The Good Guys And More Gender Ramblings

Fuck all. Seriously. Sometimes you really, really have to wonder what
is wrong with people. I was checking out this group, Lifograph, who
holds these meet ups for tech women and also sessions start-ups can
pitch to VCs. I’ve been to one of the Women Tech Events and while the
event was a bit vague and held at Madera, the founder Dea Wilson, is
spunky and engaging. I’m on her mailing list and while taking a
much-needed break from PowerPoint, starting poking around at her
upcoming pitch meeting. I’ve never been to a pitch session and was
thinking of attending one with Harvard Angles and Shasta Ventures. That
is when I came across this:

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 1.39.27 PM

Wow. What a group of clueless motherfuckers. After the Ellen Pao
verdict, a Sand Hill Road VC is still using this as marketing?! What do
they think….

”How about we put up pictures of ourselves in pastel colored shirts?
Won’t that make us look diverse and inviting?!”

Ugh. How absolutely depressing. Why would any self-respecting startup
want to partner with “Good But Clueless Guys”? I know what they say,
all money is green, but for fuck’s sake people, it’s 2015 not 1950!!!!
If you take their money, at least insist they bring in women advisors or
you are going to end up with less than you bargained for. Diversity
brings strength. Diversity brings intelligence. Diversity brings
higher levels of performance. These are facts.

I am genuinely ashamed for Shasta Ventures. I would hope that Dea
Wilson wises up and begins promoting VCs who are dedicated, committed,
and practicing diversity and inclusion.

But not everyone in Silly Valley is a clueless and dense as these “good
(gender-challenged) guys.” I decided a long time ago to have zero tolerance
for insensitive and misogynist men. I decided I would only work with
really cool, open minded, diverse, intelligent gentlemen and women.
It’s like Michael Porter says, choose to run a different race. I have
chosen to run a different race with only great people.

With that, I packed my bags and went to work for Steve Millstein at
Aeris, a kickass white man if there ever was one. But he was not the
only reason I came to Aeris. Another reason was Drew Johnson. I
suspected that Drew was more than just thoughtful, talented, and
wickedly intelligent.

Today, I was proven right.

Allow me a little bragging on Aeris. Drew is VP of Engineering and he
is hiring. Instead of just working with our recruiter to make sure he
gets to interview a few women and people of color, Drew is seeking to
build a network that ensures a pipeline of diverse candidates into his

You read that right. A middle-aged, white man from the mid West is not
only insisting on interviewing diverse candidates, he is PROACTIVELY
building diversity into engineering for the long term. He has reached
out to Black Girls Code and Lesbians Who Tech seeking help. I am
ridiculously pleased.

Speaking of being pleased, I was very honored to be chosen by the
Silicon Valley Business Journal as a Woman of Influence and Connectivity
World’s The Women of M2M. It is superwonderful to be recognized by my
peers. Now if only I could eradicate “pussy” as a derogatory term and
“having balls” as a positive, my life would be complete.

I know I’m rambling a bit. Maybe it’s the weather making it hard for me
to concentrate. Spring makes me want to roll in the grass and let my
inner Labrador run– squirrel!

What was I writing? Oh yeah, Ellen Pao, did you see how she banned
salary negotiations at Reddit in an effort to equalize pay for men and
women? She is taking a bold step towards solving an asymmetrical
information problem and changing the entire nature of pay.

It is no longer, let me negotiate “what I’m worth”, and get screwed.
It’s about transparency – here is what the job is paying, take it or
leave it. The marketplace will provide clear metrics quickly on if
Reddit’s salaries are out of whack or in-line with similar positions.

I think she should go a step farther and make all salaries for all
Reddit employees public. How do you know if you are paid equitably and
what defines equal pay for equal work? There are all kinds of excuses
for why people are not paid the same amount for the same job and many
may be legitimate. If it is legitimate, then shine a bright light
there. If you are afraid of transparency, it is usually because you
have something to hide. Hidden things are often dirty, wrong, and full
of decay. You have to wonder, as an employer, why are you afraid of
transparency and getting rid of the asymmetrical information trap that
keeps good employees – men and women – from being paid equitably?

If you want to increase the dialog on salaries and really get into money
negotiations, then be transparent on what the payments are and the
reasons behind them. Say “Bob is making $70,000 more than Betty, not
because he has a penis, but because….” ummmm, why exactly?! What is
the rationale behind pay differences for the same job? I promise you
that if companies made public the salaries for all their employees and
the salaries for open positions, discussions about money WOULD happen.
Employees would demand explanations.

It is not derogatory to note that historically men are rewarded more
often for better negotiations and women often get penalized (by men) for
negotiating hard (she’s such a bitch! is sadly still such a common
refrain for women behaving as many men behave…you know the double
standard still exists.)

I know an attorney who has been suing companies for gender bias for 20
years and the first things she does is look at payroll. She said it is
all there in black and white – years and years of obvious
discrimination, overwhelming evidence that cannot be explained away by
“Bob is better connected, Bob has more experience, Bob has…”whatever
Bob has that makes him Bob. She also said that it has never been worse
in the Silicon Valley than it is now. Her advice to women who are being
discriminated against – quit, it’s not worth the fight, go just start
your own company, find the cool men to work with and fuck the rest.
Like me, choose to run a different race.

Ellen should set pay grades for each job, make them public, and make
every salary for every employee public. She should say that pay raises
are based on x, y, z and publish those reasons and amounts as well. And
so should all companies. It is not about who can negotiate better. It
is not about determining your “worth” because you are always worth more
than anyone is willing to pay.

It is about transparency. Transparency is not a communist or Marxist
idea, like many Ellen bashers have claimed. If a company is not
discriminating, then be transparent on pay for positions, pay for
promotions, and pay for bonus. Put it out there. Make it public. It
will help everyone, men, women, those who negotiate well and those that
don’t. Let the people who do negotiate well practice their skills at
contracts or whatever really needs to be negotiated. The price of a new
car for example. Ha!