Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Ellen Pao is suing the venture capital firm for sexual harassment and discrimination that she says has occurred over a six year period at the firm.
Pao, who joined the firm in 2005, alleges that former Kleiner partner Ajit Nazre made sexual advances to her over the years and then worked to harm her career once she rebuffed him. She also alleges that KPCB engaged in systematic discrimination against women, such as, allowing female junior partners fewer board seats and investment sponsorships compared to male junior partners, and allocating women a smaller percentage of profits.
According to TechCrunch, which first reported the suit, Pao’s lawsuit alleges the following harassments and repercussions she has faced at the firm:
The above are just highlights and there are many more accusations against KPCB. Again TechCrunch has the full lawsuit included.
Meanwhile KPCB has issued the following statement by Christina Lee, a spokeswoman for Kleiner Perkins: “The firm regrets that the situation is being litigated publicly and had hoped the two parties could have reached resolution, particularly given Pao’s seven-year history with the firm. Following a thorough independent investigation of the facts, the firm believes the lawsuit is without merit and intends to vigorously defend the matter.”
This lawsuit could have major ramifications for both KPCB, as they are a blue-chip Silicon Valley venture capital firm, where reputations are key to relationships. At the same time, this lawsuit may have a negative effect on hiring qualified women into the world of venture capital, as it could discourage women from joining, or discourage men from bringing women onboard. Yet if the allegations are true, this could force not just KPCB to change its behavior, but the whole industry as well, where venture capital is a clubby, male-dominated world.
Pao is on the boards of Lehigh Technologies, Datameer and Flipboard. Before joining Kleiner, she worked at BEA Systems and Tellme Networks.
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