Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Three USA Gymnastics board members are out, the Notorious RBG says #MeToo, and Melinda Gates is investing big in diversity. Have a fabulous Tuesday.
• Melinda’s money. We’ve all seen the stats: Women get less than 3% of venture capital dollars—while women of color get a measly 0.2%. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Consider Aspect Ventures, the VC firm founded by Theresia Gouw and Jennifer Fonstad: About 40% of the firm’s companies were founded by women, and 30% were started by minorities. And while some might be tempted to write Aspect off as a small ball, fringe player on the Valley scene, my colleague Michal Lev-Ram has some news that might change their minds: The firm just announced its second fund, a $181 million round that includes limited partners Melinda Gates and Cisco Systems.
It’s no accident that these LPs—a.k.a the investors in the investors—chose to put their money behind a diverse fund that invests in diverse startups. “In many ways, the venture and startup ecosystem is still a boys’ club—one that all too often excludes, disadvantages, and mistreats talented women who want to contribute to it,” Gates says. “The data tells us that’s harmful to society and bad for business.”
Indeed, Michal finds that it’s not just Gates and Cisco who are concerned with the repercussions of sinking their cash into firms that are still in the thrall of the mostly male, mostly white founders who have long been the toast of Silicon Valley.
So, why are investors suddenly starting to heed the calls for diversity, after many ignored them for so long? The answer appears to come down—as it so often does—to cold, hard cash: Companies with greater diversity have better business results and lower rates of sexual harassment. And at a time when, as one VC puts it, an act of “unacceptable behavior” can “blow up” a whole firm, there’s serious money on the line.
To read the rest of Michal’s feature (which I had the pleasure of editing!), click here:
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• The Spacey effect. And speaking of sexual harassment costing someone money: Netflix has disclosed that it took a $39 million write-down for “unreleased content,” most of which reportedly stemmed from Kevin Spacey projects.
• Three down. Paul Parilla, chairman of the board of USA Gymnastics, as well as board members Jay Binder and Bitsy Kelley have resigned. The move comes amid intense pressure over the sexual abuse scandal around longtime Team USA doctor Larry Nassar.
New York Times
• RBG says #MeToo. Speaking at the Sundance Film Festival, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg praised the #MeToo movement and opened up about her own experience with sexual harassment (something she says many women of her “vintage” encountered). In just one of “many examples,” she recounted the story of a professor who offered to give her a copy of an upcoming exam; Ginsburg—who declined—says she “knew exactly what he wanted in return.”
• Wonderful news. Wonder Woman 2 will be the first film production to follow a new set of guidelines from the Producers Guild of America. The procedures, which apply to producers, cast, and crew, are intended to help combat sexual harassment in Hollywood.
• Take ’em to school. While they all have more work to do, some business schools fare better than others when it comes to enrolling women. This FT story digs into what the most successful schools are doing to narrow the gap—and rounds up the biggest full-time scholarships dedicated to female students.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• New blood. Remember Thinx, the period underwear company founded by Miki Agrawal? After a series of allegations ranging from substandard employment policies to inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment, Agrawal stepped down as CEO—and now is no longer involved with the company, according to new chief, Maria Molland Selby. Racked has a look at how the startup is approaching its post-Agrawal future.
• Marching en masse. How many people attended the Women’s Marches over the weekend? While it seems that the turnout didn’t quite match the more than 3 million people who came out last year, cities like L.A. (about 500,000), Chicago (300,000), and New York (200,000) all posted impressive numbers.
• Chasing Amy. Chasing Hillary, a forthcoming book from Amy Chozick (expected to publish this April), will chronicle the two decades the political reporter spent covering Hillary Clinton. The advanced buzz for the book promises “juicy insider details as only a reporter with her kind of intimate, sustained access could gather.”