It’s not you, it’s them

imgresI always take the opportunity to speak to young women who are on the investment side.  It is not easy being a woman as an institutional investor.  We have all seen the data that roughly 6-7% of VC’s are women so you can begin there.  Partners in VC firms usually get together on Monday for an all hands meeting of an update of the portfolio and new deals that are being looked at.  After Monday everyone is on their own.  The week is spent at board meetings, meeting with possible investments, talking with the companies that you are already involved with and more.  Women love to be part of teams and it can be lonely without a daily team.  As an investor it is essential to find community in other places to fill that void of wanting to be part of a team.

Women tend to cross their t’s and dot their i’s.  They don’t always put their foot on the gas until they feel that they are on solid footing.  Perhaps that is why it takes longer for many women founders to build their businesses.  Women also network differently.  They are more interested in going home to their family, having dinner with their friends or having some alone time after a long day vs going out with the “guys” for a drink.  I applaud companies that create environments for after workday activities to get everyone involved because most women would choose not to go.

This past week I spoke with a woman who is making a go of early stage investment in Tokyo.  She is from the states but decided to build her career in Japan.  She is coming across many of the issues as she raises capital that we all hear about but until you have experienced them first hand it is unfathomable.  Men who are happy to meet but would prefer to do it in the evening for a drink, or ones that hit on you even though they are married with kids, or ones that make insanely inappropriate comments.  Some of them start with when do you plan on getting married and having kids as if that is will change their investing intellect.  I could go on and on but I will not.

We touched up on the article that was written on Lenny by Jennifer Lawrence.  She wrote something in Medium about this.  Lawrence realized when the emails at Sony were hacked and made public that she was being paid less than her male counterparts.  I doubt that Lawrence didn’t negotiate for what she thought was fair and well-reserved.  Just like many women negotiate for salaries that they believe that they deserve or capital for their companies or valuations that they believe to be fair based on the other companies around them.

Women love the word I am sorry.  We should take it out of our vocabulary when it comes to our behavior.  Sorry should only be used when you need to apologize to someone else about something that deserves an apology not anything else. When you are negotiating with mostly men on the other side of the table it isn’t easy.  You can be thought of as too aggressive or pushy.  But here is the thing that all women must keep in mind when they realize that they have not been treated equally….IT IS NOT YOU, IT IS THEM.

All of the points I write about above connect.  Women must continue to push, ask, challenge, invest, lead and remember that it isn’t you, it is them.