Tivity Health, Sarah Richardson is responsible for the company’s digital transformation, including developing the engagement platform, customer relationship management tools, and data strategy. Before joining Tivity Health, Richardson served as Vice President of IT Change Leadership for OptumCare. Richardson also has significant health system experience, serving as CIO of NCH Healthcare System in Naples, FL, and as a Division CIO with HCA Healthcare.
4D Healthware's innovative healthcare technology solutions provide you with the method, equipment, and software to provide treatment where and when it is most needed — wherever patients are – without burdening your workflow.
Star Cunningham, a globally known expert on "Smart" (M2M Learning) systems and wearable technologies, developed 4D Healthware in 2011. She's also known for her expertise in system migration, high-speed Internet access product delivery and enhancement, process re-engineering, extensive data collection, and real-time analysis.
When it comes to humanizing technology, Affectiva has joined up with the Smart Eye organization to do just that. Affectiva was founded in 2009 by two visionary scientists from the MIT Media Lab, Dr. Rana el Kaliouby and Dr. Rosalind Picard. Affectiva pioneered and defined the new technological category of Emotion AI and promoted its numerous applications across sectors.
Over the years, Affectiva has been acknowledged as a forward-thinking artificial intelligence startup and as the proud recipient of multiple industry awards and honors.
Blendoor has extensive knowledge in data science, people analytics, financial risk modeling, and a strong desire to set standards and create solutions that promote environmental, social, and governance developments.
Stephanie Lampkin, the company's CEO, had a humble beginning to becoming a Fortune 40 under 40, MIT Tech Review 35 under 35, and internationally renowned data scientist and thought leader in the DEI and people analytics fields. She has given talks at the New York Times, Wharton, and TEDx.
Inspired by Amelia Bloomer's legacy, a women's rights activist in the 1800s who transformed women's health and fashion by replacing harmful corsets with bloomers, Bloomer Tech is actively working to advance the development of fabrics engineering to optimize health in this technological era.
Accomplished businesswomen Alicia Chong Rodriguez, Aceil Halaby, and Monica Abarca formed the company together, all of whom share a strong interest in the intersection of technology, fashion, and design.
Full Harvest is on a relentless mission to help people live more sustainably at the root level by giving businesses a place to buy surplus and imperfect food. The idea for Full Harvest came from a strong desire to change the food system for the better. They help farmers sell imperfect and extra food on their market. Food and beverage companies then buy from the market, which helps farmers and the environment.
Christine Moseley, the company's founder, has been an entrepreneur since the age of 17. She has launched several start-ups during her life, including Musical Empowerment, a national non-profit that's been around for nearly 20 years. Full Harvest was born out of her desire to digitize the worldwide produce supply chain and reduce food waste.
Disparities in centralized communications endanger lives and livelihoods. goTenna enables worldwide programmable mobile broadband. Their mesh networks allow them to provide connectivity anywhere on the planet.
Daniela Perdomo is the co-founder and Chair of goTenna, a company developing universal connectivity by decentralizing it. Consumers, as well as the United Nations, Google, the French Army, Raytheon, and US Special Operations Forces, use goTenna's mesh networks.
PromisePay boosts government revenue while helping impoverished residents. The Promise team works hard to provide those in need with the tools and resources to succeed. Their experience ranges across numerous industries: they are technical specialists from firms such as Google, Stripe, and Palantir, as well as renowned government leaders.
Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins and Diana Frappier, two American social justice activists and businesswomen, co-founded the organization.
RideAlong is a firm believer in the ability of research to address society's most pressing problems. They help police officers and the public have safe and productive encounters via their mobile-friendly, real-time data platform—patrol officers, dispatchers, and their community partners are now better equipped to help the most vulnerable people.
Katherine Nammacher, RideAlong's CEO and Co-founder, spearheaded the company from its inception to its sale, including securing funding from Y Combinator and a Code for America fellowship.
Using facial recognition technology, Timeless is the first app to help Alzheimer's patients remember events, stay connected, and engage with their friends and family.
Emma Yang, a 16-year-old in her final year of high school, is the brains behind the Timeless project. Emma's favorite pastime is programming, although she is also interested in other things such as music, history, and languages.
The importance of investing in women-led tech initiatives and breaking down the gender gap
Despite these examples of women-led tech successes, women are still underrepresented across all levels of technology, from computer science degrees and coding bootcamps to funded startups and management positions in established tech companies. In addition, women earn less than men on average and are often overlooked for promotions to higher-level positions.
That said, the solution does not lie in VCs suddenly beginning to back startups merely because they are created by women—of course not. Rather, it's to sift out the institutional patterns, needless barriers, and outdated mindsets that hinder current VC companies from grasping the immense potential of ideas presented to them.
