The tech industry is applauded for its innovation and admired for disrupting stagnant industries. After all, getting an Uber is much simpler than standing out in the London rain hoping for a taxi to pass by. However, recently a darker side has emerged – the dominance of bro-grammers, the identikit faces you see on most VC teams, the fact that only 9.7% of all partners at VC firms are women, and just 8.3% of VC-funded tech startups are led by them.
As the tech industry matures, it is experiencing growing pains, just like finance did before it. Diversity issues that plagued big banks are now coming to the younger and much less scrutinised private tech companies and tech investment funds. These issues have been addressed (if not rectified) in the older industries, but the battleground is still very green in tech. This is why I am so pleased that leading women’s advocate and Wall Street veteran Janet Hanson has joined Style Counsel as an advisor.
Janet founded 85 Broads after she left Goldman Sachs to keep in touch with her female colleagues. The network then grew and grew to encompass 30,000 professional women around the world and, now called Ellevate, is led by another Wall Street titan Sallie Krawcheck. I first met Janet when I was a London Chapter Officer for 85 Broads and she has been my professional role model for years.
Why is it so important for a young tech start up like Style Counsel to have this finance veteran guide us? Because Janet has shattered the externally imposed glass ceiling and has also dispelled the myths women hold about themselves. Janet was trailblazing this journey years before Sheryl Sandberg told us to Lean In, and is both an inspiration and a realist. Janet once said: “women have to learn how to become better negotiators for themselves, which is hard to do. So they need to see other women doing that successfully.”
Janet said that her legacy “will be proving to women that investing in each other is the only way to go”. As a female founder building a product for the female consumer, I can say first hand – the more supporters we have in the bro-grammer world of tech, the better.