IPO

Fitbit Not Fit for Women

Fitbit, the colorful bracelet seen on the wrists of the fit and wanna-be fit, is not fit for women. The company that is dedicated to health and fitness of the masses is going public with no women on its five-member board – another technology company taking the lead from its male investors. We say it’s time that the VC community pay attention to stakeholders who want to see the boards of companies where they work, shop and invest reflect the population, more than half of which is women.
 
Of the ten biggest tech IPOs of 2015 (Wall Street Journal, 6/17) three are Zero 'Z' Companies with no women directors (Black Knight Financial Services, Shopify and Apigee) and five are Token 'T' Companies with one woman director (Innovation Holdings, GoDaddy, Evolent Health, Baozun and MaxPoint Interactive). Two of the companies are Winning 'W' Companies, with 20% or more board seats held by women (Etsy and Box).
 
We all know that women make up a huge number of Fitbit customers - maybe the majority. The same can be said of most of the companies on the 2015 technology IPO list. To imply that there are no women qualified to serve on the Fitbit board is ludicrous. At best it's a gross oversight. At worst, it's discrimination, plain and simple. Discriminating against your customer base is just bad business.
 
We implore Fitbit to put women on its board.

Launching an IPO? Follow Zendesk's lead.

Zendesk, a leader in providing cloud software for better customer service, announced that it would be appointing three new members to its board of directors, all of whom are women. Caryn Marooney, Vice President of technology communications at Facebook; Elizabeth "Betsey" Nelson, former chief financial officer of Macromedia; and Michelle Wilson, former Amazon.com General Counsel. Zendesk's board now stands at 4-3, men to women. With companies like Twitter and Facebook taking so much heat for not having any women on their board, Zendesk's seemingly unprovoked decision sets a new precedent, giving hope for the future of corporate board diversity.
 
In a separate declaration, Zendesk stated that they have reached 40,000 customers, now serving over 300 million people worldwide--giving all the more reason to expect that the company is headed toward an IPO.
 
Whether influenced by the desire to go public, or genuinely falling in line with corporate board diversity, Zendesk has put its full faith behind its new board members: "Caryn, Betsey and Michelle know what it takes to turn growing companies into some of the most respected brands in the world," said Mikkel Svane, Zendesk founder and CEO. "Their talents will help us share our vision for bringing companies and customers closer together with even more people around the world."
 
Other companies getting ready to launch IPOs can learn from Zendesk's example. In an earlier blog post, we called for a checklist for companies about to go public. If you missed it, you'll find it here.

Dear Mark Zuckerberg,

How can it be? Facebook will file for an IPO this week without a single woman on its board of directors. Are you kidding? Without women, where would Facebook be?

In June The PEW Internet and American Life Project revealed that 58 percent of all Facebook users are women. Women do most of the status updating, make most of the comments, upload most of the photos and hit the Like button most frequently.

I read in the paper recently that your revenue strategy relies heavily on advertising.  Haven't you heard? Women influence 80% of consumer spending.

Maybe your board thinks that because women are so busy socializing on Facebook they're too busy to achieve the necessary credentials for board service. You should know that women comprise over half the workforce and make up about half of all management positions. A third of all businesses are owned by women, employing more than 13 million people and generating $1.9 trillion in sales.

Here's an idea: Put Sheryl Sandberg on your board. Starbucks did. And so did Disney. She'll be an insider, but that's better than having no women directors.

You may be aware that we recently published the 2020 Women on Boards Gender Diversity Directory, a list of over 1,000 companies categorized by the gender diversity of their boards. It's outrageous that Facebook will launch as a Zero “Z” company.

Mark, we encourage you to do better. Take the 2020 Challenge. Add a woman within two years and get to 20% by 2020.  Your Facebook users want and deserve a seat at the table.

 

 

 

 

 

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