Eric Wingerter

The Tech Sector Has Gone Awry: A Comprehensive Approach is the Only Option

By Freada Kapor Klein and Mitch Kapor

The events of 2017 in the tech ecosystem depict a sector gone deeply awry.  This is not just a case of a few bad actors.  This is not something that is fixable with a pledge or a new policy. This is a culture that has been allowed to fester and to rot by enablers who refused to intervene when they witnessed inexcusable behavior or went to great lengths to avoid seeing it.

Members of the Kapor Capital investment team. L-R: Brian Dixon, Jorge Davey-Mendez, Carolina Huaranca, Mandela Schumacher-Hodge, Anthony Heckman.

  • First and foremost, we want to thank those who’ve come forward. We recognize how difficult it is to speak out given the enormous power imbalances and how traumatic their individual experiences have been.
  • Second, we will be engaged as Limited Partners to make sure that the underrepresented founders, partners and employees of 500 Startups are able to go forward with their work.  
  • Third, for decades we have advocated for a comprehensive approach to diversity and inclusion; the larger tech ecosystem’s pattern of one-off initiatives has clearly failed, from pledges to unconscious bias training to whatever will be today’s recommendation.
  • Fourth, the tech ecosystem could pioneer safe, effective, confidential complaint mechanisms to surface issues early if it cared.  Otherwise, we’ll continue to see blogs, tweets, and leaks to journalists serve as the de facto channels.
  • Fifth, women, people of color and LGBTQ individuals have been leaving tech at higher rates because of a range of unfair behavior—from sexual harassment to bullying to racist stereotyping—at an unacceptable cost to individuals, companies and the sector as a whole.
  • Finally, it’s outrageous that it has taken this long. It would be shameful to not take this opportunity to create real and lasting change.