It’s been a tough year for women leading Fortune 500 companies. Their ranks fell from 32 to 24—fewer than 5% of the total. That’s inexcusably low, and a sign that American business still has a long way to go in making best use of its top talent.
Yet one sector is defying this trend: the defense industry. Four of the five top U.S. defense companies (if you count Boeing’s defense business separately) are now headed by female CEOs. That’s why Raytheon CEO Tom Kennedy these days is referred to as “the last man standing.”
Top gun in that group of weapon-making women is Lockheed Martin’s Marillyn Hewson, who is number one on this year’s Fortune Most Powerful Women list, and graces the cover of the October issue of Fortune magazine. In an age of rising geopolitical tension, Hewson’s Lockheed has scored billions of dollars in new contracts this year, has become leader in the race to develop high-tech hypersonic weapons, and has watched its market cap flirt with the $100 billion range.
Other defense CEOs on the list:
- General Dynamics’ Phebe Novakovic (#8)
- Northrop Grumman’s Kathy Warden, who takes over the CEO job at the end of the year (#22)
- Leanne Caret, who is CEO of Boeing’s defense, space and security division (#23)
Why has defense turned out to be a pacesetter for female leaders? In her story on the trend, Fortune’s Jen Wieczner notes the defense industry has to work closely with both the military and the government, which both have made significant strides promoting women in recent years.
More news below.
The latest round of U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports came into effect this morning. However, President Trump is threatening more—effectively, tariffs on all Chinese imports—and the Chinese government has now said no talks will take place while that threat stands. Beijing appears to have realized that there is nothing to be gained from meeting with Trump’s team ahead of the U.S. midterm elections in November. Bloomberg
Google CEO Sundar Pichai moved quickly to deny that Google employees influenced search results to push an anti-Islamophobic viewpoint—something that they were reported to have discussed doing. The report adds fuel to the perception that Google and other Silicon Valley giants suppress conservative viewpoints. Pichai: “While we will stay true to our long-held principles, Google itself is and must continue to be non-partisan.” Fortune
Barrick and Randgold
Canada’s Barrick and London-listed Randgold Resources are to create the world’s largest gold miner in an $18 billion merger. While the nearest competitor, Newmont, produced 5.3 million ounces of gold last year, the combined Barrick-Randgold operation should produce over 6.5 million ounces a year. It will be listed in Toronto and New York, with Randgold’s shareholders getting a 33.4% stake and the rest going to Barrick’s investors. Financial Times
Sky and Comcast
Sky has recommended that its shareholders immediately accept a $40 billion takeover offer from Comcast, rather than rival bidder 21st Century Fox, which bid $3.6 billion less. This has been a lengthy, three-round auction. Sky independent committee chair Martin Gilbert: “We consider the Comcast Offer to be an excellent outcome for Sky shareholders, and we are recommending it as it represents materially superior value. We are focused on drawing this process to a successful and swift close and therefore urge shareholders to accept the recommended Comcast Offer.” CNBC
Around the Water Cooler
Christine Blasey Ford will testify Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee about her allegation of sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, her lawyers said yesterday. Meanwhile, another woman has come forward: Deborah Ramirez, who said Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a drunken party back at Yale in the early 1980s. Reuters
Casino and Carrefour
There’s weirdness afoot in the world of French retail, where the Casino Group said it had rebuffed an approach from Carrefour—only to have Carrefour turn around and claim it never made any offer. Carrefour accused Casino of “untimely, misleading and groundless communications,” and said it was “surprised that Casino’s board of directors would have been submitted a merger proposal that does not exist.” Wall Street Journal
Tesla’s bid to emerge from “delivery logistics hell,” as CEO Elon Musk put it a week ago, this quarter includes a “door-to-door” service called Tesla Direct. At least, in some areas, including the Los Angeles metro area. “This is an exciting opportunity to get your hands on your car sooner and without having to go pick it up,” local delivery manager Jeremy Pomp emailed customers. “A Tesla Customer Experience Professional will drive your car to your home or office.” Electrek
Reinvent or Die
In the oncoming wave of AI, internet of things, blockchain and what-have-you, incumbents stand a good chance of prevailing—as long as they “move fast and at scale.” That’s according to McKinsey’s Daniel Pacthod, Kevin Sneader and Anand Swaminathan, who write for Fortune that legacy companies must “reinvent or die.” Fortune