At every chance it gets, OneVentures touts its credentials as “Australia’s first female-founded VC firm” with co-founder Dr. Michelle Deaker as her public face.
She is one of two female founders, alongside Anne-Marie Birkill and Paul Kelly. Last year, the company added Sarah Meibusch to its leadership team as a partner.
But the faces the Sydney VC chose for a LinkedIn post on International Women’s Day — nine dudes — have earned a 10x ROI of anger from the startup community, the post’s removal and a subsequent apology.
While OneVentures hasn’t used Twitter since mid-2022, journalist Mark Di Stefano offered screenshots of the LinkedIn post, including initial criticism and the company’s attempt to explain why they did it.
Happy International Women’s Day from Australian VC company OneVentures! pic.twitter.com/lAUeiWwHMv
— Mark DiStefano (@MarkDiStef) March 8, 2023
It should be noted that as part of the post, the VC emphasized that “gender camaraderie has been a core part of our organization since our launch”.
The company said the partnership split between men and women is 50/50, the investment team is 55% women/45% men and the finance and operations team has a 50/50 split.
We’d love to hear from any company that can improve on these numbers. It would be fair to say that OneVentures does what it says.
While the company said the intent of the post was to acknowledge the men in the organization who were their allies, it wasn’t long before the responses caused the VC to strike a strategic retreat.
The message has been deleted replaced by apologies that reads:
“A mea culpa from OneVentures. It’s clear from the responses to our post this morning in honor of International Women’s Day that the post has offended some of our followers.
“Our intent in using the image we created was to highlight the gender camaraderie we are so proud of at OneVentures, and the role our male colleagues play in uplifting and supporting the many incredible women in our company . In hindsight, the photo we chose was a mistake and we can imagine it could have come across as insensitive. We apologize unreservedly for this and appreciate your feedback and comments to bring this to our attention.”
Fellow VC, Jessy Wu, director of investment at AfterWork Ventures, weighed in with a convincing answer.
Dr. Deaker too took to LinkedIn to apologize:
“We have had many discussions at OneVentures over the past 12 to 18 hours and it has been a time of deep reflection. We can absolutely understand the reaction to our post from yesterday. We made a mistake and I am unequivocally sorry for our misjudgment. The post certainly did not represent who we are and what our team believes.
“International Women’s Day is first and foremost a day to recognize the significant barriers women face in society and business and to support each other to overcome them. At OneVentures, these themes are deeply embedded in our core values and throughout our team. As one of the first female founders of a VC firm and a tech entrepreneur, and having experienced these barriers first hand, helping others overcome them is very important to me.
“Having the honor of working and leading a truly diverse team with over 50% women and broad participation at all levels of our organization, our purpose is important to the entire team. I want to assure our amazing female colleagues, investors and founders that we will continue to support them in overcoming barriers and creating a more just society. Again, our apologies for yesterday’s post. It does not reflect who we are and what we stand for.”
Startup Daily sought further comment from OneVentures, but the offer was rejected.
The company planned to follow up on profiles of the women in the organization after the IWD post. None have appeared yet.