Good morning, Broadsheet readers. Tomorrow morning at 8AM on CBS, Fortune Senior Editor Pattie Sellers will announce our 2014 Most Powerful Women in Business list. Read on for why it often takes a crisis before women are brought into leadership roles. Have a great Wednesday!
• Meet the Heineken dynasty’s secretive heir. Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken is one of the richest women in Europe and one of the world’s least-known billionaires. But now the sole heir to the Heineken fortune finds herself in the spotlight, fending off SABMiller’s aggressive efforts to buy her family’s company.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Gender pay gap still wide. Women earned 78.3 cents for every dollar men earned in 2013, according to a Census Bureau report. One encouraging note is that the pay gap narrowed last year for the first time since 2007.
• Anheuser-Busch ‘not yet satisfied.’ The parent company of the official beer of the NFL issued a statement on Tuesday to express its dissatisfaction over the league’s actions in wake of the Ray Rice scandal. “We are disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season,” said a representative of the company.
• Somaly Mam: ‘I didn’t lie.’ After months of silence, the anti-trafficking activist spoke with Marie Claire about a Newsweek report that raised questions regarding the legitimacy of her story. “I was not silent. I had so many lives to fix,” she says. “For me, it’s not about fighting with everyone. My priority was the girls. That’s not silence.”
• Kirsten Gillibrand’s choice words. The New York senator shared with HuffPost Live her reaction when a male labor leader harassed her about her weight several years ago. “At that moment, if I could have just disappeared, I would have. If I could have just melted in tears, I would have. But I had to just sit there and talk to him. … I didn’t hear a word he said, but I wasn’t in a place where I could tell him to go f**k himself.”
• Pistorius judge under 24-hour police protection. Judge Thokozile Masipa, who will decide the fate of South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius, has been repeatedly threatened after finding him not guilty of premeditated murder but guilty of culpable homicide. Masipa has yet to decide on a punishment, which could be up to 15 years in prison.
• MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Teri List-Stoll, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Kraft Foods Group Inc., joins Microsoft’s board of directors… Former Michael J. Fox Foundation CEO Katie Hood is now CEO of the One Love Foundation, an organization launched in the memory of Yeardley Reynolds Love, a UVA senior who lost her life at the hands of her ex-boyfriend just two weeks shy of graduation… NBCUniversal chairman Bonnie Hammer has joined the board of directors of IAC, the media and entertainment company led by Barry Diller.
Why it takes a crisis to get women in leadership
The NFL has suddenly decided it would bring in new leadership to fix problems that have been plaguing it for decades.
On Monday, commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to the league’s teams announcing that he hired three women to “help lead and shape the NFL’s policies and programs relating to domestic violence and sexual assault.” Lisa Friel, Jane Randel and Rita Smith previously worked in the field of domestic violence prevention and education. A day later, the NFL said former White House official Cynthia Hogan would take over as SVP of public policy and government affairs.
The decision to hire key women into leadership positions comes amid a controversy that is threatening the values and integrity of the league. Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punched his then-fiancee unconscious in an elevator and was initially suspended for only two games. The light punishment prompted a national outcry, and only after a graphic video of the incident was released did Goodell reverse course and suspend Rice from the league indefinitely. Yet Rice is by no means the first player to be charged with domestic violence: In the last two years, police have arrested at least 14 NFL players for violence against women.
Why does it take a full-blown crisis for organizations to bring in women to key leadership positions? The answer is a complicated one, but it is perhaps rooted in the stereotype that women don’t take risks. As the NFL works to restore its image as a family-friendly organization worthy of female fans, the last thing it wants is to bring in risk takers who could make the problem worse. Instead, they hire women who they believe can manage the crisis in a calm and effective manner.
“Organizations wait until a crisis to bring women into positions of power because they realize the current strategy isn’t working and a new approach is needed,” says Sylvia Ann Hewlett, founder and CEO of the Center for Talent Innovation . “We are still very much in need of a cultural shift in which the preferred leader is not one who displays the stereotypical male strengths.”
We see the same trend of bringing in women only when things start going really south in business as well. In July, American Apparel appointed the first two women to its board of directors after its now ousted CEO got caught up in a sexual harassment scandal. Sexual harassment has been an issue that the company dealt with for years, but it took the very public firing of its CEO for American Apparel to address the issue. Other notable examples include the appointments of former Alcatal-Lucent CEO Pat Russo and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina. Both women were brought in during incredibly difficult financial and cultural times at the company.
If these women were in positions of leadership to begin with, the crises that spurred their hiring may not have even happened in the first place. The stereotype that women don’t take risks is just that, a stereotype. Yet studies prove that organizations with women in power outperform their peer organizations with exclusively male leadership. My hunch is that if Goodell had brought in advisors to consult on domestic violence and sexual assault, the Ray Rice controversy would have been resolved months ago. The same goes for American Apparel, and I’m sure countless other organizations that decided to address an issue only when it was potentially too late.
“No matter what companies assume about women, you will often see women lead with courage in crisis,” says Kate Bensen, the president and CEO of the women leadership group The Chicago Network. “Even if they think they are getting someone “safe” they might get someone who takes risks that are good for everybody.”
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• GE CMO: How I sell an idea. Beth Comstock openly admits that she has been “called an idiot more often than an innovator,” but that offering up bad ideas is key to discovering a good one. Before pitching an idea, she says you should “ask yourself, do I believe in this idea and am I willing to appear foolish by telling others?”
• Orange Is the New Black Author talks ‘strength of women.’ Piper Kerman, the author of best-selling memoir that is the basis for Netflix’s original series, spoke with Politico about her time in prison and her inspiration to write the book. “I am just a passionate believer in — and also a very fortunate benefiter of — the strength of women. I think it’s important for women to help each other navigate sometimes sort of difficult situations,” says Kerman.
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|First, the practical. Do you have enough money to support yourself? As the founder of a start-up, it’s not about how much cash you can make, but how little you can make and for how long...You will fail; it’s just a matter of what you fail at and how quickly you recover.|
|-- Ellevate Network Chair Sallie Krawcheck on moving from corporate exec to entrepreneur.|