Good morning, Broadsheet readers! YouTube diva Michelle Phan launches her own digital network, Melinda Gates wants to put cellphones into the hands of more women in the developing world, and researchers say workers should consider taking parental leave when their kids are teens (yes, you read that correctly). Have a great Thursday.
• Do as we say, not as we do. The tech community is speaking out about homophobic laws passed in Indiana and Arkansas. Following the lead of Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Apple CEO Tim Cook, execs from companies such as Yelp, Square, Twitter, Lyft, Airbnb, eBay and PayPal have signed a petition urging legislatures to forbid discrimination or denial of services for anyone. Re/Code points out that, while the petition is a good thing, Silicon Valley has its own serious discrimination problems when it comes to hiring—and promoting—women and minorities. Re/Code
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Calling all women. Melinda Gates writes about the ways that putting cellphones in the hands of women can help lift developing nations out of poverty. Phones provide digital financial services, which have the potential to connect more than two billion people to their first bank accounts, she explains. Yet in many countries, women are still far less likely to own a mobile phone then men are. NY Times
• A retailer goes down a size. American Apparel is laying off about 180 employees as new CEO Paula Schneider tries to streamline operations and conserve cash. To make a turnaround of the money-losing retailer even trickier for Schneider, the SEC has opened an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the departure of founder Dov Charney, who was booted last June. NY Times
• Phan’s fans. Social media sensation Michelle Phan has launched her latest venture, an online video network called ICON. Phan is best known as one of the biggest YouTube stars, but her new lifestyle network, a partnership with Dutch entertainment giant Endemol, is accessible on a broad range of social sites—Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and more. Want to know which of these platforms has the largest potential lifestyle audience? Keep a close eye on where Phan’s followers flock. Fortune
• Tilton tries a turnround. Lynn Tilton and her investment firm, Patriarch Partners, have filed a countersuit against the SEC, saying the agency violated her constitutional rights by bringing her case in the SEC administrative court and not federal court. The SEC, which is suing Tilton for collecting $200 million more in fees than she should have, declined to comment. Tilton went on a PR blitz yesterday, defending herself on Twitter, and going on CNBC to to dispute the SEC’s claims. Oh, and she also reassured anyone concerned about her wealth: “No one needs to worry about me not being able to live the lifestyle I have become accustomed to.” That’s a relief! Fortune
• Woman on a mission. Park Young Sun, an opposition lawmaker in South Korea, is on a one-woman crusade to get the Samsung Group to pay back profits from a $2.2 billion IPO that has since been ruled illegal. The fight illustrates the growing resentment some South Koreans feel toward the massive industrial groups that have led the nation’s economic rise. Bloomberg
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Teen titans. Willa, a new skincare company, is trying to reinvent Avon Ladies for the digital generation. The company will recruit teenage girls and young women to serve as direct-sales reps, paying them a 10% to 25% commissions. Founder Christy Prunier says she wants to tap teens’ entrepreneurial drive: “I think so much of being a girl is being told that you have to wait, and these girls are ready.” Fortune
• Leave later? Should working moms take parental leave when their kids are teens? A new study in The Journal of Marriage and Family found that the amount of time moms spend with their young children doesn’t have a strong correlation with kids’ behavior or academic performance. However, the researchers did discover that when mothers spend more time with their teenagers, the teens are less likely to engage in delinquent acts. Of course, not everyone buys these findings: The NY Times says the study’s methodology has serious flaws.
• Dropping the case. The Department of Justice won’t seek to prosecute former IRS official Lois Lerner on contempt of Congress charges, after concluding that she did nothing wrong by refusing to testify before a Congressional committee on the alleged IRS targeting of conservative, Tea Party-type nonprofits. WSJ
• Say something nice. Being generous with compliments can actually fight workplace inequality, says Shane Snow, chief creative officer at Contently. Why? When it comes to their accomplishments, women tend to toot their own horn less often than men do. Giving props to people for their good work helps ensure everyone gets the credit they deserve. Fortune
• RIP, Miriam. Miriam Bienstock, a co-founder of Atlantic Records, has died at the age of 92. Bienstock ran the company’s business side in its early years, but that description doesn’t begin to do justice to her actual role. Among her duties: “Arranging for the designing and printing of the record jackets; receiving the finished records and carrying them upstairs; repacking the records for shipment to distributors and record stores; and, not incidentally, collecting payments, keeping the books and paying the artists.” NY Times
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ON MY RADAR
How to make your company less sexist and racist The Atlantic
Eight tips for turning email introductions into actual relationships Entrepreneur
The Kardashians are getting another reality show EW
Carly Fiorina reaffirms her support for same sex civil unions Bloomberg
I’m just looking for equality, not to dominate. But I want to be able to control my vision.