Silicon Valley is still reeling from the reports of rampant sexual harassment and discrimination women have experienced from investors. Since then, some have made public pledges to treat everyone decently, others have issued apologies, and at least one trade group representing the investors in funds is looking into how they can help.
One initiative could make a huge impact: California State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson plans to introduce a bill this week that would make this behavior in the context of entrepreneur-investor dealings explicitly illegal, Kia reports. The bill, which will be heard in January, is sponsored by civil rights organization Equal Rights Advocates.
- The bill would amend The Unruh Civil Rights Act of 1959, which was originally introduced to combat discrimination against African Americans by business establishments.
- Though the law explicitly lists certain business relationships such as attorney-client and landlord-tenant, it leaves some gaps.
- As Axios previously discussed, the current law has a fair chance of being applied in court to an entrepreneur-investor relationship, but it hasn't been tested before and some existing case law isn't too favorable. Sen. Jackson's bill could change this.
Still: Silicon Valley's culture needs to become a place where women will feel safe to use these legal remedies and not be labeled "problematic" when they do.