The World’s Most Powerful Women: August 1

August 1, 2017, 6:31 AM UTC

The gender pay gap debate in the U.K. is reaching a boiling point as journalists at the Financial Times say they may strike after discovering that female editorial staffers earn 13% less than their male colleagues.

The gulf is “the biggest shortfall in a decade,” according to a union rep. A recent internal pay audit found that female employees at the paper make up the majority of those in the company’s £30,000 to £50,000 salary bracket, while men dominate the £60,000-plus pay bands. More than 70 male staff members earn more than £80,000, versus just over 20 women.

The FT says it takes the matter of gender pay seriously; that it has a “50/50 female-male split” among its workforce, “more women in senior roles across the newsroom and commercial teams than ever before,” and a long list of “active initiatives…to further that progress.”

The FT news comes amid the blockbuster equal pay fight at the BBC that ignited when the broadcaster disclosed a yawning divide between the pay of its male and female talent earlier this month.

Shortly after the revelation, 42 female BBC employees demanded that the company fix the pay gap immediately, not by the 2020 deadline previously proposed.

“[T]he BBC has known about the pay disparity for years. We all want to go on the record to call upon you to act now,” said the letter.

The letter’s signatories are right—gender pay gaps at the BBC and elsewhere are long-standing. So why all the outrage, why now?

What’s different about the pay gaps at the BBC and the FT is that real numbers—and in the Beeb’s case, real names—are attached to the problem, rather than national or industry averages that are tossed around on occasions like Equal Pay Day.

“What’s driving this is the disclosure; when it’s in your own backyard, that makes it real,” Ann Francke, CEO of the Chartered Management Institute told Fortune. “It’s not just some general thing that exists in the ether to banter about.”

In that case, fury over gender pay gaps in the U.K. will only grow from here. That’s because a law that took effect in April requires all U.K. companies with 250 employees or more to publish by next April data on their gender pay gaps that will be compiled into a public ranking.

“There will be nowhere to hide,” says Francke.

By contrast, companies in the U.S. still have plenty of cover. The U.S. has no laws mandating disclosure and one of the few measures promoting pay transparency—an executive order signed by President Barack Obama in 2014 that applied to federal contractors—was reversed by President Donald Trump earlier this year.

The new U.K. law is expected to apply to 9,000 employers with 15 million workers—about half the nation’s workforce. Despite its wide reach, the law has faced criticism (including by yours truly) for lacking teeth. Once their gender pay gap figures are published, companies aren’t required to explain their gaps or do anything to narrow them.

But based on this month’s events, it seems that the new U.K. measure does indeed have a “stick” component—in the form of public outrage.




Pipeline problemGerman Economics and Energy Minister Brigitte Zypries said yesterday that the U.S.'s new sanctions against Russia are illegal and urged the European Union to fight back with its own aggressive trade policies. The new measures allow the U.S. to impose sanctions on companies that work on Russian energy export pipelines, which could hamper the construction of a Russia-Germany natural gas pipeline and thus damage European economies. “The Americans can’t punish German companies because they have business interests in another country,” Zypries said. Newsweek


Most powerful mayor
The Greek island of Tilos soon will be the first in the Mediterranean to be powered solely by wind and sun, thanks in part to the efforts of its mayor Maria Kamma. "[W]e wanted to evolve from simply a green island into a clean-energy island," she said. "We wanted to do something substantive." The rest of Greece hasn't been as welcoming to renewable energy, which supplies 20% of the country's electricity—less than in cloudier nations like Germany. Tradition and misinformation are making it hard for Greece to break its dependence on lignite coal.

Say my name
Tradition in Afghanistan holds that a man referring to his wife's name in public is a grave dishonor, so men rely instead on an array of terms: Mother of Children, My Weak One, or—in rarer instances—My Goat or My Chicken. (In posting this story on Twitter, NPR reporter Diaa Hadid shared her own insight: "When my grandmother died, her name was announced, but none of her daughters were mentioned in [the] list of her children.") A social media campaign in Afghanistan with the hashtag #WhereIsMyName is pushing back against the taboo and encouraging women to reclaim their most basic identity.
New York Times


Hopping on board
Valerie Jarrett, one of President Barack Obama's longest-serving advisors, is joining Lyft as its ninth (and final) board member. Her appointment ends a long search by the ride-sharing service to fill the spot. Jarrett, who once worked as Chicago's commissioner of planning and development and chair of its transit board, may help Lyft clear hurdles set by public transit agencies as it expands.

Learning her limits
According to Politico, Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner are learning the limits of their influence on President Donald Trump. While the socially liberal former Democratic donors succeeded in convincing the president to oust Chief of Staff Reince Priebus last week, they've been unable to sway him on policy. They were reportedly blindsided by his announcement of a transgender troop ban. The first daughter "desperately wants to lower expectations of what she can achieve in an administration where she views herself as one person on a large team—even though other White House officials said she still has access to the president whenever she desires it," Politico says.

On pointe
Ballerina Misty Copeland, the first African American woman to become a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater, is the new public face of Estée Lauder in a deal that's considered a step forward for the world of ballet. Copeland, whose personal story has been told in books and a documentary, already has an endorsement deal with Under Armour.
New York Times


Stirring the pot
Maneka Gandhi, India’s women and child development minister, has taken a cue from the West in voicing support for legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. While more than half of U.S. states and some 16 nations around the world currently allow marijuana use for that reason, cannabis consumption in India could lead to a six month jail term or a fine. Lawmakers have previously tried to decriminalize pot use to no avail.

Up in the club
A group of senior citizen lawn bowlers in Melbourne have gone viral by parodying Beyonce's "Single Ladies" in an effort to defend their club against the threat of a new stadium, with "All the single ladies" becoming "All the bowling ladies." (The video is guaranteed to brighten your day.) The choreography was the hard part. “One of them says we owe her a hip replacement,” says Denise Wallish, who organized the effort. The spoof, while lighthearted, is a plea to save a vibrant social space for the club's older members. No word yet on if it's swayed the local council. 
New York Times



Mongolian teenage girl grapples for a future in sumo

Actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge: ‘I felt strongly there was no such thing as a slut’

‘Horrifying Racism’: BBC Host Vanessa Feltz responds to ‘anti-Semitic’ Sunday Times column

Number of U.K. women earning over £1 million a year doubles over five years
Financial Times


"[T]oday isn’t about me. It’s about the other 24 million black women in America. If I never picked up a tennis racket, I would be one of them; that is never lost on me."
—Tennis star Serena Williams, urging the closure of the pay gap on Black Women's Equal Pay Day.