Startup Zendesk Sets An Example For The Tech Industry And Appoints Three Women To Its Board Before IPO

Caryn MarooneyFacebookCaryn Marooney, VP of Facebook PR

Sheryl Sandberg would be proud of enterprise startup Zendesk. Earlier this week, the company announced three new board members, all of them women.

It’s seven-member board is now 4-3, men to women with the addition of these names:

Zendesk offers a cloud service that manages tech support and help desks. It has raised $US85.5 million total and is expected to go public soon.

We do need to point out that the “women in tech” shortage isn’t about women working for tech companies generally. Plenty of women work in the tech industry. The shortage is in the engineering disciplines, where men outnumber women at a rate of about 4 to 1, according to research from the Department for Professional Employees. And the woman appointed to this board come from the professions where women in tech do well: PR, finance, and lawyers.

But as Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg points out, there’s also a shortage of women in top leadership across corporate America. In the Fortune 500, only 16% of board positions are held by women, according to The Catalyst research group. Sandberg is trying to change this with her book and feminist non-profit organisation called Lean In.

In tech, the numbers are even more dismal. In Silicon Valley, eight out of the top 13 companies that went public in 2013 had no women on their boards, says the political action group 2020 Women On Boards, which wants 20% of board seats to be held by women by 2020.

For instance, Twitter was slammed for not having any women on its board until it after its IPO, appointing Marjorie Scardino in December. Even Facebook didn’t have any women on its board for ages, until Sandberg was appointed in 2012. It also added Susan Desmond-Hellmann about a year ago. That’s two women out of eight board positions.

So when we hear of a company, and an enterprise tech company at that, adding three women in one fell swoop, that deserves a shout out.

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