Dec. 3, 2019

All Nerds Not Welcome: Why Tech’s Diversity Problem Matters

All Nerds Not Welcome: Why Tech’s Diversity Problem Matters

A few weeks back, Apple came under fire for allegedly deploying biased algorithms to determine credit limits for its Apple Card. Some women were given lower spending limits than male counterparts (counterparts who made less money or even had worse credit).

A few weeks back, Apple came under fire for allegedly deploying biased algorithms to determine credit limits for its Apple Card. Some women were given lower spending limits than male counterparts (counterparts who made less money or even had worse credit).

 

We don’t have to be the ones to tell you that’s a problem, but...that’s a problem. There is a gender gap in tech, and that gender gap leads to worse products for everyone. So...

 

This week on Morning Brew’s weekly podcast Business Casual, we pick apart how that gender gap came to be, how it’s affecting the bottom line, and why the whole of society should care. To explain it all, Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code.

 

Boiling it down: You’ve read the stories of gender bias, sexual harassment, and more at companies like Google, Uber, etc. And those stories tend to sink stock prices. So even if you’re not a woman, your Robinhood account could suffer if tech companies don’t get their diversity initiatives in check.


Transcript

Note: Business Casual transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and human transcription. They may contain errors, although we do our best to avoid them. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting a transcript in print. Questions? Errors found in a transcript? Email businesscasual@morningbrew.com 



[00:00:01] [sound of coffee being poured]

 

[00:00:04] [intro music plays]

 

Kinsey Grant, Morning Brew business editor and podcast host [00:00:05] Hey, everybody, and welcome to Business Casual, the weekly podcast from Morning Brew that's honestly, had it up to about here. I'm Kinsey Grant, your host and Morning Brew business editor. 

 

Kinsey [00:00:15] Let's get into it! [sound of a ding] So I'm not sure if you watch Silicon Valley or if you've ever noticed there's not a show called Ms. Robot. But here's the long story short. There is a gender gap in tech, and that gender gap is keeping tech, a sector known for innovation and forward thinking, from achieving as much as it possibly can. Simply put, when women aren't represented in the tech world, your tech, whether you're a woman or not, gets worse. I want to know how we can think about this gender gap in tech. How bad is it? How is it affecting the whole of society and the whole of business? And what can we do. So today, to talk about just that, the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani, thank you so much for joining me. 

 

Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code [00:00:58] Thanks for having me. 

 

Kinsey [00:00:59] I'm really excited to talk to you. You have had an incredible career so far, even the past couple of years [Reshma laughs] for Girls Who Code has been just breakneck growth. And we were just talking before about how much your team is growing. And it's been an incredible ride for you. 

 

Reshma [00:01:12] Yeah, it's been, it's been wild. When I started Girls Who Code in 2012 and I—people, like coding, is that flat lining a medical term? [Kinsey laughs] And now, at least people know what it is. And we have 10,000 Girls Who Code clubs across the country. We've taught 185,000 girls. We have 30,000 alumni that are majoring in computer science on college campuses right now. So it's happening. 

 

Kinsey [00:01:34] It really is happening in the lives of real-life people, which is incredible. And the main premise, right, is to close the gender gap in tech and to do that, you guys are trying to make sure that girls and young women are capable of these technical skills. 

 

Reshma [00:01:48] Yeah, absolutely. And, essentially, we're living in a world where technology is changing everything about the way that we live and work. And we're also living in a world where we're more and more reliant on women to be breadwinners, like almost 43% of America's breadwinners are women. But when you look at the industry that has the highest amount of growth, where you can make a lot of money, that you can march up into the middle class—we're not seeing the same numbers of women that we want to see. And it wasn't always that way. In the 1980s, almost 40% of young people in college campuses that were majoring computer science were women. And now that number is less than 20. So we need to change that. 

 

Kinsey [00:02:27] Why do you think that number has gotten so much smaller? 

