How did one woman expose the gender inequality within the tech industry?
In this episode of Here to Help, Indeed CEO Chris Hyams sits down with Emily Chang, anchor and executive producer at Bloomberg TV.
Chang is an Emmy Award-winning journalist reporting on global technology and media companies, startups and the future of business. She is also an author — her first book, “Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley” was an instant national bestseller.
As executive producer and host of daily show “Bloomberg Technology” and the interview series “Studio 1.0”, Chang speaks to top tech executives, investors and entrepreneurs, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg and Alibaba Founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma.
Join us as Hyams and Chang discuss the staggering gender inequality in the tech industry, how this came to be and how to foster real change in the tech industry. (Originally aired March 13, 2022)
- [Chris] Hello everyone. I am Chris Hyams, CEO of Indeed. At Indeed, our mission is to help people get jobs. And this is what gets us out of bed in the morning and what keeps us going all day and what powers that mission is our people and here to help is a look at how, experienced strength and hope inspires people to want to help others. March is Women's History Month. And throughout this month on here to help, we are recognizing and celebrating the vital role of women in history and society. I am incredibly excited today to introduce our very special guest. Emily Chang is an award-winning Journalist and Author. She is Executive Producer at Bloomberg TV and host of Bloomberg Technology and Studio 1.0. Reporting on global technology and media companies, startups, and the future of business. Business Insider has called Emily the star of Bloomberg anchor that everyone in tech needs to know. And she ranks among the top journalists followed by major CEOs on Twitter. And with all of these amazing accomplishments, today we're going to spend most of our time talking about Emily's first book, which was published in 2018, titled, "Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley" "Brotopia" was an instant National Bestseller and had a profound impact on me personally, which we'll be getting into in a little bit. But Emily, thank you so much for joining me today.
- Chris, thank you so much for having me. It's an honor to be here and speaking with all of you.
- Let's start where? We always start these conversations with a quick check in, how are you doing today?
- I'm good, I am back in the office. I do a daily show every day. So I have been here five days a week since May. And it's, you know, got its ups and downs. Like I'm sure everyone has been going through with the pandemic. I'm sure some folks are considering whether to go back to the office now or not. So I am making it work. I've got four kids at home as you know, and so I'm juggling just like everyone else.
- Well, let's dive straight into "Brotopia" and we're going to talk about various aspects of it, but if you can start by just explaining really at a high level what the book is about and what inspired you to want to write this book?
- Well, so I've been covering the tech industry now for almost 12 years. And before I got to Silicon Valley, I was working for CNN in London and China. And you know, I was, I covered the Beijing Olympics. I was on the front lines of this massive transformation happening on the other side of the world. And so I thought I was doing something pretty important. And when I got the opportunity to come to Silicon Valley and cover a technology, I didn't quite know what to make of it. I knew it would be a learning curve and that it would be exciting and something different, but I wasn't sure that I'd be so excited about covering business every day for many, many years to come. And what I realized is I was really on the front lines of maybe the most massive transformation in history, the technological revolution. And I had a front row seat to all of these in amazing people and companies and quote unquote "visionaries" who are changing the world, or at least trying to, but there was this question knowing at me, which was where are all the women? I mean, look at all of these supposedly amazing men whose, who we call by their first names and there are no women. And no one's really to talking about this and women are underrepresented amongst CEOs and entrepreneurs and investors, but also in the rank and file. And how can that be possible in an industry that's so important and changing so many of our lives in so many ways every single day. And I started to get more sort of intentional about asking the guests on my daily show, what are you doing about this? What are you doing to hire and promote and fund more women? And normally I got some pretty politically correct answers, but some of the answers were also quite shocking and unacceptable. And that's what really sort of lit the spark that lit the fire that got me to write the book.
- There's a number of sort of deep issues that you dive into but I think at a high level, what I took away from it, there's a few key thesis that I think are important to understand for everyone. So the first one is that, sexism and gender inequality exist everywhere, but there is a unique flavor to that problem in the tech industry. Number two, that tech is uniquely important because of its ubiquity and the impact on all of our lives. And then number three, that this problem exists really at every level in technology, from the people on the front line, who are writing the code to founders and VCs. So can I ask you just to talk a little bit about how sexism and gender inequality and tech fits into this larger societal challenge. And what's different about tech here?
