I am often asked “How is it going at VCCircle?” This month marks the beginning of the second year of News Corp. ownership and, with a full financial year of effort and results behind us, I thought I would share some numbers. At least the ones that matter the most to me.
In the past year, there have been all the changes that happen when a 10-year- old company, which has operated with a bootstrapped, startup mentality, becomes part of a larger, global entity: new and expanded office space; raises; upgrades of personal technology and operating systems; a bit more rigor, process and, certainly, some much-needed bureaucracy.
And, there has been a lot of hiring. VCCircle Network has nearly doubled its staff this past year, primarily in Noida, but also in Mumbai and Bangalore, and across every single business and product line. More colleagues are on deck as we pursue new, organic growth opportunities.
But, behind those headline numbers, here is what has been a much more meaningful transformation.
Today, at VCCircle, our CEO Nita Kapoor, our CFO Asvini Krishnan, our Editor Archna Shukla and our Head of Talent Acquisition, Neetu Singh, are all– you guessed it– women. It means that the VCCircle executive team, as it stands today, is 50% women, a first for the company. More importantly, our second rung of leadership has women in key slots including Kanika Suneja, the Head of Delegate Sales; Ritu Thomas, the Head of Events Content and Pallavi Singh, the Head of Audience Engagement, three vitally critical positions for the continued success of VCCircle, to name a few.
Overall, about 43% of the total VCCircle team are now women, as are nearly 50% of colleagues who have some management responsibilities, offering VCCircle a great pipeline of diverse talent in coming years.
Why does this matter? That depends on your point of view. For us, it is critical that India harness the potential of its talented women workforce, and we at News Corp intend to do all we can to create deliberate opportunities for gender-diversity at VCCircle. We have hired and promoted some talented men, too, by the way, to lead revenue, product, design among other key areas. This year and beyond, we plan to make the hiring of a diverse workforce a key performance indicator for all managers to sustain this momentum.
As a company that covers India’s startup and investment ecosystem, it is also critical that VCCircle push for diversity in its external activities, especially the speakers we invite to our many industry-leading events. How have we done in that regard?
In the past year, of the 440 speakers who participated in VCCircle Events, 53 were women. Similarly, of the 3,029 paid delegates who joined our events, 360 were women. Or, just about 12%.
Clearly, we have our work cut out here. And it hasn’t been for the lack of trying to get more women, particularly delegates being nominated by various companies, to attend our events. But, we don’t intend to fall back on the usual excuse that it is not easy to find women participants and speakers.
As part of a concerted push this past year to increase speaker diversity, we have moved the needle, somewhat. For example, in January-June of 2015, only 6.5% of our Events’ speakers were women. This year, for the same period, it was 14.4%. Our marquee Limited Partners Event and Annual Awards had only 4.3% women speakers in 2015. This year, we had 11.6%. And, four out of our five Jury members for this year’s flagship VCCircle Awards were women.
There is more to do here. Both Ritu and Kanika would be delighted if you want to suggest more diverse speakers and participants for our specific Events, a schedule of which is listed here. Meanwhile, VCCircle.com and TechCircle.in are always eager to showcase more women from India’s startups and investing worlds, so feel free to engage Archna with your ideas and suggestions.
Across VCCircle, we want to be both transparent and are also willing to be held accountable for making more progress on diversity, because it matters to us just as it should matter to our many audiences and customers.
By the way, here is another metric from this past year. Revenue across VCCircle Network is up 50%. Diversity, it turns out, is also simply good business.
Raju Narisetti is Senior Vice President, Strategy, for News Corp.
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