An excerpt from the LABS Magazine, Collection #7: “Against All Odds: Female Entrepreneurs”
Decision Makers Latinas in Tech
Since 2014, Latinas in Tech (LiT), a non-profit organization with the aim to connect, support, and empower Latina women working in tech, has been working closely with technology companies to create safe spaces for learning, mentorship, and recruitment of latinas. Before COVID-19, Latinas in Tech had live events in big tech companies, with 300 latinas attending, where they could be recruited. These events sponsorships were also the NGO’s main revenue source. The first company to talk about an annual sponsorship to have access to Latina’s programs was Airbnb, as the co-founder and executive director at LiT, Rocío Van Nierop tells LABS. Today, the project’s partner companies are Silicon Valley Bank, Facebook, Dropbox, Google, Pinterest, Comcast, Twitter, and PayPal. Van Nierop explains that there were two main reasons for the tech companies to partner with the NGO: they wanted to test Latinas in Tech out and see how it would play out, host an event, and getting some recruiting; and they wanted actually to be partners, and post jobs on Latina’s platform and interact with its members, as its recruiting was at the center of it. There was a third reason (one that fills the NGO’s leaders hearts): to ensure that latina women are going to companies that care about latinas that already exist in their companies, even before hiring new ones. Ensure that these companies will make them grow, that they will not be stuck in positions without promotion.
“The number of people they hire that’s not my success metric; it is the number of latinas they promote. If they have more latinas growing, if we have latinas making decisions, latinas being the ones that hire. That is success. It’s a work in progress to ensure that they shift their primary goal from recruitment to the well being of existing latinas in the company, and the second goal of expanding the number of latinas,” stresses Van Nierop. LiT’s advisor and LatAm’s director at Silicon Valley Bank, Julia Figueiredo, adds that the main reason for the gathering of Latinas in Tech, in the beginning, was that they all were latinas, born in Latam, working in Silicon Valley, and they wanted to help each other. “How do we grow in our careers, how do we interview, how do we negotiate salary? Helping each other to navigate the step work eight years ago because now we have more diversity and inclusion, but years ago was much harder.” Mexican Consuelo Valverde graduated from electrical engineering at 20 years old. Back then, she didn’t fit in the job offerings searching for male 25+ years older engineers in Mexico. “But it was a very good thing to happen because it made me start my first tech company,” she recalls. Long story short, she saw the power of the VC market amid startups and turned out to be the founder and managing partner at SV Latam Capital. Valverde tells LABS that being an outperforming woman founder can be something very challenging. “You would think it is easier. But no, people start questioning why it happened. Like she was just lucky because of this and that, they ask many more questions and just become more complicated. It doesn’t happen to men that outperform. They outperform and no question about it,” she says. A research published in Harvard Business Review shows that investors ask questions with a focus on potential losses and risks to female founders, as well as personal questions such as whether the founders are married and whether they have children or intend to have children. While, for male founders, the questions focus on the growth potential of the startup. “As long as we don’t have more women in VCs, in bigger funds, we are not going to see bigger money going to women entrepreneurs.” Valverde believes that to change the data landscape showed by Crunchbase it is necessary to move women founders from raising $1k, $500k, to raise $10 million, $20 million, $100 million. “We need women decision-makers in larger funds.”