But this isn't just a matter of equity; it's also an essential issue for innovation. The evidence suggests that having women in the mix increases innovation across the board. When investors adopt this concept, more ideas that enhance society will finally have a chance to take off—everyone can win.
Major investors are making it a point to invest in female leadership
A more inclusive venture capital industry suggests more possibilities for underrepresented founders and more wealth for everyone, regardless of their background. The ten female investors and businesswomen profiled below define venture capital's future, serving as role models and mentors to the next generation of female investors.
Arian Simone - Fearless Fund
Arian Simone: Entrepreneur, angel investor, and co-founder of the Fearless Fund, a venture capital fund dedicated to investing in women of color-led startups seeking seed, series A, or pre-seed funding.
Sarah Kunst - Cleo Capital
Sarah Kunst: Managing director of Cleo Capital, a VC firm based in Santa Monica. Among the companies in the firm's investment portfolio are Cameo, MasterClass, BlockPower, and Love Wellness. In addition to her job at Cleo Capital, Kunst is a Venture for America investor board member—a program for bright graduates interested in entrepreneurship.
Gülsüm Çıracı - Startupfon
Gülsüm Çıracı: Angel investor and managing partner at Startupfon, an Istanbul-based venture capital fund and investment platform that connects investors with early-stage technology firms.
Pocket Sun - SoGal
Pocket Sun: Sun is a venture capitalist and a co-founder of SoGal, one of the world's most extensive communities of diverse entrepreneurs and investors, with more than 40 chapters across the globe.
Deborah Jackson - Plum Alley
Deborah Jackson: Co-founder and CEO of Plum Alley, a New York and San Francisco-based venture firm. Plum Alley invests in women who create groundbreaking healthcare and sustainability products that improve lives and the earth. Jackson spent two decades on Wall Street raising cash for her clients, starting at Goldman Sachs. She is an entrepreneur, investor, and executive advocate with an MBA from Columbia Business School.
Mercedes Bent - Lightspeed Venture Partners
Mercedes Bent: As an early-stage consumer investor with Lightspeed Venture Partners, she is particularly interested in education technology, financial technology, and consumer products.
Jo Marini - Mother Superior
Jo Marini: Besides being an entrepreneur and educator, Jo is the founder and CEO of Mother Superior, a so-called “venture foundry” that guides early-stage founders from ideas to financials, legal compliance, product development, production, branding, positioning, launch and beyond.
Cheryl Campos - VCFamilia
Cheryl Campos: Co-founder of VCFamilia, a community of more than 200 Latinx investors who assist new and rising venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. The industry's largest Latinx VC affinity club, VCFamilia, was founded in 2021 to address a dearth of Hispanic and Latino representation. Campos is also the head of venture growth and partnerships at Republic, a private investment platform, and an investor at The Community Fund, a $5 million early-stage fund focused on community-driven businesses.
Anastasiya Giarletta - R42
Anastasiya Giarletta: Principal of R42, investing in and coaching the next generation of longevity and artificial intelligence entrepreneurs. R42, a $16 million seed fund focused on AI and longevity firms at the nexus of biology and computer science.
Bao-Y Van Cong - Target Global
Bao-Y Van Cong: Investment Director for London-based Target Global, Van Cong invests in early development scale-ups in Europe and Israel, with over $1.5 billion in assets under management. Rapyd, Omio, TravelPerk, WeFox, and Zego are among the global tech heavyweights in Target Global's portfolio.
Organizations working toward bringing women into the technology industry
Several organizations are also working toward bringing more women into tech, including industry leaders Women Who Tech, Women in Tech, and Women in Tech Summit. They're laboring to bring more women into the tech industry by providing education, networking opportunities, and funding for female entrepreneurs.
Women Who Tech: As a network for women-led ventures, investors, and allies striving to boost diversity and funding in tech, WWT is one of the largest and most influential organizations. They work in the nonprofit sector to eliminate barriers and increase financing for women-led initiatives, fostering an inclusive culture and economy to advance women in technology and close the funding gap.
Women in Tech: World-renowned nonprofit organization Women in Tech works to close the gender gap and empower women in technology. They advocate for the empowerment of women and girls worldwide, focusing on Sustainable Development Goal 5b: harnessing technology.
Women in Tech Summit: WITS is a tech conference that focuses on women and underrepresented minorities who work in, or with, technology in both technical and non-technical capacities. The goal of WITS, the only technology conference with all women speakers, is to provide a platform for women working in a range of IT fields to meet and learn from one another.
There is still a lot of work to do to empower the community of women in technology, but the progress made so far is truly encouraging. It's clear that investing in women-led technology is part of building a brighter future for everyone.
Empowering women across the technology industry
At Vation Ventures, we want to recognize and honor organizations working to increase the number of women in technology, investors who believe in women in technology, and female leaders rising to the top in various tech fields.
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