It’s not often that private equity gets to feel like a diverse and enlightened industry, so First Round wanted to offer its thanks to Clifford Chance, law firm to many of the biggest names in the asset class, which has been trying to show its clients in the best possible light by sending spectacularly ill-judged email circulars to its own female staff.
First Round can’t quite make up its mind whether the internal memo in question (first brought to light by website AbovetheLaw.com) is actually meant to be serious. Sent, apparently, from the firm’s Women’s Committee, it’s a five-page document entitled ‘Presentation Tips for Women’, providing handy pointers on how women can maximise their impact in the workplace.
So far, so good. The problem is that the relatively useful tips (about knowing your audience, for example) are interspersed with a series of others that range from the banal (‘iron your shirt’) to the patronising (‘don’t giggle and squirm’; ‘move your mouth when you speak’; ‘no one heard Hillary [Clinton] the day she showed cleavage’), to the downright bizarre (‘adjust to room feng-shui’; ‘watch out for the urinal position’(?)).
Not surprisingly, some of the firm’s female staff didn’t take very kindly to this. “We have never been a very female friendly firm, but this is beyond the pale,” one associate told AbovetheLaw.com.
If only they’d got a lawyer to take a look at that memo before they sent it!