On KQED’s Forum show today host Queena Sook Kim discussed venture capital’s sexist culture. But during the call, someone claiming to be a VC emailed the show to say he would not hire a woman “out of fear that we will get sued.”
We don’t how KQED obtained this email or what their methods are for verification of letters sent to the show. However, not hiring a woman capable of filling a role at your workplace simply because she is a woman is illegal.
Joelle Emerson, founder of Paradigm, a former women’s rights lawyer and a guest on the show, pointed out the serious legal flaw after hearing the disturbing admission. “That is not a valid reason for not hiring a woman,” she told Sook Kim.
While we don’t know the identity of this VC — he only wrote in using the first name Jonathan — we do know, according to Sook Kim, that he runs a VC firm. He is also likely somewhere in San Francisco as KQED is the city’s local station.
However, the name Jonathan is pretty generic and it’s tough to know if this was even the guy’s real name. Regardless, his admission is the stuff of nightmares for any woman who has worked hard to get where she would like to be in Silicon Valley’s venture capitalist circles. There are already too few women in decision-making roles in the industry.
Refusing to hire someone because they are a woman also is a great loss for Johnathan’s firm. While a mere 7 percent of partners at the top 100 VC firms are women, a recent study suggests female VCs are a lot better at picking female-led startup winners. Perhaps Johnathan also doesn’t believe in investing in women.
The emailed comment has the added implication that women are just taking the job to turn around and lie about being harassed in hopes of a fat paycheck. That idea is, of course, ludicrous, given how difficult and intimidating it is for a woman to come forward, the legal fees she’ll face if she brings the firm to court and the slim chances she’ll have of winning.
KQED has now posted the show and you can listen to the full discussion here. Feel free to join in on the discussion in the comments below and tell us what you think of Johnathan’s remarks.