Venture capitalist Ellen Pao is suing her employer, Kleiner Perkins, for gender discrimination and retaliation following alleged incidents of sexual harassment stretching back five years.
So you can imagine there’s not much they agree on.
Save for this: In early 2007, a Kleiner partner, Randy Komisar, gave Pao a copy of the Book of Longing, a collection of poems and drawings by Leonard Cohen. This came shortly after the breakoff of an affair Pao had with another colleague, Ajit Nazre.
In her complaint, Pao portrays it as an erotic Valentine’s Day present, accompanied by an invitation to a Saturday-night dinner. Kleiner says it was a late holiday gift.
We went online and ordered a copy sent to our local library branch and picked it up.
We read the Book of Longing. We could not believe our eyes.
Cohen’s work is challenging and provocative. It is also, as they say, not safe for work. We bookmarked pages with words or pictures that a reasonable adult might find racy. That ended up being about 40 per cent of the book.
In any normal workplace, a coworker giving such a gift would probably have been marched out by HR.
If Pao’s lawsuit tells us anything, it is that Kleiner is not a normal workplace.