Today's shitstorm over Twitter filing to IPO without a woman on the board, and the related articles about whether or not Silicon Valley is a sexist, racist place, and the accompanying Twitter frenzy, has me going /headdesk, /headdesk, /headdesk. You see, most of the folks involved in this bruhaha have it totally wrong because they cannot admit that they are totally wrong. I've heard their arguments: women have not yet come "of age" in the Valley yet. "There aren't enough qualified women." "Filling a board is hard." "It's nobody's business how Twitter puts together its board." "It's more than checking a box." Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. And the defenders come to Dick Costolo's side ("really, he's not a sexist asshat!" they cry), and soon, everybody wrings their hands, and who knows who's right anymore -- but here is what should have happened:
Dick Costolo should have immediately issued this statement:
After reflecting on the criticism that Twitter has failed to include women on its advisory board, we have decided to cop to what is actually a very serious oversight -- no, actually, a very serious mistake, and a disservice to furthering the advancement of women in technology. While we did pursue female candidates for our board [God, let's hope that's true!], we did not prioritize highly enough the importance of having women at the table. We could have tried harder. We should have tried harder. We have daughters, and we realize that it is important for our girls to see role models at the table if they are to one day aim for that seat. We realize that Twitter could have been a game-changer here. And just like our product has been used for revolution in Egypt, so, too, could our company, be revolutionary when it comes to promotion of women in positions of leadership in high-tech. Companies have a social responsibility to do good, and "good" is not being done when so few women are advancing to positions of power. There are historic, cultural, sociologic, economic, and many other factors related to this imbalance of power in corporate America. We know that there are "binders full" of capable women whom we could have tasked with a Twitter role. Maye they didn't raise their hands, but maybe we should have asked them to. Maybe we should have cultivated that talent from within since day one. But when a company is heads-down on developing a product that will change the world, sometimes it is too easy to have blinders on. Today, those blinders came off.
We can choose what to make of this moment, though, and we choose to use it to effect a significant change in our corporate culture. As of right now, I commit to you that within the next two years, Twitter's advisory board will include an equal number of men and women. We will challenge other companies in this space (hello, Facebook!) to do the same. We will continue to focus on existing initiatives within our company to recruit and to retain women, especially those working in traditionally male-dominated fields like software engineering. We know that we can do better. We want you to know that we will do better. We offer no excuses, just a sincere apology to the women who should already be seated at the table and to our daughters who should never question their ability to get there just because they don't see themselves reflected in our white, male faces. It is unquestionably time for a revolution, and Twitter has always been up for that.
For news on this initiative, follow us @ ...
Really, I could go on and on, but you get my drift. Research supports that gender parity improves the bottom line and much more. (I could find the citations, but others will as this shitstorm continues to unfold.)
It is time for a revolution here. There is no reason why Twitter could not have a board that is 50% women. Check out some of these contenders. I know some of these women and many more who are not on this list but who'd be great. Doesn't Dick Costolo?
C'mon, Twitter, be the change you wish to see in the world. I have always been a *huge* fan of Jack Dorsey in part because he once said that his product was about systemic change over generations, not about when it is going to IPO. I believed him when he said that. Now, let's see him make good on his word. Nah, let's demand it, for if women stopped using Twitter tomorrow, it wouldn't even be a thing.
Now *that* is something that should worry Twitter's backers very, very much.
***UPDATE: Looking for hard data on this subject matter? Read this.