- Now, one of the most sort of shocking interview views I did very early in this process was an interview with Michael Moritz, who is a very prominent venture capitalist in Silicon Valley. He works at to Sequoia, he funded Google and Yahoo and some of the companies that have become the most prominent and biggest and influential in the world. And this was in 2015, and they had no women in their US venture partnership at the time. And yet it was considered perhaps the most legendary, if you got a check from a venture capitalist, you wanted Sequoia. And I said to him, quite frankly, you have no women in your firm. What are you doing about that? And he said, "Well, we're looking very hard, "but we're not prepared to lower our standards." And that comment just hit me like a ton of bricks. Like here is this investor seems to think that talented young women just don't exist. How is it possible that in 44 years you couldn't find a single woman to meet your very high standards? That is unacceptable. And venture capitalists are just one piece of the puzzle, but they are the ones writing the checks with an incredible amount of power over who gets a chance to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. And it was just a very sharp pointed example of how this plays out here every day, multiple times a day. You know, women represent now like 12% to 15% of check writers, people in Mike Maritz's position. Women led companies get just 2% of venture capital funding. How is that possible? 2%, 2%? And then in the rank and file, as you discussed women hold 20 to 25% of the top technical roles, the people who are actually writing the code. So they're underrepresented at every stage of the game. And these are companies that are making decisions about how we communicate and how we interact with each other and changing our lives and our children's lives dramatically. And women are just grossly underrepresented and the consequences are enormous.
- So one of the things that's most powerful about the book is you explain in great detail the problem as it exists today, but you go back and roll back the clock and sort of unroll this amazing history of misogyny and tech, which really goes back to sort of the earliest days. And I think most people probably at this point in some part maybe thanks to hidden figures, many people know that the first programmers were largely women, but some were along the way the industry was completely taken over by men. And one of the stories that really, really grip me and I'm just going to ask you to retell a little bit for folks that might not be aware of it. It's the story of system development corporation and this now infamous Canon Perry test.
- So that to me was kind of like the smoking gun. You are absolutely right. That in the early days, men were predominantly the makers of the hardware, the systems and the computers and the mainframes that were making the tech industry tick. But in the '40s and '50s, women actually played prominent roles in building the software of the computing industry, the women, for example, that programmed the track of the Apollo to the moon. Women were very well represented among those groups of people. There was even this amazing article in "Cosmopolitan" magazine that I found that Harold did computer programming as this amazing new occupation from women where you could make money. And it was kind of like planning a dinner party. You just tell the machines what to do and how to do it. And women are pretty good at that. And there were people like Grace Hopper. She was actually interviewed in that article, but what happened in the '60s and '70s is that the tech industry was just exploding and they were so desperate for talent, that they started doing these personality tests and aptitude tests to identify good programmers. And these two psychologists Canon and Perry, came up with an index of a handful of different qualities that they believed made for a good programmer. One of them was a good programmer, like solving puzzles and doing math while that made sense. Another was that good programmers quote. "Don't like people." Well, if you look for people who don't like people, the research tells us, you'll hire more men than women. And there is no research to support the idea that people who don't like people are better at this job than people who do like people. There's also no research across thousands of studies that shows any difference between boys and girls and men and women in math and solving puzzles and that kind of thing. However, this test, which was widely used for many, many years to identify and filter for good programmers with companies as big as IBM started in the '60s and '70s to filter out women essentially, because they didn't meet these qualifications. And by the way, there's a great argument to be made, that we need people who like people developing the products and services that are going to be these serving the people of the world. But that's another issue entirely. In 1984, women were earning 37% of computer science degrees, but after 1984, that number plummeted to about 18%, 20%, where it's been flat for the last decade. So my argument is, it's not movies or television that created the stereotype of the sort of anti-social mostly white male nerd. It's actually the tech industry itself that created this stereotype and then perpetuated it for decades. And we came to believe that's what a talented computer scientist looks like. This guy sort of coding in his hoodie alone in a basement, which is absolutely not true, but it pushed and profiled women out of an industry that they were surviving and thriving in. And unfortunately that's the stereotype and the myth that persists today.
