If your tech company doesn't have any women on its board—and almost no female executives at all—it's probably not a good idea to call one of your critics "Carrot Top" and get huffily defensive on Twitter.
Twitter, a company of around 2,000 employees, doesn't have a single woman on its board, and very, very few female executives of any kind. After the New York Times ran a pointed article to this effect, the company's CEO Dick Costolo went on the (Twitter) defensive.
The portion of Claire Cain Miller's article is a quote from academic and author Vivek Wadhwa:
“This is the elite arrogance of the Silicon Valley mafia, the Twitter mafia. It’s the same male chauvinistic thinking. The fact that they went to the I.P.O. without a single woman on the board, how dare they?”
This tweet from the man in charge surfaced quickly after the article made the rounds:
@rich1 Vivek Wadhwa is the Carrot Top of academic sources.— dick costolo (@dickc) October 5, 2013
Not exactly a thoughtful or measured reply! If you want to look like you're taking something seriously, making a joke about a comedian isn't the straightest route. You might even say it was dismissive—plenty of concerned tweeters thought so:
Wow, @dickc. THAT's how you choose to respond publicly to that article + the valid criticism therein? I'm floored.— Jen Bekman (@jenbee) October 5, 2013
Dude, weak. RT TWITTER CEO “@dickc: Vivek Wadhwa is the Carrot Top of academic sources.”— David Sarno (@dsarno) October 6, 2013
Realizing, maybe, that a Carrot Top joke wasn't the best response to a very legitimate criticism of his about-to-go-public tech giant, Costolo started to give real replies:
@wadhwa you're not seeing my point. you give people an easy out by just checking a box. The issues are much bigger than checking any 1 box.— dick costolo (@dickc) October 5, 2013
@anildash Well, that's exactly it. The whole thing has to be about more than checking a box & saying "we did it!" & you DO concur. SO MUCH!— dick costolo (@dickc) October 5, 2013
Twitter will surely snap up a woman for its board as soon as possible, in order to deflect this kind of criticism. Which I guess, is better than nothing. But in the meantime, it doesn't help that the company's chief will only talk about problem with other dudes on Twitter.