Making a sexist comment at a meeting specifically being held to address sexism – I really hope the irony was not lost on David Bonderman.
The venture capitalist has resigned from Uber’s board of directors after making a sexist remark during an all-staff meeting designed to address Uber’s toxic work environment.
Uber’s problems of late have been well documented – allegations of sexual harassment, gender discrimination and a general toxic workplace currently sits alongside chaos at the top. CEO Travis Kalanick has taken an indefinite leave of absence as Uber moves from one catastrophe to another – with Mr Bonderman adding yet another twist to the saga on Tuesday.
At the meeting, Mr Bonderman interrupted fellow board member Arianna Huffington with the sexist remark which would be the cause of his departure from the Uber board.
According to an audio recording of the meeting obtained by Yahoo Finance, Huffington said that data showed that once a company has one woman on its board, it is more likely to have a second. Bonderman then retorted with this pearl of wisdom:
“Actually, what it shows is that it’s much more likely to be more talking.”
Probably after realising the gravity of the situation, Bonderman released a statement calling his comments “careless, inappropriate and inexcusable.”
“I do not want my comments to create distraction as Uber works to build a culture of which we can be proud,” he added.
“I need to hold myself to the same standards that we’re asking Uber to adopt. Therefore, I have decided to resign from Uber’s board of directors, effective tomorrow morning.”
This incident is indicative that despite the mass of employee groups, diversity initiatives and sponsorship of equality groups, sexism and gender discrimination are alive and well in tech. Not only are these outdated opinions alive and well, but what this incident proves is that they exist in the top board rooms of Silicon Vally, at the companies making an ever bigger impact in society at large.
I was trying to articulate my next point, but why bother gilding the lily – sexism in tech is stupid. For boards to exhibit this gender discrimination – it’s stupid. It’s not good business. And here’s just some reasons why:
– A report by McKinsey & Company says that $12 billion could be added to the global GDP by 2025 “if every country matched the progress toward gender parity of its fastest improving neighbour.”
– According to Tech London Advocates, diverse companies outperform non-diverse companies by 34%.
– The same Tech London Advocates report found that diversity unlocks creativity, with 53% finding a direct correlation between the diversity of a company’s workforce and its rate of growth.
– A Morgan Stanley report found that, over the five years ending September 2016, highly gender-diverse tech companies returned on average 5.4% more on an annual basis than the average yearly returns of their peers with less gender diversity
– The same report also saw Morgan Stanley state: “For technology in particular, the link between gender diversity and performance is real. It stands to reason: More gender equality, particularly in corporate settings, likely corresponds with increased productivity; greater innovation; higher employee retention and better risk management—all critical factors for improving a tech company’s odds of staying competitive.”
– Research from The Peterson Institute for International Economics and EY found that having more female leaders in business can significantly increase profitability. The report revealed that an organization with 30 percent female leaders could add up to 6 percentage points to its net margin.
– A global survey by consulting firm DDI found that companies that have the top 20% of financial performance, 27% of leaders are women. Among the bottom 20% of financial performers, only 19% of leaders are women.
There are many other reports which all show the same thing in black and white – more women in tech and altogether better diversity equals better financial performance, better productivity and better innovation. Proof that women bring a hell of a lot more to the table than “talking’.