 

Reshma [00:02:30] Ah. Well, I think that culture has played a huge role. So, when you think about, we have Barbie dolls that say, “I hate math. Let's go shopping instead.” You can walk down the street and buy a T-shirt that says, “I'm allergic to algebra” at Forever 21. We have movies like “Mean Girls,” which I love, but you'll have that scene where she gets an A on her math test and she crosses it out for a D just to get the affections of a boy. And so when you ask little girls across the country, what does a computer scientist look like? They'll say, “It's a dude. He's wearing a hoodie. He's sitting in a basement somewhere. He's drinking a Red Bull.” Right? “And he's staring at the screen.” And little girls look at that image, whether it's on television or in a magazine or in a movie, and they say, not only do I not want to be him. I don't even wanna be friends with him. So we have literally turned girls off. And so that matters, right? 

 

Kinsey [00:03:22] So why do you think that this idea of, like you mentioned, the coder we picture in our mind, has six monitors sitting in the dark [Rashma laughs] and sleeps all day and codes all night. How do you think that the media has kind of perpetuated that idea of this isn't a young woman or a girl who's making these big changes in tech? This is a specific kind of person who most people might not be interested in, even, like you said, being friends with. 

 

Rashma [00:03:46] I don't know if I was a conspiracy theorist. I would tell you that it's intentional. Because you can really pinpoint when it started happening and it was really the 1980s. It's when the personal computer came out, it was targeted as a toy for boys. So when you read Steve Jobs biography or a Mark Zuckerberg, like a computer was a really powerful moment in their lives as children that, like, was a part of their journey to be innovators. And girls similarly didn't have that experience. And I think the things that you saw in media just re-emphasize the things that were happening to them at home. I've spent the past year on a book tour really talking about this idea about bravery and perfection. 

 

Rashma [00:04:25] So, even if you sit at a moment on a playground, you'll see that we tell our girls to be quiet. Don't get your dress dirty. Say your pleases and thank you's. But we tell our boys to climb to the top of the monkey bars and just jump. And we tell them to get dirty and to tinker and to take things apart and to build and to create. And we don't have that same—we don't tell our girls to do the same things. And part of being a programmer, part of being a creator, is to tinker and take things apart, is to fail and to iterate, is to get that annoying semicolon's in the wrong place. You got to do it over and over and over again, you have to be imperfect. 

 

Kinsey [00:05:06] And I've heard you talk about this before, that this idea of female coders and programmers are less likely to show the process of here's what I built. But here's how I got there. And I had to fail to get here. That we're so obsessed with showing that perfect final product, that we don't even want to try anymore if we can't get it perfectly on that first try. 

 

Reshma [00:05:24] Totally. And I think for so long we thought that that was biological. Right? We thought that the way girls’ and boys’ brains were wired. There's this article that just came out a week ago that basically showed that that was not the case. It is really about socialization. I don't if you've ever experienced this, Kinsey, but even when you're sitting in a room, and there's something that—you want to ask a question and you almost are like, I don't want to sound dumb. I'm not going to raise my hand. Whereas you watch men just very, like throw their hands up in the air and just ask. And they're not worried about what they look like or what they sound like or whether they're going to be judged. 

 

Kinsey [00:05:58] Right. You bring up an interesting point that there has been this history of an argument of these physiological difference between men and women. And we had the very famous case at Google with the James Damore memo heard round the world, that he argued that men are physiologically hardwired to be better at jobs at Google than women are, and that Google trying to right the ship and hire more women was actually hurting Google's product lineup. What's your take on that? 

 

Reshma [00:06:27] It makes me so mad. So it's just—it's simply not true. There is no biological evidence that shows that. But I think it's the way a lot of people think. I remember when I started Girls Who Code. I had a meeting with a very prominent venture capitalist. And he literally said to me, Girls Who Code, that won't work because girls brains are just wired differently. Like literally pulled out a piece of paper and drew the bell curve [Kinsey laughs] and went into this large analysis of just why that can't happen. And this is a seemingly progressive, well-known person that people know in New York tech. So I think that this is what many young women and women in tech are up against. 

