The Broadsheet: December 15th

December 15, 2014, 12:44 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers. Sony co-chairman Amy Pascal can’t seem to escape mounting criticism after hackers leaked thousands of her emails, and a shakeup at Christie’s has spectators wondering if something big is up at the historic auction house. Read on to learn why I don’t think we can throw in the towel just yet on Germany’s plan to use quotas to get more women onto corporate boards. Enjoy Monday!


Jobs left behind. While the female labor participation rate is growing in many developed countries, the U.S. rate is declining. A shortage of generous work-family policies and inflexible work arrangements for new moms are cited as the chief reasons why American women are leaving the workforce for good after having children.  NYTimes


 Into pieces. On Saturday, Congress passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill and avoided a partial government shutdown. Neither side of the aisle is particularly pleased with the bill, particularly Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who voted no because of provisions that would weaken the Dodd-Frank Act's restrictions on banks. "I agree with you, Dodd-Frank isn't perfect," Warren said before voting. "It should have broken [the big banks] into pieces ... If we want to open up Dodd-Frank, let's do it and really end 'too big to fail' rather than just saying we did." Time

 'Fire your PR guy.' Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal continues to feel the heat after hackers leaked thousands of her emails. When Pascal was not included last month in a roundtable interview with top film studio executives, her husband sent her an email saying she should fire her PR guy. Six days later, Sony Pictures’ head of corporate communications, Charles Sipkins, left the company. “That’s ridiculous,” Pascal said to accusations that the email is the reason Sipkins was fired. “That has nothing to do with it."  Bloomberg

'I never thought about the power.' Anne Sweeney, who is resigning in January as co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney/ABC Television Group, plans to pursue the less powerful profession of television directing. Despite holding the title of Hollywood Reporter's Most Powerful Woman in Hollywood for nine out of 10 years, Sweeney says she thinks power is just "sitting in a chair with your hands folded and saying, 'I'm done.'" Hollywood Reporter

 Shakeup at Christie's? After the auction house unexpectedly announced that Patricia Barbizet would become chief executive, people are speculating that major change may be ahead -- perhaps even a restructuring. Considered a powerful deal maker, Barbizet is still relatively unknown in the art world.  WSJ

 Gucci getaway. Amid declining sales, Gucci CEO Patrizio di Marco and creative director Frida Giannini are leaving the company. Giannini, who is in a relationship with di Marco, struggled to give the brand the same allure it had under previous creative directors.  NYTimes


It's all German to me

Last week marked a historic moment for German women. Under the leadership of Chancellor Angela Merkel, the German government adopted a bill that will require large companies to fill 30% of their supervisory board seats with women. The bill also mandates that large and midsize companies set binding targets to get more women into top management.

Merkel, largely considered to be the most powerful woman in global politics, initially rejected the reforms entirely. It wasn't until 2013 -- after much pressure from within her own party -- that the female head of state changed her tune. "This law is an important step for equality because it will initiate cultural change in the workplace," said Merkel.
The main argument behind quotas for women on boards is simple: More women in the boardroom will lead to more women in executive leadership and top management positions. But in Norway, where board quotas were enacted in 2003, there has not been an increase in the overall number of female executives -- leading quota opponents to insist that Germany will not get the "cultural change in the workplace" that Merkel is seeking.
Yet we should caution Germans from looking at what happened in Norway and assume the same results. Germany and Norway are very different countries with very different histories. Those histories have infused a different meaning into boardroom quotas that will no doubt influence the policy's implementation. In the U.S. for example, quotas seem to be all but out of the question as most American politicians and policy experts continue to strongly oppose them. Recently when I asked Janet Hill, a board members of Wendy's Company, Dean Foods, The Carlyle Group and Echo360, her take on the possibility of quotas in Germany, she said she couldn't comment because she doesn't fully understand German workplace culture. But in America, for better or for worse, when people hear quotas, they automatically assume that it means unqualified people will assume the roles, she added.
One can hope that Merkel's last minute adoption of quotas may be a sign that she thinks German business leaders will hear something different -- and act accordingly. And since I don't speak the language, and neither do most Norwegians, I think it's a bit far reaching to assume failure before the policy is even signed into law. 
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 A guide for men. In an attempt to demystify how women want to be treated at work, Joanne Lipman of The Wall Street Journal outlines a guide for men on women in the workplace. Even the most well-intentioned male managers get a lot of things wrong, writes Lipman, and doing things like showing women that you respect them by not calling them "girls" goes a long way toward improving work relationships.  WSJ

Disagree with your boss. "In the best workplaces, constructive disagreement can be a means for self-discovery and organizational development as it builds a stronger bond with the boss," writes Barbara Dyer, president and CEO of The Hitachi Foundation.  Fortune

Be patient. Sally Smith, CEO of casual dining chain Buffalo Wild Wings, says not rushing through the hiring process is critical to any successful recruiting effort. "We use the phrase 'wait for great' in hiring," she said. NYTimes


As a leader, is it better to be feared or loved?  Fortune

Feminism can stand without Jackie.  Slate

Getty Image's CFO on getting more women into the C-Suite  Fast Company

I covered the White House for 40 years -- this is what I saw  Politico

Do companies with female CEOs really hire more women leaders?  Bizwomen


In some of those quiet moments, and realizing what I was hearing from women again about their needs, I started to think, 'My gosh, to give voice to some of these things, it’s going to take a woman.' Just the way we speak about it is different than a man. We need men and boys as part of talking about women and girls, absolutely. But it’s going to take women to push these issues forward and get them on the global agenda.

Melinda Gates telling the Wall Street Journal about her latest push to support women and global economic development.