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The World’s Most Powerful Women: October 20

Oct 20, 2016

When several women accused U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump of sexual assault last week, his campaign denied the allegations outright, and in doing so questioned why the alleged victims had waited so long to come forward. "[F]or this to only become public decades later in the final month of a campaign for president should say it all," Trump's spokesman said.

That comment compelled some women—using the hashtag #WhyWomenDontReport—to explain why some victims don't come forward right away—if at all. "Because we face a justice system that doesn’t protect us and a culture that doesn't believe us," one woman said. "For me, it was like re-living it all over again," said another.

At the final day of Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit, Anita Hill provided her own perspective. The Brandeis University professor, who in 1991 famously accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of workplace sexual harassment, told interviewer and TV host Chelsea Handler: "It was clear how I was treated in 1991 why I didn’t come forward before." Her claims some 25 years ago came with huge personal costs as her character and the veracity of her testimony were called into question. Yet she's also credited with catapulting the issue of workplace sexual harassment into America's national consciousness for the first time.

On Wednesday, she drew contrasts between her experience and how the subject is treated today. "We’re more energized in terms of what we do about sexual harassment and sexual assault," she said, but she still wants the question of why women don't report such incidents to shift from the victim to society at large. She says we should be asking: "Why didn’t we do more to motivate individuals to come forward?"

clairezillman

EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

Not granting any favors

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is not making things easy for her U.K. counterpart Theresa May. She's directed her government to cut off any back-channel discussions about Brexit in an effort to maintain a united EU front against the U.K.

Bloomberg

THE AMERICAS

A father-daughter difference

At the MPW summit yesterday, Ivanka Trump said she believes her father will accept the outcome of the November 8 election "either way." But at the third and final presidential debate a few hours later, Donald Trump did not confirm his daughter's remarks. When asked if he will honor the election's outcome, he responded, "I’ll tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense." Fortune's Tory Newmyer writes that his statement amounts to a stunning rebuke of the most basic democratic norms.

Fortune

Photo op

Ivanka Trump and Anita Hill, who appeared on stage at the MPW summit just moments apart, chatted briefly in the greenroom on Wednesday. The Daily Beast characterized their meeting, captured here in a photo tweeted by Fortune's Nina Easton, as a moment of "delicious irony."

Daily Beast

Strategic swearing

At the MPW summit yesterday, Intel EVP Diane Bryant recalled how she tried to assimilate into the company's male-dominated, "rough and tumble" atmosphere when she started there 31 years ago. One of her tactics? Learning to swear. She recalled one incident in particular: "This one guy throws out the F word, and then stops and turns to me—all eyes on me, 23-years-old—and says 'Oh, I’m sorry.’ And I said ‘no f-ing problem.'"

Fortune

ASIA-PACIFIC

Family matters

To comply with a 2013 rule that all public companies must have at least one woman director, some family-owned Indian firms have added a female relative to the board. One argument is that these women have no real voice in company matters, but Naina Lal Kidwai, former head of HSBC India, says the trend could change succession planning—which now favors sons—in the future.

BBC

Perking up in China

Starbucks yesterday named Belinda Wong as its first-ever CEO for China. Wong joined Starbucks in 2000 from McDonald's China Development Company and most recently served as president of the region for the coffee chain. Starbucks made the announcement as it set a goal of adding some 2,700 locations in China despite the nation's sluggish economy. 

Fortune

Voting for diversity

An Australian investment group—which collectively owns approximately 10% of the average ASX200 company—will start voting against sitting company directors whose boards are full of men. The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors plans to employ the approach next year as a way to achieve its goal of reaching 30% women on ASX200 boards.

Guardian

IN BRIEF

Trump called Clinton a "nasty woman" and her supporters turned it into a compliment

Vox

Can this woman save the consumer banking business at Wells Fargo?

Wall Street Journal

Reynolds American has named Debra Crew its new CEO

Fortune

The British woman who really knows what other women want to wear

The Times of London

The real-life Olivia Pope has some advice for Wells Fargo

Fortune

Amy Schumer delivers open letter after Trump supporters walked out of her show

People

Australian mining giant BHP Billiton aims for 50% of workforce to be women by 2025

Financial Times

PARTING WORDS

"The trash talk in both the primary and general election is derived from the fact that she’s a woman."

--Google and Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat on criticism of Hillary Clinton, whom she supports, speaking at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit.

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