Silicon Valley sexism is tragic: Roger McNamee

McNamee: Silicon Valley sexism talk long overdue
McNamee: Silicon Valley sexism talk long overdue

Silicon Valley venture capital firms are missing out on the opportunity for better returns by not recruiting more women, Elevation Partners co-founder Roger McNamee told CNBC on Tuesday.

The problem, he said, is that there is a notion that women have to act like men in order to be successful.

"You're missing out on the huge opportunities that would happen if we said 'wait a minute, women have a lot to bring to this party because they are women, because their experience is different and oh, by the way, we are in a consumer era today so 52 percent of the costumers are women,'" McNamee said in an interview with "Closing Bell."

"To me, it's tragic what's going on."

The issue of women, or the lack of them, at top venture capital firms was thrust into the spotlight after Ellen Pao sued Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers for sexual discrimination. Last week, a jury rejected her claims.

Read More In light of Pao: Where are women at top VC funds?

One of the problems, McNamee said, is that many people in engineering "his age" may have very well gone through college and graduate school without ever interacting with women in a professional setting.

"You almost need a generational change to get past that fear of treating women as real people," he said.

McNamee believes it is up to the partners to get rid of any predators in the firms and start supporting women.

"Even if you don't believe in the moral issue, which I personally think is a big deal, you have to focus on it as a returns issue because venture had no return at all from 2000-2012 as a category," he noted.

"It's long overdue. We're giving up great opportunities because we have this incredibly narrow-minded narcissistic view that in order for people to be successful they have to be just like us."