Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Oscar nominations come with good and bad news, Brexit inspired a long-overdue change in the U.K.’s House of Commons, and the Davos crowd still has some work to do on gender diversity. Have a wonderful Wednesday.
• Tone-deaf in Davos. I’m at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this week. The annual meeting of business and world leaders is noble in its mission of trying to solve some of Earth’s biggest problems, but the meeting itself and the surrounding circus are, at times, guilty of tone-deafness that can border on hypocrisy. For instance, WEF is peddling a “Globalization 4.0” theme amid protectionist trade wars and the rise of populist regimes. It fosters talk of combating climate change—with input from leaders who arrive by private jet. And on Tuesday, Joseph Lubin, founder of blockchain software technology company Consensys, wore a “Women in Blockchain” t-shirt to speak on a Consensys-sponsored blockchain panel with…no women. (I should note that my colleague Robert Hackett moderated the discussion.)
It was almost as if Lubin wanted someone in the audience to ask about his shirt and why he wore it in such a setting.
So I did. Or rather, I asked, with a reference to his attire, what steps he and the other panelists were taking to ensure that the blockchain industry—with its claims of vast, world-changing potential—was an inclusive space.
“It’s absolutely a problem; diversity is a problem. We pay a ton of attention to it,” Lubin said as he plugged the group behind the shirt. Women in Blockchain works to connect women in the field and advocates for them to shape the future of the technology. On the whole, he said, the Davos panels sponsored by Consensys were close to gender parity.
Fellow panelist Brian Behlendorf, executive director of Hyperledger, an open-source initiative for blockchain technology, said Hyperledger’s governing board chair Blythe Masters had recently led a successful vote that committed the governing body to reaching a 50-50 gender make-up in the next two years.
“We need a top-down approach,” Behlendorf said, “not just bottom-up.”
Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple, touted the share of women in the payments company’s upper ranks—three of its top 13 leaders are women and its board is 30% female. The lack of diversity that plagues the broader sector, he said, “is not unique to blockchain.” The diversity statistics in technology in general speak for themselves, he said, “and not in a good way.”
My question was by no means a novel one. Frankly, it’s one the panelists should be used to answering. The blockchain and cryptocurrency industries have faced scrutiny for years now about their stark lack of diversity. Fortune itself asked in 2017 whether Bitcoin represented a new financial system or the same old boys’ club.
The blockchain ecosystem is “maturing,” the panelists said; it’s learning what use cases apply and which ones do not. But diversity is one problem that seems to still be confounding its experts.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• And the nominees are... Oscar nominations are in, and—you guessed it: Women were completely locked out of the Best Director category once again. On the good news front, Yalitza Aparicio landed a Best Actress nomination for her role in Roma, making her the first Indigenous woman—and just the second Mexican woman—to be recognized in the category.
• A Brexit win? After Labour MP Tulip Siddiq delayed the birth of her son via C-section to vote against Theresa May’s Brexit deal, the U.K.’s House of Commons is introducing proxy voting to allow someone else to vote in a member’s place while they’re on parental leave.
• Hollywood’s new odd couple. Fortune‘s Sheila Marikar dives into Quibi, the new short-form video venture set to debut from Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg. The “odd couple” have a grand vision for the future of their company and video.
• Missed opportunity? Instead of Mike Pence, we almost had Joni Ernst. The Iowa senator revealed in divorce filings that she turned down an offer to be President Trump’s veep out of concern for her family and husband, who she says “hated any successes” she had and was physically abusive.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Jeanne Lim will be CEO of Hanson Robotics. Sandra O’Sullivan takes over as chief people officer at Carbon Black; Amy Robinson leaves the job for a new position focusing on leadership coaching. Melissa Frieswick joins Maven as chief revenue officer.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• ERA in VA. Virginia is entrenched in a battle to become the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, which would push the legislation past its 38 state requirement. A GOP-controlled state House subcommittee buried the proposed amendment, but activists and lawmakers are working to resurrect it on Friday.
• Class is back in session. The Los Angeles teachers’ strike came to a close Tuesday with a tentative deal for a 6% pay increase and caps on class sizes. The largely female, Latino workforce had been picketing in its first strike in 30 years since last week.
Los Angeles Times
• A Real IPO. TheRealReal, the luxury consignment platform led by Julie Wainwright, is reportedly in talks with bankers about an IPO later this year.
Business of Fashion
• The other MLM casualty. Multi-level-marketing companies target women to sell makeup, leggings, and more, leading them into risky financial territory. But these companies also compromise relationships, especially female friendships. “She had zero interest in what was going on in my life and had no intention of forming or reconnecting a friendship. Needless to say, we haven’t talked since,” one woman says of feeling duped by a friend selling through an MLM.