Our Approach

Commitment to systems-level change.

While individual awareness, beliefs and actions are necessary and important, they are not sufficient. The Collective is committed to addressing root causes of racial and gender inequities in entrepreneurship. This requires asking tough questions, facing unpleasant truths and having authentic dialogue about structural, cultural and institutional impediments faced by women and entrepreneurs of color. Change is hard. So too is acknowledging one’s own privilege and complicity in maintaining historically inequitable and unjust norms that underpin systems. The Collective acknowledges this work requires time, patience, forgiveness and courage.


The myth of meritocracy is one that persists within entrepreneurship. The absence of women and entrepreneurs of color in incubators and accelerators, among angel and venture capitalist firms, and within advanced technology startups are not the result of natural selection or survival of the fittest. The inability to access resources, leverage networks and benefit from the freedom and security of generational wealth are not isolated incidents. The Collective respects and acknowledges what women and entrepreneurs of color know to be their truth and is committed to changing the status quo.   

Bias towards action.

Members of the Collective have a bias toward action. While data collection and analysis are among the core work of the Action Teams, the Collective also acknowledges that there is sufficient quantitative and qualitative data upon which to act now. Similarly, to avoid planning, re-planning and planning more planning, the Collective seeks to prioritize doing. This includes but is not limited to the work of the Action Teams and their Eight Pilot Solutions, which aim to address root causes in order to create new strategies that empower individuals and institutions to change their thinking and behavior vis a vis women and entrepreneurs of color.

Questioning the default.

The Collective seeks to create a culture of practice that supports questioning default patterns of thinking, acting and being. Modern-day entrepreneurship is in its infancy, yet many myths persist about what and who are fundable, how funding decisions should be made, what qualities and skills are needed in startups and how and where resources should be located and distributed. Likewise, aspiring entrepreneurs have their own preconceived ideas about which industries, organizations and networks are open to and accepting of them. The Collective seeks to help both parts of the ecosystem question these biases and assumptions.

Inquiry and experimentation.

Few entrepreneurial ecosystems are working on ways to dismantle structural racism and sexism. While there are many like-minded people and organizations locally and nationally, there is no “playbook” for creating an entrepreneurship ecosystem that is equitable for women and people of color. As such, members of the Collective are called upon to approach this work from a solutions-based perspective, to develop and test their ideas about which solutions will be most effective, iterate based on their findings and invest in the strategies that create the most change.

Collaboration and co-creation.

Every great idea needs a stellar plan and an outstanding team. Through collaboration and co-creation and in the spirit of learning, radical listening, an abundance mindset and a willingness to be candid and vulnerable, members of the Collective can create new opportunities beyond the constraints of current resources. Working together allows us to leverage our strengths, find our blind spots, maximize our return on the investment of human and financial capital and mitigate the risks associated with change.

Public accountability and transparency.

Public declaration of these shared values allows the community to hold the Collective, its members and the larger entrepreneurial ecosystem accountable to the work. Sharing goals, benchmarks and data brings a level of transparency to our combined efforts. Ultimately, the community will determine whether we are successful in creating an ecosystem in which one’s race and gender cannot be used to predict the outcomes of entrepreneurial success. The goal is not to penalize those for trying but rather to make it unacceptable for those with power, influence, money and other resources to fail to try.

The Collective's approach is based on seven pillars