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Last week, I received an unsolicited email from a guy who works for one of the nation’s top private equity firms. They had identified my company, were impressed by what we accomplished, and asked if we’d be interested in exploring ways they could be helpful.
That’s private equity speak for a possible investment.
Now, we are not looking for outside money, but, as I told Andre, we are always “open to the dialogue.”
“Great,” he replied, “I’m going to connect you with my colleague George, whom I’ve copied on this email, to schedule a call.”
George is the more senior guy on the team. When he responded, I assumed he did not realize that he hit “reply all” and mistakenly copied me. “Not for us. Looks like a weekly email newsletter written by moms,” he wrote.
I suppose it shouldn’t have surprised me. As a female CEO of a tech-based media company, this is not the first time I’ve been confronted by this kind of thinking. And according to the “State of the Gender Gap” report by PayScale, in 2019 women continued to earn more than 20 percent less than men. The wage gap is closing, but oh-so slowly.
And the investor world is evolving even slower. According to Tech Crunch, less than 3 percent of venture capital went to women-led teams in 2019 and that percentage rises to merely 11.5 percent if you also include founding teams composed of both men and women.
I took a deep breath and responded to George. I explained that my multi-million-dollar media company works with pretty much every one of the nation’s A-list advertisers. And yup, our content is mostly “written by moms.”
Here’s perhaps the worst part. He didn’t even give me the courtesy of a reply. These guys approached me. Unsolicited. Then dismissed us out of hand because we are a company fueled by women who have children.
Do you know what I think?
I think that if our company had been owned, operated and fueled by men who happened to be dads, George would have scheduled the call.
I think that, if I had been a man, he would have at least given me the courtesy of a reply. Shame on you, George.
Oh and here’s not-a-surprise, based on the company’s website: they don’t have a single woman partner and only two women among their senior management team of 27.
The battle for economic equality is far from won. Yes, we’ve made progress. But wow, we still have a long way to go. As long as we have Andres and Georges controlling the purse strings, we need to raise our voices and fight for our place at the table.
Joyce Shulman, the founder and CEO of the walking app 99 Walks and Macaroni Kid, reaches millions of moms each month with hyper-local and national e-newsletters and websites, social media content, video and her Weekly Walk podcast. Having created a one-of-a-kind digital platform, she connects families to the wonders of their own communities and inspires women to chase their dreams and crush their goals. Her most recent endeavor, 99 Walks, is on a mission to combat loneliness and improve fitness through the simple act of encouraging moms to walk together. Joyce received her Bachelor’s in Business Management from the University of Maryland and her Juris Doctor, cum laude, from St. John’s University School of Law. After law school, she spent more than a dozen years as a New York City lawyer where her practice focused on complex commercial litigation.