Last Sunday was International Women’s Day. A day to celebrate how far we have come, reflect on how far we have to go, and commit to taking steps to get there. Last week, I had an experience that revealed all of those things.
I received an unsolicited email from a guy who works for one of the nation’s top private equity firms letting me know that they had identified my company, were impressed by what we have accomplished, and asking if we’d be interested in exploring ways that perhaps they could be helpful — which is private equity speak for a possible investment. Now, we are not looking for outside money, but, as I told Andre, we are always “open to the dialogue.”
“Great,” he replied, “I’m going to connect you with my colleague George, whom I’ve copied on this email, to schedule a call.”
George is the more senior guy on the team who, I assume not realizing he hit “reply all” and mistakenly copied me on his email, replied, “Not for us. Looks like a weekly email newsletter written by moms.”
I suppose it shouldn’t have surprised me. As a female CEO of a tech-based media company, this is not the first time I’ve been confronted by this kind of thinking. And according to “The State of the Gender Gap,” report by PayScale, in 2019 women continued to earn more than 20% less than men. The wage gap is closing, but oh so slowly.
And the investor world is evolving even more slowly. According to Tech Crunch, less than 3% of venture capital went to women-led teams in 2019 and that percentage rises to merely 11.5% if you include founding teams composed of both men and women.
I took a deep breath and responded to George. My company, I explained, is a multi-million dollar media company that works with pretty much every one the nation’s A-list advertisers. And yup, our content is mostly “written by moms.”
Here’s perhaps the worst part. He didn’t even give me the courtesy of a reply. These guys approached me. Unsolicited. Then dismissed us out-of-hand because we are a company fueled by moms.
Do you know what I think?
I think that if our company had been owned, operated, and fueled by men who happened to be dads, George would have scheduled the call.
I think that, if I had been a man, he would have at least given me the courtesy of a reply. Shame on you, George.
Oh and here’s not-a-surprise, based on the company’s website, they don’t have a single woman partner and only two women among their senior management team of 27.
The battle for economic equality is far from won. Yes, we’ve made progress. But wow, we still have a long way to go. As long as we still have Andres and Georges controlling the purse strings, we still need International Women’s Day, we still need to raise our voices and we still need to fight for our place at the table.