I don’t think they need to set a quota or in some way positively discriminate in favour of founders with a gender or racial disadvantage, but they do need to take concrete steps towards ending discrimination in their funding decisions against founders from these groups.
I’m privy to the deal flow discussions at both BlueChilli and Startmate and I’m proud of the efforts both programs go to in making investment decisions ‘blind’ to gender or race.
But to operate a VC fund that conciously looks for investments which create a more innovative Australia (vs creating the normal high risk/high return portfolio) you’d have to start from scratch and set up a new fund specifically designed to do this.
I think it could find investor support — after all there’s a large and successful ethical superannuation industry in Australia which does something similar.
But you can’t pivot a VC fund half-way through its lifetime and say to investors, “Hey, you know we said we were going to invest your money this way? Well, we’ve decided to change the investment focus.” They’d take you to court.