Former Carta VP of marketing says the company did little internally to match its external mission.
Emily Kramer, former vice president of marketing at Carta Inc., filed a lawsuit against her one-time employer, alleging it paid her less than her male counterparts and that she was a victim of gender discrimination. The suit comes after Kramer helped Carta Inc. get a brand off the ground that stood for fair compensation for women in startups. Carta makes software utilized by an estimated 14,000 companies to manage data for their shareholders and, in its 8 years of existence, has acquired more than $600 million in venture capital.
Since 2018, the San Francisco-based company has published research showing men have historically been wealthier than women in Silicon Valley and has supposedly made it a focus to close the gender-equity gap. A 2018 Carta study found women make up 35% of stockholder employees and account for just a small portion of stock ownership.
Carta held a conference in 2019 called Table Stakes, where the chief executive officer, Henry Ward, announced, “Fair equity should be table stakes,” and in her role, Kramer was responsible for overseeing publication of the gender-pay research. Yet, she said the company did not live up to its own standards internally. She accused Carta of “repeatedly failing to live up to its promises of gender parity.” For example, according to the lawsuit, Ward pledged to add a woman to its male-dominated board by the end of 2019 and he still hasn’t done so.
“There are so many mission-driven companies in Silicon Valley, and some are genuine. But a lot of times, they are not practicing what they are preaching,” Kramer said. “As the only woman exec, I championed these efforts and I was proud to do so…Equity has this massive impact on private wealth. Companies have an obligation to issue equity more fairly. That’s what Carta stood for, and I was really excited for the opportunity to tell that story. But when this is all happening behind the scenes, the hypocrisy becomes really bothersome.”
A few months after Kramer joined Carta’s team, the company audited employee compensation to ensure both men and women were receiving fair salaries. As a result of its findings, records show 40% of the women at Carta received an equity fix, compared to 32% of the men and “Carta raised Kramer’s salary by $50,000 and tripled her stock grants,” according to court documents. Yet, Kramer said Ward avoided promoting her or even taking her seriously because of her gender. He even promoted a male employee with less experience.
In November 2019, Kramer said a meeting with Ward “spiraled out of control.” According to the complaint, Ward told Kramer she was “in violation of a ‘no assholes’ policy,” that she was “like an alcoholic who needed to admit her problem and have a full-scale recovery from being an asshole.” He also said she had “gotten passes because she is a woman.” That was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Kramer resigned two days later.