Athena Talks
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Athena Talks

An Official Wakeup Call for Men in Tech

Are you woke yet?

Uber. Justin Caldbeck. Chris Sacca. Dave McClure.

The list of people and organizations in tech and venture capital that have shown hostility to women continues. Many of my male friends are shocked. They had no idea their friends and heroes could be so callous.

Guess how many of my female friends in tech have expressed shock?

sad, but true

Let the #deleteUber movement teach us here. This wasn’t just bad press — this was an organized product boycott lead by a social media mob. It showed that consumers have values, which they voiced to shape the culture of a multi-billion dollar company.

VCs are not in charge. Technologists are not in charge. Ultimately, consumers are the ones in charge.

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And…wait for it….most consumers are women.

Women may make 83% of what men make for the same job, but you know what? Over $28 trillion will be spent by women in the next five years. We make up 40% of the workforce in 80 major countries. So if you piss off women, imagine pissing off a growth market and employee base bigger than China and India combined.

What does this mean?

  1. It means that if your VC gropes a female founder and she goes to the press, it could endanger your entire fund.
  2. It means that if your organization discriminates against women and it becomes known, half the population could demand for your resignation.
  3. If there’s no women in power at your company, you will likely lose out on 40% of the workforce. They will likely feel alien and unwelcome in a place with significant gender disparity.
  4. This is serious and it’s time to address it. Jerks come with big price tags.

Travis Kalanick lead the biggest unicorn in Silicon Valley. Did his $15 billion save him from the wrath of scorn? Nope. The press hammered him for months on end. I bet he’s regretting those company outings to get escorts right about now. I’m going on a limb by saying they were not worth it.

Women are not even a minority. When companies do not care about our perspectives, we do not support them with our dollars and talents. Allowing discrimination is not worth the cost.

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This isn’t a threat. This is an observation. Companies that just went from no women on their boards to one woman typically saw a 15% spike in profitability, according to a Harvard Business Review study. Could it be that women at the top often help protect and promote women, who make up over 50% of college graduates? We’re smart, and we just want to make cool stuff just like everyone else.

You shouldn’t take Reid Hoffman’s #decencypledge just because it’s the right thing to do. We don’t need white men on white horses to come in and solve our problems. You should take it because it’s in everyone’s best interest to hire people who won’t act like perverts at work.

Good guys shouldn’t have to police what should be basic common sense. Offenders should recognize that they harm everyone around them with their selfish behavior.

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Michelle Greer

Michelle Greer

Marketing and Comms Lead at Bonsai.io. Formerly at Heroku, Nexmo, and Twitter. Silly aunt to many. Occasional international spy.

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