No one knows the truth behind the KPCB fiasco, but one quote goes to the gut of every woman who reads the reports on the lawsuit -- the comment by a partner regarding an event that only men, even the junior men, were invited to but none of the women, "women kill the buzz." Every woman over 25 has a litany of experiences of this kind, and at an earlier time wehad no recourse but to shut up and take it. Like the time in '87 when the executive team where I was EVP was invited by the CEO of Baxter Health Care to play golf. I showed up in Chicago with my team and my clubs eager to spend quality time with the VIP's of this life sciences corporate giant--only to be turned away at the gate of the men-only golf club. Hadn't even crossed the minds of the Baxter team that there might be a woman on the executive team of this emerging business, so bizarre was the idea in their corporate culture. The CEO coaxed me not to make a big deal of it, just go get a massage somewhere, which I did for the good of our start-up. So while my colleagues were enjoying a full day of time with the corporate decisionmakers and drinks in the club following their outing, I was only able to join then for a late dinner. Did this impact my ability to close deals, use these contacts as a resource, be seen as a multi-dimensional leader? You bet it did--and its the kind of thing that impacts your future business and financial opportunities. It happened all the time in big and small ways. It's why women make only 70% of what a man makes. It was wrong then and it is wrong now, AND THERE IS NO PLACE IN THE BUSINESS WORLD TODAY FOR THIS TYPE OF BEHAVIOR.
Probabaly the KPCB sexual harrassment part of the case will end up in a 'he said/she said" dilemma, regardless in the legal outcome. but the gender discrimination piece shouldn't be so difficult to determine. If women were ever excuded from company business or 'social' events, meetings, conversations, they are ethically guilty, if not legally. If those types of words were uttered ever-and everyone inside knows if its true--that partner (or partners) needs to be relieved of his duties, and a pubic apology should be issued to their team, their LPs, the venture community and any businesswoman who have come in contact with them.
This is a guest post by Julie Zeilinger, 19-year-old undergraduate student at Barnard College, Columbia University, and Founder and Editor of the FBomb.org, a feminist blog/community for teens and young adults who care about their rights and want...
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