Quoted: Michael Moritz on hiring women but not ‘lowering standards’

“We look very hard. In fact, we just hired a young woman from Stanford who’s every bit as good as her peers. And if there are more like her, we’ll hire them. What we’re not prepared to do is to lower our standards.”

Michael Moritz, venture capitalist for Sequoia Capital, when asked this week by Bloomberg TV’s Emily Chang about his firm hiring female investment partners. After the inevitable blowback on social media — amid all the talk about workplace diversity in tech, who said anything about lowering standards? — he later clarified his comments in an email, saying: “I know there are many remarkable women who would flourish in the venture business. We’re working hard to find them and would be ecstatic if more joined Sequoia or other firms.”

Among those who criticized Moritz’s statement on social media was Ellen Pao of Kleiner Perkins fame. She sued that VC firm for gender discrimination and lost.

Menlo Park-based Sequoia — which told Recode that the firm has three female investors in China and two in India, plus said that its CFO and marketing partner are women — later said this on Twitter.

Moritz’s interview brings to mind a similar comment attributed to a Twitter executive by a black engineer who used to work for the social media company. As I wrote last month, Alex Roetter, senior VP of engineering at Twitter, apologized for apparently saying “diversity is important, but we can’t lower the bar.” Roetter said: “The comments attributed to me aren’t an accurate or complete facsimile, but they conveyed a meaning that was very far from what I intended, which means I did a poor job communicating.”

 

Illustration from Thinkstock

 

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