Silicon Valley firm compiling list of investors who harass women
SAN FRANCISCO» Faced with a burgeoning sexual harassment crisis, leaders in Silicon Valley have come up with a very Silicon Valley solution: Use technology to create a blacklist.
One of the region’s most prominent firms recently emailed an online reporting form to 3,500 entrepreneurs, encouraging them to blow the whistle on sexual harassment by venture capitalists. Now it is also considering creating an app that could provide reviews of financiers, akin to Yelp or the workplace-review site Glassdoor.
“We don’t call it a blacklist, but that is essentially what is happening,” Kat Manalac, a partner at the influential start-up incubator Y Combinator, said of the blast e-mail. “There has always been a whisper network, where investors and entrepreneurs know which other investors are bad actors.” Two other groups are also launching tech start-ups to help victims share their experiences.
The efforts by Y Combinator and others are part of the industry’s urgent search for answers in the wake of sexual harassment scandals that have cemented Silicon Valley’s reputation as hostile to women.
Anonymous apps, blacklists and databases could backfire — on the makers of the apps, on people who felt unfairly accused or on women themselves — and exacerbate the problem of gender discrimination and harassment, said Debra Katz, a partner with Katz Marshall and Banks, a Washington, D.C.-based firm specializing in employment law.