Unlocking inclusion for women of color in web3

By Michelle Dhansinghani, Audrey Handem, Adetola Olatunji , Sharlene Guiriba, Shazia Hasan

Originally published on March 18, 2022

On International Women’s Day, Bain Capital Crypto enthusiastically announced its new investment team with a collage of photos revealing that its new lineup consisted solely of men.

Women in all corners of the crypto industry took notice. Faced with the backlash, the original tweet was deleted, Bain Capital Crypto addressed the controversy, and announced Lydia Hilton as a partner shortly thereafter.

Although this was a move in the right direction, we felt it was important to address the crypto industry’s diversity challenges — and how they can be overcome — through the lens of women of color.

By definition, web3 is an inspiring vision for a new iteration of the internet. So why build it the same way as we did Web 2.0?

Why re-build hierarchies of exclusion in this new era? This tweet is only one of many that highlight the challenge of inclusion and the opportunity to broaden crypto’s impact through diversity.

Who benefits from the upside of cryptocurrency?

The lack of women benefiting from the financial upside of crypto disproportionately affects women of color. For example, 16% of NFT artists are women, and they have only received 5% of the multibillion-dollar industry’s turnover. On the institutional side, Black women make up just 4% of crypto investors worldwide.

However, this discrepancy is complex. Women and people of color are more likely to invest in crypto. About 44% of all crypto traders are people of color, and 41% are women.

Black and Latinx communities are driving broader adoption of cryptocurrency, with 23% of Black Americans and 24% of Latinx Americans owning these assets, compared to only 11% of white Americans.

How is it possible that a group more likely to be interested in investing in a currency receives an inequitable distribution of the resulting wealth?

Scaling representation

Research has shown that women who see themselves represented in leadership positions are more likely to achieve leadership in their own careers. There are numerous organizations leading the charge on increasing the representation of women — and women of color — in web3, from SheFi to Diversity in Blockchain and Unstoppable Women of Web3.

When it comes to representation, it’s also important to prioritize an intersectional lens. The histories, mental models, and narratives that have historically shaped and currently maintain hierarchies of exclusion, oppression, and marginalization are exacerbated when individuals experience marginalization across multiple identities and life experiences.

Diverse teams = inclusive technology

When people think of jobs in web3, DeFi, and crypto, the first thing that comes to mind is technical roles. This can feel intimidating to many, but as with any nascent technology, there is an opportunity to transfer skills from other industries directly to these sectors.

Here are just a few of the roles that are critical to crypto’s future, and expanding the talent pool to include people with diverse backgrounds will drive its next stage of growth.

  • Platform, accelerator program management, and community leader roles can be filled by people with experience in strategic partnerships and online community building.
  • Portfolio management, investment research, and accounting roles can be filled by those with experience working in banking, corporate finance, and more.
  • Retention marketing and content management roles can be filled by people who have led customer-centric business decisions tied to business opportunities.
  • Chief of staff and head of strategy roles can be filled by experienced executives who have led growing teams and the strategy and direction of the company.

Creating a culture to succeed

For many, web3 can feel like a boys club. It’s important to be intentional about inviting women to all meetings, both professional and social.

When catching up as a group, ensure that discussion topics are dynamic and take the effort to give women colleagues a seat at the table. Creating an environment where all people feel seen and heard is critical to crypto’s success, and will spur positive ripple effects across the industry.

The bottom line is that women are underrepresented in technology, especially in the crypto industry. By implementing a dedicated approach to increasing representation and creating a culture of inclusion, the entire category has the opportunity to attract more users, create greater impact, and ultimately develop a system that works better for all of us.

To highlight women of color in crypto, here is a public spreadsheet listing investors, operators, and professionals who are elevating the category.

Have an addition to this list? Fill out this nomination form. Representation is the first step to creating a more equitable industry, and we know that we’ve only scratched the surface.

Originally published at https://techcrunch.com on March 18, 2022.

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NYC-based, Columbia MBA, Founder, Latina obsessed with entrepreneurship and all things VC

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MichelleisVC.eth

NYC-based, Columbia MBA, Founder, Latina obsessed with entrepreneurship and all things VC