Advancing diversity, equity and inclusion at MATTER

As we continue our work to increase the diversity of the MATTER community, our ultimate goal is to contribute to making diversity a core and abiding strength of the healthcare and entrepreneurial sectors.

Understanding diversity, equity and inclusion

To make a difference in DEI, we must first know what it encompasses. The following definitions are from our partner, the American Medical Association.

Diversity

There are many kinds of diversity, based on race, gender, sexual orientation, class, age, country of origin, education, religion, geography, physical or cognitive abilities or other characteristics. Valuing diversity means recognizing differences between people, acknowledging that these differences are a valued asset and striving for diverse representation as a critical step toward equity.

Equity

While equality means providing the same to all, equity requires recognizing that we do not all start from the same place because power is unevenly distributed. The process is ongoing, requiring us to identify and overcome uneven distribution of power as well as intentional and unintentional barriers arising from bias or structural root causes.

Inclusion

Inclusion is a set of behaviors (a culture) that encourages people to feel valued for their unique qualities and experience a sense of belonging. Belonging evolves from inclusion; it refers to the extent to which individuals are valued, respected and supported while being their authentic selves.

“Valuing individuals from communities that have been historically marginalized is imperative to rectifying disparities in health. Together, we must increase representation among innovators to be more reflective of our country and the customers we serve in order to advance innovation, achieve business success and make healthcare more equitable.”

Representation matters

Embracing representation within the entrepreneurial and healthcare communities is essential to accelerating the pace of change of healthcare. More work needs to be done to improve representation from and provide opportunities for communities that have been historically marginalized.

1.3%

of U.S. venture capital funding went to Black-founded businesses in 2021 (Crunchbase)

17%

of digital health founders in 2020 were Black or Hispanic (Rock Health)

2.3%

of venture capital in 2021 went to companies founded solely by women (Pitchbook)

53%

of female digital health founders in 2020 were venture- or angel-backed compared to 80% of male digital health founders (Rock Health)

Promoting entrepreneurial diversity and fostering an inclusive MATTER community

At MATTER, entrepreneurial diversity revolves around equitably supporting all entrepreneurs to unlock their full potential.

Diversifying our growing community of entrepreneurs

We are working to increase the diversity of new startups that join the MATTER community. By growing existing and cultivating new partnerships with neighborhood-based organizations, we are finding new ways to meet underrepresented founders.

Mentoring underrepresented healthcare founders

MATTER is taking the first steps toward driving more equitable access to mentorship and support resources for underrepresented entrepreneurs. We match founders with experienced healthcare leaders, providing them with the building blocks and network they need to jumpstart their startup journey.

Uplifting underrepresented voices

As an integral part of our event strategy, we’ve implemented a process to source speakers from diverse backgrounds. We work with our Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board and leverage the MATTER community network when selecting speakers to amplify new voices and broaden our breadth of perspectives. We also engage with this group to source a diverse group of mentors for our Expert Clinic and faculty for our workshops.

Enhancing the experience for our startup founders

We’re improving the experience from the start by ensuring the language on our membership application and the resources we provide to our startup members are inclusive. We’ve also launched two new CEO forums — one for founders of color and one for women+, inclusive of non-binary and transgendered individuals who identify as women — to convene leaders to skillshare on how to best run a business and discover potential synergies with each other.

Diversity and Inclusion
Advisory Board

Our board of healthcare leaders guides our diversity, equity and inclusion strategy to ensure we are making diversity a core and abiding strength of the healthcare and entrepreneurial sectors.
picture of Nicole Walker

Nicole Walker

Managing Partner, Arboretum Ventures
picture of Cristal Gary

Cristal Gary

Chief Advocacy Officer, AMITA Health
picture of Charles Smith

Charles Smith

CEO and Founder, CS Insurance Strategies
picture of Derek J. Robinson, MD

Derek J. Robinson, MD

VP and Chief Medical Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois
picture of Javier Evelyn

Javier Evelyn

CEO and Founder, Alerje
picture of Charles DeShazer, MD

Charles DeShazer, MD

Director, Clinical Products, Google
picture of Manika Turnbull

Manika Turnbull

Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer, Health Care Service Corporation