Forget The Oscars. Why Aren’t We Angry About The Lack Of Diversity In The Entrepreneurial World?

The announcement of this year’s Oscar nominees has created a great deal of controversy, most of which revolves around the roster’s lack of diversity.

Conspicuously absent this year are several strong performances by African Americans, such as the red hot director/actor team of Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan, who reinvigorated the Rocky film series with the powerful “Creed.”

These and other perceived snubs by the Academy have led to Oscar boycotts from some celebrities. The negative attention has even prompted the organization’s own Board of Governors to revamp their membership rules in an attempt to double its minority and female members by 2020.

This conversation is healthy. Still, I can’t help but wonder–where is all the national outrage over the lack of diversity in the entrepreneurial world?

It’s true that the Academy is 94 percent white and 77 percent male–but did you know that nearly 90 percent of all investment professionals are Caucasian men and just one percent of venture-backed startups are led by African Americans?

Stats like these are a major problem because any industry or economy that leaves more than half the team on the bench will never be as strong as it could and should be.

We know that diversity is a major competitive advantage. For proof, just look what it did for “Creed,” a film that reinvigorated a tired movie franchise by introducing diverse perspectives; “Creed” wasn’t only more interesting and more powerful than the last Rocky film, it was also more successful. This is just a microcosm of what can happen in our larger economy when diverse talent is given the opportunity to shine.

Changing the racial and gender balance of the Oscar selection committee is a critical endeavor, and will lead to more recognition for industry pros like Coogler and Jordan. But until the film industry nurtures more minority/female writers, directors and actors, the problem will never truly be solved.

Similarly, it’s critical that we act to create a more diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem (entrepreneurs, investors, mentors and storytellers), in order to help more existing minority/female startups succeed.

Within our borders live citizens of every age, race and religion known to the world. Whether it’s an award stage, or a board room, diversity is America’s single greatest economic asset. Failing to take advantage of this asset ultimately hurts us all.

At JumpStart, we promote this truth by helping diverse entrepreneurs and small business owners grow their high-potential startups and scaleups. In future posts, I’ll discuss some of the actions, programs, and tools we are using to build a more diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem.

In the meantime, if you have proven programs to share, send them my way at [email protected]. We all need to work together NOW to drive economic growth and create jobs.


This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post on February 11, 2016.