Kleiner Perkins Lawsuit Gives Inside View of Clubby Venture Capital World
A gender discrimination suit filed by a female employee of Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers has exposed a system to view that allegedly boosted male positions and compensation while excluding the company's female employees, reports ABC News.
Ellen Pao, 42, an investment partner with the firm, filed a lawsuit on May 10 alleging the firm engaged in gender discrimination against her and other female employees. She said she faced retaliation when she complained of multiple instances of sexual harassment, which included being pressured by a junior partner to have a sexual relationship and being given a book that had "sexual drawings" and poems with "strong sexual content."
Kleiner Perkins, the esteemed venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, Calif., is seven miles away from the headquarters of Facebook, one of the many tech firms in which it has invested in its 40-year history. Google, Zynga and Groupon are among other beneficiaries of Kleiner Perkins' investments, which can range from $100,000 to $50 million.
In this elite world, women represented fewer than 10 percent of high-level venture capitalists, and left the industry at twice the rate as that of men, according to an estimate from the Kauffman Foundation in 2004.
Teresa Nelson, a professor at Simmons School of Management in Boston and faculty affiliate at the Center for Gender in Organizations, said she has no knowledge that the situation has changed.