Last week, The Information published a that prominent Silicon Valley Justin Caldbeck groped, send lurid texts to, or otherwise sexually harassed six women who were meeting with him to discuss investment (here’s a as the The Information’s website is paywalled).
This, of course, comes after and for gender discrimination. Despite many men in Silicon Valley pledging to make venture capital and tech more inclusive for (and respectful of) women, it doesn’t seem that the industry is getting any better.
In this day in age where integrity is the currency in which people operate, or must operate, how did Justin Caldbeck think that conducting himself in a completely inappropriate manner would not come up at some point?
I was very happy to see VCs who called out Justin Caldbeck's behaviour. Those VCs were Mike Dauber (Amplify Partners), Josh Kopelman (First Round), Satya Patel (Homebrew), John Lilly (Greylock), Christie Pitts (Verizon Ventures), Jacqueline Garavante (Union Square Ventures), TJ Hennessy (Arena Ventures), Geri Kirilova (Laconia Capital), Mike Maples (Floodgate), Jonathan Lehr (Work Bench), Greg Sands (Costanoa Ventures), Steve Schlafman (RRE), Bijan Sabet (Spark Capital), and Matthew Ocko (Data Collective). THANK YOU!
What are possible measures that can be put in place to avoid this type of situation from happening again?
How a company treats its female employees (or allows its female employees to be treated) comes down to its culture and a company’s culture is a reflection of its leaders. The only way to enact lasting change is to do so from within. External pressures like admonitions from VCs, bad press, and lawsuits will have an effect on a company’s internal culture, but the effects are short-lived. The company might develop new awareness programs and get a little tougher with repeat offenders, but eventually the spotlight fades and things drift back to the way they were. No, the only way to change a company’s culture towards women is to have more women.
From my personal experience, a workforce that has a natural balance in gender is going to be more inclusive and professional. While, it is very important we hold companies and their leaders responsible for their company’s conduct towards its female employees, we will not see any lasting, meaningful change until we get more women involved in tech.
Just last week, my youngest daughter (12) showed a genuine interest in coding and making her own games. I had seen, first-hand, how female programmers were treated in my industry, and my first instinct was to discourage her. Then I remembered Reshma Saujani’s TED talk, “Teach girls bravery, not perfection” (https://www.ted.com/talks/reshma_saujani_teach_girls_bravery_not_perfection). We ended up watching the talk together and talking about it. That night I installed XCode and Unity on our Mac and set her up with some Udemy courses. It is probably going to take a lot longer than it should to change the culture in Silicon Valley, but I think the long game is the only way it will change for good.