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Soros Bomb, SoftBank and Saudis, Monsanto Ruling: CEO Daily for October 23, 2018

Good morning. David Meyer here, filling in for Alan from Berlin.

LeanIn.org and McKinsey have released the latest instalment of their Women in the Workplace survey, and it does not make for pleasant reading.

Now in its fourth year, the survey shows “almost no progress” in improving the representation of women in corporate America. Only one in five C-suite executives is a woman, and only one in 25 is a woman of color. The report shows quite dramatically how the problem is exacerbated at each step of the promotion process—there’s already some disparity at the hiring stage, but it gets worse and worse as you go up the chain.

Part of the problem seems to be the fact that managers offer less support to women than they do to men—and again, even less support to women of color. As the report states: “This is a problem because manager support is tied to positive outcomes like higher promotion rates and a stronger desire to stay with a company.”

Then there’s the fact that little more than a third of companies set gender representation targets. And although transparency is seen as key to improving the situation, a mere 12% of companies show their employees key metrics on gender diversity. With most companies not holding senior leaders to account for making progress on this front, no wonder that only half of employees think their employers are taking the issue seriously.

The LeanIn/McKinsey report also has plenty to say about everyday occurrences of discrimination and harassment. As Emma Hinchcliffe highlights in her Fortune piece on the report, many female employees find themselves being the only women in meetings and other workplace situations, and these “Onlys” experience more microaggressions such as being mistaken for someone of a more junior level, needing to prove their competence more than men do, and of course sexual harassment.

On that last note, Uber’s top dealmaker, Cameron Poetzscher, has resigned after apparently being disciplined over sexual misconduct allegations. Shortly before that news broke, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi admitted at a Financial Times event in London that there was still work to be done on improving Uber’s workplace culture—the toxicity of which was a main reason for the ouster of his predecessor, Travis Kalanick.

More news below.

David Meyer
@superglaze
david@dmeyer.eu

Top News

Soros Bomb

Someone put a bomb into the mailbox of billionaire investor and progressive philanthropist George Soros. The cops safely detonated the explosive device—which thankfully did not go off when a Soros employee opened the package—and the FBI is now investigating. Soros has been in the news recently after Republicans falsely accused him of paying anti-Kavanaugh protestors and paying migrants to join the caravan that is heading through Central America to the U.S. Fortune

SoftBank and Saudis

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son has made what appears to be a last-minute decision to pull out of a speaking engagement at the “Davos in the Desert” Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh. Just days ago, Son was still going to speak there, despite the outcry over the Saudis’ killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. SoftBank has deep ties with the Saudis, who have stumped up 45% of the company’s $100 billion Vision Fund investment vehicle. Wall Street Journal

Monsanto Ruling

San Francisco’s Superior Court of California has upheld a ruling against Bayer’s Monsanto that found the company’s glyphosate-based weed killers caused cancer. The news hit Bayer’s share price by 8%. However, the judge said she would be willing to cut the punitive damages owed to Dewayne Johnson, the school groundskeeper who developed cancer after using the substance, from $250 million to $39 million. Fortune

Dyson Cars

Dyson has plans to make electric cars, and it has picked Singapore as the place to build them. The company, best known for its vacuum cleaners, said its factory there would be built by 2020 and pumping out cars the following year. This will be Singapore’s first auto factory, though it’s worth noting that the city state has very strong intellectual property protections. Bloomberg

Around the Water Cooler

Cryptocurrency Phone

HTC, which is struggling to stay relevant in the Android-phone-manufacturing world, has unveiled a “blockchain-based” handset that comes with a secure cryptocurrency wallet built in. The Exodus 1’s design keeps the wallet separated from the Android operating system, which HTC claims is “fundamentally insecure with a centralized system”—an interesting stance for an Android device maker to take, though one that is widely shared in the cybersecurity world. CNBC

Russian Aviation

Russia’s regional aviation needs are poorly served, according to the CEO of state bank VTO, which has partnered with another state bank, Sberbank, to create a new airline for that market. The joint venture could see an entirely new airline created, or some sort of partnership with an existing carrier. Aeroflot hasn’t signed up, though. Financial Times

Chinese Autonomy

Chinese President Xi Jinping said the country must become more self-reliant by developing its manufacturing industry. “Manufacturing is a key to the real economy, and the core strength of manufacturing is innovation, or the control of core technologies,” he said. “We must… seek innovation by relying on ourselves, and I hope all enterprises will work in this direction.” South China Morning Post

Benetton Death

Gilberto Benetton, one of the siblings that founded United Colors of Benetton in the 1960s, has died. He was the one that encouraged the Benetton operation to diversify away from clothing into areas such as construction, catering and transport. BBC

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer. Find previous editions here, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters here.