Dutch investors to only support companies with female execs

A group of 25 Dutch investment funds decided to only push money into companies with women among their executives. They agreed that they will only invest in companies who have at least 35 percent women among their executives, and gave themselves three years to achieve this goal, NOS reports.

The 25 funds together manage an estimated 1.1 billion euros in invested capital - about a quarter of the total assets managed by Dutch venture investors. 

The funds decided on a quota following a study by investors Eva Mol and Janneke Niessen into the financing of female-run startups. They found that investors almost always invest in new companies run by men - only 1.6 percent of companies invested in were run by women. 

"We do not yet have exact figures on investments in female entrepreneurs, but we do know that our sector is far below 35 percent", initiator Alexander Ribbink of Keen Venture Capital said to NOS. The quota will also benefit the investors themselves, because companies with diversity perform better, he said.

Prince Constantijn, another of the initiators and the Dutch startup ambassador, told Financieele Dagblad that people should be made aware of their implicit prejudices. "With female entrepreneurs it is often discussed whether they are capable and if they can combine the business with a family. Men are mainly judged on ambition and plans for the future. That doesn't help at all", he said to the newspaper. 

Henrike Slob runs marketing and communications for Impact Hub Amsterdam, an entrepreneurial network and ecosystem that organizes business incubation, strategy masterclasses, and programs to help start-ups grow and flourish. Speaking with NL Times, she said that one issue that has become more prominent in the start-up world is the difficulties women have accessing capital when compared to male entrepreneurs. Ideas to address the problem will not help, she said, unless the ideas are really put into practice and the results are monitored over the coming years.

"It has to be proven that women can achieve business results that are equal to men. But to prove it, women first need equal access to funding; otherwise, we are already one step behind," she said. Slob added that by standing firm and only investing in businesses with female leadership and a good balance of female staffers, venture capital groups will contribute to a more positive long-term impact in issues like gender equality.

"It will help to raise the number of female executives," she said.

Other funds involved in this initiative include TIIN Capital, Endeit Capital, Inkef Capital, Liof and Innovation Quarter.