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The World’s Most Powerful Women: April 6

As of today, U.K. companies with at least 250 employees have a year to publish several data points on the gender pay gap that will be compiled into a public ranking geared at eliminating the nation’s 18.1% divide. Companies will have to disclose:

  • Their median gender pay gap
  • Their mean gender pay gap
  • Their gender pay gap for bonuses paid during the year
  • The proportion of men and women in each quartile of their pay structure

The government says the new initiative—covering some 9,000 employers with 15 million workers, about half the nation’s workforce—“will help employers to identify the gaps in their organizations and take action to close the gender gap.” But what the government doesn’t highlight is that once the figures are published, the new rule does not require companies to explain their gaps or do anything to narrow them.

By contrast, Iceland is taking a more forceful approach. Last week it became the first country to introduce legislation requiring employers to prove they are paying men and women equally. Those that can’t show pay parity face fines.

The U.K.’s rule, meanwhile, relies on “naming and shaming,” a tactic that assumes the fear of landing on the wrong end of the public ranking is enough incentive for companies to change.

But is it?

Ann Francke, CEO of the Chartered Management Institute, argues that this softer approach will be effective since it invites public scrutiny and encourages companies to set targets for improvement. “That’s how businesses work, they set targets,” she says. Explaining her outlook, Francke pointed out that this tactic for corporate change has worked for the U.K. in the past. In its push to get more women on boards, the government has provided no real stick other than transparency. And while the rate of progress declined in 2016, the share of female directors in the FTSE 100 has increased from 12.5% in 2010 to 26% last year.

With that in mind, I’m more hopeful the new rule might just work.

EUROPE/MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA

Le Pen’s poor performanceFrench National Front presidential candidate Marine Le Pen’s recent tumble in the polls will be compounded by her lackluster showing in the first debate of the campaign, in which she repeatedly lost her cool and appeared soft on her plans for leaving the euro. After the first-ever presidential debate to include all 11 presidential hopefuls, she ranked as the fourth most convincing candidate in two snap polls.Bloomberg

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A royal role model?
After her husband met with King Abdullah II of Jordan at the White House, U.S. First Lady Melania Trump accompanied Queen Rania of Jordan on a visit to an all-girls charter school in Washington, D.C., that was meant to emphasize the Trump administration’s stance on school choice. In refining her role as first lady, Trump could look to Queen Rania as a sort of template. The queen is an education activist and a member of Jordanian royalty, and her public presence is well-curated with bilingual updates on her trips to schools, family events, and hospitals.
New York Times
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Where widows have to walk
Thousands of Tanzanian widows are at risk of becoming homeless and impoverished due to a customary law that says women have no right to inherit from their husbands. While Tanzania’s constitution affords women equal rights to property, customary law takes precedence, and the UN has called for the nation to end the practice. Other African countries are starting to amend such discriminatory customs, “but Tanzania is lagging far behind,” Susan Deller Ross, a law professor at Georgetown University, told This is Place, a project by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
This is Place

THE AMERICAS

Ripping Russia
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley ripped into Russia for backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and enabling his use of chemical weapons. Haley held up photos of children killed in Tuesday’s chemical attack in Syria during an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, telling delegates that Russia had “defied the conscience of the world” and that the U.S. “may” be forced to take unilateral action.
Fortune
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Scoring an ‘equitable’ goal
The women’s national team reached a deal with U.S. soccer over a new collective bargaining agreement, a year after the team filed a complaint demanding to be paid equally to their male counterparts. The new agreement will give the women “equitable” rather than “equal” pay; the details of their compensation increases were not released. The deal will also improve travel accommodations, bonus money, and maternity and child care provisions.
Wall Street Journal
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Ivanka defends herself
In her first interview since assuming her White House post, Ivanka Trump assured CBS’s Gayle King that she voices her disagreements with her father in private. “I would say not to conflate lack of public denouncement with silence,” she said. “I think there are multiple ways to have your voice heard. So where I disagree with my father, he knows it, and I express myself with total candor.” Trump was mocked for telling King she doesn’t “know what it means to be complicit,” prompting Merriam-Webster Dictionary to respond with a tweet.
Motto

ASIA-PACIFIC

Taking issue with a term
Myanmar’s de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has denied there is ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim minority in her country, despite widespread reports of abuses. The Nobel peace prize winner acknowledged problems in Rakhine state, where most Rohingya people live, but she said “ethnic cleansing” was “too strong” a term to use. “It is not just a matter of ethnic cleansing as you put it,” she told the BBC. “[I]t is a matter of people on different sides of the divide, and this divide we are trying to close up.”
BBC
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In the pilot’s seat
Australian Defense Chief Mark Binskin stressed the importance of gender diversity to military capability during the first Women and National Security Conference in Canberra. At present, 16.1% of full-time defense personnel are women and 40% of students in the defense graduate program are women. Binskin, once a fighter pilot, noted that a woman has yet to serve in that role and said, “I’m confident we’ll start to see women flow through that stream soon.”
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
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Trump snubs Taiwan
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is hoping for the best but expecting the worst when it comes to her country’s relationship with President Donald Trump, who issued a flurry of inflammatory tweets shortly after their first phone conversation in December. With Chinese President Xi Jinping preparing to visit Trump’s estate at Mar-a-Lago this week, Taiwan is readying for an unpredictable U.S. approach to the region.
Washington Post
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News summaries by Linda Kinstler @lindakinstler

IN BRIEF

How self-care became a political act
Slate

‘Outside Magazine’ celebrates 40th anniversary with all-women ‘icons’ issue
AdWeek

The many faces of Angela Merkel: 26 years of photographing the German chancellor
The Guardian

Only 3 female chefs made the World’s Best 50 Restaurants list
Time

Pepsi is defending its controversial Kendall Jenner ad
Fortune

 

PARTING WORDS

“Doing the one thing we are often afraid of—dropping the ball—is our only solution.”
--Author Tiffany Dufu on why doing less is the new leaning in.