- Yeah, and that test that they developed was based on actual research and interviews that they did, which seem actually in retrospect, almost to have been designed to at least give the wrong answer because and I can't remember the exact numbers, but there was something like 1100 people that they interviewed and only 170 of them were women. When the vast majority of the people who were actually doing the job at the time were women.
- The vast majority of the people they interviewed were men. So not surprisingly their results favored men. And very unfortunately, that test became sort of the litmus test for who makes a good program or, but it was wrong. It was wrong.
- So this story, you describe it as a smoking gun, this, the entire book was revelatory. But for me, that was the thing that just completely stopped me in my tracks. And I have to at this point, get a little personal in terms of how the book impacted me and maybe get a little confessional, but if you'll indulge me for a minute, and I know we had a chance to talk about this a little bit, but just to share with everyone else. So I've been working in computing for, next year I'll be 30 years. And I have read a lot about the history of computing. I feel like I thought I knew what was going on. I had heard of this story before. And as you said, I mean, it was like the matrix to me. It was like suddenly seeing the code for the first time and understanding it was just like everything made sense. And so after reading your book, I went and I told you the story, but I looked at my bedside table at the stack of books that I had to read, and they were all books by men. And so I decided literally after finishing your book in May of 2018, that I was just going to read women authors for the rest of the Summer. Part way through that, I ended up picking up "Americana" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie a Nigerian author, and then realized I was also only reading white authors. And so I ended up spending a year only reading women authors. And for the past four years, I've read primarily black, but essentially only authors from marginalized communities. And it's completely transformed my view of the world really because I think that what we believe is dictated in large part by who tells the stories that we listen to. And I mentioned to you before I went to an elite prep school for middle school and high school in six years. Looking back on it, we read a single book written by a woman author was "Pride and Prejudice" We did not read a single book written by an author of color. And so your book had a deeply profound impact on me. And in sort of trying to turn this into a question, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the importance of the voices that we listen to in storytelling and how they shape, how we see the world?
- Well, first of all, Chris, I love that you shared that story because I think making real change starts with intention. And we have to be intentional about doing this work and understanding other voices, other people in the room, different perspectives, where people are coming from and it also takes agency. I think for so long people in the tech industry have said, "I didn't create this problem." Or "This isn't my problem." Or "It was always this way." Well, in fact, it is your problem and it wasn't always this way. And taking that narrative back and taking control of that, I think is the first step toward actually making real change. We need leaders especially at the top of these organizations to understand the problem and want to make a difference. And I have been so impressed and humbled by people like you who are like, look, what can I do? How can I change? You know, I want to learn. And so much of this is about just sort of educating yourself and just understanding what the starting point is. You know, look, I think we're surrounded by people like Elon Musk and mark Zuckerberg who are building self-driving cars and rockets to Mars and connecting the world. And yet they say, "But you know, when it comes to women, "oh, that's just too hard, that's too hard a problem "for us to solve." And if we can solve these other problems, we can certainly hire more women and pay them fairly and fund their ideas, but we need buy in from the leaders of these organizations. But I also think that even though that is very important, you know, everyone, at every level of an organization now has more agency in power than they did before. You know, your voices are being listened to, your voices you know. Companies need to know they need to listen and to hear you. And so I think part of it is using that voice and even on your individual teams, making sure that you're making these choices, making inclusive choices when you're thinking about hiring and promotion and doling out opportunities, or even just the way you run a meeting. And solicit feedback and ideas. So that's something that all of us can do, not just the CEO.
