American Woman Wins New York Marathon, Anthem CEO Out, Whisper Networks: Broadsheet for Nov. 6
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! We learn more about the Texas shooter, an American woman wins the NYC Marathon for the first time since 1977, and GE’s Beth Comstock talks change—including the one she’s in the midst of. Have a tranquil Monday.
• Ch-ch-ch-changes. Last week, I had the pleasure of interviewing GE vice chair Beth Comstock at the Galvanize Summit, a Fairygodboss event where leaders of Fortune 500 companies’ women’s resource groups gathered to share ideas and best practices.
Last month, Comstock announced that she will step down from her job at GE at the end of the year, bringing her impressive 27-year run at the company to a close. So, of course, my first question for her was: What’s next? TBD, said Comstock, adding that she’s embracing the moment (“I love change. I go like a tornado chaser right into the change”), but wants to take some time to plot her next move—and to work on her upcoming book, which is scheduled to hit the shelves next year.
Comstock, who has devoted much of her career to bringing startup-style innovation to the 125-year-old industrial giant, shared her insights for how to drive change—both personal and companywide. Some highlights:
On embracing failure: “No one likes to fail. But test things earlier; do it in a smaller way. That way, failures are smaller. Reduce the definition of where you want to fail.”
On incentivizing change: “Change is hard,” said Comstock, because “you have to stop doing what you’re doing and do something new. You have to see some incentive and reward in doing it.”
On the universal struggle to build confidence: “I’ve really struggled with confidence. I’m introverted by nature; I’m shy. I’ve had people call me out on it. Jeff Immelt [GE’s former chairman and CEO] has had to tell me, ‘You need to speak up. You’re here because I want your opinion.’ I’m fortunate to have people like that call me out in a safe space.”
On the power of flexing your leadership muscles as part of your company’s women’s resource group: “People have your back and see you as a leader in a way that they maybe haven’t before.” Fairygodboss
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Tears for Texas. Twenty-six people in Sutherland Springs, Tex. were killed Sunday when a gunman opened fire during morning services at the First Baptist Church. Among the things we know about the shooter, Devin Patrick Kelley, is that while serving in the Air Force in 2012, he was court-martialed on charges of assaulting his wife and child. He was discharged in 2014. If this sounds familiar to you, that’s because it is: The gunmen responsible for deaths in Las Vegas, Orlando, and San Bernadino all have histories of abusing women. New York Times
• The F500 gets a new female CEO. Gail Boudreaux is expected to be named CEO of health insurer Anthem, as current chief Joseph Swedish is reportedly planning to step down. Boudreaux, who will join the ranks of female Fortune 500 CEOs, is an industry vet who previously led the insurance arm of UnitedHealth Group, the biggest U.S. health insurer. According to the WSJ, “she is regarded as a strong operator, and she has experience overseeing Blue Cross Blue Shield plans like those that Anthem operates.” Fortune
• Running things. Shalane Flanagan won the New York City marathon yesterday, becoming the first American woman to win since Miki Gorman in 1977. She finished in 2 hours 26 minutes 53 seconds, one minute faster than Kenyan running great Mary Keitany, who had won the race three straight times. Time
• From whisper to shout. Women have always used “whisper networks,” informal groups that share advice about how to navigate the workplace and offer tips about which sexist or predatory colleagues or bosses to avoid. Now, social media is super-charging the power of such networks—and, in some cases, leading to real change. New York Times
• If you speak, will they listen? Academic research suggests that employees who speak up with ideas about how to help their group tend to get a “status bump” and emerge as leaders. But a new study from a group of Boston College researchers finds that that effect only occurs for men. “One interpretation of this study is that women, even when they speak up and ‘lean in,’ still may not get equal credit for doing so,” writes author Sean Martin. “And if that is the case, then it is essential not only for women to speak up but also for those around them to give equal weight to what they say.” Harvard Business Review
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Gretchen Morgenson joins The Wall Street Journal as a senior special writer. The Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist had been at The New York Times for 19 years.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Semper fi? In 2011, Fidelity Investments settled with ex-analyst Erika Wesson over a gender discrimination claim, promising to provide her with good references. But six years later, Wesson has yet to land another job—and now she’s suing her former employer, claiming that the company is blackballing her. Her suit comes weeks after Fidelity, which is led by Fortune MPW Abby Johnson, dismissed two prominent money managers over sexual harassment allegations. Bloomberg
• Shame on the shamer. Los Angeles Times political cartoonist David Horsey has apologized for describing Trump press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders as a “slightly chunky soccer mom.” Among those who reached out to Horsey to call out his body-shaming: Sanders’s mom. New York Times
• Another ouster. Hamilton Fish, the president and publisher of The New Republic, has resigned after allegations of inappropriate conduct. His departure comes less than two weeks after Leon Wieseltier, a longtime editor at TNR, apologized after women accused him of sexual harassment. New York Times
ON MY RADAR
Selena gets a start on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Time
UVA Professor: Men benefit professionally from sexual harassment CNBC
Trump opened the floodgates. Now Democratic women are running for office in record-breaking numbers CNN
Mila Kunis set up monthly donation to Planned Parenthood in Pence’s name The Hill