A Few Thoughts Ahead of Our Discussion on Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is an extremely difficult topic to address. It is uncomfortable; sad; painful. It is not something people naturally want to discuss. Tomorrow, the NEVCA will convene a group to do just that: discuss this uncomfortable, sad, and painful reality.
Tuesday’s conversation is not a simple one. At the NEVCA, we’ve spent the past two weeks definitively confirming that fact, as feedback poured in from across the startup and venture community. Since we announced the event, we’ve had the opportunity to absorb countless perspectives, and we tried to learn something from each as we set about formatting an event the goal of which is to embark down a path toward change.
From all the conversations, two things came up that bear highlighting here — for the very fact that they are extremely difficult to reconcile: The imperative for male VCs to be active participants in the conversation vs. the troubling — and triggering — reality of the VC-Entrepreneur power dynamic.
In an effort to underscore the need for investors to participate, we elected to invite NEVCA member firms as “co-hosts.” This was a strategic decision on two counts: It provided firms an opportunity to step up publicly (regardless of past history with the topic), and it guaranteed that the conversation would include members of the group whose buy-in and participation is crucial to progress (to become a co-host, firms committed to sending at least one senior partner).
To anyone who was put off by this strategy we offer two things: Our sincere apology for adding to the hurt, and our steadfast commitment to becoming part of the solution as best we can.
Our goal in convening tomorrow’s group is multi-fold: We want to elevate the conversation from the realm of whispers and private lists into the public discourse; we want to educate members of our community, regarding both the depth and definitions of the issue; and we want to motivate people toward engaging with change.
But let’s be clear: This conversation alone will not fix anything. Our hope is that it can serve as a good place to start.