- Yeah, and I think that trope of the, I didn't create this problem in her book "Caste" Isabel Wilkerson opens the book with this really great analogy, which is, you know, imagine that you own an old apartment building and you might not have built it. You might not be responsible for it, but if it's yours, if it has crumbling infrastructure, if the pipes are bad, if the ceiling's going to fall in, it's your building, you better fix it. You're responsible for what happens from here on now. So part two of the confessional. So the book hit me hard because of the story and seeing it in a way that I hadn't thought of before the second part is that one of the things that you do is you, the sort of key narrative of the evolution of programmers from anti-social nerd, where they started out to what you described as these risk taking bros, and you identify as patient zero, essentially in this shift a small, not very well known, but influential tech software company in Austin, Texas in the '90s called Trilogy. I worked at Trilogy for nine years. It was my first job out of grad school. I stayed there for nine years. What you described going on at Trilogy. You absolutely nailed. And it was really disturbing for me and a lot of people to sort of look back through a 20, you know, almost 2020s lens at what was going on back then, can you talk, first of all how you landed on Trilogy because not people know the story, and then how you see that fitting into this larger narrative of the shift from the antisocial nerd to what we see now today in Silicon Valley.
- So one of my sources who also worked at Trilogy said, Oh, the bro thing started way earlier than people think you really got to look at this company called Trilogy. I mean, I think, you know, today we sort of think about, you know, Travis Kalanick kind of personifying this idea of, you know, Browie, you know, tech visionary, you know, started in late 2009, 2010, when really looking at Trilogy is a fascinating example that this really goes back to the late '80s and early '90s. I would take it back even a few more years to 1984, which is, you know, when the Mac really came on the consumer scene in a huge way, and Steve Jobs presented this sort of vision of a different kind of tech founder, it was jobs plus Steve Wozniak, who was kind of the nerdy part of the equation and Jobs who had this bravado, this level of risk taking and sort of willingness to take an insatiable amount of risk that investors and the public really sort of latched onto. And they kind of together, we're kind of the best of both worlds, you know, not just the nerdy, more antisocial knowhow, but this big visionary attitude, you know, where, and level of kind of Uber confidence by which you kind of thought that they could do anything, but they didn't, they it wasn't necessarily a sure thing. And the job sort of Wozniak team became the ideal recipe. Can you find someone who's kind of nerdy, but also Uber confident and can talk a big game and then try to make it happen. And Joe Lamont, the founder of Trilogy was almost exactly that. He married kind of the best of both worlds. And when you go back to, and honestly, Chris, I would love to turn the tables on you for a second, because when you go back to the early days of Trilogy, I mean, the things that happened were just jaw dropping. I mean, his sort of philosophy was to hire quote unquote, "only the best" OTB, we only hire super smart kids with no experience right out of college. They don't know how to do anything yet, but they can talk their way out of a paper bag and that's what we need. And so, and recruiting relied on finding these very attractive young women to go out and find young engineers who would lap it up. And even in that choice, the assumption is that the engineers you're going to find are met, who would be attractive to these young, attractive recruiter, women, I mean, parties, strippers, credit cards, giveaways of laptops and cars. I believe you gave a car away once, that's a two cars. And I mean, it was just toxic really. And it seems to be, to me an entry point of the sort of toxicity and bravado and browiness that really carried on through much of the dot com, boom, and bust, and then survived into more recent years. So I don't know. Does that resonate, Chris, with your experience?
- Yeah, it did. This is the danger of interviewing journalists by the way, but-
- Sorry, you're interviewing an interviewer.
- No, no, no. Look the reading, it actually physically shook me and not because I wasn't aware of that stuff because I had sort of pushed it back into the past and some degree so I was insulated, I knew everything that was going on. I was personally insulated 'cause when I joined, you know, as you pointed out, the company was all 21 and 22 year olds, I was 30. I was married. I had two kids. I actually lived in Berkeley and telecommuted to Austin for my first few years. I don't drink, I don't gamble. So I was outside of the sort of inner circle, but I knew all the stuff was going on and it's ultimately why I left to start my own company, but I stayed for a long time. I was there for nine years. So I've really had to sit with that and to come to terms since reading your book with, why it was that I stayed for so long and I've spent a lot of time. The book sparked a lot of conversation among Trilogy alumni. We have a very active alumni group. There was a lot of discussion about, and a lot of us got together and spent a lot of time talking about it. And it was, I have to say that I want to thank you actually for bringing that back up 'cause I think it doesn't, just like all of these other things, understanding history and how we got here is actually incredibly it's impossible to fix the present without understanding the past. And I think there were a lot of us for whom this is just what the world looked like. And again, it was my first job. I stayed there for a long time, but I think also from a personal perspective and then I'm going to go back to asking you questions, but I going to share this, I found myself in a position where I think I felt responsible for protecting people and I ended up, I started out as an engineer. I ended up as the VP of engineering and I stayed for a lot longer than I might have because I felt like I was sort of a layer of insulation to kind of help create a different environment for the people who I ran the engineering team who reported to me and ultimately saw at some point that there was nothing that I could do and then moved on. But I think it would be really interesting for other people 'cause Trilogy was certainly unique, but not the only company like it to really pause and look back and ask some of these questions. And so it has been a real catalyst for reflection. So thank you for that.
