During her testimony today, interim Reddit CEO Ellen Pao explained why she continues to pursue her gender discrimination lawsuit against former employer and venture capital heavyweight Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, even though she’s moved on to employment elsewhere.
According to the Re/code liveblog, Pao testified:
“It’s been a long journey, and I’ve tried many times to bring Kleiner Perkins to the right path. I think there should be equal opportunities for women and men to be venture capitalists. I wanted to be a VC but I wasn’t able to do so in that environment. And I think it’s important as a person who wanted to be a venture capitalist but wasn’t able for people who wanted to be a venture capitalist to make those opportunities available in the future. And I wanted to make sure my story was told.”
While Pao didn’t say so explicitly, and may never, her statement implies that the case isn’t only about the money. Rather, she seemingly wanted to make a point about the boys’ club of Silicon Valley and air some of the secrets of the firm where she felt so mistreated — and perhaps make things a little easier for women who follow her.
Pao’s statement came after a lengthy line of questioning on her termination from Kleiner Perkins. In May of 2012, feeling that she had exhausted all of her options for addressing what she sees as her mistreatment internally, Pao filed this gender discrimination lawsuit.
“There was no process for HR issues, so again I decided to file this lawsuit,” Pao says.
She continued to work at Kleiner Perkins after filing the suit, and answered a post on question-and-answer site Quora by saying “I don’t plan to quit.”
A 2012 performance review that included anonymous survey input from other employees of the firm (possibly including partners Ted Schlein and Matt Murphy) was largely negative and called on her to be more collaborative and easier to work with, but Pao shot back in an email that this “fails to take into account the current reality of my situation of KP,” since partners were afraid to talk to her. It also included negative feedback from the portfolio companies she had been working with.
The review, Pao says, didn’t offer any pointers on how to improve. After her negative review, she was given a 60 day review period, at the end of which — October 1st, 2012 — she was let go from Kleiner Perkins. The Quora post was updated to reflect this.
After her termination, Pao testified that she couldn’t find another job in venture capital, and ended up joining Reddit first as an informal advisor to ex-CEO Yishan Wong and then as an executive before stepping up to the CEO role last year. Pao says she plans on being with Reddit for a while.