GM’s Dhivya Suryadevara, Black Female Founders, Pink Wave: Broadsheet June 14
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! We have new stats on black female founders, the ‘pink wave’ continues to roll, and GM gets another woman in the C-suite. Have a terrific Thursday!
• Another woman in the CFO driver's seat. GM CEO Mary Barra on Wednesday announced that Dhivya Suryadevara, the automaker's vice president of corporate finance, will be its new CFO starting in September.
Suryadevara, who will replace retiring Chuck Stevens, has a few recent notches on her belt: She was integral in GM's divestiture of German affiliate Opel, its acquisition of self-driving car startup Cruise Automation, and its investment in ride-hailing firm Lyft.
Suryadevara's "experience and leadership in several key roles throughout our financial operations positions her well to build on the strong business results we’ve delivered over the last several years,” Barra said in a statement.
In taking on the CFO role, Suryadevara joins a class of female chief financial officers that's grown in recent years. According Fortune data, there are currently 64 CFOs in the Fortune 500, making up 12.8% of all such execs. In 2016, according to Spencer Stuart's most recent report, 12.5% of Fortune 500 CFOs were women. A decade earlier, they represented 6.8%. By comparison, women represented 4.2% of Fortune 500 CEOs in 2016, and 2% in 2006. (As of May, female CEO ranks stood at 24, or just under 5%.)
Why are women reaching the CFO summit with increasing frequency?
When the Financial Times dug into this trend recently, Noeleen Doherty of the Cranfield School of Management told the paper that working in finance lets women to prove their competence in an objective manner and obtain credibility in a sphere where the stereotype is that "men know numbers and women don’t."
While Suryadevara's appointment highlights one positive development, it also underscores a not-so-great one. In having a woman in the CEO and CFO role, GM will join what is currently a group of one. Among Fortune 500 companies, only Hershey Co. has two women—CEO Michele Buck and CFO Patricia Little—in those positions.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Starts and stops. Fortune's Ellen McGirt (author of the fabulous raceAhead newsletter) has the details on a new report on black female entrepreneurs. First the good news: black women are launching businesses in record numbers. Now the bad: the median funding raised by all black women founders is $0. Fortune
• Another cook in the kitchen. Acclaimed chef Gabrielle Hamilton of New York's Prune restaurant is teaming up with Ken Friedman to run the Spotted Pig, after accusations of sexual harassment against him reportedly ruptured his relationship with former partner April Bloomfield. Hamilton is framing the move as a chance to clean up Friedman's mess. New York Times
• Pink wave, rolleth. Of the 35 women who ran in Tuesday's primary races, at least 16 emerged victorious. Among the winners were Republican Katie Arrington of South Carolina in an upset of incumbent Representative Mark Sanford and Democrat Jacky Rosen in Nevada's closely-contested Senate race. Bloomberg
• Minding the gap. U.K. MPs yesterday revealed that bonuses paid to women at banks there were on average less than half of those given to men. To eliminate that gap, a Treasury committee wants financial services firms to assess staff performance bonuses against specific criteria, rather than letting employees negotiate their own pay packages. They say the latter approach can disadvantage women since an alpha-male culture may result in men getting bigger bonuses due to “more forceful” negotiation skills. Financial Times
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: TIAA has named Lori Fouché to the newly-created position of CEO of Retail and Institutional Financial Services. She was previously Head of Individual Solutions at Prudential Financial.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Failing the test The New York Times has a fascinating report on girls' and boys' test scores based on school district. When it comes to math, the researchers found that boys are much more likely to outperform girls in districts that are rich, white, and suburban. "The gender achievement gap in math reflects a paradox of high-earning parents," according to the NYT. "They are more likely to say they hold egalitarian views about gender roles. But they are also more likely to act in traditional ways—father as breadwinner, mother as caregiver." New York Times
• Tough pill to swallow. When the Trump administration tomorrow releases its official list of Chinese imports facing a 25% tariff, some birth control pills are expected to be on it. The COO of Novast Laboratories, a U.S. subsidiary of China's Novast Holdings, says that some women could have trouble getting birth control pills, which were on a preliminary target list in April. The company supplies roughly 10% to 20% of the U.S. market. U.S. trade officials say they've tried to ensure that the tariffs will have a minimal effect on consumers. Politico
• Playing the woman card. In a new interview, Equinox CEO Niki Leondakis reveals her secret for communicating to meeting attendees that she's the boss. She introduces herself and then places her business card in front of each person at the table. That way, "people understood who [is] who," she says. "That was a trick I learned rather quickly." CNBC
• Not such a stretch. Three British researchers conducted interviews with 34 female engineers in an effort to identify the factors that keep women in the male-dominated industry. What did they find? One common thread is that some women who remained had received so-called stretch assignments. "I did it and then realized that I can actually do it," said one participant. "It developed my confidence so that I now think I can do higher-level work." HBR
ON MY RADAR
The women’s libido pill is back, and so is the controversy Bloomberg
This inclusive bra brand wants to support every woman Fast Company
Southern Baptists adopt resolutions on abuse and affairs, in a season of grappling with gender Washington Post
The design director launching brands for sizes 14 and up The Cut