Embracing diversity and inclusion as a force for innovation
Launched at London Tech Week 22, EQL:Pledge is initiating a vital shift in the tech sector. Connecting founders from underrepresented backgrounds who struggle to access funding, and investors looking to shrink disparities in diversity of portfolio companies.
Join the pledge & learn more.
About the EQL:Pledge
EQL:Pledge is a new global initiative established by EQL:HER in partnership with Pitch. Designed to help founders from backgrounds underrepresented in entrepreneurship secure funding to grow their businesses, EQL:Pledge gets pitch decks in front of investors founders might otherwise not have access to.
This initiative defines underrepresented backgrounds based on:
People from a lower socio-economic status
People living with disability
How it works
EQL:Pledge connects investors committed to re-balancing the scales and improving their returns by backing companies with diverse leadership with founders. It does so by:
Building a list of investors who have committed an amount, or percentage of funding to EQL:Pledge
Building a directory of pitch decks from founders who qualify for the pledge
Creating opportunities for the founders and funders to connect
EQL: Pledge and Pitch have collaborated to create a pitch deck collection highlighted on Pitch’s presentation gallery. Here founders can feature their decks to be discovered by investors.
Investors across the world have committed to prioritizing backing of founders from underrepresented backgrounds. However, many struggle to achieve this industry goal due to lack of network.
EQL: Pledge is here to build bridges that facilitate this commitment. By calling on investors to publicly pledge a specific amount or percentage of their fund to founders of underrepresented backgrounds we are turning the spotlight on brilliant founders in search of funding.
Behind the EQL:Pledge
Pitch is the collaborative presentation platform for modern teams. With a focus on real-time collaboration, smart workflows, and intuitive design features, Pitch makes it fast and delightful for teams to create and deliver beautiful presentations.
EQL:HER is a global network and event series which exists to re-balance gender in the technology sector to secure women an inclusive future across all businesses.
We’re thrilled to count the following experts and leaders as supporters of EQL:Pledge:
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Former US Secretary of State
“The glaring disparity in representation across the startup ecosystem means we all miss out on the benefits that come from diverse leadership. In this time of economic uncertainty, it is more important than ever to actively change the narrative. I believe that the work that EQL:Pledge is doing together with Pitch and EQL:HER will have the power to connect founders and funders and initiate this progress in a meaningful and lasting way.”
Cherie Blair CBE QC
Founder, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women
"At the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, we see the incredible power of women-owned businesses in the low and middle income countries where we work, from Vietnam to Nigeria to India, every day. And yet, the women entrepreneurs we support continually tell us that the biggest barrier they face is a lack of access to finance. When women are able to start, run and sustain successful businesses, they invest back into their families and communities, they create jobs, they innovate, they boost their economies, and they change the world for the better. It’s high time to recognise their enormous potential and to invest in unlocking it through vital initiatives like the EQL Pledge."
June Sarpong OBE
Director of Creative Diversity at the BBC, Presenter, Award-Winning Author
“We know that a lack of access to capital is one of the biggest obstacles diverse entrepreneurs face in both starting and scaling up their business ideas. This is not only a loss for them but also to the venture community and society as a whole, think of the brilliant innovations that have not been realised because of existing inequities. The EQL Pledge seeks to address this in a meaningful way, I’m delighted to be collaborating with London Tech Week and our various partners to try and help level the funding playing field. I can’t wait to see the companies and entrepreneurs who will be able to fulfil their potential as a result of this important commitment.”
CEO & Founder, Pitch
“Founders from underrepresented backgrounds represent the biggest untapped opportunity to drive market-leading returns. In March, we started giving underrepresented founders a platform with the launch of our Female-Founded Startups presentation collection, which featured +90 pitch decks from female and nonbinary founders. Now, we’re proud to support the EQL: Pledge, and offer founders from all underrepresented backgrounds a dedicated public platform so their businesses can easily be discovered by top investors who have signed the pledge.”
Founding Member and Managing Director, Conductive Ventures
"Conductive Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm focused on capital efficient companies led by non-traditional founders for differentiated returns. Out of our 31 investments across two funds, two-thirds of our founders are immigrants and minorities. We've found that while talent is equally distributed, access to venture capital is not. The EQL: Pledge initiative is vital in unlocking that access."
Anne Glover, CEO & Co-Founder Amadeus Capital
“While I have seen significant improvement in the area of diversity since the start of my career, entrenching diversity in VC is a long-term project that more people still need to address. Our industry has a long way to go, and more needs to be done to promote the hiring, promotion and retention of women and professionals from non-white ethnic backgrounds. At Amadeus we have seen first-hand how the long-term fostering of a workplace culture valuing diversity and inclusion at all levels of the business is key to achieving this, and we very much appreciate the efforts of organisations such as EQL:HER for expanding this focus to the financing of female founders.”
Founding Member and Managing Director, Conductive Ventures
"We discovered that non-traditional, underrepresented entrepreneurs are forced to be capital efficient, they are incredibly hard working and innovative because they don’t have the same access to capital. When they do receive an investment, they treat that capital with an entirely different level of respect. So, for us, as immigrants ourselves, investing in these founders is not only the right thing to do, but also good business sense."
Chief Executive, Channel 4
“At Channel 4 we understand how vital it is to embrace diversity at every level to ensure your business and products are representative of all your customers. It’s incredible that in 2022 there is still a significant investment and representation gap in the tech and finance industries which is ultimately holding back so many amazing future leaders and entrepreneurs. The EQL:Pledge is an important campaign to help bring about meaningful and lasting change and we’re delighted to put the weight of both our C4 Ventures and Indie Growth Fund behind it to help narrow the gap and increase investment in underrepresented business leaders.”