 

Reshma [00:07:11] The sentiment that you're only here because of a quota, because of [indistinct], because of the fact that these companies want to seemingly seem like they're diverse. You're not here based upon your merit. 

 

Kinsey [00:07:23] So this idea of culture in tech is something that, especially in the last five, maybe fewer years, we've really kind of brought to task not only because of MeToo and that entire movement, but because culture is a problem in tech in a lot of places. You see somewhere like Uber had every possibility in the world open up to them until there was one bad headline. And now every headline about Uber is, well it's got a culture problem, well they had a leadership problem, well we need to hire different kinds of people. And that has been pervasive throughout the tech industry and throughout Silicon Valley. How do you think that the culture of affirmative action, you're not here based on your merit, is it changing at all in tech or is this culture just going to kind of stick for as long as we let it? 

 

Reshma [00:08:10] Look, I think the thing is, is that tech was unique because I think when tech started getting prominent in Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat, a lot of what we thought that these companies were different. Right. We thought that they wanted to change the world, make the world better. We really thought that—I literally thought—that all nerds were welcome, that when they said that they simply couldn't hire women because we couldn't find them, I believed them. And I said, I'm just going to teach a bunch of them. Now, seven, eight years later, when you see that the numbers of diversity haven't changed, not just in their technical industry, but in marketing, in sales, in places where we know that there are plenty of women and people of color. 

 

Reshma [00:08:49] You have to start asking is there a deeper, bigger problem? And when you see the stories coming out of not just Uber, but Google and Facebook and so many other companies that we thought were different, we're starting to realize, well, you know what, all nerds are not welcome. And I think the problem with tech is there's just a lack of responsibility and acknowledgement that something is actually not working and broken. They really have this kind of libertarian thing where that's the biggest problem. Right? You can't, Bill Gates always used to say, right, you cannot change what you can't—you cannot fix what you cannot measure. It's kind of the same thing, right. If you can't acknowledge that there's a problem, it's really hard to fix it.

 

Kinsey [00:09:40] But we have to meet it. I get frustrated because we have measured. These diversity reports have come out since as early as 2014, we've been getting these diversity reports from tech companies every year. Google is 68.4% male. Microsoft 72.4% male and 80% male leadership. Apple 67% male. I have a friend who just moved from San Jose and they call it San Brose. 

 

Reshma [00:09:59] Yeah. [laughs]

 

Kinsey [00:10:01] These things aren't changing and those numbers have been at or near 70% for many years. Why has it taken so long for us to make these changes? 

 

Reshma [00:10:11] Because people don't give up power. We just did this article. Wired did a whole story that 50% of our alumni were either had a negative experience or knew someone who had a negative experience. So, when you're a woman or you're a person of color and you're going in, you have a 4.0 from M.I.T. or Carnegie Mellon or Harvard and you go in and people don't see you still, and they still question your talent, or there's a microaggression made in an interview and you simply don't get the job, you have to ask yourself why. And that is not a singular occurrence. That is a common occurrence. One of the things that I've been studying and going deep into is, a lot of people will say, if I'm in a green room with a CEO, he will say, we really want to hire women and people of color. We simply cannot find them. 

 

Reshma [00:10:53] And I call bullshit on that, because when I look at the—computer science degrees are exploding at every single one of these college campuses. So in 2012, when we started Girls Who Code, maybe 19%, 20% of CS degrees were given to women. Now that number is between 36 and 40%. It's changed. So when you look at tech companies like the ones that you mentioned, if their technology workforce does not—does not basically look like the graduating classes of computer science majors at the top schools that they graduate from, then, hey, it's not a talent problem. It's a you problem. 

