30 percent of female founders and CEOs in the plant-based and cell-based food industry have experienced harassment or discrimination, according to a new survey.
The Vegan Women Summit (VWS) polled 160 women around the world back in July and August. It found half the incidences of harassment came from an investor – while 40 percent of respondents cited a vendor or supplier as the source.
More than one-third of those who reported harassment (35 percent) said they took no action in response.
The survey also found that nearly half of all respondents report experiencing bias in fundraising, with 75 percent stating they have faced gender bias and 47 percent of all respondents of color reporting that they have experienced racial bias.
“It’s incredibly disappointing to hear that gender and racial bias continue to have such a significant effect on investment in innovation in such a strong emerging market,” said Jennifer Stojkovic, founder of VWS – whose main sponsors include Plant Based News.
“Women entrepreneurs in food tech are dealing with the same obstacles that women leaders, particularly women of color, have faced in Silicon Valley for decades.
“But information is power. While these survey results call attention to the disparities in the food tech industry, the numbers also reveal major opportunities for strategic investment.”
Despite the barriers facing these women leaders, Stojkovic argues the survey demonstrates the ‘promising growth potential for the industry’.
It found that more than 35 percent of all founders shared that their business has inspired them to move toward a more plant-based diet and 63 percent of founders stated their plan to fundraise within the next year, with 59 percent of respondents aiming to raise at least one million dollars in investment.
“The survey reveals the massive opportunity for investment in female founders. Over one billion dollars has been invested in the plant-based space since the pandemic began in March,” added Stojkovic.
“With nearly two-thirds of female founders fundraising within the next year and more than half seeking investments into the millions, there has never been a better time to invest in female-led innovation.”