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Fighting Discrimination in Tech

Fighting Discrimination in Tech
November 29, 2021

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I hope you had a great holiday weekend. Had your coffee? Let’s go!

Today we’re learning about a powerful challenge to Big Tech’s handling of discrimination in the workplace and its central figure, Ifeoma Ozoma. The 29-year-old Yale graduate and daughter of Nigerian immigrants has worked for big-name companies like Pinterest, Facebook, and Google. She and her colleague Aerica Shimizu Banks both left their positions at Pinterest after facing unequal pay, racist comments, and retaliation for raising complaints at the company. When Pinterest posted content supporting their Balck employees during the BLM protests in the Spring of 2020, Ms. Ozoma and Ms. Banks spoke out on Twitter, sharing their experiences in contrast to the company’s self-promotion as an equitable employer. 

Ms. Ifeoma Ozoma for The New York Times

What followed has been a tour-de-force in the power of whistleblowing and activism, resulting in the signing of new legislation in California preventing employers from using NDAs to silence former employers about workplace discrimination and an activist playbook for whistleblowers. That legislation is the Silenced No More Act, which revokes power from nondisclosure agreements that formerly silenced workers. The playbook is called the Tech Worker Handbook and provides guidance with legal issues, the media, security, and storytelling. Ms. Ozoma is helping others push for similar legislation in their states and offers equity consulting through her firm, Earthseed. 

At Apple, the notoriously tight-lipped company has had its recent share of employees speaking out. In a rather damning article about three activists inside the company, workplace hostility around the employee’s attempts to organize for transparency around pay, workplace safety, and equity ultimately ended in all three employees leaving the company. 

In all cases where workplace discrimination arises, there seems always to follow a boilerplate statement about a nebulous commitment to an inclusive and positive workplace. Even though harassment and discrimination in the workplace face legislative protections like the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1963 Equal Pay Act, and others, instances like these continue to be commonplace. And until the workforce and management teams reflect more diversity, that unfortunate truth lingers.

Companies like Talenya and Ethena seek to change that with a more robust hiring pipeline for diverse employees and workplace harassment training. 

Want more on this topic? Stay tuned for our next Diversity in Funding Report, in early 2022. 


Since last week, PrivCo has added:
493 Companies | 88 Funding Activities | 49 M&A Deals

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Funding & Deal Highlights:

Cerebras System raises $250MM from Alpha Wave Ventures

Chip Developer • Round F • Los Altos, CA

Workato raises $200MM from Battery Ventures

Automation Platform • Round E • Cupertino, CA

Applied Intuition raises $175MM from Addition

AV Simulation Software • Round D • Sunnyvale, CA

Kodiak Robotics raises $125MM from SIP Global Partners

Autonomous Trucking • Round B • Palo Alto, CA

Contrast Security raises $150MM from Liberty Strategic Capital

Cyber Security • Round E • Los Altos, CA

TalentHack raises $17MM from Emergence Capital Partners

Business Tools • Round A • New York, NY

Solidus Labs raises $15MM from Liberty City Ventures

Blockchain • Round B • New York, NY

Calixa raises $12MM from Kleiner Perkins

Data Integration • Round A • San Francisco, CA

Mekonos raises $25MM from Reimagined Ventures

Biopharmaceuticals • Round A • San Francisco, CA

Sandbox VR raises $37MM from a16z

Virtual Reality • Round B • San Mateo, CA

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