A breakdown of what some VC firms are sharing in new disclosures.
Venture capital firms have spent the last year grappling with whether they were equipped to handle sexual harassment complaints against their employees or their portfolio companies.
While some firms had internal codes of conduct. many did not have policies that similarly applied to the entrepreneurs they fund.
So that’s why it was newsworthy this week when about 20 firms this week publicly shared their sexual harassment policies, with about 20 more promising (we’ll see!) to share theirs upon request. There’s a wide range of detail in these so-called external policies collected by MovingForward, a new advocacy effort to push VC firms to be more transparent about how they police bad behavior.
Some of the already-posted policies are as short as one paragraph. Others are almost 10 pages long.
There are a few consistent themes:
- Firms almost all promise to be willing to terminate employees who violate the policy. That, of course, has not historically always happened.
- Firms are trying to get more serious about how sexual harassment is defined. Several even go so far as to list specific examples of actions that would qualify as a violation of their policies.
- Firms now consider entrepreneurs — who do not work for the venture capital firms — as parties to these agreements. Misconduct toward an entrepreneur is no different than misconduct toward a fellow partner.
Here’s a handy look at some of what stood out. We focused on the firms that actually posted what they considered their full, formal, lawyered policies, as opposed to an abbreviated version of it or a blog post that generally described their thinking on the issue.
- 500 Startups: It’s notable that 500 is one of the first to publicly post their policy. Reminder: The leader of 500, Dave McClure, allegedly sexually assaulted the co-founder of the MovingForward initative, Cheryl Yeoh.
- Andreessen Horowitz: “Andreessen Horowitz may take disciplinary action against an employee who exhibits poor judgment or engages in inappropriate behavior, even if it falls short of being severe or pervasive.”
- Bowery Capital: Unusually, it highlights that the firm’s limited partners even are expected to follow the policy.
- DFJ: The policy at DFJ is especially under the microscope given some of the actions allegedly taken by Steve Jurvetson, the firm’s founder. Jurvetson was ousted from the firm even though he has not been publicly accused of sexual harassment.
- First Round Capital.
- Flybridge Capital: Just two sentences.
- Foundry Group: Probably the most detailed policy at eight-pages, Foundry — which invests in some other VC funds — promises to “conduct due diligence regarding past incidents of sexual harassment involving founders or GPs.” They also try to ask for prospective GPs they would fund to affirm in a side-letter that they’ve never been accused of harassment.
- Homebrew: Homebrew posted the document it is asking its employees to sign and date, including a good amount of detail on its complaint procedure.
- Kapor Capital: In addition to its policy, Kapor is sharing an “addendum” with four imagined situations that can be used for training purposes.
- Norwest Venture Partners: Norwest emphasizes that they have a full-time exec who focuses on HR — not every firm has someone in-house to handle HR issues, a point of criticism for some advocates.
- Refractor Capital: A very concise definition of sexual harassment: “Sexual harassment occurs when submission to or rejection of unwelcome sexual conduct is used as a basis for an employment or other business decision.”
- Scale Venture Partners.
- Spark Capital: Spark, interestingly, says that romantic relationships within a single chain-of-command — a gray area in Silicon Valley — “are not permitted.” Relationships outside it — think two people who do not report to one another — are OK.
- Techstars: Techstars shared their Code of Conduct, which doesn’t have much specifically on harassment beyond promising to “ban or fire mentors, investors, employees, contractors” who harass others.
- True Ventures.
- Undiscovered Ventures: Two sentences also.
- Union Square Ventures: USV says their policy applies even to non-USV employees on occasion: “If harassment occurs on the job or at a work-related event such as at conference or off-site meeting and by someone not employed by USV, the procedures in the policy should be followed as if the harasser were an employee of the USV.”
- Zetta Ventures: Like Techstars, Zetta posted their Code of Conduct, which doesn’t have much guidance on harassment issues specifically.
Find something else in these documents that are interesting? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
During an interview with the Today show, White House staffer Ivanka Trump said she thinks each of the 14 women who have accused her father of sexual assault are lying.
