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Nike Discrimination, Jane Fraser, Republican Women Candidates: Broadsheet August 14

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! An empathy researcher might lack…empathy, a CEO contender talks about taking the top job, and the Nike gender discrimination drama takes a litigious turn. Have a terrific Tuesday.

EVERYONE’S TALKING

• Just sue it. Women at Nike, it seems, are on a mission.

Last year, a group of female employees, frustrated by pay disparity and gender imbalance among leaders of the sportswear giant, circulated an informal survey in an effort to document inappropriate behavior by male employees.

The survey, which was brought to CEO Mark Parker, precipitated a formal review of workplace behavior and the exit of two top executives, brand president and CEO-in-waiting Trevor Edwards and his top lieutenant Jayme Martin. According to reporting by the Wall Street Journal in March, the two men protected male subordinates who mistreated their female colleagues.

Then Nike took more steps to right the apparent wrongs: It named a new chief diversity and inclusion officer in April. In July, it added Deloitte’s Cathleen Benko, an e-commerce and diversity specialist, to its board. And three weeks ago, in perhaps the most dramatic move yet, it gave pay raises to 7,000 of its employees—the result of an internal pay review launched after the discrimination claims.

Good enough? Not quite.

What started as an informal effort by women at the company took on new weight last week when two former employees—Kelly Cahill and Sara Johnston—filed a federal lawsuit seeking class action status that claims the company “devalues and demeans” women.

“For many women at Nike, the company hierarchy is an unclimbable pyramid—the more senior the job title, the smaller the percentage of women,” the complaint says.

Their lawsuit describes a workplace culture that’s even more toxic than previously reported—allegations of groping, unwanted nude photos, women called “dykes,” and mishandled complaints to HR—and seeks remedies beyond what Nike has already done. The plaintiffs want damages, back pay for lost compensation, and for victims of discrimination to be reinstated “to their rightful positions.” What’s more, they’re demanding a court order requiring Nike to create and implement “reliable” standards for gauging employee performance and determining compensations and promotions.

In response to the lawsuit, Nike says it “opposes discrimination of any type and has a longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

This spring, meanwhile, Parker apologized to employees for missing red flags signaling employee discontent and said the company would work to change compensation and training programs.

But the lawsuit alleges that the warnings signs were more than apparent as women filed numerous complaints to HR. Rather than “taking any meaningful corrective or preventive actions,” the lawsuit claims, the department “failed to act to end the hostility towards women in the workplace.”

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

• Ellison’s allegations. Rep. Keith Ellison (D–Minn.) has denied that he physically abused an ex-girlfriend or sent her threatening texts after the woman’s son posted about the alleged misconduct on Facebook. (The woman, political organizer Karen Monahan, has said her son’s post is true.) The accusation surfaced just days before today’s primary in which Ellison is one of several Democrats running for state attorney general.  CBS News

Vexing Vukmir. Speaking of Tuesday’s primary: In past years, Wisconsin state Sen. Leah Vukmir easily would’ve been the Republican nominee for the senate seat currently occupied by Democrat Tammy Baldwin given the endorsements Vukmir has racked up. But her 2016 denunciation of President Donald Trump has become a target of rival Kevin Nicholson, a Marine veteran, making today’s contest for the GOP nomination a toss-up. Wall Street Journal

Practicing what she preaches? Empathy researcher Tania Singer, one of the most high-profile women at the Max Planck Society, is being accused by current and former employees of workplace bullying that created a culture of fear. Among the accusations is that Singer criticized women who became pregnant as irresponsible and disloyal to the team. Via a lawyer, Singer has denied the bullying claims, though she has acknowledged making mistakes in the past.  Science

 Calling it quits. Actress Ruby Rose has quit Twitter and limited public comments on her Instagram account after backlash that she’s not the right pick to portray Batwoman in The CW program Arrowverse. DC Comics reintroduced Batwoman in 2006 as a lesbian of Jewish descent. Rose, meanwhile, is not Jewish, and, as someone who identifies as gender fluid, is being criticized as being “not gay enough.” Fortune

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: The head of Royal Dutch Shell’s global refining operations Lori Ryerkerk reportedly will step down at the end of the month. Merline Saintil, former head of operations for product and technology at Intuit, has joined startup 7 Cups, a platform for mental health support, as its COO.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

 CEO contender? Citigroup’s Latin America CEO Jane Fraser is often cited as a contender for the bank’s top job, which would make her Wall Street’s first-ever female banking CEO. But in a new interview with CNN, she downplayed that prospect. “I look forward to seeing a woman being the first CEO of a Wall Street firm whoever that may be,” she said. “I’ve never had the ambition to be the CEO of Citi or any other organization. Things can change over time. But at the moment, I’ve still got a lot to learn.” CNNMoney

‘Don’t run.’ This New York Times story details “the bind” that female Republican candidates find themselves in this election cycle, which has so far been defined by Democrats’ “pink” momentum: “The energy among women that started with the marches after the president’s inauguration is against them…And having long resisted identity politics, Republican women are reluctant or unable to claim any advantage to being a woman among voters.” So tenuous is that position that one organizer for moderate female GOP candidates says she’s told some women: “Don’t run this year.” New York Times

 Winning by a nose. For your Tuesday dose of inspiration, look no further than Volha Mazuronak, a long-distance runner from Belarus, who suffered a horrendous nose bleed during the marathon at the European Championships—the photos are…something—but won by six seconds.  Guardian

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ON MY RADAR

They, them, theirs? The push for going gender-neutral in the workplace  CNNMoney

The girls fighting stereotypes in the world of scholastic chess  New Yorker

After a quick breather, Chloë Grace Moretz comes out fighting New York Timesr

QUOTE

I have a theory that when you’re lost on the path, go back to the beginning and try the maze again.
Actress Amanda Seales