How Blackbird Ventures hired 94% female candidates without quotas or positive action

In 2020, using Applied, we’ve hired 17 people, of whom 16 were women (with no specific policy in place to hire more women). This isn't because of a diversity agenda, it's simply a natural outcome of focusing on the right things when assessing candidates, explains Nick Crocker, Partner at Blackbird.

We’re a venture capitalist fund that invests in technology based in Australia and New Zealand. The common denominator among our portfolio companies is the sheer scale of their ambition. We invest in giant leaps forward and we naturally build our own business with the same long-term values.


We adopted Applied because nothing will have a greater impact on our business than the people we hire.


If we summed up our recruitment process before Applied, it was inconsistent and unstructured. We made more gut decisions than data driven ones and that led to an average candidate experience and visible lack of diversity among our team. At the end of 2019, we were 3 women, and 10 men.


As we scaled, we wanted to do a lot better than that and so our approach to hiring had to mirror our approach to everything else. We had to invest for the long term.


Like a lot of organisations, we knew bias was negatively impacting our process, despite really good intentions. As a team that seeks out wild ideas, having different voices and perspectives is vital to our success.


In 2020, using Applied, we've hired 17 people, of whom 16 were women (with no specific policy in place to hire more women). It’s amazing what happens when you simply focus on identifying the best person for the job and removing the noise that leads to biased and gut decisions – diversity comes as a natural outcome.


We did have a slight hesitation around more senior roles that asking these initial sift questions might put candidates off but, determined to move ahead with data, not gut, we pressed on and were delighted to see that was completely unfounded. In fact, the feedback was phenomenal. Senior candidates love the chance to get a deep understanding for what a potential new role involves and to see a demonstrable commitment to inclusion and not just another empty statement about diversity.


“We’d never go back to using CVs to shortlist – it seems insane now to think of hiring that way.”
Nick Crocker, Partner


Blackbird is a venture capital firm whose mission is to invest in wild hearts, with the wildest ideas, right at the beginning. They do this by raising venture capital funds, investing in the best startup companies and helping them succeed.

“We’d never go back to using CVs to shortlist – it seems insane now"

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