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Australian tech leaders issued this joint statement on problems with sexism in the global industry

Photo: iStock

A group of prominent men and women in the Australian tech community today released a statement in reaction to discriminatory and sexist attitudes in the industry that again hit the headlines over the weekend.

On Saturday, 500 Startups co-founder and well-known Silicon Valley figure Dave McClure apologised and stepped down as chief executive after a New York Times article revealed a history of inappropriate behaviour towards women, including making advances on one person that had approached him about a job at the famous accelerator.

The statement from the Australian executives say that the local community, with its many relationships to the USA, are also tangled up in such a culture.

“Accounts of predatory behaviour by investors are not hard to find, even if acting on them fairly appears to have been far too hard for many organisations to respond to appropriately in past,” the statement read.

“Not any more.”

The group calls for the entire industry to take “a long hard look” at itself to “make it clear we do not condone sexual harassment in the Australian startup community”.

Here is the statement in full:

Statement on sexual harassment in the Australian startup community

The past week has been a tumultuous one for the local startup community, and particularly the hundreds of women within it.

The Information’s and New York Times’ revelations of widespread sexual harassment by US startup leaders has created and will continue to create ripples through the global startup community.

One of the most frustrating things about these revelations is that they are anything but: many who were named were well known by women in the Silicon Valley startup community and beyond.

Many of the people named in the article have relationships with Australian startups and investors, not least of whom is Susan Wu, who was one of the courageous whistleblowers in the piece. While distinct, the two communities are closely enmeshed.

Accounts of predatory behaviour by investors are not hard to find, even if acting on them fairly appears to have been far too hard for many organisations to respond to appropriately in past.

Not any more.

These disturbing accounts give us an opportunity to take a long hard look at the ecosystem and make it clear we do not condone sexual harassment in the Australian startup community. We call on all founders, startup executives, investors and journalists to not permit this behavior, or promote individuals who they know have acted inappropriately towards colleagues or founders.

The burden of solving these challenges does not lie solely with those on the receiving end of the harassment. It is necessary and urgent that everyone address bad behaviour by their colleagues and peers.

We want to commend the women in Silicon Valley who have come forward including Susan, Gesche Haas, Sarah Kunst, Lindsay Meyer, Rachel Renock, Wendy Dent and Lisa Curtis. We also want to thank the Australian women who have come forward about sexual harassment over the weekend and who will in the future.

We, the Australian startup community leaders will not tolerate inappropriate behaviour in our workplace or community.

The Australian technology community is a warm and welcoming one, which is increasingly diverse. We have a long way to go though, and having a zero-tolerance policy to gendered harassment is critical to our future. We all have a role to play in fixing this. We will hold one another to account.

We plan to work with our teams, as well as with StartupAUS, Tech Sydney, Startup Victoria, Advance Queensland, Startup Adelaide, Startup Western Australia, Startup Tasmania and other industry groups to identify powerful ways to move our community forward.

We, the undersigned, declare the Australian startup community will, to the very best of our ability take action against the kind of behaviour that makes women feel exploited, secondary or unwelcome. We’ve got a long road ahead of us, and we will be stronger together.

Signed:
Annie Parker, Nicole Williamson, Atlanta Daniel, Susan Wu, Niki Scevak, Samantha Wong, Rick Baker, Paul Bassat, Elaine Stead, Mark Pesce, Georgia Beattie, Paul Naphtali, Alex McCauley, Rui Rodrigues, Alan Downie, Jeremy Liddle, Ahmed Salama, Sally Gatenby, Anna Reeves, Jack Wilson, Peter Huynh, Alan Jones, Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin, Nick Crocker, Oscar Mclennan, Alan Downie, Claudia Barriga-Larriviere, Nicola Hazell, PK Rasam, Ren Butler, Alfred Lo, Jim Cassidy, Will Dayble, Eloise Watson, Rose Powell, Jordan Green, Paris Buttfield-Addison, Jon Manning, Catherine Eibner, Shane Cheek, Dale Rankine, Jenny Vandyke, Stuart Hall, Scott Handsaker, James Riggall, Ken Macken, Jeremy Arimado, Simon Cant, Danny Gilligan, Julie Trell, Kara Frederick, Rohen Sood, Ben Hensman, Leighton Wells, Kate Cornick, Tony Burrett, Vanessa Hutchinson Miguel Wood, Kate Gittings, Rachael Neumann, Sally-Ann Williams, Murray Hurps, Emily Rich, Aaron Birkby, Shane Morris, Connor Lappin, Marcus Marten-Coney, Matthew Dobson, Aainaa Rahman, Anne-Marie Elias

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