- By the way, you were competing with Microsoft and IBM for talent and so, like Google was coming on on the scene and I understand that, this is how a lot of companies operated when it came to finding these people.
- But Trilogy, I will say, I mean, we as a group have talked a lot about, I mean, Trilogy brought a bunch of really brilliant people together had some really interesting ideas, but the thing that we were truly most world class at, in terms of results was recruiting. That was the thing that we did, I think better than anyone else. And it was really interesting to see just how bald faced and transparent all of that really was at the time.
- And by the way, can we point out that, you know, you'd hired all of these amazing people but the product itself, it didn't survive. Like I know that it still kind of exists, but I guess it kind of goes to show that, that kind of a culture isn't necessarily a recipe for success. Even if you have literally the smartest people or some of the smartest people, because we know that women weren't as well represented among that group of people building the product, you need to have a diverse group of voices in the room, building the product, if you want to change the world.
- Well, and so I guess one thing that I'll say is that, so first of all, I did learn a lot there and I worked with a lot of brilliant people, but from a cultural perspective, one of the biggest impacts that Trilogy had, is that almost to a last person, all the people that I'm close with, who were there, who spent this formative time there, went on to other companies with a very clear point of view about the culture that they were wanted to create. And sometimes a negative pattern can still be informative and that the number of companies that were founded by, or basically every tech company right now has many senior people that came from Trilogy. And we all had this sort of collective experience that drove us to want to do things differently. So I actually, I like to think that some good has come from that, but maybe for unintended reasons. But so getting back to the book, one of the things that we definitely saw in this sort of hiring frenzy that Trilogy was going through, is you talk about this myth of meritocracy that, you know, one of the people you talk about a lot is Peter Thiel and PayPal. But it's clearly something that is pervasive. Can you talk about this concept of this myth of meritocracy.
- Right, well, Peter Thiel, and Max Levchin the co-founders of PayPal in those early days of the company said, "Look, we're a meritocracy. "We only hire the smartest people who can do the job." But when you look at the people they hired, it was really most of their white male friends from Stanford many of whom wrote for the "Stanford Review" a conservative slash libertarian student newspaper. Peter Thiel, even to this day, doesn't seem to be particularly troubled by that. But Max Levchin who I still interview often on my show has looked at that and said, "We were totally wrong." I lifted the engineering team from my university computer class, brought them over to PayPal and thought that would be a good thing because we all used the same coding languages and we knew each other and we could move faster when in fact ultimately it meant they wouldn't be able to hire anyone else because no women would want to join a team where were no women. And I actually talked to one of the earliest women that they hired, who just she's like, it didn't work out because I was surrounded by all of these men. And the idea of meritocracy is so fascinating because if you actually believe in a meritocracy, if you that the company that you're operating in, the environment that you are operating in is meritocratic. You start to believe that everyone's in their right place. That success looks a certain way. When in fact you are blind to the discrimination and systemic factors that are working against the people who are not in the position of success. So believing that you are operating in a meritocracy, you can actually be more anti meritocratic because you're not actually looking really hard at yourself and seeing what it really takes to succeed and what happens and what are the reasons for not succeeding, for example. So I believe that actually, you know, saying where meritocracy is, you know, means you are in fact going to be more biased, more anti meritocratic, and a true meritocracy is just impossible to achieve because the escalator of life is moving faster for some people than it is for others. That's just the way it is. We have to see through that. We have to implement hiring processes and review systems and progression and promotion systems that take all of this into account and give ourself a structured set of tools by which to make these hiring and promotion and progression decisions, if we want to try to be as fair as possible.
