Samantha Bee Boycott, Martha Stewart Pardon, and Board Diversity Excuses: Broadsheet for June 1
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Advertisers are boycotting Samantha Bee, Martha Stewart may get a presidential pardon, and we don’t have time for the corporate excuses for inadequate boardroom diversity. Have a relaxing weekend.
•No more excuses. Women wouldn’t “fit comfortably” in the boardroom setting. There aren’t enough women with the right “experience” to handle issues that are “extremely complex.” Women don’t want the “hassle or pressure” of occupying a board seat.
Those are some of the corporate excuses for keeping women out of the boardroom, collected as part of the British government’s review of gender representation in the FTSE 350.
Some of the others:
- “Shareholders just aren’t interested in the make-up of the board, so why should we be?”
- “My other board colleagues wouldn’t want to appoint a woman on our board”
- “All the ‘good’ women have already been snapped up”
- “We have one woman already on the board, so we are done—it is someone else’s turn”
- “There aren’t any vacancies at the moment—if there were I would think about appointing a woman”
- “We need to build the pipeline from the bottom—there just aren’t enough senior women in this sector”
- “I can’t just appoint a woman because I want to”
To be sure, there’s been significant progress on adding women to the boardroom, both in the U.K. and in the U.S. There are currently 10 FTSE 350 companies with zero female directors, down from 152 in 2011. Among U.S.-based Fortune 500 companies, there are 12 with no women directors, compared to 42 in 2013, and 69 in 2008. (I wrote about the dubious dozen in the latest issue of Fortune.)
Interestingly enough, Paula Loop, head of PwC’s Governance Insights Center, told me the holdouts are running out of excuses. Investor pressure from the likes of State Street, Vanguard, and BlackRock gives firms a good business reason to make a change. There are also new resources for finding qualified female candidates, and progressive-minded companies have taken to expanding their boards—rather than waiting for vacancies—as they make efforts to diversify.
U.K. lawmakers, it seems, aren’t entertaining their companies’ defenses either. Business Minister Andrew Griffiths called the excuses “pitiful and patronizing.”
You said it, Andy.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Bee boycott. Two advertisers have pulled their ads from Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal after the comedian insulted Ivanka Trump in an absolutely obscene fashion. Bee has apologized; so has broadcaster TBS. The White House condemned the name-calling and now, so have Autotrader and State Farm. Fortune
• Pardon me. President Trump is considering a pardon of lifestyle maven Martha Stewart, who was investigated for insider trading and convicted of conspiracy, obstruction, and making false statements to investigators years ago. Trump has said Stewart was “to a certain extent…harshly and unfairly treated,” though legal commentators say Trump’s decisions on these matters may have a deeper meaning. CNN
• Carlson makes her case. Writing for Fortune, ex-Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson explains what the #MeToo movement needs to do in the wake of a recent Supreme Court ruling that allows companies to make forced arbitration a condition of employment. “[O]ur movement must shift course and focus relentlessly on one thing: fixing the law.” Fortune
• Better late than never? When the Equal Rights Amendment guaranteeing equal rights for all U.S. citizens, regardless of gender, was first proposed in 1972, states had until 1979 to ratify it. When they missed that deadline, Congress pushed it to 1982. Still no luck. But this week, Illinois—proving there’s no time like the present—passed the measure, becoming the 37th state to do so. If one more state joins the bunch, the ERA could still become a Constitutional amendment should Congress choose to act on it. Fortune
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: New York Public Radio has named Clemency Burton-Hill as its first Creative Director of Music and Arts.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Career comeback. Two women will provide color commentary for the upcoming World Cup soccer tournament. One is Aly Wagner, a former U.S. Women’s National Team member. The second is a lesser-known quantity in the U.S.: Viviana Vila, whose career trajectory is more indicative of the machismo that exists in the fútbol world. She became the first-ever female sports analyst on TV in Argentina and says she was fired two years ago because of her gender. Fast Company
• Listen to LaDonna. Need a podcast for the weekend? I highly recommend the latest This American Life episode about an airport security guard named LaDonna, who notices something wrong on the tarmac and does everything in her power to fix it. This American Life
• Melania’s not missing. Melania Trump wants you to know that she’s “at the White House w my family, feeling great, & working hard on behalf of children & the American people!” Her tweet was in response to media speculation about her health and whereabouts since the White House announced her stint in the hospital on May 14. Politico
ON MY RADAR
Apple is making a series about Emily Dickinson TechCrunch
Sheryl Sandberg explains how Facebook will answer criticism that its board is too white and too male Fortune
New Mexico governor candidate profited from high-risk insurance plans Politico
The child-free life: Why so many American women are deciding not to have kids Washington Post