Earth to tech companies: Where are the women?

Last week, Groupon, the sassy, young, deal-of-the-day website, went public in the tradition of VC-funded technology companies, with just a single woman on its board. Of six eagerly anticipated tech IPOs this year, one company has two women directors (W), two companies have one woman director (T) and three have no women (Z). Here's the breakdown:

 
ZipCar:                      2 (W)
LinkedIn:                   1 (T)
Groupon:                 1 (T)
Demand Media:       0 (Z)
Zillow:                        0 (Z)
Pandora:                    0 (Z)
 
Technology companies have been slow to advance women to leadership positions. The reason most often given is that there are not enough senior level women in technology to fill executive officer and board positions.  But the truth is, when it comes to social media, women rule.
 
According to a 2011 study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, women spend more time than men on social media sites. They contribute more, use mobile social networking more frequently and buy more things online than men do. A recent ComScore report said that women are the primary purchasers of group-buying deals. Last year, 62% of Groupon's purchasers were women.
 
So why did Groupon and the other companies opt against diversity? Because the venture capital community - where these firms get funded - is an all-boys club.
 
It's time for the investment community to break out of their comfort zone and choose more diverse board candidates. Companies that celebrate diversity lead by example. They send a clear message to their stakeholders - shareholders, employees and customers - about their corporate values. They enjoy the benefits of board diversity including higher profits and better returns on investment.
 
What can be done? The women who serve on these boards could advance other women to serve. Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Capital Management, on Groupon's board,  and Leslie Kilgore, Chief Marketing Officer of Netflix, on the Linked In Board could convince their fellow board members to add more women.  If you're like me, and you're on LinkedIn and Groupon, you'll take notice.