Ellen Pao today announced the launch of Project Include, a new advocacy group that aims to promote greater diversity in the largely male dominated tech industry.
The group, started by Pao and a group of female engineers and executives, including employees at Slack, Pinterest and other Bay Area companies, will create initiatives that help make the hiring practices at tech companies, particularly in the startup space, more inclusive.
“Project Include started as dinner brainstorming sessions on how to make tech meaningfully more diverse,” said Pao in a statement sent to MobileSyrup. “Today we’ve joined forces to provide CEOs with comprehensive tools – frameworks, research, metrics, and recommendations – for diversity and inclusion. And the early feedback we’ve heard repeatedly from CEOs is, ‘I wish I had had this earlier.'”
In 2012 Pao sued venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, her former employer, for gender discrimination, alleging she was passed over for promotions and excluded from corporate events because of her gender.
Pao lost the trial and then later stepped down from her position as Reddit’s CEO following a targeted harassment campaign related to Reddit users being unhappy with the direction she took the divisive and often vitriol-filled online community, as well as the controversy surrounding her discrimination suit. The backlash she received sparked a debate both on the treatment of women in the technology industry and importance of transparency in a company that relies on volunteers like Reddit.
Project include plans to accept as many as 18 startups that are able to apply to receive hiring recommendations via a program called Start-Up Include.
“The CEO can’t do it alone. We want to give employees – including Diversity & Inclusion and People Operations leads – ways to convince others, especially CEOs who have not yet made diversity a priority,” reads Project Include’s website. “We want every tech employee to understand how diversity and inclusion helps everyone when designed thoughtfully. We also urge VCs to use their considerable influence to lead change in their firms and their portfolio companies.”
As well as her role as CEO at Reddit and junior investing partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Pao also worked as corporate director at Flipboard.