To be honest, I’d never heard of Dave McClure or his Silicon Valley mega-mentorship program 500 Startups. Until his blog post caught my eye. It was titled “I’m a Creep. I’m sorry.”
Basically, it’s McClure’s mea culpa in the wake of a spate of sexual harassment allegations against him. A day or so after his apology last weekend, he resigned from the firm he founded.
According to a June 30 New York Times story, the Silicon Valley is a hotbed of Men Behaving Badly. Women working in the high tech field have endured everything from suggestive texts to unwanted physical advances. Often they’ve come from men like McClure, in the highest echelons of power, the Times article said.
Apparently, this sort of thing has been happening there for years but bright, talented and otherwise confident women were afraid to speak out for fear of reprisal. Possibly even a death blow to their businesses or careers. But, deciding Enough Is Enough, several of them mustered their courage and found their voices in the Times article.
Women all over should be thanking them. I know I am.
Because contrary to the rosy picture some try to paint, sexual harassment is still alive and well — not to mention very ugly — in 2017.
It was almost exactly a year ago that we got a clue to Just How Bad Things Really Are when Gretchen Carlson, former “Fox & Friends” anchor filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox bigwig Roger Ailes. A half dozen other women quickly came forward to claim that Ailes had similarly harassed them.
While Ailes (who died in May) denied the allegations, within weeks he was forced out, left to subsist on a reported $40 million payout.
Since then, Fox has seen other departures, among them Bill O’Reilly. And this past week, the head of Fox Sports programming was fired in a sexual harassment probe and a business host was suspended. All have denied that they acted improperly.
But despite those who have fallen after women have spoken out, there are others who remain unscathed. And unrepentant.
Some of them have even admitted outright to what amounts to actual sexual assault. Think “Access Hollywood" video.
While it is wrong, dead wrong, for any man to sexually harass a woman, it’s especially odious when the harassment comes from Men In Power.
I don’t care how successful they are or how much money they have. Nothing gives these men the right to say and do whatever they want to women. Especially women they employ.
Thing is, if, in your personal life, you run into a jerk who’s a pig, you can walk away. But when your financial or professional future or both is inextricably linked to Pigs in Power, it’s not so easy.
Truth is, it’s not easy at all. It’s scary and gut-wrenching. And too often, paralyzing.
Whether you're in the Silicon Valley or on SouthCoast.