Gradually, but with consistency, Endeavor Brasil, the local arm of the global entrepreneurship network, is managing to advance in the goals it has set to combat the lack of diversity in the Brazilian ecosystem.
In 2020, Endeavor Brasil began to tackle the problem of lack of diversity in the innovation ecosystem from the inside out, setting internal goals to increase the representation of minority groups in the organization’s team, at the time at 30%. The entity closed the first half of 2021 with 38%.
“In 2020, working with the channels we already had, bringing more entrepreneurs and mentors to our network, we realized that we needed more information and in October of that year we started collecting data for a census of our network,” Renata Mendes, director of institutional and governmental affairs at Endeavor Brasil, told LABS.
“We finished the collection at the beginning of last year and around March 2021, analyzing the data, we realized that in addition to the gap in representation of women in the network [in the team, this gap did not exist, with 55% of the organization composed of women], there was also a great challenge for the participation of black people, both in the network and in the team. Throughout 2021 we worked not only on recruitment and selection of these audiences for the team but also on a series of actions in our network. Although we realized the need for action to continue including people from the LGBTQIA+ audience, people with disabilities, and other groups, we decided to choose two audiences objectively.”
In addition to carrying out the Census, Endeavor hired, in 2021, a specialist in diversity and inclusion, launched – in partnership with Distrito and B2Mamy – the Female Founders study, and integrated Robson Privado, COO and co-founder of Brazilian unicorn and furniture and home goods marketplace MadeiraMadeira as a board member. Privado’s personal agenda is all about promoting and training more black people in Brazil‘s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Realizing that this was a structural problem, in the second half of last year, the organization announced the goal of reaching 40% representation of gender and race across its network in Brazil by 2025.
For now, Endeavor Brasil has been working to attract and encourage the participation of minority groups in the entity, but it has not designed exclusive initiatives for these audiences. “In 2021, we talked to 17 organizations about this. There are pros and cons of launching exclusive programs. For now, we understand that we are managing to bring these people into our program an organization, looking for ways to do so and learning every day”, stresses Mendes. “We have different fronts for this, starting with the communication of the programs. We urge female leaders and organizations, black entrepreneurs, and the network as a whole to indicate cases of female and black founders, among other actions. That is, we use the network to make this message reach who matters and bring them closer to us.”
She says that Endeavor has also been discussing the support of exclusive initiatives by other organizations so that the ecosystem has diverse startups in all growth stages.
The work in favor of diversity also became a prize for companies supported by the organization. Unlike the scale-up program, the so-called Endeavor Entrepreneurs undergo a longer selection process and are supported for years by the entity.
In 2020, five companies led by Endeavor entrepreneurs were recognized for their good practices in diversity and inclusion. Last year, 20 of these companies – a third of the total – applied to compete for the Great Examples Award 2021. Considering the initiatives and projects structured internally and externally and how the company is a reference for other organizations, the winner was HRTech Gupy.
Diversity goals and advancements within and around Endeavor Brasil
At the beginning of 2021, 14% of Endeavor Brasil’s team people were black. At the end of the year, this proportion increased to 20%, and the organization is likely to close the first half of 2022 with 28% of its team being formed by black employees.
“What we know was fundamental to change the way the team operates was to bet on knowledge, on the team’s literacy. We held seven meetings in the second half of last year alone, always with at least 70% of the team. We also measured, starting in July, how many people said they had the knowledge to discuss topics such as harassment, manliness, anti-racist education, neutral language, among others. If 49% of the team felt comfortable and confident to discuss these topics at the beginning, we closed the year with 65%. This was a significant advance because we are all multiplying agents of these guidelines,” explains Mendes.
The organization is still gathering the updated numbers of black entrepreneurs among those founders supported by Endeavor – they were 18% of the total at the beginning of 2021 – and also in the network as a whole, which at the beginning of last year was only at 8%.
In the case of accelerated scale-ups in Endeavor Brasil’s programs, data on the proportion of black founders only began to be collected in the second half of last year, when this proportion was 14%. “We still don’t have the final numbers of the next selection, which should be announced now in March, but we already know that this proportion has grown. The idea, now, is to do the same as we did with female founders and follow this data every six months,” says the director of institutional affairs of Endeavor Brasil.
At the beginning of 2021, 23% of the scale-ups accelerated by Endeavor Brasil had women as founders. In the middle of the year, this proportion reached 27%, and at the end of 2021, 36%. On average, Endeavor Brasil accelerates around 200 companies per year; in 2021, 310 participate in the program.
“A fascinating fact about this, and which made us very happy, was that 95% of the founders who went through our scale-up program in 2021 said that it was very relevant and decisive for the growth journey of the business they were leading,” Mendes points out.
As in the case of the participation of black people, an update on the number of female entrepreneurs among Endeavor Entrepreneurs and the proportion of women in the organization’s network is still being surveyed. At the beginning of 2021, the female entrepreneurs supported by the entity accounted for 15% of the total, and the representation of women in the network as a whole, which includes mentors, ambassadors, and advisers, was 17%.