How Rutgers Encourages Startups to Combat Sexual Misconduct
As Silicon Valley startups continue their apocryphal rise, an avalanche of sexual misconduct allegations has emerged. Rutgers Business School recently discussed the issue, arguing that high-ranking figures in the industry should sign a “No Go, Bro” clause, putting pressure on investors and board members to actively combat any and all misconduct.
As more and more victims of sexual misconduct publicly speak out against their perpetrators, and the Cosby’s, O’Reilly’s, Ailes’, Weinstein’s, and Trump’s of the world are forced to shed the cloak of darkness, the pressure is on for other industries outside entertainment and politics to address toxic work environments that silently condone harassment.
This is especially true in Silicon Valley, where recent high-profile sexual misconduct cases like Social Finance CEO Mike Cagney, UploadVR’s Taylor Freeman, and the recent suit VC firm Benchmark filed against Uber’s Travis Kalanick suggest an end to investor passivity.
The article outlines specific ways that investors can use its decision-making process to affect change from the top. For starters, boards need to establish clear guidelines regarding workplace culture, behavior, and ethics. When abuses of power are built into the very fabric of a company, it becomes easy to normalize misconduct.
Investors need to incorporate contractual language to prevent touchy-feely CEOs from walking away unscathed from a situation in which they misbehave.
“Before making a big investment in a startup, investors should use their power to require CEOs to sign a clause under which they forfeit a large proportion, or potentially all, of their stock, if fired for misconduct, including reasons such as sexual harassment and misrepresentations to investors.”
Ultimately, consumers need to send a clear message to the investors and boards of the companies we patronize that they have to “have to get beyond old-boy and young-bro Silicon Valley psychology [and] exercise their leverage to deter value-destroying misconduct.”
You can check out the entire Rutgers Business School article here.