Last Friday, interim Reddit CEO Ellen Pao and 500 Startups founder Dave McClure were featured panelists at the PreMoney conference for venture capitalists to talk about diversity.
The irony is that the room was packed with mostly white males from various tech companies. This is to be expected when there is a need to discuss diversity in the first place.
Pao revealed some alarming figures about her own company. Currently, Reddit is made up of only 14 percent women engineers.
McClure asked Pao, “How many African-American or Black people work at Reddit? [And] How many Hispanic American or Hispanic people work at Reddit?”
Pao answered uncomfortably, saying that the company does not ask people to self-identify.
McClure continues and asks, “How do you know if this is a stat or a KPI (key performance indicator) that I should be considering? Am I more racist for asking people or for not asking people?”
Pao then responds. “I don’t know. When I look around I want to see diversity on the team.”
“I’m pretty sure there are no Black people in Silicon Valley,” McClure adds.
The whole exchange was uncomfortable for the mostly white audience and the two CEOs. This is proof that even if the tech industry wants to incorporate more diversity, how do they, how can they speak about it, and how will they keep track of their attempts at diversifying if they don’t ask people to self-identify?
“We haven’t counted. We have one African-American engineer. We just hired a general counsel, Melissa Tidwell, who is an African-American woman. I think we have three other African-American people working,” Pao said.
Pao and McClure may be part of the problem by making sure they don’t hurt anyone. The two didn’t address the issue in a bold and straightforward way. Pao has dealt with sexism in the industry firsthand, so she knows the reality of the lack of women in tech.
This panel is proof that Silicon Valley has a long way to go.
Source: CNN Money/YouTube