Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has come under fire in recent days, after a Oct. 4 story in The New York Times on their I.P.O. filing called attention to the lack of women in top spots at the company. It's executive board is comprised of all men, except for its general counsel, Vijaya Gadde, who was hired just weeks ago. It's investors are all men, and perhaps most shocking, it's board of directors? All men.
Rather than expressing heartfelt remorse for this egregious oversight, Costolo has been cracking inappropriate jokes and offering the weak justification that appointing women to his board has to be more than just "checking a box". Costolo's implication that, golly gee, he would love to appoint a woman to the board (if only there were someone qualified!), has tipped off another round of smart responses. This time, publications are doing the legwork for Costolo, pointing out the many, many qualified women who the company could have approached.
The Times' Bits blog found a whopping 25 highly qualified nominees, including PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, Margit Wennmachers, partner at Andreessen Horowizt, a venture capital firm that invested in Twitter, Renée James, president of Intel, and Cathie Black, the former president and chairwoman of Hearst Magazines. Buzzfeed suggested 12 women, including Elisabeth Murdoch, head of the News Corp media empire, Anne Sweeney, under whose guidance Disney was the first large media conglomerate to make its TV content available digitally, Chelsea Clinton and Oprah. Slate's Matt Yglesias named some unconventional suggestions, like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and Rihannaall of whom have upwards of 30 million followersand Shonda Rimes, creator of the most tweeted about show on TV, Scandal. After all, the beauty of a board of directors, Yglesias writes, is "you can do anything you want. To have one or three or seven women on your board, you just have to genuinely desire to have gender diversity on your board."
In essence, by not coming up with even one woman to serve on its board before making its Wall Street debut, Twitter has clearly demonstrated that it is not a company that values gender diversity or the contributions women can bring. That's hardly surprising given the all-too-present sexism in Silicon Valley, but it's incredibly disappointing given that big, buzzy companies like Twitter are prime candidates to change the status quo and lead the tech industry in a new, gender equal direction. If only they cared to try.