- So I want to come back to something that I mentioned at the top, that gender inequality exists in every industry, but in technology, there's this unique power and responsibility. You quote Sheryl Sandberg early on, as saying, "When you write a line of code, "you can affect a lot of people." And you give some examples right at the start of the book about Siri and Apple Watch and things like that. Can you talk about the impact of under representation in our lives, through the creation of technology.
- So I'll give you an example that I think we can all relate to. Evan Williams, the co-founder of Twitter told me, that he thinks if they had more women on their early Twitter team, that online harassment and trolling wouldn't be such a problem. He said, when we conceived Twitter, we were just thinking about all the wonderful and amazing things that you could do with it. And, you know, also, yeah, you could use it to share what you had for breakfast. We weren't thinking about how you could use the technology as a tool to harass people or troll people, because he said, most of the people in the room who were conceiving this product were white men, people who weren't used to being marginalized or harassed or discriminated against. I thought that was pretty powerful. Like imagine if the internet was a friendlier place? Imagine if Twitter, what could, you know, was a healthier place? Was a tool that couldn't be weaponized as easily as it can be today? If they had built... There could have been very simple changes in the very early days of the product where, for example, you couldn't necessarily just reply automatically to someone. You know, all of this would have to be debated, but just having someone in the room to say, "Hey, I actually think this, "might women might not like this." Or might be, you know, this product could be used to victimize someone else. Maybe it would've, wouldn't have been such a free for all.
- Great counter example. One of my favorite local Austin companies, Bumble. Whitney Wolfe Herd they started out as a dating app that was women-centric. And very early on, one of the things that they saw was that, basically freedom from trolls was going to be an important part of that. And when they saw a lot of vitriol and hate start to sprout up on the app, the first thing they did was really from the ground up architect and experience that would create a safer and more peaceful kind of place. So the plural of anecdote is not data but that's a, to me a really powerful counter example of what happens when you start with a different thesis.
- Yep, absolutely. And I think Whitney Wolfe Herd and Bumble are an amazing example of also when you start with a female founding team and leadership team, it's easier to hire more diverse candidates and hire more women. And you see that represented in Bumble's executive team and across the company. And certainly it's been a really successful company having women at top didn't hold them back from doing that, has it?
- Well, so you, in the book, obviously, it's a whole lot of detailing of a bunch of really significant problems, but you also do talk to some significant women leaders in tech, Marisa Mayor at the time who, and you talk a little bit about some of the challenges she faced and Sheryl Sandberg, you also meet with and talk with women engineers and young girls who are studying coding. What, in all of the sort of darkness here what are some of the bright spots that you see in the industry?
- Well, I, what was so amazing about talking to these women and especially the young women engineers in the kind of rank and file is that they love their job. They love the opportunity that they have to change the world, but many of them are just kind of exhausted and frustrated with this, like sort of having a prove themselves over and over again. I mean, I think they would find that no matter how many names they stacked on their resume, there was often this expectation that you're not good enough to be here, prove it to me. And that's kind of a tough fill to climb. However, you know, we are making progress but slowly. I just today interviewed the chief human resources officer at Twitter. And they, now that they've gone fully hybrid, which I know is a little more extreme than some companies they say it's enabled them to hire more diverse candidates. So just in the last couple of years, the representation of women has gone from 42% to 45%, black employees, 7% to 9%, Latino employees, 4% to 6% or 7%. I believe so you see it reflected in the numbers. Now, of course they have to focus on making sure they can build a strong culture in a more distributed way that doesn't further marginalize some of these people, because let's say women are more likely to take a remote role, but that means they might be less visible to others in the company. How do you make sure that you're not actually discriminating against the so called groups who are choosing to work in a hybrid environment. These are very complicated questions that all of these companies have to grapple with, but I do see hybrid work as a real opportunity. The other thing I'm so excited 'cause I got a new example today of a company that's really making change and it's working, they've really doubled down a on pay transparency and making sure that it's very clear across the workforce, what the ranges are and how you can, you know, how far you can go. What you can aspire to, but also making sure that it's all public information which is hard. You know, she said, this is hard from an HR perspective, but she, they say they have have 100% pay equity across gender and race, which is pretty incredible, but it's not only gathering the data, but making sure they're doing that year after year after year, because if you just do it once and just do one big audit and you think you're done a year later, those gaps are going to start to creep back. And so you just have to be very intentional. I'll use that word again. And year after year after year intentional, like the work doesn't stop when you do one pay review or you hire one woman to the C-suite or the, or bring a woman into the boardroom or not one and done, we have to keep going and be consistent and do this work over time or it's not going to make a substantive difference.
