A group of venture capital firms are publicizing their sexual harassment policies, some for the first time, as part of a new directory co-led by one of the women who publicly accused a VC of harassment.
On Thursday, about forty firms are publicly spelling out their policies or identifying their point of contact for human resources complaints as part of a new initative called MovingForward. The creators claim they encouraged several venture capital firms to release or even create entirely new sexual harassment policies that didn’t exist before.
There is reason, though, for skepticism: More than half of the firms are not publicizing their external policy — so beyond publicly stating their point of contact for misconduct allegations, those firms are merely stating that they believe in the group’s mission — which, unfortunately, isn’t saying much — who formally isn’t opposed to harassment?
And most firms are only saying they will offer their policies upon request and have yet to create a public URL with the governing policies. It is unclear if that information will be available to media or other interested parties.
The venture capital industry, like other corridors of power, has been rocked over the last year by allegations of sexual misconduct that forced several powerful men out of their funds. Most venture capital funds do not have human resources departments, and even if they have an internal policy that defines and punishes harassment, it generally has only applied internally to their firm — not to the entrepreneurs that they interview and fund.
The current effort is borne out of that reckoning.
Cheryl Yeoh, one of the MovingForward creators alongside Andy Coravos, became prominent last year after she publicly alleged that Dave McClure, a well-known venture capitalist, had sexually assaulted her. McClure was the first of several VCs to resign from their positions last year amid a new conversation about the power imbalance between entrepreneurs and the VCs who fund them.
“This effort has created a movement within the VC partnerships to do something,” Yeoh said, telling Recode that she believed she has set off a “scramble” within venture capital firms to craft policies or identify a contact. She claimed that around half of the firms did not have policies applying to entrepreneurs or publicly identified points of contact before she pitched them.
Several venture firms on Thursday are planning to publicly unveil their policies with links on their website. For example, Spark Capital posted its detailed policy earlier this week, and First Round Capital posted a paragraph on its website on Tuesday. Here’s Union Square Ventures’ policy. And here’s the one from McClure’s former employer, 500 Startups.
Some signatories told Recode that they had preexisting policies that were merely not public. Mark Suster of Upfront Ventures said his firm was moved to publish what had been existing policies — part of their effort, he said, to open-source what individual venture firms had designed with their lawyers and encourage other firms to copy their framework.
Suster said he understood people might be skeptical of another public statement of inclusion. But he insisted MovingForward caused Upfront to go public in a way it wasn’t originally planning, and also to clearly designate a point of contact that was merely an assumption before.
“I don’t know whether it is three inches forward or three feet forward,” he said. “But it’s certainly made a change for us.”
Ann Crady Weiss of True Ventures said that her firm had added language dealing with harassment to its inclusion policy internally about a year ago. But she similarly was now posting it solely at the prodding of MovingForward.
All firms are listing their point of contact for both sexual harassment issues and for diversity and inclusion issues — who are often the same person.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.