Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Remember Jessica Simpson? Turns out her clothing brand is still going strong–and has a new owner. Also in the headlines: IBM is taking a defensive stance against possible activist investors and an attorney weighs in on how Ellen Pao’s lawsuit could affect future gender discrimination cases. Have a great Friday and a fantastic weekend.
• A new duet partner. Jessica Simpson may be long gone from the pop charts, but her eponymous clothing, shoe and accessories line is still going strong. Sequential Brands Group is buying a majority stake in the star’s brand, which generates more than $1 billion in annual revenue. Sequential is no stranger to celeb-fronted brands; it also owns Justin Timberlake’s William Rast line of clothing. WSJ
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Big blues? Some IBM shareholders, disappointed by 11 straight quarters of falling revenue, have become dissatisfied with the leadership of CEO Ginni Rometty and are attempting to get help. Reuters reports that IBM is concerned about a possible intrusion by activist hedge funds, and the company is working with two investment banks to formulate a defense plan. Reuters
• Yellen takes a stand. Fed chair Janet Yellen says more work needs to be done to understand what conditions allow people to climb the income ladder. Some critics say she has no business wading into the politically charged issue, but Yellen is having none of it. She pushed back yesterday, saying that the Fed has long been focused on the gap between the rich and the poor, and that the issue is “a major concern in the minds of citizens around the world.” WSJ
• The post-Pao world. How will Ellen Pao’s defeat in her gender discrimination suit against Kleiner Perkins impact similar cases? Chandra Russell, an attorney who frequently represents employers in discrimination suits, says she thinks the verdict could have a chilling effect, making other plaintiffs less likely to take their cases to court. Fortune
• The report is in. The findings of an outside investigation into the flawed Rolling Stone story about an alleged gang rape of a female student at the University of Virginia will be published Sunday night. The report, put together by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, will appear on the websites of both Rolling Stone and the Columbia Journalism Review. USA Today
• Putting out the call. Farah Pandith, the U.S. State Department’s former special representative to Muslim Communities, wants to stop religious extremists from reaching Muslim millennials online. She believes that many young people in the Islamic community are facing identity crises that can be resolved only with the help and support of their peers. Pandith is calling on people across the U.S. to get involved, and to help create a more positive image of what it means to be a young Muslim today. Fortune
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Entrepreneur Jenny Lefcourt is joining Freestyle, an institutional angel fund, as a Partner in Freestyle Fund III. Lefcourt is the founder of online registry WeddingChannel.com.
Who wants to be CEO? Not millennial women.
We’ve all heard about the pay gap. Now, let’s talk about the aspiration gap.
In a recent study by talent management firm Saba and WorkplaceTrends.com, just 36% of respondents who said they aspire to a C-level position at their company were women. Also disinterested in the top job: Millennials, who accounted for only 31% of those who said they wanted a spot in the C-Suite. That compares with 68% of older employees wanting top-level jobs.
What’s going on here? When it comes to women, there’s one obvious factor at work: A lack of role models. Just 20 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are female. And while a story revealing that more big companies are run by men named John than are run by women sounds like it belongs in The Onion, it actually ran in The New York Times.
“You can’t be what you can’t see,” says Caroline Ghosn, founder of Levo League, an online community dedicated to helping women in the early stages of their careers. “If I look up the food chain in my company and I don’t want to be any of the people that I see, what’s my incentive to advance?”
Ghosn isn’t surprised by the millennial stat. There’s a big crossover between what women and millennials want in the workplace, she says. Both groups prioritize work-life integration, a sense of purpose, and transparent communication. “What we’re seeing is a convergence of gender and generations,” she says.
To read the rest of my story, click here.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Agree to disagree. During a lecture in Brussels on women’s equality, Sumeyye Erdogan, daughter of Turkey’s president and deputy head of the Women and Democracy Association, told attendees that women receiving a smaller inheritance than men is “normal, fair and righteous.” Men, she said, “are assigned the responsibility for bringing the bread home,” and so deserve the extra share. That doesn’t sound much like women’s equality to me. Hurriyet Daily News
• Working out the kinks. ClassPass, a $99-a-month service that gives members access to a variety of fitness studios, has a problem: It’s too popular. The two-year old service has taken off in New York City, and that growth is stressing out fitness fanatics. ClassPass users say it’s become difficult to book classes, while regular members of participating studios are stuck dealing with mobbed facilities. CEO Payal Kadakia says the company is looking for ways to address overcrowding and charge more for the most popular classes. NY Times
• Cover girl. Serena Williams looks amazing in Vogue this month, her second appearance on the mag’s cover. Refinery29 spots an interesting trend: Over the past decade, Vogue has put a person of color on seven out of 10 April covers. The magazine claims this is just a coincidence caused by celeb schedules. Refinery29
• Speaking of fashion glossies… Cindi Leive, editor of Glamour, talks about her family, role models, hiring curious people, and being a clear, firm manager. NY Times
• Discrimination goes of fashion. A manager at a Forever 21 in New York City told Alexia Daskalakis, a transgender former employee, that she looked “offensive” and that “in my eyes and in the company’s eyes, you’re still a male.” Daskalakis is suing the fast fashion retailer for discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Fortune
• The wrong fit? Marigay McKee, president of Saks Fifth Avenue, is stepping down after just over a year on the job. No real details have emerged, but “the fit wasn’t perfect,” said Richard Baker, executive chairman of Saks’s parent company, Hudson’s Bay. NY Times
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ON MY RADAR
President Obama’s response to a nine-year-old’s plea to put a woman on U.S. currency Time
What Sheryl Sandberg gets wrong about success The New Republic
The invincibility formula: Conquering your fear of your children’s rejection Time
What I wear to work: Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant Bloomberg
The show made me fall in love with characters, flawed ones, that are real and have voices.Kiernan Shipka, who plays Sally Draper on <em>Mad Men</em>. The show's final season premieres on Sunday.