July 19, 2021 – AboveBoard, an inclusive platform for executive placement that is increasing representation of black, Latinx and female professionals on boards and at the C-suite/VP level, has raised a $3 million seed round to fuel its continued business momentum. The company is fulfilling its commitment to diversity in all aspects of its business by raising 91 percent of the outside funds in its seed round from underrepresented investors. True Search helped found the company and participated in this funding round. “We see a gap in the executive hiring market and the need for a new approach. AboveBoard fills that gap and reflects our commitment to increasing diversity,” said True co-CEO Brad Stadler.
“It was important to us to raise this round from investors who are underrepresented,” said Lucinda Duncalfe, founder and CEO of AboveBoard. “We have a powerful group that reflects our mission and I’m grateful for their support and investment in our vision. I couldn’t be more pleased with the investor group we brought together to support the company’s growth.”
“Angeles Investors participated in this round of funding because our membership was excited about the company’s mission as well as its momentum and trajectory,” said Adela Cepeda, of Angeles Investors whose mission is to find, fund and grow Hispanic and Latinx ventures. “Our members have often faced the gap that AboveBoard fills, so we understand the opportunity and we are happy to be able to invest in a company that is helping us overcome our own challenge. The early traction the company has created is extremely rare,” she added.
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Commune Angels committed early to the round, which helped create momentum with other investors. The organization’s co-founder Terrence Reeves said: “We know the issue intimately, we love this solution, and we believe this team will succeed in driving change. Our membership is very excited to be a part of this mission.”
Among additional investors in this initial round are Jennifer Ceran, formerly of Smartsheet; Jonathan Mildenhall of TwentyFirstCenturyBrands and formerly of Airbnb; Nick Caldwell of Twitter; Bonita Stewart of Google; Farah Ali of Electronic Arts; and angel investor Amy Chang.
Last October, True Search along with Ms. Duncalfe launched AboveBoard with the goal of making executive search more accessible, efficient and equitable for its members and the companies who seek them. The diversity-focused start-up says it will bring an innovative, transparent solution to the need to bring more women and executives of color to leadership roles. “For years companies have pledged to increase diversity in their executive ranks and on their boards and have struggled to make any true progress,” said Ms. Duncalfe. “Companies cannot continue to use the same hiring methods and expect a different outcome.”
“AboveBoard opens up the recruiting process and rebalances the power between candidates and hiring firms, to drive better results for executives and employers,” Ms. Duncalfe said. “Executives should get hired based on what they know, not who they know. AboveBoard makes this possible.”
“In many ways, True Search and AboveBoard are complementary businesses that each offer creative executive talent solutions,” said Joe Riggione, True co-CEO and AboveBoard board director. “AboveBoard co-founder and CEO Lucinda Duncalfe is doing an incredible job leading the business and positioning it to make a significant impact on executives’ careers and companies’ talent strategies, most importantly around diversity.”
Jensen Partners, a woman-owned executive search and corporate advisory firm for the alternative investment management industry, will launch DiversityMetrics, a software platform to combine self-reported diversity data and human capital management technology specifically designed for asset managers seeking to quantify, measure, report and improve workforce diversity and inclusion – both within their own organization and across their portfolios. The DiversityMetrics platform features a high-tech, high-touch approach that combines customizable data visualization tools with verified demographic data on more than 25,000 investment and distribution professionals, including 8,000 who identify as having a diverse background, working at more than 600 global, alternative investment firms.
“We know that the alternative investment industry has a diversity problem, and each new data point and anecdote provides added evidence that we can use to identify where the gaps are and make specific recommendations for progress on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI),” said founder and CEO Sasha Jensen. “The power of the DiversityMetrics platform is that it allows alternative asset managers to quantify and qualify the intersectionality of race, class and gender across their workforce, and then use that data to make data-driven decisions about best practices and ensures that the slate of candidates in any given human capital engagement are richly diverse.” It is a product long overdue for the financial sector, which has had its share of diversity hiring problems for years.
“The executive search industry as a whole has failed to consistently deliver diverse executive talent pools to hiring companies,” said Mr. Stadler. “AboveBoard corrects this issue by providing inclusive candidate slates and empowering those executives to see all available opportunities. AboveBoard’s powerful sourcing solutions can complement traditional retained executive search by helping companies hire more under-represented leaders, and ultimately improve business outcomes.”
Serving PE and VC Firms
Hundreds of senior-level positions are already listed on AboveBoard. Private equity and venture capital firms including Warburg Pincus, Audax Group, Summit Partners and Insight Partners as well as portfolio companies are hiring through AboveBoard. AboveBoard has assisted ACV Auctions add two key independent board members and has partnered with groups including Seizing Every Opportunity, Commune Angels and Valence to increase opportunities for their executive members. The platform is free for executives, and anyone VP-level and above or with similar career experience can sign up at www.aboveboard.com.
“The importance of diversity, equity and inclusion as core values of leadership teams is undeniable,” said Asheesh Gupta, managing director at Audax Group.” As we work to expand our practices and resources to widen the applicant pool for portfolio executive searches beyond our traditional sources, we are excited to partner with AboveBoard as they launch this new platform focused on helping firms attract diverse talent.”
The platform’s early focus is on the growth ecosystem, including venture capital and private equity-backed companies and digital and technology positions at large corporations. Examples of jobs currently listed on the platform include chief executive officer, chief technology officer, chief financial officer, chief marketing officer, VP of sales, VP of marketing, head of product, and head of finance.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media