A quote from Ellen Pao caught my eye in my newsfeed the other day: “As CEO of Reddit, I didn’t have imposter syndrome. I always thought, ‘I’ve seen so many horrible male CEOs. I’ve seen so many horrible male board members.’
“They don’t know anything, almost literally, and they’re running these companies. Why should I feel like I don’t know anything? I’ve had a ton of experience. I’ve seen a bunch of things, and maybe I’m not going to be perfect, and maybe I’m going to make mistakes, but it’s not going to be like some of these other mistakes I’ve seen.”
Wow. I needed to know this story. Who is Ellen (she sounds familiar) and how can I learn more about her? A couple quick searches later, I realized I read a few articles about her when she was at Reddit and subsequently left.
The short article shares the following:
Since leaving Reddit in 2015, Pao has pushed to improve representation and equity in tech, including by working with seven other women to start Project Include, a nonprofit diversity consulting organization to help CEOs build more inclusive startups. The initiative stresses that diversity and inclusion should be treated as a high-priority business metric that measures the entire employee life cycle, from hiring to career development to promotions.
It covers a lot of ground in a quick read, but here are my major takeaways:
- From lack of opportunities presented to lack of funding provided, representation is a huge issue. Many industries have their own version of the Silicon Valley Boys Club.
- Pao decided to take action about the injustice and she eventually made it her life’s work. She started an organization to help improve representation and champion for others to have a chance to lead.
- Back to representation and the abysmal statistics: people inevitably have their own opinions about whythis is, but because it is, we need to ask ourselves, What can I do about this?
This is another great article about Ellen Pao, if you’re interested in the backstory.
I challenge you to examine your industry, your organization or business, your leadership team, your board, and your own network in terms of representation. Is there someone whose perspective you’re missing? Is there someone to whom you can offer an opportunity or support? Are you willing to ask questions about why things are the way they are and ask, What can I do about this?
I had my own awkward conversations with loved ones this week about this topic. I pushed back on if someone really did enough to find more women to serve as mentors on a slate of almost all men. Yes, I know it’s a male dominated industry, but that is part of the problem.
I believe many people are aware of the challenges and I know many people who care and want things to get better. Yet, I also know there is still more we can all do to try to make a positive difference.
Change starts with you, right?