- Yeah, and those are, I mean, great examples of the actual real sort of gritty work that needs to get done. We have published our pay ranges both internally and externally and also do an annual equity review to which gets us at the end of every year, across gender and ethnicity to parity. Our aspiration actually is to go beyond the annual review and to actually build the models into our compensation system. So every quarter, when decisions are made, we're not making decisions that then have to get addressed at the end of the year, but we're actually maintaining 100% equity throughout. So, but it's real work. And so, and I definitely applaud anyone who's trying to do that work.
- Well, and also, I mean, I would applaud, like this is a bright spot talking to you is a bright spot. The fact that you care, the fact that you started reading more women authors, you know, there's so much good, healthy conversation that's happening around these issues. And we also, we just need to make sure it's being followed up with real action. Because I think the pandemic especially, there's a lot of concern that pandemic could set women back. You know, more women have chosen to leave their jobs or lost their jobs because of the pandemic, because they take on the responsibility, more caregiving responsibilities, whether it's for children or elderly parents. And we don't want to lose progress. It's hard enough as it is. And so just being conscious of that and making sure that this is still a top priority, even as we're just trying to reopen our offices and get our revenue back on track. It needs to be a top priority of, you know, obviously leadership, but I think it can also be a top priority for people across an organization. Making sure you're having these conversations and also giving your workforce the tools to make decisions that will have an impact.
- I wanted to ask a little bit about what you've seen, that if anything has changed since you published the book. So it's certainly not old, but four years in tech time, you know, could, can be like 20 or 30. You know, it, one thing that, when I was thinking about this question that, just popped into my mind was, you know, it is Women's History Month and then the Bane crypto fund launched on International Women's Day.
- Tweeting out their amazing new team of all men. One thing that I thought about that though, is, you know, okay, nothing has changed if that's happening, but at the same time they got destroyed for it, which maybe might not have happened four or five years ago. So is that change or what have you seen?
- Yeah, I think that's an example of how things can change. And, you know, I don't even want to use the words to their credit, but they did apologize. They took it down. Now, they're working harder to find more women. I'm sure they're not going to put another picture up of their website unless it has some more women on it. So hey, you know, I think good intentions are great, but also if there's a little bit of shame involved in some of the work being done here, that's okay too. We need actual numbers to change in order to make a real difference. It's not going to change if we're just all talking about it. And so obviously I think an example like that is disheartening. It like, looking at the numbers of, you know, 2% women, 2% of venture capital funding going to women, that's really depressing. Like what happened? It has not moved at all in the last four years. The people who put a positive spin on that say, well, the amount of venture capital has just ballooned. And so women are getting the same size, the, of a bigger pie. The same size piece of a bigger pie and I'm just like, oh, like, but that's not good enough. If you look at the numbers of women check writers, it's the percentage, there is slightly up. The percentage of women in engineering is slightly up. You could do have more transparency from companies publishing numbers, you know, doing these pay transparency reviews. And I think all of that is a good thing. I'm interviewing Serena Williams today about her launching a venture capital fund. But also, you know, I don't know if anyone saw the New York Times published a story on her venture capital fund and accidentally printed a picture of Venus instead of Serena and, you know, she's like, how can we change the world if even I am overlooked, you know, these biases even affect me the most famous athlete in the world. Maybe the greatest athlete of all time, they still get me mixed up with my sister. So like this bias still exists, still is pervasive. There are still barriers and we just cannot, we cannot sit back. We need to keep up the momentum. And I mentioned the pandemic because I think it was, you know, maybe we lost a little momentum because we're facing a global pandemic, but we have to keep up the pressure and the momentum and making sure that, you know, not just these conversations are happening, but that action is following up.