 

Kinsey [00:11:29] So this brings up the conversation of the pipeline problem. And we talked about this earlier this year. We had Sallie Krawcheck on the show from Ellevest, and she said this isn't a pipeline problem. The talent exists. And like you said, the graduates are there. Is there a way to change people's minds and kind of get them away from this idea of, well, I'd hire them if they existed, because they do exist. 

 

Reshma [00:11:50] Yeah, I think we have to educate people. We have to really put pressure on companies everywhere to basically say, look, the numbers are changing. Your processes need to change. So I tell CEOs, I want you to ask how many women applied? How many people of color applied? How many of them got interviewed? How many of them got offers and then how many them lasted more than three years? I want you to literally track those numbers. The second point is, we have to understand that—I think tech companies make up less than 2% of GDP. It's not all about Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. Listen, there are a whole host of companies out there that have really mature HR departments, that you have a really good experience working there, and that they want to actually encourage upward mobility for women and people of color. I'm sending my girls there. 

 

Kinsey [00:12:36] OK. So it's not just the sexy thing. 

 

Reshma [00:12:39] Hey, no, no. I tell my friends in tech all the time, literally these young millennials and Gen Xers, they're going to move with their feet. And if you have really crappy cultures, if you have cultures that are not going to embrace and support talented people, they're not going to work for you, and you're not going to create the best products, period. 

 

Kinsey [00:13:01] So I want to talk more about creating the best products in just a second. But first, let's take a moment to hear from our sponsor. —

 

Kinsey [00:13:09] And now back to the conversation on diversity in tech with Reshma Saujani. All right. So we, in the past couple of weeks, have gotten this sort of flurry of headlines about this one specific tech product [laughter] that may or may not be built in a biased way. So this is the Apple card, which we have written up about a lot in Morning Brew. It's been a really hyped-up product that people have been excited to see and excited to get their hands on. And then we got these headlines. It started as a tweet storm from one very well-known Ruby on Rails developer who said, “I applied for the Apple card. My wife also applied for the Apple card. She has better credit than I do. And we file our taxes jointly. But I got a higher credit limit than she did.” Is Apple sexist in approving people for these cards? What do you think? 

 

Reshma [00:13:58] Well, given the amount of women that replied and said, me too, [indistinct talk by both Kinsey and Reshma] 

 

Kinsey [00:14:05] That  a name you don't take lightly in tech. 

 

Reshma [00:14:07] Clearly, their algorithm was biased in the way that they were giving out these cards. And what frustrates me, Kinsey, is that it always takes a human pointing out a flaw in the technology for them to acknowledge that there needs to be a change. When you see examples like this all the time, and if you don't improve diversity amongst programmers, this is going to happen over and over and over again because nobody was thinking to check whether there was going to be disparity in who was getting a card or what their credit scores were and whether there was gender bias in that. And this isn't the only example of it. There's plenty of examples. And they're going to increase, I think. 

 

Kinsey [00:14:47] I know one that you've brought up before is that your AirPods were [indistinct] because you can't use your AirPods, or you can, but it's uncomfortable to use AirPods and wear hoop earrings, which we are both wearing now. [laughs] And it's not comfy.

 

Reshma [00:15:02] Yeah. And you put them on and you hear this clink, clink, clink. [indistinct chatter by Kinsey and Reshma] 

 

Reshma [00:15:08] Yeah. Here's the thing. Nobody who wore hoops was in that develop—was in that team, that engineering team that was developing AirPods and could have thought that this technology could not be used when you were wearing hoops. And I always say that's an annoying example, but one that's not annoying, and that's really powerful is, Alexa and Google Home are—one use of that is by perpetrators of domestic violence that use it to turn the music up real loud or lock women out. And because people who are sitting on that team probably had not experienced domestic violence before, they could never have thought that their technology could be used that way. I find this as a brown woman, when I am in the airport and I want to wash my hands after I go to the bathroom and the water won't turn on. And I literally have to turn to a white woman next to me and say, can you put your hands there? 

