Preface: I am writing this from a place of white male privilege.
We, as a society, have put a lot of credit in business metrics that are aligned with profitability. We talk about it, we have a stock market, we analyze and try to predict the future based on numbers.
Business Insider, by the numbers, appears to be an endeavor headed towards profitability. And yet the Pax Dickinson debacle demonstrates something greater: the company's priorities do not include fostering a positive, diverse, inclusive culture. They are not built that way, or else this would not have happened.
Similarly, TechCrunch's willingness to allow an astoundingly misogynistic exercise masquerading as a technological advancement into their conference demonstrates what their values are.
It is not enough for TechCrunch to say, well, hey, we'll try better next time. It is not enough for Business Insider to fire Pax. We now must determine if these organizations are actually learning and changing from these grave errors or if they're just placating their critics. They are, essentially, on probation.
It is not an HR nor PR exercise. Things like sexual harassment training and the Mad Libs "This doesn't represent our values!" press release tick the boxes to make things appear better. Maybe a trainer will come in and tell people for an hour on how not to be an asshole at work. Maybe there will be a company-wide email or two. These actions are truly the least these companies can do.
It's about what happens in the hallways, in the emails, in the conversations. It's about the things we can't see.
Until we have a universal and simple way to measure the internal culture and societal impact of an organization - one that coexists and maybe supersedes financial performance - we can only look to their external interactions and publicly call them out.
Now is as good a time as any for these companies to build true strategies and visions on how to become welcoming and inclusive workplaces while stewarding social responsibility. Not everyone is in a position of privilege to vocalize their concerns about these issues. That is precisely why it is on those of us who are to call out terrible behaviors and, more importantly, empower people who are not privileged.
It's sad to read of the ignorance in the tech community and it's frustrating to see big personalities demonstrate their stubbornness, causing suffering. There are people who have been fighting against it far, far longer than you or I. But we must fight against it, we must speak out against it, and we must fight together, because it is right.