In support of its social-impact mission, the Southwest Angel Network has pledged to increase diversity and inclusion in the tech community by taking actions outlined in the startup diversity and inclusion pledge.

The Startup Diversity and Inclusion Pledge is being launched in Austin, Texas in 2019 with plans to expand nationally.

Diversity and inclusion matter for a wide variety of reasons, including that it is better for business, increases investment returns, lowers volatility, and drives innovation. And while female founders receive less venture capital funding than their male counterparts, there’s data that shows that female founders outperform their male peers.

The core idea of the Startup Diversity and Inclusion Pledge is that startups will pledge to take a few concrete measures in the way they operate their company that should, over time, increase the number of women, people of color and people who identify as LGBTQ within their ranks.

The centerpiece of the pledge is The Walker Rule, which is inspired by the NFL’s Rooney Rule. The Rooney Rule requires every NFL team to interview at least one minority candidate for head coach vacancies. In the years following its implementation in 2003, the number of minorities hired as head-coaches dramatically increased.

The Walker Rule is named after Madam C. J. Walker (1867–1919) who was America’s first female self-made millionaire. She was an African-American entrepreneur, hair care industry pioneer, philanthropist, patron of the arts, political activist and one of the 20th century’s most influential businesswomen. That’s unbelievably impressive given she was born only two years after the civil war ended and built her company during the height of the Jim Crow era.