A Culture Of Rule Breaking Built Silicon Valley, But It Also Threatens It - One Venture Capitalist At Women's Startup Lab Reveals The Formula For Culture Change

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Rule breaking is as much a part of Silicon Valley culture as tech itself. It has come to light in recent weeks that in a conversation between a Venture Capitalist and an entrepreneur, the power imbalance is so great that rule breaking often crosses the line into abuse of power.

Ari Horie champions Hito in the wake of the Silicon Valley harassment debacle

It’s good to think outside the box; it’s okay to break rules; but it’s not okay to act unethically.

As a leading accelerator for female founders, Women's Startup Lab in Silicon Valley strives everyday to ensure that female entrepreneurs are equipped with the tools and the opportunities they need to achieve extraordinary success. Women's Startup Lab has been distressed to read recent reports of behavior that has deprived female founders of that opportunity. The sad reality is these issues are far from new. In fact, they were one of the driving forces behind starting Women’s Startup Lab in the first place. Women's Startup Lab opened their doors so that entrepreneurs would have a community of strength they could trust along their journey.

Despite these insidious accounts, Women's Startup Lab remains hopeful that the tech industry will rise above because of the many entrepreneurs, VCs and advisors -- including all of those advising Women’s Startup Lab -- who are committed to real change. Women's Startup Lab will continue to work with those agents of change to promote promising female founders and ensure that the culture of Silicon Valley supports their growth and development.

To change the culture, Silicon Valley must acknowledge the culture. Silicon Valley embraces rule breakers. The competitive nature of the tech industry too often enables and rewards abuse of power. When female founders enter the ring to raise a round of funding, the cards are stacked against them. When Silicon Valley elites choose to conduct themselves inappropriately, their behavior puts the hopes, dreams, and livelihoods of women in jeopardy, and stains the reputation of the whole community. Rather than shy away from this inconvenient fact, Women's Startup Lab encourages members of the community to face it head on.

Women's Startup Lab is thrilled today to reveal a new methodology to change the mentality in Silicon Valley. This method of embracing the challenges and conflicts of entrepreneurship revolves around a concept called “Hito.” The Hito Ethic derives from the idea that every person is really the product of a community and derives his or her compass and strength from that community. The unique Hito community at Women’s Startup Lab creates an environment where women can find strength in one another, as well as through collaboration with their male counterparts. In this spirit, the Women’s Startup Lab is not exclusively for women. The key to creating a culture that supports and celebrates women entrepreneurs as much as it supports and celebrates male entrepreneurs is to develop the mindset in both men and women that including and respecting women, and tapping the full potential of women, brings powerful advantages to every organization and to every community. The men who are involved in Women’s Startup Lab, including entrepreneurs, investors and advisors, learn as much as the women.

This ethic of partnership and collaboration strengthens both women and men, and is a force that counters the inappropriate behavior that derives from a more primitive mindset. It’s good to think outside the box; it’s okay to break rules; but it’s not okay to act unethically. Women's Startup Lab invites everyone to embrace the Hito Ethic. Women's Startup Lab will continue to support women entrepreneurs and their male colleagues as they build incredible companies.

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Kelly Coyne

Kate Mitchell
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