The Broadsheet: September 19th


Good morning, Broadsheet readers. We have more news coming to you today from Fortune’s Most Powerful Women in Business issue. There’s also a new woman CEO in the Fortune 500, and read on for 5 things you probably don’t already know about Mary Barra. Have a great weekend.


 Safra Catz becomes Oracle's co-CEO. Larry Ellison bumped himself upstairs to executive chairman and announced that longtime Oracle execs Safra Catz and Mark Hurd are now co-CEOs. The appointment makes Catz the 25th woman chief executive in the Fortune 500, bringing the percentage of female CEOs in that group to an all-time high of 5%. Yet the appointment of Catz as CEO is not entirely a clear win for women. She will share the CEO title with Hurd, who has a dicey past that includes a sex scandal that erupted in 2011. Also, the verdict is still out if the two CEOs will be able to get along. Fortune


 Alibaba's best-kept secret. As the Chinese tech giant embarks on its highly anticipated IPO today, meet two of its female co-founders: CFO Maggie Wu, who oversees Alibaba’s complex financial structure, and HR chief Lucy Peng, who created the company's talent department from scratch. Fortune

The queen of the vine. Barbara Banke, who took over at Jackson Family Wines in 2011, has become the public face not only of JFW, but arguably of the entire California wine industry. “Within five to 10 years, absent a miracle, there will be a global wine shortage,” Banke says. Her strategy? Expand aggressively before vineyard prices explode. Fortune 

 Facebook dominates performance of MPW companies. The average one-year return to investors at publicly-traded companies with chief executives on the MPW list was 26%. With more than an 80% one-year return on investment, Facebook was the top performing company on the list. Fortune

 You don't need an MBA to be an MPW. Only 18 of the 50 women on Fortune's MPW list have their MBAs. With the cost of a professional degree skyrocketing each year, our list proves you can get to the top of the corporate ladder without formal business training. Fortune

The women behind the first computer. The history of computing has largely focused on the contributions made by men. But in the 1940s, a group of six women worked in wartime secrecy at the University of Pennsylvania to build ENIAC, the world’s first programmable, all-electronic, general-purpose computer. In an excerpt from Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators, the author explores the story behind these remarkable women. “I had no idea what the job was or what the ENIAC was,” said Jean Jennings, one of the first female programmers. “All I knew was that I might be getting in on the ground floor of something new, and I believed I could learn and do anything as well as anyone else.” Fortune 


5 things you didn't know about GM CEO Mary Barra

General Motors' massive recall scandal has been a disaster. More than 29 million vehicles have been pulled from the market because of faulty ignition switches linked to at least 19 deaths. In Fortune's October 6th issue, Senior Editor At Large Geoff Colvin unpacks CEO Mary Barra's plan to shake up a troubling corporate culture that tried to quickly patch safety problems and then move on.  As she says, “Culture is how people behave.”

Colvin writes, "Barra has done the opposite, telling employees at a town hall meeting, 'I never want to put this behind us. I want to put this painful experience permanently in our collective memories.' It was clearly the right message, but was jaw-dropping at GM."

There has been a lot written about Mary Barra, but Colvin uncovered some new information. Here are five things that give a peak into what makes her tick:

1. She views feedback as a gift. As HR chief from 2009 to 2011, Barra toughened performance management, including adding a rating system, which was new. “I view feedback as a gift. Everyone can improve, whether you’re day one in the job or after 40 years on your job. I tell employee forums all the time, ‘If you’re having a performance review with your boss and they don’t give you something to work on, don’t leave his or her office.’”

2. She's unfazed by not being board chair. Some people say she’s hindered in changing the culture because authority is divided. Her response: “I have great support from my board, including my chairman, Tim Solso. He is very clear with my responsibility as management. I feel very empowered by my board. It concerns me not at all.”

3. She's not a consensus builder like her predecessors. A previous high executive, now retired, says, “Rick Wagoner [CEO 2000 - 2009] was a consensus-builder, a time-consuming process that was sometimes successful, sometimes not. Mary doesn’t have the patience to do that.”

4. She told the world about “the GM nod.” The phrase is everywhere now that the Valukas report on the massive ignition-switch recalls has highlighted it, but not many people know who told the investigators about it. “Mary Barra described a phenomenon known as the ‘GM nod.’ The GM nod, Barra described, is when everyone nods in agreement to a proposed plan of action, but then leaves the room with no intention to follow through, and the nod is an empty gesture,” says the Vaulkas report.

5. She has a military-grade leadership style. A former U.S. Army general thinks she’s an excellent leader. Thomas Kolditz, who retired as a brigadier general after teaching leadership at West Point, now teaches at the Yale School of Management. His view: “I’m a huge Mary Barra fan and think she’s doing about as good a job as anybody could do. It’s going to take a while to get the whole think fixed and going in the right direction. But I think she’s doing a great job.”

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Hillary Clinton talks to female voters. The former Secretary of State took part in a panel discussion hosted by the Center for American Progress devoted to women’s economic concerns. “The difference women and men face in getting the kinds of jobs that will provide the kind of income they need for themselves and their families is roiling beneath the surface of the political debates,” she said. "The floor is collapsing. We talk about a glass ceiling? These women don’t even have a secure floor."  NYTimes

 Wall Street workers think women get paid less. More than half of U.S. financial-services employees think women are paid less than their male counterparts, according to an eFinancialCareers survey. About two-thirds of women believe men are better at negotiating a raise or promotion, the survey also found.   Bloomberg

The Royal & Ancient Golf Club joins 21st century. The club, exclusively for men since being founded in Scotland 260 years ago, released a statement on Thursday saying that 85% of ballot participants voted to admit women.  Time

L'Oreal USA spotlights female entrepreneurs. L’Oreal USA Women in Digital is a program that recruits and promotes female entrepreneurs in technology. On Thursday, WID named the winners of its Women in Digital NEXT Generation Awards. They were: Victoria Eisner, co-founder and chief creative officer of GLAMSQUAD, Cynthia Breazeal, founder of Jibo Inc., and Tania Yuki, founder of Shareablee. 


How Shonda Rhimes became a TV legend  Vulture

Where is Roger Goodell?  HuffPost

Why girls get better grades than boys do  The Atlantic

Connie Britton and Kirsten Gillibrand were roommates in the 1980s  NYMag

Susan Glasser moves up at Politico Biz Women



I’m not asking people to do it. It’s a requirement—not only that they hold themselves accountable to do it, but they hold each other accountable. That’s the message I’ve delivered and will continue to drive through the whole organization. This is not optional.

Mary Barra on her mission to make GM employees more accountable for their actions. 

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