Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Corporate boards are in denial about sexual harassment, Shari Redstone seems to want more control over CBS-Viacom, and the Bill Cosby trial drags on. Happy almost-Friday!
• Directors in denial. According to a survey of 180 directors at public and private companies by TheBoardlist and Qualtrics, most companies still aren’t discussing sexual harassment at the board level. While the majority (64%) of survey respondents said they had personally experienced harassment in their careers, directors said the topic was “not seen as relevant” at their companies. Less than a quarter of respondents had a plan of action as a result of the growing number of harassment revelations, and three quarters said they had “taken no other actions related to the broader national dialogue about sexual harassment.”
That most directors admit that they’ve experienced harassment, yet don’t see it as a widespread issue is a headscratcher—especially considering recently published statistics that nearly half of all working women have experienced some sort of sexual harassment at the office. The alternate explanation—and one I personally see as more likely—is that these directors are simply unwilling to entertain the possibility that it’s happening at the companies they advise. “It can’t happen here,” is such a common refrain that there’s even a term for it: normalcy bias. This bias leads people to follow a common behavioral pattern psychologists call the three Ds: denial, deliberation, and then, a decisive moment.
With that in mind, the current (lack of) action on behalf of corporate boards seems more rational. But that doesn’t make it okay.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Time for a cure. Medscape’s 8th annual Physician Compensation Report found that male physician specialists (i.e., non-primary care doctors) made 36% more than female ones. The racial disparity was equally worrisome: All non-white minorities made less money across the spectrum of medicine, but black doctors saw the biggest gap—they make $50,000 less than white doctors annually.
• Shari’s not sharing. Shari Redstone, head of National Amusements—which controls CBS and Viacom—is reportedly on the outs with CBS CEO Les Moonves and is considering replacing him with another executive after the CBS-Viacom merger. Recode’s Edmund Lee speculates that the hubbub is due to Redstone wanting more day-to-day control of the combined company post-merger.
• Here we go again? Bill Cosby’s defense attorneys called for a mistrial yesterday after one woman delivering a witness testimony addressed the entertainer from the stand to ask if he remembered abusing her. The motion was denied, but shows the challenges of trying the Cosby case—which pertains to only one woman, Andrea Costand—when there are dozens of accusations.
Wall Street Journal
• Head Coach Hammon? The New Yorker profiles former WNBA star and current assistant coach to the San Antonio Spurs Becky Hammon, who many speculate will be the NBA’s first female head coach. Hammon, however, is fairly “ambivalent” to the idea of herself as a trailblazer: “She recognizes that she is an inspiration for many young women, and a target for many wary men. At the same time, she resists the attention to her gender. ‘If you don’t want a female coach, don’t hire one!'”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Another RealReal round? Recode reports that The RealReal CEO Julie Wainwright is currently pitching investors about raising $100 million in new funding. The company has already raised more than $170 million since it launched seven years ago.
• Rescripting herstory. Robyn Doolittle, a reporter who spent four years and has “written hundreds of thousands of words” about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (including a book), is calling Hollywood sexist for casting a man to play a reporter in an upcoming film about the controversial politician. “Why have a woman be a lead character when a man could do it?” she tweeted sarcastically.
• 4 years after #BBOG. A hauntingly beautiful interactive piece about the schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram in April 2014—sparking the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. The New York Times photographs the girls—now women—four years later and shares their stories.
New York Times