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The World’s Most Powerful Women: October 28

Oct 28, 2016

There's so much talk about how companies should add more diversity to their workforces, especially upper management. But how does a leader actually change the ratio?

Meetup, a U.S.-based platform that connects people with similar interests for real-life get-togethers, gives us at least one example. It went from a mostly white, male company to one where now eight of the 18 most senior executives are women. Backchannel's Jessi Hempel wrote about the transformation. Here are some of the ways CEO Scott Heiferman made it happen:

    1. The first step is always admitting the need for change, right? Heiferman did just that, having an "aha" moment after an ill-fated attempt to introduce Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In book to (only) his female employees.
    2. He made one of his first big female hires from within. Caroline Simard, at Stanford's Clayman Institute on Gender Research, told Hempel that one of the best ways to add women to management is to pull from an internal talent pool. Yet it rarely happens because leaders are concerned that a female employee won't succeed in a role she hasn't had before. Whereas they assume a male employee will succeed no matter his background. "[W]e hold women to a higher standard," Simard said.
    3. Heiferman didn't rely on a recruiting firm to find female candidates. By turning to his personal networks, he was able to find non-traditional candidates.
    4. And for his CTO role, Heiferman recruited someone who wasn't looking for a new opportunity. "No women applied for the job" is not a valid excuse for a homogeneous workforce. The talent is out there, leaders just have to find it.

    These steps are subtle, but that's the point, Hempel writes. Diversifying a company happens " deliberately and often maddeningly slowly, one-by-one, starting at the top of the organization."

    clairezillman

    EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

    Getting the green light

    U.K. PM Theresa May received her biggest corporate endorsement since the Brexit vote yesterday when Nissan announced a new commitment to its plant in Sunderland, England despite the U.K.'s impending split from the EU. May had lobbied the Japanese carmaker for the decision since it will keep approximately 7,000 jobs in Northeast England, but her office denies she struck a sweetheart deal with the company.

    Fortune

    Angela v. algorithms

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel is demanding that search engines reveal the secrets of their algorithms so the public knows on what basis it receives information. The lack of transparency, she said, "can lead to a distortion of our perception" and "shrink our expanse of information."

    Guardian

    Widespread abuse

    In an Inter-Parliamentary Union survey of 55 female MPs in 39 countries, more than 40% of the women interviewed said they received threats of death, rape, beatings or abduction while serving their terms. The sample size was small, but an IPU rep said the findings still indicate “the problem is much more widespread and under-reported than we realize."

    BBC

    THE AMERICAS

    Raising red flags

    The hacked Clinton emails released by WikiLeaks reveal Chelsea Clinton as a daughter determined to preserve her father's legacy and defend her family's foundation. She was especially concerned about the mingling of the foundation's philanthropic efforts and the business interests of its leaders—a blurred line that has haunted her mother on the campaign trail.

    New York Times

    Revving up

    Ford Motor has hired Laura Merling, a Silicon Valley executive with deep experience in connected devices and machine learning, to bring self-driving cars to market. Merling, who ran her own Internet of things consultancy, will be VP of autonomous vehicle solutions at Ford Smart Mobility. The Palo Alto-based subsidiary is developing Ford's transportation services such as car-sharing.

    Fortune

    Show them the money

    New York Magazine has a great run-down of how 25 famous women—from Taylor Swift to Meryl Streep to Oprah—asked for raises. Diane von Furstenberg has a rather frank piece of advice: "But do NOT be a victim, be a leader." And Nicki Minaj has these words of wisdom: "If you know you’re great at what you do, don’t ever be ashamed to ask for the top dollar in your field."

    New York Magazine

    ASIA-PACIFIC

    Back and forth

    Gina Rinehart, Australia's richest woman, is in an out-and-out bidding war with four cattle farming families for ownership of cattle company S. Kidman. Earlier this week, the families topped the original offer by Rinehart and her Chinese partner, but Rinehart came back with an even bigger figure yesterday. She also vowed to acquire 100% of Kidman herself if members of her consortium face regulatory trouble.

    Financial Times

    Cash during a crisis

    The accident on Tuesday that killed four people at a Dreamworld amusement park in Australia has prompted scrutiny of Deborah Thomas, CEO of Dreamworld parent Ardent Leisure. At the company's (ill-timed) annual meeting on Thursday, Ardent revealed that Thomas is set to receive performance bonuses of up to $840,000 over three years. Under public pressure, Thomas announced she'd donate the cash portion of her bonus—$167,500—to charity.

    Guardian

    IN BRIEF

    U.K. maternity leave firings cost 280M pounds a year, says equality watchdog

    Guardian

    These two millennials want to change the way we die

    Refinery29

    How Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama became political allies

    Fortune

    Two Yazidi women who fled ISIS slavery receive EU’s Sakharov Prize

    New York Times

    Former Miss Finland is 12th woman to accuse Trump of sexual assault

    Guardian

    PARTING WORDS

    "Not only is it great to work with a group of really skilled and powerful women, but also that there are men executives in Hollywood who are capable of recognizing female talent and supporting them."

    --Liza Johnson, on directing the pilot of the new Amazon series Good Girls Revolt, based on the landmark gender discrimination lawsuit against Newsweek in 1970.

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