 

Kinsey [00:16:04] Wow, I did not know. I'm a white woman and I feel like that — 

 

Reshma [00:16:06] So many of women of color and people of color, quite frankly, experience that. And you see the implications of a—on my team. Tanya, who runs our communications, was sending an email out to somebody else on her team saying, did this editor get back to us about a story, and it autocorrected, No, he didn't. 

 

Kinsey [00:16:31] Oh, gosh.

 

Reshma [00:16:32] So since we know some folks at Google, we sent out an email saying, hey, this happened. And they realized that they had gender pronouns essentially into autocorrect and that they took them all out. But it is only because we made that call. 

 

Kinsey [00:16:49] Right. You have to be willing to allow — 

 

Reshma [00:16:53] You have to point out the discrimination in order for this to change And so, the problem is, so many of these data sets have already been created and they're already biased. And so, so much of this is already happened. And so I just—I see it's an enormous, enormous problem to fix. 

 

Kinsey [00:17:08] Can you explain to me a little bit more about how these specific AI systems are biased? How does that happen? We hear about it. We read about it. But what is the exact process that create these biases? 

 

Reshma [00:17:20] If you think about the—I think if you think about the example about the editor, they probably just had Facebooks and Facebooks of editors who are, pretty much, men. And so the algorithm said, if you're talking about an editor and you want to put a he or she, more than likely it's gonna be a he. You basically have to take out the gender bias that exists in data sets for some of this to actually change, and then you, quite frankly, need diverse humans who are in the room who are creating this products to say, you know what? Maybe this could be used in this way. Uber’s a great example of that. They didn't have a reporting system for sexual harassment until after you had [laughs] thousands of incidences. When if you had women in the room, they probably could have told you, hey, this is going to happen because this has happened to me when I've taken a taxi or I've taken another ride service app. 

 

Reshma [00:18:10] So it's just about—it's the point of diversity is not for the sake of it, but you're going to have people in the room who have a multitude of experiences in the world, who are going to open up your eyes to things that could happen. 

 

Kinsey [00:18:26] OK. I want to learn more about why, specifically, this Girls Who Code is what you created. Why is the gender gap—the one that you feel you really latched onto, when we know that there are so many apps, there are age gaps. I was gender the one that you felt most compelled to take on? 

 

Reshma [00:18:44] My parents came here as refugees. I've had a job since I was 13 years old. And I wasn't a coder. I wasn't a computer scientist. So I wasn't—this wasn't something I experienced in my field. But in 2012, I was running for office. And I remember going into computer science classrooms and robotics labs and just seeing rows and rows and rows of boys and not a girl in sight, and not a person of color in sight. And so when I lost and I said to myself, of all the things that I could do to make an impact in the world, what is it? I kept thinking about coding and coding jobs. And because I knew that if you were a software programmer and you came out of college, you can make $120,000 a year. In my family, that's a lot of money. 

 

Kinsey [00:19:29] That is a lot of money.

 

Reshma [00:19:30] That’s a lot of money, and that's a lot of changing your family's circumstance. So I created Girls Who Code to really solve the poverty problem and just solve the middle class problem. And for me, it was about girls and it was about girls of color. Since we started in 2012, half the girls we teach are under the poverty line. Half the girls we teach are black and Latina. We live in New York City. One of the most segregated, the most segregated school system in the country. And when we put our classrooms together, you have black girls come together with white girls and Indian girls. Girls who wear hijabs, girls who are trans, people that are coming from all walks of life that have literally never met each other before, that are forming sisterhood. 

 

Reshma [00:20:13] And when you look at just also girls, if you look at Greta and you look at Emma González and you look at some of the leaders in the Black Lives movement, if you look at my DACA leaders. These are—kids are healing our country, whether it's climate change, whether it's DACA, whether it's about gun reforms, whether it's about mass incarceration, it's kids, and it's a lot of young women. And so I think that if I can help teach and help the next generation of young women elevate their leadership, we will do a lot of healing in this nation. 

