Last week, Ellen Pao wrote the piece on California’s new law that requires companies to include women on their boards that I’ve been waiting for.
The money graphs: “But even more important, it sends a strong message to the whopping 71 percent of start-ups across the globe with all-male boards and to private tech companies, where 74 percent of boards are all-male and 93 percent of board seats are held by men: Change now before it’s too late — before you get regulated and before you must scramble for a more diverse board.”
“Think of all the scandals, product failures, harassment and discrimination we might have avoided if public company chief executives and founders had taken diversity and inclusion seriously from their early start-up days. As a venture capitalist, I’ve witnessed CEOs come and go in disgrace, jumping from one company to another. Far too often, they were hired by and had connections to an all-male board. If the board had run real, comprehensive searches with real, comprehensive background checks, it likely would have found better candidates — and avoided tough transitions and companywide chaos.”
Same. Let’s stop the “failing up” game in Silicon Valley by allowing others to get a shot.
“Companies today should consider the impact of intersectionality, where people with multiple underrepresented backgrounds suffer cumulative harm. Thanks to the work of organizations such as the Boardlist, we know there are more than enough qualified women for board seats, including women of color, of all sexual orientations and of all gender identities. Let’s move beyond binary gender to true inclusion.”
My quicker take: In the most feminist, inclusive countries in the world, quotas are a big reason women have parity. Americans hate quotas. I’m shocked this law got passed, frankly. And curious if it will spread in our insanely polarized country where women are furious on one side, and a lot of men feel that equality is taking something from them.
The best way to make your company more inclusive is to do it from day zero. It’s nearly impossible to bolt on later. That means not only boards but management, developer talent, and staff. Push yourself to be as intersectional as possible. Even if it slows down your hiring.
I know the time suck of hiring is one of the largest pain points founders face, and moving slow chews up valuable resources in terms of pre-revenue capital. But if it makes your company more inclusive it’s worth it. Even if you don’t believe the copious data about why diverse companies are stronger and more profitable, believe that regulators are starting to come for you if you don’t.