Crafting a Better Workplace & Community Through Diversity

Community is everything to us. We believe trust is the bedrock of a healthy community, and so the values we uphold internally — of respect, self-awareness, and inclusiveness — are the same ones we seek in partners, founders, stakeholders, and portfolio companies.

Furthermore, it is insufficient to simply believe we hold these values. It takes hard work — including self-reflection, dialog, and a framework for conveying, accepting and acting on feedback. It requires that we state our position on these matters publicly, so as to provide leadership and accountability.

To that end, we want to share with you our views regarding diversity — including gender, sexual orientation, age, race, religion, and ethnicity. These are principles we believe help create exceptional companies and exceptional lives for the people involved in pushing them forward.

Herein we also provide a safe, confidential mechanism for anyone in our community who wishes to provide feedback or report a transgression.

This is an incredible time to be in the venture capital space. Our world is getting smaller each day, with global endeavors, partnerships, and technology evolving at a breakneck pace. We believe these gains are to our detriment if we don’t also, as an industry, consider how we can improve. Indeed (as we all well know), blindspots, once exposed can be exceptionally powerful business opportunities. We believe we will all grow more powerfully when diversity and tolerance is fully realized across the sector.

Goodness begets goodness, and so we encourage others to document and implement similar policies and frameworks for opening dialog and responding to feedback. Please see below for more information on our policy, reporting process and our actions forward.

Thank you for taking time to read this, and thank you for being part of our trusted and thoughtful community.

Best,

Chris Arsenault

President & CEO iNovia Capital


iNovia’s Anti-Harassment Overview
and Reporting Process

Baselines

We hold ourselves accountable for success in diversity, and report metrics to our LPs.
As part of our diligence process, we request diversity metrics from startups under evaluation for partnership.
We partner with theBoardlist to help our portfolio companies find qualified female board members.
We hold ourselves and our portfolio community to an Anti-Harassment Policy, as follows:

Definitions of Harassment

Harassment includes verbal, written or physical conduct that shows hostility or aversion toward an individual because of their race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, pardoned conviction or any other characteristic that:

  1. is intended to create an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment;
  2. unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance;
  3. adversely affects an individual’s employment opportunities1.

Sexual harassment may be defined by some or all of the following behaviours and actions:

  1. verbal harassment such as sexual or sexist remarks and innuendo;  
  2. direct sexual propositions such as unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, and/or sexually themed communication;
  3. sexual coercion or bribery such as implicit or explicit sexual requests in exchange for reward or threat of punishment; and
  4. sexual assault such as unconsented physical contact or rape2. Sexual and physical assaults are defined by the Criminal Code and will be dealt with according to that legislation3.

Zero Tolerance

Absolutely no form of harassment or discrimination will be tolerated against members within the firm, our network of portfolio companies, our stakeholders or members of the broader iNovia community (e.g., founders). Anyone who is found to have harassed or discriminated against another individual will be subject to disciplinary action. This includes anyone who interferes with the outcome of a complaint; retaliates against an individual for filing a complaint; or files an unfounded complaint intended to cause harm. This applies to all behaviour that is connected to work, which includes off-site meetings and business trips4.

Investigation and Enforcement

All harassment allegations will be sensitively and carefully investigated with priority by iNovia’s General Partner Advisory Committee. Following an investigation, appropriate actions will be taken to resolve the matter by managing the situation and preventing future occurrence. Every effort will be made to ensure the victim’s privacy is maintained whilst protecting the rights of the accused, as measures to resolve the matter are put in place5.

In addition to standard recruitment practices, due diligence of candidates will also be carried out to assess possible past breaches of ethical workplace policies and practices, in order to avoid hires who have been terminated due to workplace policy violations6.

See Something, Experience Something, Say Something

Please inform us should you observe or experience any violations outlined in this policy. You can send us an email at wecare@inoviacapital.com or submit your feedback in this form, which provides an option to remain anonymous. All complaints will be treated with respect and discretion.

 

Going Beyond

In addition to the above, we have implemented measures to enhance our focus in the following areas:

Metrics and Diversity Programs

As a venture firm, we have traditionally tracked the obvious metrics of growth and profitability for our portfolio companies. However, through our work in developing a position on diversity, we have come to believe that other factors contribute equally to a company’s performance. We are now tracking diversity metrics within our firm and across portfolio companies, including as part of the due diligence process for all new and follow-on investments. Additionally, we have begun creating and sharing insights on diversity programs and strategies to help build greater inclusion amongst portfolio companies.

We stand behind  Reid Hoffman’s #decencypledge7 and are committed to work with the founder, LP and VC communities in Canada and the US to hold ourselves and the industry accountable for greater inclusivity.

Leveraging Valuable Resources

The startup ecosystem benefits from the contributions of industry leaders who’ve adopted the responsibility of educating and supporting the community as we all work towards accelerating diversity and inclusivity in our environment. These are the resources that we defer to in setting our internal policies.

iNovia, Investing in People First.

 


  1. [Anon, (2017). [online] Available: [https://www.bizfilings.com/toolkit/research-topics/office-hr/identifying-and-preventing-harassment-in-your-workplace] [Accessed 27 Jul. 2017].
  2. TechCrunch. (2017). A template for investor/founder sexual harassment policy. [online] Available at: https://techcrunch.com/2017/07/05/harassment-policy-template/?utm_campaign=Mattermark%20Daily&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=53974974&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9lhoqdYJpBPs1OtFtZhgckUwplyDXgFNxTL1Ub7sMG1N61-LU8NpTl-3O41vosa_KjVBSAr0BoOvdf2yZth__77j2pkw&_hsmi=53974974 [Accessed 20 Jul. 2017].
  3. Secretariat, T. (2017). Is it Harassment? A Tool to Guide Employees – Canada.ca. [online] Canada.ca. Available at: https://www.canada.ca/en/treasury-board-secretariat/services/healthy-workplace/prevention-resolution-harassment/harassment-tool-employees.html [Accessed 27 Jul. 2017].
  4. (2017). [online] Available at: https://www.chrc-ccdp.ca/sites/default/files/template_anti-harassment.pdf [Accessed 20 Jul. 2017].
  5. Harris, M. (2017). Silicon Valley doesn’t need more apologies for sexism — it needs a plan. [online] Business Insider. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/meena-harris-a-framework-for-dealing-with-sexual-harassment-2017-7 [Accessed 20 Jul. 2017]
  6. TechCrunch. (2017). A template for investor/founder sexual harassment policy. [online]
  7. Medium. (2017). The Human Rights of Women Entrepreneurs – Reid Hoffman – Medium. [online] Available at: https://medium.com/@reidhoffman/the-human-rights-of-women-entrepreneurs-c6da801de9db [Accessed 20 Jul. 2017].