 

Kinsey [00:20:52] And we'd like to talk more about the friction and making that healing happen shortly, but real quick, a word from our sponsor. —

 

Kinsey [00:21:01] And now back to the conversation on diversity in tech with Reshma Saujani. So we were just talking about how this idea of Girls Who Code, and this idea of getting more women in tech and reducing the gender gap, could theoretically solve even bigger problems than this small part of the economy and part of the country. This sounds like an easy pitch. Why do you think there has been friction in getting people to latch onto this? Why—we talk about how it's taking a long time and we need to just educate people and then hold their feet to the fire. But, it's more than just companies. Why do you think this is taking so long to get just people, not even people in tech, just people, to latch on to this movement? 

 

Reshma [00:21:43] Well, because I think that it's—we don't like strong women. We don't. We live in a culture where, when you think about the leadership numbers, whether it's in Congress or Silicon Valley or Fortune 500 companies, nothing really changes all that much. 

 

Kinsey [00:21:57] Even in 2019. 

 

Reshma [00:21:58] Even in 2019.

 

Kinsey [00:21:59] And we have so many women running for president. 

 

Reshma [00:22:01] So listen, this is the place where I think that it has changed. And I think a lot of that change happened because women woke up and they said, you know what? That guy can get into office? So can I. And they basically turned off all the noise in their own head and in society and said, I'm going to go for it. And so part of what I think I'm trying to do with a bravery movement is to do the same thing. So, if you think about technology as a microcosm for any industry, whether it's finance, whether it's law, whether it's medicine, it's hard being the only one. 

 

Reshma [00:22:31] It's hard being in a culture where there's microaggressions being made every single day. It's hard being in a culture where somebody is telling—talking to you about the way you look rather than your work product. And so the only way that that changes is mass infiltration—having so many people run through the door that companies start to look differently. And that's what we're trying to do in tech. 

 

Kinsey [00:22:56] OK. What about men? We have kind of approached this subject matter as obviously as two women who have experience being a woman in the world. But, what about the men who are listening, who want to either do better or be better or want to solve this problem? What can they be doing and who's doing it right? 

 

Reshma [00:23:15] Yeah. Listen, I've been talking a lot about what bravery means for men. And I think that, look, 40% of Girls Who Code teachers are men. And I think that we are living in a moment of a lot of woke men. But I often think that sometimes they don't know exactly what to do to be a male ally. So here are my thoughts. 

 

Reshma [00:23:35] One. Be quiet. Be quiet. Men speak 80% more than women in meetings. And we can't get a word in. We can't be brave if we can't get a word in. And so take a second. So when you're in a meeting and it's time to ask questions, instead of throwing your hand up in the air right away, just be silent. Let the women in the room have a chance to process their thoughts and raise their hand and contribute. Because when we don't, what happens is the men take the space in the room. We walk away feeling bad about ourselves. And then the other folks, men and women, think that we have nothing to say when that's not the case.

 

Reshma [00:24:13] The second thing is, is that I have a lot of men who like after-work drinks. They're sitting there. The boss says something that's inappropriate. They think it's inappropriate too. They go home to their partner, their spouse, their friend, and say, gosh, I cannot believe this guy said this, but they don’t say something either. And we are expected as women to basically be the one that are constantly confronting microaggressions or straight-up aggressions. I want the men in the room to get a little bit braver and speak up and say something. And to recognize that we have it way harder than them. 

 

Kinsey [00:24:45] What if they are concerned that that's going to put their own career path at risk? 

 

Reshma [00:24:48] It might.

 

Kinsey [00:24:50] Because there is—there has been example upon example of retribution. 

 

Reshma [00:24:54] Oh, my God.

 

Kinsey [00:24:55] After people speak up and we like to think that you speak up and it's anonymous and no one will know about it. But that's not reality.

