This story was submitted as part of the #Pledge1Gives GivingTuesday campaign, which celebrates the many ways our member companies are having an impact around the world.

Increasing Access to Innovation

Silicon Valley Bank is the bank of the innovation economy, helping innovators, entrepreneurs and investors move bold ideas forward, fast. SVB has long believed in the power of giving back, and became a Pledge 1% member in 2017. Through programs in its offices around the world, SVB seeks to support its communities with time and resources. Aligned with the company’s role as a champion of innovation, it recently launched Access to Innovation, a new initiative to expand opportunities for underrepresented individuals at all career levels in the innovation economy.

“We believe everyone should have equal access to great careers and business success,” Greg Becker, CEO of SVB, said. “The innovation economy, the ecosystem we help fuel, is full of opportunities. Through a range of programs, partnerships, volunteering and financing, we have a companywide goal to increase access to innovation for everyone.”

Why is SVB doing this?

Tech companies report that it is challenging to find people with the skills needed to grow their businesses, and it is hampering how fast they can innovate. SVB believes there is talent to be found in nontraditional places. SVB also believes that a diverse workforce makes companies stronger.

The numbers help underscore the size of the challenge:

  • 83 percent of tech executives are white
  • 47 percent of U.S. startups have no women in executive roles
  • <1 percent of venture funding goes to African-American founders
  • 12 percent of venture dollars are invested in startups with a female founder

Core focus areas

SVB’s Access to Innovation program has distinct goals and partnerships in three areas to increase diverse representation at all levels:

Educational Opportunities: Training emerging talent and creating workforce opportunities for individuals without four-year degrees. 

Connections and Funding: Developing networks, partnerships and events to bring founders and investors together to increase funding for female and minority entrepreneurs.

Representation in Leadership: Increasing representation of female and minority founders, investors, and board members.

Recent examples of progress

  • With the goal of increasing the talent pool available to its clients, this year SVB identified one of the most needed entry-level positions among its clients: business and data analytics. Working with EdTech startup, Pathstream, it introduced a business and data analytics certificate program to be offered through community colleges. The program teaches high-demand skills such as SQL, Tableau, and Python. The four-course certificate program is up and running now at Cañada College and Foothill College in Silicon Valley and is scheduled to expand to additional U.S. cities in 2020.

Students in the SVB Business and Data Analytics Certification course met for a development roundtable in San Francisco

Students in the SVB Business and Data Analytics Certification course met for a development roundtable in San Francisco

  • Teaming up with Year Up, SVB encourages urban young adults to reach their potential through a corporate internship and support for transitioning to a job in technology. SVB hosts interns throughout the year and asks its clients to mentor and host Year Up interns as well. Today, 26 former SVB interns are now working full-time at the bank or leading tech companies in a variety of roles, such as information technology, cybersecurity, global operations and project management.

AfroTech Cup Semifinalist team. From left, Erik Young (Audios), Crystal Evuleocha (Kliit Health), Ty Lisha Summers (Spendebt) and DeMarcus Williams (Director, Startup Banking, Silicon Valley Bank). Photo credit: Semharyohannes

  • SVB was thrilled to partner this year with AfroTech to create an onsite career village for prospective clients and employees to engage with SVB and its clients. The bank also supported the AfroTech Cup, which offered prizes to founders of early-stage startups. Shown above are this year’s incredible crop of semifinalists – Audios, Kliit Health and Spendebt.

Learn more about  Access to Innovation to join with us to build a more inclusive and diverse tech workforce ready to invent the future.