Venture Capital Data Shows L.A. Struggling to Meet Diversity Goals

The Los Angeles Business Journal shared findings from a UCLA Luskin report that analyzed the diversity of venture capital investments in the Los Angeles region in 2022. While Greater L.A. leads the country for the amount of capital funded to entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds, progress in meeting racial and gender equity goals is lagging, according to the report led by Jasmine Hill, assistant professor of public policy. Hill’s team produced the report in partnership with PledgeLA, the Annenberg Foundation’s coalition of Los Angeles-based tech and venture capital firms that have committed to prioritizing equitable access to capital. The researchers found that less than one-third of PledgeLA firms’ 2022 investments went to companies led by women, Black or Latino founders, and these companies received only 4.6% ($6.4 billion) of the $139 billion invested. “If we’re being honest, it’s still way below where any of us would want it to be,” one founding member of PledgeLA said.


Report Finds Equity Gaps in L.A. Tech Sector

A new study led by UCLA Luskin Public Policy faculty member Jasmine Hill analyzes the diversity of 2022 venture capital investments in Greater Los Angeles. Released today, the report assesses investments made by 75 venture capital firms that are members of the PledgeLA initiative, which prioritizes equitable access to capital. Hill’s research team determined that less than one-third of the firms’ investments in 2022 went to companies led by women, Black or Latino founders, and these companies received only 4.6% ($6.4 billion) of the $139 billion invested. However, venture capital firms led by underrepresented minorities and those with a diversity thesis were almost twice as likely to back Latino and women founders and four times more likely to invest in Black founders. “Los Angeles has long surpassed the portfolio diversity typical of venture capital on the national level,” Hill said, “but there is a considerable journey ahead before PledgeLA firms reflect the region’s diversity.” The research team, which used a cross-section of data to create a holistic view of the Los Angeles tech ecosystem, included master of public policy student Sydney Smanpongse and public affairs major June Paniouchkine from the Luskin School and UCLA master of economics student Joleen Chiu. The report was commissioned by PledgeLA, launched by the Annenberg Foundation and the Office of the Mayor of Los Angeles to measurably increase diversity, equity and community engagement in the tech sector. In June, PledgeLA announced a new regional goal called “50 in 5,” which seeks to drive 50% of all venture investments to companies led by women, Black and Latino founders by 2028.

Read the full report

Read the PledgeLA news release


A Call to Come Together for Climate and Economic Justice

Activist and author Kali Akuno came to UCLA not just to share stories about his lifetime of advocacy for economic and climate justice, but to inspire his audience to join the fight. “I am here as an organizer to recruit you. To motivate you, struggle with you and get you to move in some particular ways,” Akuno told a standing-room-only crowd at the Charles E. Young Grand Salon at UCLA’s Kerckhoff Hall, part of the UC Regents’ Lecture Series. Akuno is co-editor of “Jackson Rising Redux: Lessons on Building the Future in the Present,” released on the same day as his April 11 talk. The updated collection of essays chronicles Jackson, Mississippi’s successful grassroots coalition-building, led by Cooperation Jackson, a nonprofit co-founded by Akuno. That emphasis on the power of coming together permeated his UCLA visit, which included an on-stage dialogue with Assistant Professor of Public Policy Jasmine Hill and office hours with students the following day. During his lecture, Akuno acknowledged that those who work against entrenched government and economic systems often become discouraged, “feeling that we are without a program, that we are without vision and oftentimes that we are without hope.” But the post-pandemic world has opened up a “profound period of opportunity,” he said, calling on progressive groups to set aside ideological and policy divisions, build a level of trust and just get to work. “I need you here in L.A. doing the best work that you can do, building as much power as you can build, and then let’s figure out how to be in dialogue with each other to build the future that we want.”

View photos on Flickr.

Regents' Lecture by Kali Akuno


Hill on Rejecting Hustle Culture for Radical Self-Care

Jasmine Hill, assistant professor of public policy and sociology, spoke to Insider about radical self-care, a movement popular on social media platforms which rejects traditional forms of self-care tied to consumerism. Proponents of radical self-care focus on basic needs such as rest rather than wellness products for maintaining health and well-being. “Radical self-care, in this concept, is a rejection of hustle culture. It’s rejecting this idea that, as human beings, our worth is intrinsically tied to our work, and instead that we are worthy, independent of our participation in capitalism on its own,” Hill said. “We are people, we are not personal brands, so we have needs that relate to community, food, water and rest.” Hill emphasized the importance of this form of self-care for Black women, who “because of our place in the racial and gender hierarchy, are called upon to be constant laborers for our families, for our workplaces, for society.”

Hill on Support for Recall in Communities of Color

Assistant Professor of Public Policy Jasmine Hill was featured in a Los Angeles Times column about support for the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom among people of color who believe that hard work and self-discipline are all it takes to win in this society. Latinos in particular are “more likely than the general U.S. public to believe in core parts of the American dream — that hard work will pay off and that each successive generation is better off than the one before it,” according to a recent Pew Research Center study. Hill called this “a very alluring narrative, because it says that if I just keep working hard, this will work out for me.” But the assumption that poverty and deprivation are personal choices can aggravate social problems and reinforce racial stereotypes, she said. “It’s extremely bad for the social fabric, particularly our relationship to people of color,” Hill said.

Hill Finds Lack of Diversity in L.A. Tech Industry

Assistant Professor of Public Policy Jasmine Hill spoke to Dot LA about the findings of PledgeLA’s survey of Los Angeles technology companies and venture firms. While the tech industry in Los Angeles has made efforts to increase the diversity of its workforce, the survey highlighted the disparities that still exist in pay and representation. “Tech oftentimes likes to think of itself as a very equal, egalitarian space,” said Hill, who helped analyze the data for PledgeLA. “But the data shows something different.” The report found that Black and Latino workers make less money than their peers, and women earned an average of $20,000 less than men regardless of role or experience. PledgeLA was able to break down earnings data by race as a result of an increased participation rate from PledgeLA companies in the survey, but Hill noted that the report is not representative of the entire L.A. tech scene because it only includes data from the participating PledgeLA companies.

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