The discussion around gender dynamics in tech has reached a tipping point. With both Travis Kalanick's resignation from Uber and Justin Caldbeck's resignation from Binary Capital, we are finally seeing progress: women's voices are not only being heard, they're being taken seriously. The VC/Founder relationship has had historically little oversight, making it ripe for abuse. Let's say it like it is, this type of behavior is unacceptable, and these stories happen far more often than we think.
“Fellow VCs, if you have to take a #DecencyPledge to begin with, you are doing it all wrong. Don’t need a pledge to behave properly/ethically.”
Clearly, the world is great at reacting, what we need now is proactivity. We need:
1. More men to speak up when they see unethical behavior. (Are you a male champion?)
If you're not speaking up, you are implicitly giving permission for this type of behavior to continue. SheWorx found that 94% of women have experienced bias in fundraising.
2. More women to fearlessly share their stories
Let's encourage and amplify stories of other women's' successes as well as adversity and create a tide so all boats rise. Do you have a story to share? Let us know about Unspoken Female Founder Experiences.
3. A code of conduct for the VC industry clearly delineating inappropriate behavior
We need an authoritative way to call out unethical behavior, and process to administer the appropriate consequences. There should be zero tolerance when it comes to any sort of sexual harassment.
4. Both men and women to invest in the work of female entrepreneurs
This can come in the form of a mentor, advisor, investor, advocate, or simply a friend. Start by finding small avenues where you can share learnings and celebrate victories. Investors, let's actively commit to more meetings and put $$$ into female founded companies. I'm tired of VC's saying they can't find women to invest in. We had hundreds of female founders actively fundraising at our SheWorx100 Summits, and we're working with Crunchbase to create the first ever list of female founders fundraising so there can be no more excuses.
These stories are the challenges that we overcome, but not the challenges that define us.
SheWorx's existence was driven by some of my personal experiences navigating the 94% male dominated investor landscape, ones that ring a little too close to home to the Caldbeck case. Yet, the formation of SheWorx was never reactionary, it was always to take action, to help women come together with a shared understanding, and a shared ambition to build successful companies that will change the world.