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Here’s how leading women in Silicon Valley think tech can fix its gender diversity problem

The three were challenged to identify a single solution.

left to right, Megan Smith, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Aileen Lee Asa Mathat

Three women trying to make Silicon Valley more diverse have some advice for the tech giants, venture capitalists and startup industry about how they can do better.

It’s no surprise that Silicon Valley has a diversity problem — all you have to do is look at the latest employment stats. But onstage at the Code Conference on Wednesday in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., these women were challenged to identify a single (okay, some offered a couple) solutions.

Here’s what they said:

Aileen Lee, managing partner of Cowboy Ventures:

  • Lee, who is leading a group of a few dozen women venture capitalists trying to diversify their industry, pitched her organization: All Raise.
  • Get rid of what Lee calls the “he’s such a good guy” problem, where she sees men being promoted or hired simply because other men get along well with them. Employees should be assessed based on their performance — regardless of gender — not likability alone.

Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, founder of Boardlist:

  • Cassidy challenged the audience to equip five women in their organizations to become a CEO or a founder in their own right. And that doesn’t mean giving women special additional training, she said. “This whole idea that you need to train women leaders and you don’t need to train men leaders is ridiculous.”
  • Cassidy cautioned tech leaders to “not value speed over everything else” and that “these things require intentionality, slowing down and taking your time.”

Megan Smith, the former Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. and now the founder of Shift7:

  • Smith emphasized not relying on HR alone to solve these problems. “You have to have everyone on your team doing this at all levels. This is a team sport.”
  • Be yourself at work. It’s okay to cry, and to have fun, too.

Watch the full interview:

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