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World War II-Era Obstacle Is Curbing French Startup Diversity

  • Bloomberg polled top venture capital firms on diversity policy
  • ‘Absence of ethnic diversity doesn’t seem to bother investors’
German troops riding through Paris, with the Arc de Triomphe in the background. 

German troops riding through Paris, with the Arc de Triomphe in the background. 

Photographer: Henry Guttmann Collection/Hulton Archive

The startup scene in France has the same problem that plagues the industry everywhere -- too little diversity. Trouble is, in France you can’t measure it.

While observers say the venture capital and tech scene is overwhelmingly White, out of step with the makeup of the rest of the country, it’s mostly illegal to track people’s ethnicity. France has rules preventing firms from keeping tabs on the metric, which originate in part from the Nazis’ use of labels to target Jewish people and other minorities during World War II.