Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Alexis Ohanian talks about being a dad, women rule HR (for better or worse), and Steve Wynn is out—probably with a big golden parachute. Have a thoughtful Thursday.
• r/DadReflexes. Yesterday, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian announced to the world that he would be stepping down from his daily role at the company (he will continue to serve on its board). While part of his plans involve taking on a larger role at Initialized Capital, the VC firm he co-founded with Garry Tan, he also says the decision stems back to the “promise he made to this little poppy seed.” Ohanian is, of course, referring to his daughter with Serena Williams, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. After the birth of Alexis—or Junior, as he calls her—”all these dad reflexes kicked in,” he told me during a meeting at the Fortune offices yesterday.
The sub-Reddit r/DadReflexes is full of fun videos of fathers saving their kids from mischief, but Ohanian is referring to the reflex that triggered a newfound “superpower and purpose” when his daughter was born. He credits his company’s paternity policy—16 paid weeks—with providing the perspective that ultimately led to his decision to step back. “I was a believer before, but now I whole-heartedly believe that every single dad should take it.” Having that time off proved especially crucial because of the complications Williams faced during childbirth. “That really put into perspective how important these policies are.”
Ohanian has unwittingly become a role model for exhausted founders, he says; after he took leave, many of the men he mentors said they now feel they have “permission” to do the same. He did, however, notice a double standard during his time off: While speculation swirled about whether his tennis pro wife would come back to work, there was never any discussion about his desire to return to his role at Reddit. Granted, Williams is an athlete who had a difficult birth—but he still made note of the differences in expectations.
Ohanian is also acutely aware of the challenges faced by non-white-male founders, a problem that hits closer to home with the birth of Junior—though he points out that he knew it was an issue “before I had a black daughter.” He believes that using software to source deal flow, a process that Initialized is in the process of implementing (he declines to give specifics), will be hugely helpful in getting rid of some of the unconscious biases that have taken root in the VC world. Truly fixing the issue, however, will take more than automation. “It’s about finding those people who are adamant about solving a problem and giving them the network and resources to succeed,” he says. “I need to make the world better for my little person.”
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Pitching the pitchers. My colleague Polina—who writes Term Sheet, Fortune‘s excellent newsletter about deals and dealmakers—interviews “the most powerful woman in startups,” Ann Miura-Ko. The co-founder of VC firm Floodgate, Miura-Ko says about 20% of her pitches come from women (vs. 1-2% at most venture firms). The investor doesn’t see that as a good thing: “My pitch to female founders is stop [only pitching women]—pitch everyone. On the flip side, when I talk to other firms, I tell them that they need to hire women because it will open up a different deal flow.”
• Porter’s out. White House staff secretary Rob Porter said yesterday that he will resign after his two ex-wives accused him of physical and emotional abuse, one revealing a photo of her blackened eye. Administration officials say aides were generally aware of accusations against Porter for at least several weeks. Porter, who is dating communications director Hope Hicks, denies the allegations and has not provided a clear timetable for his resignation.
• Wynn’s golden parachute. Casino magnate Steve Wynn has stepped down as CEO and chairman after being accused of sexual harassment by multiple women. He says he felt compelled to resign due to “an avalanche of negative publicity.” Hold your applause, though—Fortune‘s Jen Wieczner crunches the numbers and reports that Wynn may leave with a golden parachute of $300 million (!)
• Chief HeR Officers. First, the good news: In nearly 60% of the 100 biggest U.S. companies by revenue, the chief HR officer is a woman, according to new data from Russell Reynolds Associates. Now, onto the bad: It’s also one of the few C-suite roles that almost never leads to the CEO position.
• An MPW talks MPW. In this podcast, Pattie Sellers, executive director of Fortune MPW Summits and Live Content, talks to financial guru Jean Chatzky about storytelling, entrepreneurship, and what she’s learned from decades of conversations with powerful women.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Liza Landsman, former president of Jet.com, is joining VC firm New Enterprise Associates as an investor. Naomi Pilosof Ionita is joining Menlo Ventures as an investing partner. Wendy Clark has been promoted to global president and CEO of DDB Worldwide. Denise Pickett was promoted to chief risk officer and president of the Global Risk, Banking and Compliance Group at American Express; Elizabeth Rutledge was promoted to CMO at the same company.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• The Ivanka of North Korea. Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, will arrive in South Korea as part of the country’s delegation that will attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, making her the first immediate member of the North’s ruling family ever to set foot in the South. That’s a big deal: South Korean media call her “Kim Jong-un’s Ivanka,” likening her influence on her brother to that of Ivanka Trump’s on her father.
New York Times
• Time’s up for Tesco. Tesco, the U.K.’s biggest retailer, is facing the country’s largest ever equal pay claim. Leigh Day, the firm representing about 1,000 female staff members, alleges that while the average hourly pay for women is $11, for men it could reach as high as $15.40. Tesco may have to pay up to $5.6 billion in compensation.
• Au pairs team up. A class-action lawsuit involving 91,000 au pairs—typically women aged 18 to 26 from Europe, Latin America, and Asia—is making the case that the U.S. au pair program violates wage laws and exploits young female workers. The suit alleges that the 15 sponsor agencies conspired to set the same wage nationwide, “which is far less than other child-care options and doesn’t meet minimum wage.” The defendants argue that the $4.35-an-hour rate doesn’t include the benefit of being housed and fed while on assignment.
Wall Street Journal
• Diversifying voices. Atlantic reporter Ed Yong writes about how, after realizing the gender imbalance in his earlier stories, he spent the past two years consciously including women in his lists of sources to call (which, he reports, took an estimated extra 15 minutes per piece). The result? “Four months after I started, the proportion of women who have a voice in my stories hit 50 percent, and has stayed roughly there ever since, varying between 42 and 61 percent from month to month.”
ON MY RADAR
TheSkimm is launching a new no-B.S. career advice podcast
Meet the First Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue of the #MeToo era
Macy’s will be the first U.S. department store to sell hijabs
Ten women sign letter accusing Northwestern journalism professor Alec Klein of sexual harassment and assault