- Yeah, and thinking about your comment about the the small piece of a bigger pie, it's like trickle down is still a trickle, right? So it, that doesn't quite work well. So let me, as we're winding down here, time wise, let me ask a personal question, which is that. So I have two daughters, one of them works in tech and she started out actually working for, I just spent the last three and a half years working at a women, woman founded company. And she had a very different work environment certainly than she would've had she joined Trilogy in the 1990s. But with all of this, I know you have, I believe three boys and one daughter, how would you feel about your daughter going into tech?
- So look, I feel like tech needs talented women. We need your voices. We can't settle for the status quo. We can't let the barriers and systemic issues get in our way. So I would certainly support my daughter going into technology. And I'm glad your daughter is in the technology industry, but we need them to be coming into this industry with their eyes open and understanding kind of the barriers that they'll face and give them tools for how to deal with that. Hopefully your daughter can change the industry in time for my daughter to enter it. But like, look I also, I've talked to so many people who said, "I'm so glad you're doing this for our girls." I have daughters, I'm so glad you're doing this for them. Well, I have three sons and I want this for them. You know, I think their lives will be better in a more equal world. And like, I, you know, we need to talk to our sons about this. You know, it's as simple as reading, I don't know how many of you have read a children's book and like the gender rules are just totally traditional. And sometimes I'm like, I'm not reading this book anymore. Or, you know, who, that dads can be teachers and moms can go to work and girls can be superhero. See, you know, just making sure that you are taking those opportunities to remind your kids, tell your kids like this isn't the way that we want the world to be and you can change it too. Hopefully that we can change the world for the next generation and make it better for them. Because this is an industry that has so much power to do so much good, but also that can have negative consequences as we've seen the impact of technology. Isn't always good, but it is always powerful. So we need all voices to be represented.
- Yeah, that's a really important point about your boys that often, you know, there's a variety of different opposing voices that you hear in these discussions. And a lot of them center around this idea of it's a zero sum game, but generally the evidence is that, you know, increased accessibility is good for everyone. And my favorite example, we talk about this a lot of Indeed, is accessibility ramps outside of buildings, which certainly are very helpful or necessary for someone who's in a wheelchair, but someone who's pushing a stroller or someone who's carrying a big package or someone with a bad knee, like everyone wins when things become more accessible and more equitable and so I think that's one of the biggest delusions that needs to be smashed in all of this. So I'll ask the same last question that I always ask in these discussions, which is when you look back over the last couple of years with everything we've been through with the pandemic, and so much of it being incredibly challenging and difficult and sad. What if anything that you've been through in the last couple years has left you with any optimism?
- These conversations I get so energized, just hearing the work that you're doing, just the interview that I just did before, running in here with the Chief Human Resources Officer at Twitter, like people care, people are working on this. It's not going to have happen overnight, but I just hope that yours are the voices that went out. And I couldn't do this without obviously being a realistic person, but having a healthy dose of optimism. I recently interviewed a woman venture capitalist. And I asked the same question, how do you not let these numbers get you down? Like, how is this still happening? She said, "Well, I'm optimistic, AF." "I'm optimistic AF, "that we are moving in the right direction." Sometimes it'll be two steps forward and three steps back. Sometimes it'll be five steps forward and one step back. And we just have to keep the pressure on at every level of the organization.
- Well, thank you, Emily so much for joining me today. Thank you for your really powerful work and which has had a big impact on me. I know lots of other people who've read it and I'll just throw in a plug here. If you haven't read the book yet, please go out to your local independent book seller and pick up a copy of "Brotopia" it is phenomenal. And thank you again for everything and for joining me today.
- Thank you, Chris. It's an honor to be here. Thank you for reading the book and for helping me spread the message and for doing all the things that you're doing, it's really wonderful to hear.
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