Skip to Content

The World’s Most Powerful Women: December 6

Forward-thinking private employers in the U.S. have engaged in a sort of parental leave arms race over the last few years. It started with tech and professional services firms attempting to lure top talent with gold-plated perks such as a year’s worth of maternity and paternity leave, breast milk shipment programs, and flying nannies. And while those policies are commendable for easing new moms back into the workforce, most went to already well-off salaried workers, furthering the phenomenon in which access to such benefits falls starkly along income lines. Netflix famously introduced a lavish leave policy that initially applied to its salaried Internet video service employees and not to hourly workers in its DVD distribution unit.

But recently, companies—particularly those with large hourly workforces—have started to erase the system of parental leave haves and have-nots. In January, Hilton introduced a new paid leave policy that applies to its hourly staff. In early October, yogurt company Chobani said it would offer a new paid family leave program to its 2,000 workers, including those on the factory floor. And yesterday, Ikea rolled out a new program that treats salaried and hourly employees identically.

These companies recognize that access to paid time off following the birth of a child—to physically recover from medical procedures, to adjust to caring for a new human life, and to bond with a baby—should not depend on a worker’s employment status or income level. Now if only the U.S. Congress would reach the same realization.

clairezillman

EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

Tough talkGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel sought to shore up her party’s conservative flank yesterday by speaking out against the full facial veil that some Muslim women wear. At her party’s annual conference, she said “we show our face in interpersonal communication,” therefore the full veil “should be banned wherever legally possible.” The tough language is an apparent response to criticism that her stance toward Muslim immigrants has been too welcoming.Wall Street Journal

.

A second—and third—act
Helena Morrissey is stepping down as chief executive of Newton Investment Management this month after 15 years at the helm, and she dismisses any notion that she’s going out to pasture. “I have no intention of being one of the disappearing women. Men are captains of industry, then they’re chairing this and that—running the country in a different way,” she said, vowing to give a “decade of high energy” to her next move. “And then I’d like my third career, thank you very much!”
Evening Standard
.

This era’s Anne Frank
The Washington Post has a profile of Bana al-Abed, a 7-year-old Syrian girl with more than 200,000 Twitter followers who, along with her mother, has live-tweeted war in Aleppo. “Bana has become the Anne Frank of the Syrian civil war,” the story says, “except this time, the world is watching the story unfold in the present, moment to moment, with no sense of how it will end.”
Washington Post

THE AMERICAS

A smarter breast pump
Fortune‘s Kristen Bellstrom talks with the founders of Naya Health whose smart breast pump launched yesterday. The device tracks pumping sessions via an app, is lightweight, and uses a water-based technology that expresses milk more quickly, quietly, and comfortably. “Our primary goal was fixing the hardware,” says founder Janica Alvarez. “The intelligence is an added benefit.”
Fortune
.

Breaking up the boys’ club
Investors, who have made headway on pay disparity with tech giants such as Amazon and Apple, are trying to do the same in the finance world. Pax World Management, Arjuna Capital, and Trillium Asset Management are trying to break up Wall Street’s boys’ club by asking several financial giants including Goldman SachsCitigroup, Bank of America and Wells Fargo to disclose their pay data for men and women.
Fortune
.

No better place
Libyan-American journalist Noor Tagouri is the first Muslim woman in a hijab to pose in Playboy, the magazine known for its pinup models that stopped publishing fully nude photos last year. Tagouri says the magazine’s reputation makes it the perfect place to introduce Muslim women to people who otherwise might not encounter them. “People ask, ‘Why Playboy,’ and I ask, ‘Why not?'” she says.
BBC

 

ASIA-PACIFIC

See you in court
It looked as if South Korean President Park Geun-hye was trying to negotiate her resignation for April rather than face an impeachment vote on Friday, but she lost support within her own party for that course of action. She said yesterday that she will accept the result of the impeachment vote, but will leave it to the constitutional court to decide if the balloting is valid.
Guardian
.

Paying respects
Jayalalithaa Jayaram, the chief minister of the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu who died this week, had a checkered career, but she no doubt inspired masses of women with her unexpected ascent up the state’s male-dominated political ladder. Women are paying tribute to the late actor-turned-politician on social media. “Salute to the steel lady of TN who shined like a golden star in the sky of politics, where male clouds dominate,” wrote one fan.
BBC

IN BRIEF

Apple’s Bozoma Saint John is Billboard’s Music Executive of the Year
Billboard

Katy Perry is again Twitter’s most-followed celebrity in 2016
Time

The woman atop French food prepares to take on London
Bloomberg

Ilyse Hogue is the pro-choice activist the DNC will need under President Trump
Bustle

This Canadian politician shared a gross letter she got about her clothing choices
Buzzfeed

PARTING WORDS

“It feels like women betrayed us.”
--Singer Madonna on Donald Trump's victory in the U.S. presidential election