2021 KP People Report
2021 KP People Report

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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB)

In an internal survey of 500+ GenZ and millennial tech workers [1], over 50% noted that diverse employee representation is one of the most important factors they consider when evaluating potential career opportunities.
Compared to 2020, the #1 area where companies feel like they have made the most progress is Recruiting (finding and closing the candidate). Specific to recruiting diverse talent at the executive and board, many companies still have work to do.

Diversity Recruiting Resources 📥

Recruiting from HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges) or Hispanic Serving Institutions

Many of our companies are beginning to build out processes to attract talent from HBCUS and Hispanic Serving Institutions. Some recruitment strategies include: Handshake, info sessions via student organizations on campus, attending career fairs, and diversity conferences.
⬇️ Click here for Handshake’s case study:

Inclusivity & Belonging 💫

Below are some valuable ideas towards fostering a culture of inclusivity and belonging at your company.

DEI Training

We see companies with as few as 26-50 employees starting to require diversity training for all employees, although it is still not as common. As the company size increases, so does the percentage of companies that require diversity training. For companies over 500+ employees, close to 80% offer some form of diversity training. Platforms include:

Promoting Racial Equity

It has been over a year since the death of George Floyd sparked a social justice movement, many of the large tech companies made public commitments [2] to promote racial equity within (and beyond) their respective workforces. Below are a few ways our portfolio companies are making a difference:
65% Supporting employees by internally and publicly acknowledging social issues (i.e. Hate crimes against the AAPI community, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQIA+ awareness, etc).
51% Providing personal days for employees who are impacted by, or want to show support for, social causes they care about.
26% Donation match to encourage employees to support causes they believe in.
23% Paid volunteer time off for employees to contribute to charitable organizations.

Employee Resource Groups (ERG)

Most companies begin building out Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) at 200+ employees with URM related groups being the leading category.
The various ERG groups include:
URM related (Black, Latino, Native/First Nation, etc)
Religious (Muslim, Christian, Buddhism, etc.)
Family Focused (working mothers/fathers, elder caregivers, etc)
Mental Health Support (Depression, Anxiety, Mental Disorders, etc.)
Neurodivergent Support (ADHD, Dyslexia, Autism, etc.) — This is not a common ERG for startups. We see some representation at growth stage and public companies.

If your company is too small to have a formal ERG presence, there are still ways you can support your employees:
Optional Lunch & Learns that allow for informal ERG connections.
Acknowledging heritage months.

Level of Exec Support for Various ERGs (Employee Resource Groups)

Companies that have executive and financial support for their ERGs tend to find more success with recruiting, and retaining diverse talent.

Religious & Cultural Holidays



Well over a third (37.3 percent) of the U.S. essential workforce are ages 50 and older, amounting to 16.1 million workers; almost 15 percent of the workforce (6.4 million workers) are age 60 or older [3].
Many advantages exist by hiring people who are older. Some benefits include:
1. Great Role Models and Mentors
Employees who have been at it for a few decades are often good leaders, in large part due to their intrinsic communication skills. They did not grow up in a world ruled by email, text or social media, and as a result they can generally be more intuitive when it comes to communication and people skills.
2. Have Strong Networks
According to a study conducted by The Center on Aging and Work at Boston College, 46.3% of employers said that their older employees have stronger professional networks and client networks compared to 30% who said the same about their younger employees.
3. Dependable and Flexible
"The big myth is performance-related: older workers don't perform as well. Yet on almost every dimension of job performance, research shows that older workers perform better than younger workers," Cappelli says. "They're more conscientious, they're absent less and they have better social skills." [4]

Boards 🤝

Diversity Requirements:

Recently, the SEC approved Nasdaq’s new rule which requires companies listed on its exchange to report their board diversity and have on their board — or at least explain why they don’t have — at least one person who identifies as a woman and one person who identifies as an underrepresented minority or LGBTQ person. Several states have passed legislation mandating that businesses headquartered within them disclose board diversity data. California requires public companies based there to have a certain number of directors who are women or identify as underrepresented minority [6] or LGBTQ person.
☝️ Opinion: Regardless of what the mandatory requirements are, building a diverse board is a business imperative.

Tips for Founders/CEOs:


We typically see startups bring on their first independent board hire at the series C-D stage [7] when the CEO and exec team may need more expertise in a certain area (domain or functional knowledge). As your company scales, strategic gaps can be addressed through your board members.


Below are the most common profiles for pre-IPO boards. If you are looking for independent board members, we recommend you reach out to your investors and also consider leveraging a retained search firm.
Finance Leader - A CFO or a #2 so they can serve as the Audit Chair (ideally someone who has gone through an IPO).
GTM Leader - Typically a CMO/marketing leader or CRO who has seen massive scale (scaled past $100M in revenue) and can supplement the management team around customer/market development.
People Leader - We are seeing a new trend of late stage / public companies bringing an experienced People leader onto their board.
Subject matter expert - Examples include: industry expert and compliance expert.


VC backed boards tend to be more operational (recruiting, scaling growth, insights around functional areas, making key introductions and coaching). In the beginning, it is usually just you and your lead investors. The purpose of bringing independent board members is to build on the investor foundation by providing new insights, deeper expertise (subject matter experts), augment networks and bring a new diversity in thought to the group. Ensure new board members align with the values of your company and will be a voice for your customers.


Extend the same discipline / diligence to your board selection process as you would any executive hire. This becomes especially important for high profile personalities.

Tips for 1st Time Independent Board Members:

Spend time with the management team and take in everyone’s perspective.
Immerse yourself in the business: 1) Review previous board notes/deck to understand historical context of the company and future goals, 2) Get a comprehensive sense of the financial snapshot, 3) Spend time with the Chairman of the Board.
Have an impact through influence.
Provide diversity in thought.

We have a growing Board Talent database of experienced and emerging board candidates. If you are interested in serving on a board, please fill out .
[1] The 500+ employees that were surveyed are part of the Kleiner Perkins Fellows network. They currently work for a portfolio company, have experience working at a portfolio company, or have gone on to found their own startup.
[2] See for details on the commitments made by the larger tech companies.
[3] [4] [5] See for articles on this topic.
[6] Black, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Native Hawaiian, or Alaska Native
[7] In some cases, potentially earlier if the business is growing exceptionally fast.

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