Introducing a Founder’s Guide to Navigating Sexual Harassment

Katharine Jiang
Dec 15, 2020 · 2 min read

“As an entrepreneur, if I experience sexual harassment from investors, where do I report it and how will I be protected?”

The #MovingForward co-founders heard this question at a founders’ dinner in November 2017. We were dismayed to learn that entrepreneurs, who are not considered employees of VC firms, aren’t protected under standard workplace policies or federal or state employment law.

So what should a founder do if they experience sexual harassment? What rights exist? What actions are available?

Through the years, entrepreneurs have reached out to our team asking these questions. Not everyone knows what to do in these situations, nor should they be expected to. We hope that this guide can serve founders in the wake of sexual harassment and answer common questions that arise. While sexual harassment is the main focus of this guide, much of the content and policies within could apply to founders facing racial harassment and other forms of harassment.

“Although as a founder, you may not have an employer-employee relationship with VCs, there are still actions you can take to bring a stop to the harassment.”

— My Options and Rights, pg. 4

We created this guide to help founders better understand their rights and options in the face of unwanted sexual attention, and to offer tools and resources for learning and healing. The guide has been vetted by our legal counsel and includes case studies from founders who have faced sexual harassment in the past.

“One piece of advice we heard over and over again from founders who have experienced harassment is to do your due diligence before taking action.”

— Thoughts from Founders, pg. 15

We hope this guide will help empower and support founders or anyone else facing workplace harassment outside of an employment context. We’ve made the guide available as a PDF and have also created an open-source version. Anybody can recommend additions by commenting directly on the open source version and we hope that this living document will grow and evolve in the years ahead.

We’d appreciate your help in sharing the guide with anyone who might benefit from the resources and perspectives represented.

  • Share on socials such as Twitter and LinkedIn
  • Share in founder networks you may be part of
  • An example post you may consider:

The @MovingForwardVC team just created a Founder’s Guide to Navigating Sexual Harassment During Fundraising. If you know someone who was sexually harassed or may find this guide helpful, please direct them to this new resource.

If you have any additional experiences, challenges, or ideas to elevate, you can reach us at hello@venturemovingforward.org.