But Ivanka — who sat down for an interview in Pyeongchang, where she was leading the U.S. delegation during the closing ceremony of the Olympics — didn’t say so directly.
Instead, Ivanka took umbrage at NBC reporter Peter Alexander’s straightforward question — “Do you believe your father’s accusers?” — and suggested it somehow violated her privacy as a daughter.
“I think it’s a pretty inappropriate question to ask a daughter, if she believes the accusers of the father when he’s affirmatively stated that there’s no truth to it,” Ivanka said. “I don’t think that’s a question you would ask many other daughters.”
Most “other daughters” don’t work for their father as a top political and policy adviser in the White House, however.
Ivanka went on to say that she believes her father when he says that all of his accusers are lying, because all daughters have the “right” to believe their dads.
“I believe my father, I know my father,” she said. “So, I think I have that right as a daughter to believe my father.”
Ivanka recently paid lip service to believing sexual misconduct accusers. Following Oprah’s rousing speech about sexual violence and women’s empowerment at the Golden Globes last month, Ivanka posted a tweet calling her comments “empowering and inspiring,” and used the #TimesUp hashtag, which is a movement against sexual harassment.
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) January 9, 2018
But Ivanka has repeatedly defended her father, who not only has been accused by 22 women of sexual misconduct but has also been recorded bragging about grabbing women without their consent.
The first daughter’s commentary on the subject has not been well received. Last April, Ivanka was jeered at the W20 Summit in Germany when she dismissed her father’s conduct by suggesting the media is responsible for unfairly portraying her father as a sexual predator.
“I certainly heard the criticism from the media, and that’s been perpetuated, but I know from personal experience, and I think the thousands of people who have worked with and for my father for decades when he was in the private sector are a testament to his belief and solid conviction in the potential of women and their ability do to the job as well as any man,” she said, as women delegates booed and hissed.
Boos and hisses from female delegates as Ivanka mentions her father pic.twitter.com/EwmYZqTJmt
— jenny hill (@jennyhillBBC) April 25, 2017
Trump’s sexual assault accusers came under renewed attention last week when the Washington Post ran a feature story about Rachel Crooks, a woman who says Trump forcibly kissed her and is now running for a seat in the Ohio legislature.
Trump responded to the article by falsifying Crooks’ account of being assaulted by him, the claiming it proved his innocence.
Warning: The following post contains spoilers for the most recent episode of Jane the Virgin.
Let’s begin this post with a necessary disclaimer: If you aren’t watching Jane the Virgin, you should be. The CW’s effervescent telanovela about a woman who’s accidentally artificially inseminated is now so much more; it’s a dense drama about complicated relationships, with some light fantasy and scintillating scandal thrown in.
“Chapter Seventy-Two” is the midseason premiere of Season 4, and it effortlessly portrays how consent should work – without every appearing to be a lesson or underlining its message in red. Read more…
‘I just completely blacked out,’ claims Brittney Lewis
The chorus of voices against Woody Allen is growing louder by the day.
Over the past few months, several actors who’ve starred in Allen’s films have come forward to express their regrets – and, in some cases, announce that they’re donating their salaries to charity. That list includes multiple stars of Allen’s next movie, A Rainy Day in New York.
Even in the throes of Hollywood’s reckoning, Woody Allen has not faced the same swift and total condemnation that men like Harvey Weinstein have.
His latest film, Wonder Wheel, hit theaters in December, and he’s already wrapped his next movie, A Rainy Day in New York, for release in 2018. On the Wonder Wheel press tour, star Kate Winslet praised the director’s “extraordinary” female roles, garnering side-eyes from some of her colleagues. Read more…
Let’s give it up for Sharon Stone.
There are so many ways she could have answered a question about whether she’d faced sexual harassment over the course of her 40-year career. But her default was to laugh, and then deliver an honest, frank response that basically boils down to: Yes, you silly man, of course I have.
We don’t see the lead-in question in the video, but the accompanying tweet and Stone’s response makes it clear. Read more…