ImpactPHL just launched and here's the first thing it needs to do - Generocity Philly

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Jul. 21, 2016 12:01 pm

ImpactPHL just launched and here’s the first thing it needs to do

Get more diversity in the room.

Harry Halloran (left) is introduced by RoseAnn Rosenthal.

(Photo by Tony Abraham)

ImpactPHL is gathering the building blocks to establish Philadelphia as a city where socially and environmentally conscious businesses can do well by doing good. But it’s missing a few of those building blocks.

To be blunt — and as we reported when they first announced their formation — the impact investing network is very much a bunch of white people.

It’s a sensitive issue, and this isn’t to say that the whiteness of ImpactPHL is intentional. Unfortunately, in the venture capital world, that’s just the way things go.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Diversity can be the first of many things ImpactPHL can strive to improve.

There needs to be support for social entrepreneurs of color, especially entrepreneurs working in their own neighborhoods. Despite this being a white male-dominated field, there needs to be more people of color and women involved in the conversation at the top level.

Why does this matter? For one, any sector in any city should strive to better represent the racial demographics of that city. But also because communities of color are the communities most affected by socioeconomic inequity and injustice — the same communities many social enterprises aim to help.

Over 150 people came out to Ben Franklin Technology Partners HQ at the Navy Yard for the event. Maybe 30 were people of color.

Where was social entrepreneur and venture capitalist Jon Gosier, who, at a Tech Impact fundraiser last fall said venture capital “doesn’t have to be a profit-making opportunity” but “can be an impact-making opportunity, as well”?

Where were Scholly cofounder Chris Gray or Rising Sons founder Alex Peay or Media In Neighborhoods Group cofounder El Sawyer? Where were ROAR For Good founder Yasmine Mustafa or Food Connect Group founder Megha Kulshreshtha or venture capitalist and philanthropist Sashi Reddi?

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Whether invited or not, none were at the Navy Yard for the ImpactPHL launch last week.

ImpactPHL has an opportunity to establish Philadelphia as a city that can not only have a leading impact economy, but can credibly pride itself on the diversity of its impact economy. Now is the time to step up.

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