 

Reshma [00:25:03] No. Did you read “Catch and Kill”? It was amazing, because it was such an example, I think, of that, about how many men are bystanders in this and have a lot to lose too, and don't say anything. But that can't happen anymore. And you see happening across the country, like bystander training. And I think companies should recently do that. And we should make a proactive effort to teach men how to stand up and how to say something and start fighting against this very bro-ey culture where people—you're a dude—if you basically go along to get along. Which thirdly means we ought to raise our boys differently. 

 

Kinsey [00:25:40] So you talk about building this army of girls that you have behind you. What's that experience been like in leading a nonprofit? Is it difficult to send people into tech from this side of the country [laughs], on this side of the business? And what's your experience been like? 

 

Reshma [00:25:55] It's been hard. I struggle with this. I feel, wow, I taught all these girls—am I sending them into the lion's den. And it's also very hard because I know that at times, tech has been a partner. We wouldn't have been able to build Girls Who Code if we'd not get the support from a lot of these companies that we're actually trying to push to be better. And so we're sitting in this very fine line. But I feel like for me, whether it's the White House or whether it's Google, we have to continue to push people to be better. And I need to show up as the CEO and be authentic. 

 

Kinsey [00:26:35] Are there any companies that come to mind that you think are doing this well who are not blaming it on a pipeline problem and actually just making it happen? 

 

Reshma [00:26:43] I am really impressed with—I think that there are traditional companies that are thinking about this and doing things well. I think a lot of our friends in the consulting field, whether it's an Accenture or McKinsey, I think companies that have been around for a long time, like an AT&T, quite frankly, they have mature HR departments. And I think that they're willing to kind of say, I'm not perfect; how can I be better? But I also think that this new generation of startups—I can't tell you how many male founders I have who call me and say, I'm starting a company. What can I do from the get-go to make sure that I'm doing this right? 

 

Reshma [00:27:23] And so I hope all the people that are listening out there that are starting companies or are just part of companies—if you set your structure up, your culture up from the beginning right. And if you're thoughtful about this, if you have female co-founders, if you have a strong e-team, that is diverse. That looks like the customer base that you're trying to actually attract. It's going to be easier for you. 

 

Reshma [00:27:44] I look at some these companies that started really bro-ey and I have to ask myself, is it possible for them to actually change? 

 

Kinsey [00:27:52] Is it? 

 

Reshma [00:27:53] I don't know. I don't know. 

 

Kinsey [00:27:56] Do you think you would ever see an S-1 or some sort of prospectus that has one of the risks is, we don't have a diverse enough workforce not to hurt our returns. Is that a little too woke? [laughs]

 

Reshma [00:28:05] I hope so. Even if you think about it, WeWork—like, really?—no women and, no surprise that you have all these issues. When you can really actually track cultures to what the board looks like, what the e-team looks like, what the founder looks like—and we shouldn't be surprised anymore. 

 

Kinsey [00:28:25] But at least in a place like WeWork, it definitely wasn't the only problem. There are other problems. But, and it was also brought up earlier this season also, this sort of ethical rot within a company can touch so many parts of not only the people's lives who work there, but also investors lives—that this is more than just, we've got a problem and we need to solve it for our team. But if you're investing in us, this might also [laughs] impact you. 

 

Reshma [00:28:50] Yeah, absolutely. This issue is not going away. And I think part of that is because, I don’t know, I feel this generation of young people, they care. They're looking at brands. They're looking at where they work. They're looking at who they hire, what they do. And they're going to judge you for it. And you can't get away with having a rotting culture. It's going to affect your talent. And look, I think that this is something that we can solve in our lifetimes. The question that I keep coming back to is: Do you really want to solve the problem? Is this about brand cover or is this that you really, truly believe that diversity makes a difference? Because I'm telling you, I'm on campus at universities. These numbers are changing. They're changing dramatically. You have a diverse pipeline to hire from. 

