The World’s Most Powerful Women: June 8

June 8, 2017, 7:53 AM UTC

Earlier this week, it seemed as if Uber was turning a corner, veering away from its macho culture and toward a more inclusive work environment. On Monday, it announced the hiring of academic Frances Frei as SVP of leadership and strategy. On Tuesday, it announced another new female exec, Bozoma Saint John, who’s joining as chief brand officer from Apple Music. It also cleaned house, firing some 20 employees as part of its investigation into 215 claims of misconduct, including complaints of sexism and sexual harassment. The probe followed the viral blog post by ex-engineer Susan Fowler who alleged such pervasive behavior.

But that progress came to a screeching halt yesterday, with a jaw-dropping story first published by Recode. The site reports that a former top Uber executive—Eric Alexander, who worked as president of business in the Asia Pacific—somehow obtained the medical records of a woman who’d been raped by an Uber driver during a ride in India in 2014. (The driver was arrested and later sentenced to life in jail.) Alexander shared the documents with CEO Travis Kalanick and SVP Emil Michael, and all three began to raise questions about the truthfulness of the woman’s story and whether the whole episode was set up by Uber’s prime competitor in India in an attempt at sabotage.

Alexander’s alleged mishandling of the delicate incident was among the 215 claims reported to the two law firms investigating Uber’s mismanagement, according to Recode, but Alexander was not among the employees fired in Tuesday’s purge. No, he was only let go, it seems, after Recode starting asking Uber about his actions. The inevitable fallout of this story will focus on Alexander’s stunning violation of privacy, Uber’s tolerance of it, and what it all means for Kalanick’s future as CEO. Lost will be the woman whose intimate medical history was reportedly passed around Uber’s workplace. Like too many rape survivors whose cases aren’t taken seriously, she’s a victim, yet again.



Britain goes to the pollsOn the eve of the U.K. election, Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn yesterday benched his longtime ally MP Diane Abbott from the campaign trail after Abbott committed a series of gaffes (though he cited Abbott's ill health as the reason). Abbott, the first black female MP in the House of Commons, has fumbled recently in talking about the party's approach to security after Saturday's terrorist attack. Meanwhile, PM Theresa May has herself stumbled awkwardly into today's vote. Bloomberg


Unlikely union
A week after Donald Trump seemed to pit their cities against each other in his speech withdrawing the U.S. from the global climate accord, the mayors of Paris and Pittsburgh—Anne Hidalgo and Bill Peduto, respectively—penned an op-ed to tell the U.S. president that they're "more united than ever." 
New York Times

By the book
Author Lauren Child, who wrote the Charlie and Lola and Clarice Bean series, is the U.K's new children's laureate, making her the official champion of children's books. One concern Child has going into the role is boys' reluctance to read books or watch films about girls. "I don't know where that comes from but it worries me because it makes it harder for girls to be equal," she said.


The Fortune 500: female-friendly?
The new Fortune 500 list, published yesterday, features 32 female CEOs, the most ever and 11 more than last year's dismal showing of 21. There are two ways to look at the news. On one hand, the increase means that women are progressing up the American corporate ladder. On the other, 32 is still just 6.4% of the full list—and in no way representative of the wider population.

Back to school
IBM says that it's expanding its partnerships with community colleges in an effort to train more workers for what the company describes as "new collar jobs"—skilled positions in fast growing tech fields that don't necessarily require a traditional four-year degree. IBM CEO Ginni Rometty announced the news alongside J.P. Morgan Chase chairman and CEO Jaime Dimon yesterday.

Out at the PTO
Michelle Lee became the director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2015, at a time when tech companies were awash in frivolous lawsuits, and she supported the agency's efforts to invalidate low-quality patents that were fueling the litigation. Lee, a former Google executive who advocated strongly for women and minorities, served through the end of Obama's term. Her departure, now confirmed, adds to the list of vacancies Trump must fill.
Washington Post


Pulling the purse strings
Rickshaw Sangh, a microcredit program for rickshaw drivers run by the American India Foundation and local banks and microcredit agencies, has won acclaim from PM Narendra Modi for extending credit to the poor. The scheme has helped more than 100,000 rickshaw drivers in India buy their vehicles since 2001, but it's not the drivers whom AIF does business with—it’s their wives. The program's staff has discovered they are better than their husbands at repaying debts.

Drawing the (buffet) line
Chef and cookbook author Asha Gomez recently returned to her native India as part of a quest to convince Americans that "not all Indian food belongs on a buffet line at $4.99." She says: “I wish I could say to every immigrant cook in America, ‘Why do you think your food should be any less than any other cuisine that comes from anywhere else in the world?'"
New York Times


Carly Fiorina tells Donald Trump to stop tweeting

ESPN will honor Special Olympics’ founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver with Arthur Ashe Award
Huffington Post

Cyndi Lauper is writing the music for a Broadway version of 'Working Girl'

The women who fought for Hanoi
New York Times


"You can either complain about a problem or you can be part of the solution."
—Reese Witherspoon, on starting her own production company to expand the roles available to female actors.

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