Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Rent the Runway sends its subscribers to WeWork, we learn more about Heidi Cruz, and directors provide some puzzling feedback on board diversity. Have an amazing weekend.
• Fully onboard? A new PwC survey of corporate directors out this week provides some head-scratching results. First, the good news: some 94% of directors agree that board diversity brings unique perspectives to the boardroom, and 84% say it enhances board performance. In that same vein, 91% report that their boards have taken some steps to up diversity—an increase of four points since last year.
Now for the puzzling data: Even as the overwhelming majority of directors recognize the benefits of board diversity, more than half—some 52%—say the push toward more diversity in the boardroom is driven by political correctness, and nearly as many—48%—say shareholders are too preoccupied with the topic.
It’s worth looking at how those two results break down along gender lines. Among male directors, 58% say the diversity push is motivated by PC culture, compared to 26% of female directors. Fifty-four percent of men on boards say shareholders care too much about the subject, versus 20% of women.
Paula Loop, leader of PwC’s U.S. Governance Insights Center, says this feedback indicates directors’ “fatigue about this topic even though investors and shareholders don’t appear ready to move on.”
Regardless of directors’ true feelings about the diversity push, the effort is paying off to some degree. Twenty-two percent of board seats in the S&P 500 are held by female directors, up from 16% 10 years ago. Of S&P 500 boards, 99% have at least one woman director, and 80% have two or more women directors. Surely, there is still a long way to go, but the needle is undoubtably moving in the right direction.
Even if they roll their eyes at investors’ concerns about diversity—BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street Advisors, the New York City Pension Funds, CalPERS, and CalSTRS have all taken a stand on the issue—directors cannot ignore such demands. As PwC said on the first page if its report: institutional investors now own 70% of U.S. public companies and they’ve become more and more vocal about what they want from boards.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Rent your desk, rent your clothes. Rent the Runway will put drop boxes inside 15 WeWork locations, allowing women who rent their office space at the coworking giant to return their rented clothes there. The drop boxes will be in the lobby and open to the public, too, and will be especially useful for Rent the Runway’s unlimited service, rather than its one-time formalwear rentals. “This is really just the beginning,” says Rent the Runway CEO Jennifer Hyman. Bloomberg
• ‘Heidi Cruz didn’t plan for this.’ Out yesterday, a long, worthwhile profile of Heidi Cruz, former Goldman Sachs managing director and wife of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. In the piece, Cruz goes into her career, her own policy opinions, her struggle with depression, criticism of her appearance by President Donald Trump, and more. The Atlantic
• Men’s regret. In a stunning piece from the New York Times, eight men share stories of behavior toward women that they regret. The men who agreed to go on the record are mostly around retirement age, without much fear for their reputations or jobs, but the Times received 750 responses in total from men describing regrets from undoing girls’ bras in the high school hallway to participating in gang rapes. This one definitely merits your time. New York Times
• Saved by capitalism. Fortune‘s Polina Marinova has a long interview with Founders Fund partner Cyan Banister. An early investor in Uber, SpaceX, and Postmates, Banister says that capitalism saved her life. Fortune
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Wan Ling Martello, No. 9 on Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women International list, is leaving her role as EVP and CEO of Asia, Oceania, and Sub-Saharan Africa for Nestlé. Nayaki Nayyar joins the board of Veritone. Kim Tabac is the new chief people officer for Canadian employee health benefits platform League. Mary McDuffie is promoted to president and CEO of Navy Federal Credit Union. Kathy Waller will retire next year as CFO of Coca-Cola.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• GoFundMen. This story looks at an interesting group: the people who donate to GoFundMe accounts set up for men accused of sexual assault and harassment, from Brett Kavanaugh to names we haven’t heard in the news. Friends, girlfriends, and people worried about false accusations all have their own reasons for contributing. MEL Magazine
• Time for telehealth. One of the most reliable, safe providers of medication abortions via mail will ship pills within the United States for the first time. Women on Web hasn’t operated within the U.S. out of a fear that the U.S. anti-abortion lobby would try to shutter the global organization, but it’s now crossing that hurdle. The Atlantic
• Sales strategy? WNYC and ProPublica have been investigating President Trump’s past business practices, and a new installment heavily features Ivanka Trump. Ivanka repeatedly presented false sales figures about Trump projects, including wrongly saying that “over 90%” of units had sold “at prices five times as high as comparable buildings,” in a Panama development she led for the Trump Organization. That pattern misled investors and buyers in favor of Trump profits, they report. WNYC
• Beauty boss. Tracey Travis is finance chief of Estée Lauder, and following a career at GM, Ralph Lauren, and Victoria’s Secret parent L Brands, she’s reshaping how the beauty company approaches finance. Wall Street Journal
ON MY RADAR
A history of lipstick as warfare The Cut
Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner’s Lenny Letter to shut down Digiday
The immigrant businesswoman who invented the McDonald’s breakfast burrito Houston Chronicle