 

Kinsey [00:29:39] OK. All right. Well, that was a ton of really useful information. [Reshma laughs] Thank you for all of that. I want to head into our game part of the podcast. 

 

Reshma [00:29:50] Oh fun. I like games.

 

Kinsey [00:29:51] Oh, yeah. So we, as you know, play some games in the Morning Brew newsletter. And because this is Business Casual, we are going to bring out the famous wheel. Feel free to hit the—turn up my volume here—hit the middle button. Take a spin. [sound of wheel spinning, then a ding] OK, in or out? Are you in or out on affirmative action? 

 

Reshma [00:30:15] Oh, I'm so in. 

 

Kinsey [00:30:16] Why? 

 

Reshma [00:30:17] Because I believe that diversity is the way that we get better. And you want more talented people. And I don't think we live in an equal society. We don't live in a meritocracy. We've had institutions that have kept an entire group of people back. 

 

Kinsey [00:30:32] OK, take another spin. 

 

Reshma [00:30:33] All right. 

 

Kinsey [00:30:34] That was a great answer. [laughs] [sound of wheel spinning]

 

Reshma [00:30:38] This is fun. 

 

Kinsey [00:30:39] [sound of ding] Follow for follow. So who is your favorite person you follow on Twitter, on Instagram, on LinkedIn, someone who you recommend?

 

Reshma [00:30:47] Beyoncé.

 

Kinsey [00: 30:48] Beyoncé? [laughs] [indistinct chatter and laughing by Reshma and Kinsey] On what platform?

 

Reshma [00:30:52] On all the platforms. Beyoncé’s amazing.

 

Kinsey [00:30:55] She’s great. [indistinct] Beyoncé, if you’re listening, this one’s for you [Reshma laughs] All right, one more spin. [sound of wheel spinning, then a ding]

 

Kinsey [00:31:07] Role reversal. So I've been asking you questions for the last however long. Feel free to ask me a question, if you have one. 

 

Reshma [00:31:15] God. What's the bravest thing you've ever done? 

 

Kinsey [00:31:22] The bravest thing I've ever done. Probably to move to New York after college, not really having much of a network here and take a job in media, which, as we all know, is a dying field. [Reshma laughs] And then, within a year, start working at a startup that had—I had no idea what I was getting into. No idea if it would work or if it wouldn’t. But, man, am I glad that I did it. It was worth it. 

 

Reshma [00:31:48] Awesome. 

 

Kinsey [00:31:49] All right. Well, that answers everything here. I think that this conversation is one that's not always easy to have. But I think it's a really important conversation to have and, beyond just the fact that this is a bit of an existential crisis [Reshma laughs], this is impacting business. And this is going to materially impact the way we move forward, especially covering tech and making tech better for everybody. So thank you so much, Reshma, for joining Business Casual. 

 

Reshma [00:32:13] Thank you for having me, Kinsey. 

 

[00:32:14] [sound of coffee being poured]

 

[00:32:17] [outro music starts]

 

Kinsey [00:32:20] Thank you so much for listening to this week's episode of Business Casual. Now, before I tell you who's coming on the show next week, I've got a quick ask. Believe it or not, we're all the way to episode eleven of Business Casual, and things are starting to get a little serious. So, I want to know more about you. Where are you listening to Business Casual? When are you listening to Business Casual? How did you find out about this show? And do you have any general feedback for me or for who I'm interviewing. If you have any, email me at Kinsey@morningbrew.com, and let me know. 

 

Kinsey [00:32:49] Now, next week on Business Casual we are doing the impossible—making insurance sexy. Lemonade’s CEO Daniel Schreiber will be in to tell me all about how Lemonade is breaking business models to get you that runner's insurance that you probably have needed [chuckles] for a while. 

 

Kinsey [00:33:05] See you on Tuesday! [sound of a ding]