Reading about the awful crap that goes on at other companies makes me incredibly proud to work at FedEx, where this type of behavior would get you fired so fast your head would spin. While FedEx definitely needs more women and minorities in leadership and especially as developers, we have women SVPs on down in IT. And in my current project, until recently almost all the managers and leads were women, so I just find it hard to fathom places that would tolerate such BS.
And then I remember my days moving furniture for Psycho Jack, not his real name, where porn mags in the “office” were standard and racism was blatant. Even worse, at one of my first tech jobs, the VP of sales used to have staff meetings at strip clubs and was notorious for his sexually degrading comments. I remember a woman telling me about how she cried after some of his comments. At the time I was new and while bothered, didn’t want to rock the boat and risk getting fired so I didn’t say anything. While the CEO never said anything overtly offensive, he never stopped his second in command or made it clear that sexual harassment wouldn’t be tolerated, as a result he was ultimately responsible. And since no one in authority ever said anything, I’m not even sure the VP even realized just how offensive he was.
Now many years later, it’s easy for me to forget just how toxic organizations can be and how difficult it is for victims and witnesses to come forward, especially if there are not clear and specific policies regularly communicated and enforced.
After all, culture is ultimately about who you hire, fire, promote and demote. Or in Silicon Valley who you fund. So while words are important, actions are ultimately what matters.
So thanks for writing this post and looking forward to how VCs, accelerators and others of influence are going to address these issues that seem way too pervasive in the tech world.