Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Emma Hinchliffe here to kick off the week. Huawei’s CFO files a lawsuit over her detention, we meet America’s potential First Gentlemen, and French feminists earn a linguistic victory. Have a marvelous Monday.
•Victoire pour le féminin. Feminist victories take different forms. In France, one such victory is as simple as adding an “e.”
The Académie française, the body that serves as the “guardian” of the French language, last week determined that it would accept feminized versions of the French nouns that refer to professions. Think professeure instead of professeur, and avocate instead of avocat. (That’s lawyer, not avocado.)
As a former French major (albeit briefly!), I was fascinated by this story. In the English-speaking world, we’re moving away from gendered words when it comes to work. “Comedienne” is hopelessly outdated, and stars like Geena Davis have even questioned whether we need “actress” instead of “actor.”
But in France, gender-neutral professions were a matter of exclusion rather than equality. The entrance of women into the workforce coupled with the strange way language evolves led to some head-scratching linguistic quirks: l’ambassadrice referred to the wife of a male ambassador, while a female ambassador would be called the male l’ambassadeur. The same went for la presidente.
French writer Faustine Wohlfart put it best on Twitter, describing what this change means to women in France:
I say “women in France” because France is very behind on this issue. Other French-speaking countries have been using these feminine terms for years; the stuffy Académie française, however, had said these versions of the nouns were “barbaric.”
The Académie, in fact, surprised language-watchers with this decision last week. Sometimes the small changes really are big. Félicitations!
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Looking good, Saks. Fortune‘s Phil Wahba tours Saks Fifth Avenue’s Manhattan flagship location, the beneficiary of a $250 million renovation. The revamp—replete with a multicolor escalator and a redefinition of what goes on the first floor of a luxury department store—is part of Hudson’s Bay Company CEO Helena Foulkes’s strategy for turning around the retail group. Phil also has a Q&A with Foulkes, who says that Hudson’s Bay Company’s improved financial position today is allowing it to invest in Saks.
• Meet your First Gentlemen. With all the female 2020 candidates, First Gentleman isn’t a title whose speculation is limited to Bill Clinton anymore. The Huffington Post introduces us to Jonathan Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren’s husband Bruce Mann, and Kamala Harris’s husband Douglas Emhoff.
• ‘The right thing to do.’ The founder and CEO of British fashion group Ted Baker has stepped down amid allegations of misconduct, including “forced hugs” and ear-kissing. Ray Kelvin denies the claims, but he’s resigned nonetheless, stating that “the right thing to do is to step away from Ted and allow the business to focus on being the outstanding brand it is so it can face 2019 with fresh energy and renewed spirit.”
• Huawei check-in. Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei CFO arrested over the company’s alleged violation of Iran sanctions, has sued the Canadian government over her detention in Vancouver. Detained while changing planes at Vancouver’s airport in December, Meng claims in her lawsuit that she was denied access to a lawyer and that her legal rights were violated as she was questioned for three hours “under the false pretense of a routine border check.” The United States has requested Meng’s extradition.
Wall Street Journal
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Sharon Thorne will take over June 1 as chair of the Deloitte Global board of directors, the first woman in the role. Ralph Lauren CFO Jane Nielsen was promoted to EVP and COO along with her CFO title. Katherine Tooley joins Refinery29 as SVP, experiential, overseeing 29Rooms. Riot Games, which has been troubled by an allegedly sexist culture, hired Angela Roseboro as its chief diversity officer. Ali Harnell joins Live Nation to head a new division focused on supporting women in live music. Estonia is set to get its first female prime minister in Kaja Kallas, so long as she can form a coalition government.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Girls, erased? CBS’s 60 Minutes last night aired a segment about closing the gender gap in the tech industry. Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, has taken issue with it for failing to feature any “girl-focused” organizations. “By omitting the expertise and experience of woman-led organizations pioneering efforts to bring more girls into computing, 60 Minutes is contributing to a long and ugly history of media erasing women in tech,” she wrote in a Medium post.
• Priorities in private. While companies pledge progress on diversity, most executives leading diversity initiatives in the office say their employers don’t prioritize their work. This analysis comes from executive recruiter Russell Reynolds Associates:
• Zola gets an ‘I do.’ The wedding industry is a notoriously hard one to disrupt. In fact, Shan-Lyn Ma’s Zola is the only successful wedding startup since The Knot in 1996. A look at what Zola got right:
• ‘The boss? You’re looking at her.’ I loved reading through this New York Times feature on women in construction and real estate. “There are no men running this company,” says Evergreen Construction founder Barbara Kavovit, pictured posing with a ladder. “The buck stops with me.”
New York Times