Reed Robinson (co-founder) and Ryan Broshar (co-founder and board member), acknowledged the organization’s shortcomings in a letter posted to BETA’s blog.
“We—the founders of BETA—acknowledge that our actions and inactions have negatively impacted Minnesota’s Black founders,” the letter said. “Specifically, we do not have anyone from the Black community on our board, and up until recently decisions regarding who is selected into our cohorts have almost entirely been made by white men. This is unacceptable, and we can do better.”
After, “consulting with a small group of our Black BETA alumni,” the organization is setting three goals to be achieved by the end of 2020.
- “The BETA board will add a Black board member”
- “The group making selections for the next cohort (and all future cohorts) will include at least two underestimated founders, with at least one coming from the Black founder community”
- “The cohort education plan will now include training on tools and techniques for hiring processes that result in diverse teams”
If these goals of BETA’s diversity pledge are not met by the end of the year, Robinson, Broshar, and board member Nels Pederson (all white males) will resign.
The announcement follows a pledge to seriously address the racial divide in the Minnesota startup and entrepreneurship community by Forge North. The entrepreneurship hub is calling on all members of the community to sign the pledge and declare a focused effort to take, “specific and meaningful action to build an inclusive startup community and advance racial equity across the Minneapolis – St. Paul region.”
Late last week, the Minnesota Venture Capital community released a similar letter of solidarity with a diversity pledge of, “broadening and demystifying the closed networks that usually accompany venture capital.”