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Viewing entries tagged
Sexism

Google Walkout: Why It’s Up to Tech to Innovate Culture

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Google Walkout: Why It’s Up to Tech to Innovate Culture

The walkout against sexual harassment at Google last Friday turned heads. Following an investigation by the New York Times revealing that Android co-founder Andy Rubin was paid a $90 million exit package after being credibly accused of sexual misconduct, employees walked out across Google’s global offices. The world watched as over 20,000 Googlers demanded better reporting, greater transparency, and the end of forced arbitration around sexual harassment. Their actions carried such weight in the broader conversation that some have called this a “new kind of activism.”

Sexual misconduct has been previously exposed at large and powerful Silicon Valley firms, so what made this event so unprecedented? As a company, Google represents the pinnacle of corporate culture, offering everything from gourmet cafeterias to free time for side projects. So when more than 20 percent of Google’s workforce walked out in protest, they exposed a glaring gap in the company’s culture and shed light on its consequences. While backlash to harassment has often come in the form of lost revenue or negative press, the Google walkouts showed that employers who fail to engage cultural issues don’t just risk customer attrition or litigation. They risk losing large swaths of top talent, even if they’re Google…

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The Longer You Wait to Deal With Workplace Harassment, the More It’s Going to Cost

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The Longer You Wait to Deal With Workplace Harassment, the More It’s Going to Cost

What are the costs of sexual harassment?

Companies have long known that sexual harassment can lead to costly lawsuits. But since the explosion of #MeToo and the fall of Harvey Weinstein, the costs of misconduct have grown. Today, harassment is no longer just a cultural or legal issue, but a financial and brand issue that reaches every corner of the company. That means that no matter how good your training and reporting may be, they’re no longer enough.

Story after story has shown that when a brand loses authenticity over sexual harassment, they also risk losing their hard-won earnings. Uber has lost nearly 15% of its market share over the two years of its harassment scandals. After it was announced that Steve Wynn had received multiple allegations of sexual harassment, Wynn Resorts lost $3.5B in company value.

Your company should be armed and prepared to deal with toxic behavior as well as the brand damage that results when people hear about it. Companies are owning up to faults and taking action faster than ever when CEOs misuse their power. If you turn a blind eye to identifying and preventing toxic behavior, you’re risking more than legal fees and turnover—you risk irreparable damage to your market share, merger outcomes, and your name…

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The Problem With the Term “Sexual Harassment”

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The Problem With the Term “Sexual Harassment”

In the popular imagination, sexual harassment evokes images of men who ask women on dates and can’t take a hint, or powerful male bosses who request sexual favors from less powerful women. But the scope of unwanted remarks and behaviors go well beyond instances dealing directly with sex.

The term “sexual harassment” can lead to an poor understanding of the full range of abusive workplace behaviors. What is sexual harassment? Sexual harassment stems from highly subtle, interconnected, and systemic behaviors that can be both sexual and nonsexual. Without a proper understanding of how harassment works, it’s easy to miss things that don’t immediately escalate but pull the thread and set genuine sexual misconduct in motion.

In the face of such social and cultural complexity, the temptation is to ban all references to gender, sex, class, and other potential points of controversy. However, we’ve seen that banning all of these behaviors can sometimes cause more harm than good. In fact, discrimination lawyers have said that such sweeping prohibitions tend to be unhelpful and can even inhibit the elimination of workplace harassment…

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Sexism In Silicon Valley

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Sexism In Silicon Valley

The notion that the startup world has a sexism problem is not a new one. But a recent string of controversies has rocked the tech industry, including news of sexual misconduct against Justin Caldbeck, the co-founder of Binary Capital, a prominent VC firm, and allegations that Uber is internally awash with unchecked sexual harassment and gender inequality. These stories shed light on unacceptable behavior by powerful people in tech, and a generally sexist, macho culture.

These characteristics can be difficult to identify in people until it’s too late

For an industry that prides itself on risk taking, problem solving, and disruption, Silicon Valley and the tech world at large have done surprisingly very little about their sexism problem. Yet a lot of these internal issues are, quite simply, rooted in personnel. Working with competent people who have no demonstrable history of sexism or problematic behavior should be a priority, whether you're hiring them, collaborating with them, or funding them. That’s why 60% of US companies are now turning to social media screening as a way to identify these potential issues. But often, these characteristics can be difficult to identify in people until it's too late. So many companies, even those as big and as successful as Uber, are susceptible in sexism in the workplace at the highest levels, a toxicity which recently contributed to the ouster of CEO Travis Kalanick. Uber's future is certainly unknown.

In some cases, like Binary Capital, sexual misconduct was thoroughly crippling. The allegations against Caldbeck led to investors suspending funds for the firm, effectively ruining the company's image. 

Evolution within the tech industry starts with creating a more equal and safe environment at every company, with accountability at every level. The sexism problem can also be countered by hiring more women; TechWorld reports that only 7% of VC partners are female. That's a stark figure which exemplifies how a sexist culture develops. Furthermore, it's important for companies to take advantage of screening or background checks so they can know if a potential employee or executive has a history of problematic behavior. It can be difficult to pinpoint these characteristics in people, but in the interest of protecting companies and most importantly, people, it is necessary.

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