Credit: Christopher Michel

Ellen Pao appeals in sex discrimination case that rocked Silicon Valley

The court found against her, but the former venture capitalist is fighting on.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 11 Sep 2015

When Ellen Pao took her former employer, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, to court claiming sex discrimination the case riveted Silicon Valley. Even though she lost on all counts, women on both sides of the Atlantic thanked Pao for shining a light on the uncomfortable truth about sexism in tech.

But it’s not over yet: the interim Reddit CEO is appealing the jury’s finding that KPCB, where she worked from 2005 to 2012, didn’t pass her over for promotion and then fire her because of her gender.

The notice, filed in a San Francisco court yesterday, didn’t specify the grounds for appeal – Pao and her team have 40 days to confirm that. But it means she is still potentially liable for KPCB’s $973,000 legal costs, which it said it would waive if she gave up her right to appeal.

‘A 12-member jury found decisively in favor of KPCB on all four claims,’ the firm said in a statement. ‘We remain committed to gender diversity in the workplace and believe that women in technology would be best served by focusing on this issue outside of continued litigation.’

A tad snarky there. Regardless of the outcome of Pao’s appeal, women have every right to take employers to court if they have a legitimate claim to have been the victims of illegal discrimination. And as this case showed, it helps others to stand up and feel they’re not alone when companies, guilty or not, have their day in court.

Positivity is needed to address inequality too – bigging up role models, mentoring, networks, etc. But bad behaviour can’t be allowed to go unpunished either. We’ll put up with the litigation.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Books for the weekend: Daniel Goleman, Jack Welch, Nelson Mandela

Beaverbrooks CEO Anna Blackburn shares her reading list.

What happens next: COVID-19 lessons from Italian CEOs

Part I: Marco Alvera, chief executive of €15bn Lombardy-based energy firm Snam, on living with...

Coronavirus communications: Dos and don'ts

Uncertainty and isolation make it more important than ever to be seen, to be heard...

Leadership lessons: Mervyn Davies, former CEO of Standard Chartered and trade minister

"People talk about pressure – I worked 24 hours a day. There is more pressure...

How to reinvent your career through motherhood and midlife

Pay it Forward podcast: Former Marie Claire editor-in-chief Trish Halpin and BITE managing editor Nicky...