Apologies sending another email. I intended to sit on these words over the next week and talk to a few more people, but since I sent out the email with the original subject line, here's what's on my mind in light of last week's news of more instances of sexual harassment in Silicon Valley.
Over the past week, we saw more revelations of the ugliness that is sexual harassment in Silicon Valley. The New York Times wrote a piece the highlighted Silicon Valley luminaries Chris Sacca and Dave McClure as the latest examples of venture capitalists engaging in sexual harassment of female startup founders.
Sarah Kunst, founder of ProDay, is one of the several women who have spoken publicly about sexual harassment they have faced. This caught my eye because I could not recall stories in the media from black women about sexual harassment, though I know this is a horrible thing some of my friends have faced. We, black men, need to make sure we support
Black women face disproportionate rates of sexual harassment and domestic violence. Much of that is at the hand of black men. That isn't acceptable.
As the movement to have greater representation of black people in the technology industry continues to gain steam, it's critical that black men do the work to ensure we are not stumbling blocks to black women making moves in the industry along side us.
This involves constant self-examination (therapy even), listening to the women in our lives, and commitment to tangible steps that position us to play any role the women in our personal and professional lives need, then get out of their way. While I am calling out our treatment of black women, the results of the work we do on ourselves must extend to women of every hue. We're all human and have to treat each other as such.
My seeing Dave's name also brought to mind Africa's nascent venture capital industry. Dave was recently part of a Geeks on a Plane trip that traveled to multiple countries across Africa. He met with several startup founders and some Africa-focused VCs planned and were part of the trip's events. The venture capital industry across Africa is in its early days, but the majority of its faces are those of men.
Ory Okolloh Mwangi and Amrote Abdella are high profile players in shaping the investment space across the continent, but there's every reason there should be more. I am not aware of much systematic work being done to ensure that Africa's VC industry develops in a healthy, inclusive fashion.
African VCs and LPs who are investing in Africa-focused funds would do well to spend a lot of time thinking through this. For those reading this newsletter, please take a look at Mandela Schumacher-Hodge's action steps on how you can bake diversity and inclusion into your organization.
It will be a shame if 20 years from now, we have a technology industry with a critical mass of black people leading the industry in the US, Africa, and around the world, only for ugliness like sexual harassment to rear its head as an issue that hasn't been addressed. Let's do the work now to prevent that.