Statement on Sexual Harassment in the Australian Startup Community

The past week has been a tumultuous one for the local startup community, and particularly the hundreds of women within it.

The Information’s and New York Times’ revelations of widespread sexual harassment by US startup leaders has created and will continue to create ripples through the global startup community.

One of the most frustrating things about these revelations is that they are anything but: many who were named were well known by women in the Silicon Valley startup community and beyond.

Many of the people named in the article have relationships with Australian startups and investors, not least of whom is Susan Wu, who was one of the courageous whistleblowers in the piece. While distinct, the two communities are closely enmeshed.

Accounts of predatory behaviour by investors are not hard to find, even if acting on them fairly appears to have been far too hard for many organisations to respond to appropriately in the past.

Not any more.

These disturbing accounts give us an opportunity to take a long hard look at the ecosystem and make it clear we do not condone sexual harassment in the Australian startup community. We call on all founders, startup executives, investors and journalists to not permit this behaviour, or promote individuals who they know have acted inappropriately towards colleagues or founders .

The burden of solving these challenges does not lie solely with those on the receiving end of the harassment. It is necessary and urgent that everyone address bad behaviour by their colleagues and peers.  

We want to commend the women in Silicon Valley who have come forward including Susan, Gesche Haas, Sarah Kunst, Lindsay Meyer, Rachel Renock, Wendy Dent and Lisa Curtis. We also want to thank the Australian women who have come forward about sexual harassment over the weekend and who will in the future.

We, the Australian startup community leaders will not tolerate inappropriate behaviour in our workplace or community.

The Australian technology community is a warm and welcoming one, which is increasingly diverse. We have a long way to go though, and having a zero-tolerance policy to gendered harassment is critical to our future. We all have a role to play in fixing this. We will hold one another to account.

We plan to work with our teams, as well as with StartupAUS, Tech Sydney, Startup Victoria, Advance Queensland, Startup Adelaide, Startup Western Australia, Startup Tasmania and other industry groups to identify powerful ways to move our community forward.


We, the undersigned, declare the Australian startup community will, to the very best of our ability take action against the kind of behaviour that makes women feel exploited, secondary or unwelcome. We’ve got a long road ahead of us, and we will be stronger together.

Signed:

Annie Parker, Nicole Williamson, Atlanta Daniel, Susan Wu, Steve Baxter, Niki Scevak, Samantha Wong, Rick Baker, Paul Bassat, Daniel Petre, Craig Blair, James Cameron, John Henderson, Dean McEvoy, Phillip Kingston, Malcolm Thornton,  Alan Noble, Elaine Stead, Shane Cheek, Yasser El-Ansary  Phil Morle, Mick Liubinskas, Kim Heras, Nick Crocker, Ben Hensman, Laura McKenzie, Simon Cant, Danny Gilligan, Andrey Shirben, Marc Cowper, Will Richardson, Jeremy Kwong-Law, Kara Frederick, Tim Mullen,  Mark Pesce, Georgia Beattie, Peta Ellis, Peter Huynh, Alex Scandurra, Ian Gardiner, Alan Jones, Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin, Kerri Lee Sinclair, Jim Cassidy, Eloise Watson, Paul Naphtali, Alex McCauley, Rui Rodrigues, James Alexander, Jo Burston, Julia Wells, Justin Lipman, Les Szekely, Howard Leibman, Daniel Szekely Danielle Szeth, Vanessa Ronan-Pearce, Mark Skelsey, Emma Weston, Lucy Liu, Luke Howes, Alan Tsen, Natalie Dinsdale, David Ball, Jack Quigley Alan Downie, Adrian Stone, Nathan Sampimon, Jeremy Liddle, Ahmed Salama, Sally Gatenby, Anna Reeves, Andrew Harvey, Niall McCarthy, Jack Welsh, Oscar Mclennan, Ian Muir, Matt Allen, Claudia Barriga-Larriviere, Nicola Hazell, PK Rasam, Ren Butler, Alfred Lo, Will Dayble, Rose Powell, Jordan Green, Paris Buttfield-Addison, Jon Manning, Melanie Perkins, Catherine Eibner, Dale Rankine, Jenny Vandyke, Stuart Hall, Scott Handsaker, James Riggall, Ken Macken, Jeremy Arimado, Julie Trell, Rohen Sood, Leighton Wells, Kate Cornick, Tony Burrett, Vanessa Hutchinson, Miguel Wood, Kate Gittings, Rachael Neumann, Sally-Ann Williams, Murray Hurps, Emily Rich, Aaron Birkby, Shane Morris, Connor Lappin, Marcus Marten-Coney, Matthew Dobson, Aainaa Rahman, Anne-Marie Elias, Mark Gustowski, Cat Matson, Terry Gold, Kate Taylor, Asher Wolf, Sarah Moran, Steven Cooper, Lisy Kane, Amanda Watts, April Staines, Amanda Miller, Mike Nicholls, Paul Osborne, Emma Howchin, Jodie Hilton, Sarah Grace Worboys, Susan Jones, Summer Howarth, Kirsteene Phelan, Georgia Mcdonald, Riad Chikhani, Adam Krongold, Didier Elzinga, Casey Farrell, Leanora Jackson Collett, Dave Sag, Stuart Stoyan, Boston Szephora,Pandora Shelley, Alexis Hurditch, Nesh Sooriyan, Andrew Fraser, Murray Galbraith, Elana Rubin, Hannah Glass, Clare Rutherford, Claire McGregor, Simon Spencer, Ryan Cross, Mat Beeche

Annie Parker is available for further comment: +61 477 384 201 or annie.parker@lighthouse.sydney

We have been overwhelmed by the number of people and organisations wishing to sign and support this statement. We have stopped adding names, but are working on next steps and will be in touch soon.