Good morning, Broadsheet readers! A flutist sues the Boston Symphony Orchestra over equal pay, companies are failing to protect saleswomen from harassment by clients, and another fund is focusing on female founders of color.
• Hearing a New Voice. Will we look back at 2018 as a turning-point year for female founders of color?
It’s a bit early to know for sure, but there have certainly been some promising signs. In May, Backstage Capital’s Arlan Hamilton announced her new $36 million fund dedicated to investing in black female founders. Then in June, Digitalundivided released a new study that reported (along with some much less encouraging findings) that the number of startups founded by black women has more than doubled since 2016. Now comes the New Voices Fund.
In an appearance at Essence Festival last week, SheaMoisture founder Richelieu Dennis announced New Voices, a $100 million fund for female entrepreneurs of color. In fact, he says the fund has already invested in or committed to more than $30 million in funding for black women entrepreneurs over the past six months.
For context: A previous report from Digitalundivided found that companies led by black female founders accounted for 0.2% of all venture capital deals from 2012-2014. That is a massive inequity, and not one that two funds—both of which are relatively small by VC industry standards—are going to be able to fix all by themselves. (Are there others out there that I should know about? Flag them for me at firstname.lastname@example.org.) But for those founders who are able to grow their businesses thanks to this newly available pool of cash, they could make all the difference.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• The client is NOT always right. This WSJ story explores a vital, but so far little discussed, question about how the #MeToo movement is playing out in corporate America: What happens when the harasser is a client? As the Journal puts it: “At many companies, client relationships are the most difficult to police – and the most important to protect. The conundrum is how to square the customer-is-king ethos with complaints, especially from women in client-facing jobs.”
• Breadwinner balancing act. I doubt it you’ll be shocked to learn that the share of women who out-earn their partners is increasing. Today, nearly a third of women who are married to or living with a man contribute at least half of the couple’s total earnings, compared to 13% in 1980. Yet our society is still holding on to a lot of old ideas about who does what in the workforce and at home. This story walks through a number of strategies for helping address “certain feelings and patterns [that] recur among heterosexual couples with female breadwinners.”
New York Times
• Happy bday, HRT. This weekend’s Google Doodle featured physician and women’s advocate Helen Rodriguez Trias, who would have celebrated her 89th birthday on Saturday. Rodriguez Trias, who founded the New York Latino Commission on AIDS, fought for better healthcare for women and children throughout her career. She died in 2001 from complications of cancer.
• Mom vs. MoMA. Nikki Columbus has filed a complaint with the NYC Commission on Human Rights, asserting that MoMA PS1 withdrew its offer to hire her to direct the museum’s performance program after learning that she had just had a baby. The museum did not comment on the case, citing its respect for privacy in personnel matters.
New York Times
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Fluting the law? Elizabeth Rowe, the top flutist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, has filed a gender pay discrimination suit against the ensemble, claiming that her compensation is only about 75% that of her closest comparable colleague, the orchestra’s principal oboist, who is a man. The suit appears to be the first under a new law in Massachusetts that requires equal pay for “comparable work.”
New York Times
• Swimsuit shakeup. Nearly half of Miss America’s board has quit or been forced to resign since the organization announced that it would it eliminate the swimsuit competition. Now, 22 state pageant leaders are seeking to oust Chairwoman Gretchen Carlson “over concerns about the pageant’s new direction.”
• While you were barbecuing... Therese Patricia Okoumou, the woman who climbed the bottom of the Statue of Liberty on the 4th of July, talks about why she did it (to protest the Trump administration’s treatment of migrant children), what went through her head as she tried to cling to the statue (“Are they going to shoot me?”), and perhaps the weirdest moment of her protest (she took a nap).
• Felicity in space. Keri Russell is reportedly in talks to join J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode IX, which Abrams is writing and directing. Russell and Abrams go way back—they last collaborated on 2006’s “Mission: Impossible III,” but also worked together on Russell’s star-making role, Felicity.