Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Microsoft’s diversity report shows slow but consistent progress, Dia&Co raises $40 million for plus-size fashion, and Fortune names our Businessperson of the Year. Have an amazing Thursday.
• A Progressive CEO. As every year nears its end, Fortune undertakes the annual exercise of naming its Businessperson of the Year. To complete this mission, we consider 10 financial metrics including 12-month and 36-month increases in profit and revenue, and weigh stock performance and total shareholder returns for the same period. Then we toss in CEO intangibles like business influence, strategic vision, and the impact of leadership.
After running those numbers for 2018, who came out as No. 1?
For the first time ever, it’s a female CEO: Tricia Griffith of insurance company Progressive
I’ll let Fortune’s Aric Jenkins provide Griffith’s bona fides:
“[She’s] a CEO pulling off the remarkable evolution of a company in a relatively staid, stable industry. Progressive’s one-year and annualized three-year sales growth (at 20.2% and 11.4%, respectively) tops both Apple’s and Microsoft’s. The insurer’s stock is up nearly 50% over the past 12 months, and profits have more than doubled. In 2017 Progressive vaulted past Allstate to become the nation’s third-largest auto insurer, behind Geico and State Farm. And perhaps most impressively, at the end of the third quarter, the Mayfield, Ohio, company hit $30 billion in net premiums written, after reaching $20 billion just three years earlier—a remarkable growth rate for an enterprise that’s now 81 years old.”
As intriguing as Griffith’s recent hot streak is her ascent to the top. She started at Progressive in 1988 by responding to a classified ad for a claims adjuster trainee. She recalls, early on, dollying under a vehicle in Progressive’s required skirt, hose, and close-toed shoes in front of 10 male on-lookers. “It was just like, ‘Man, I gotta fight through this,’” she says.
She later had stints as Progressive’s chief of human resources, president of the claims group, president of customer operations, and chief operating officer of the personal lines branch before becoming CEO two years ago. She was No. 13 on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women list this year.
You can read Aric’s full feature here, but I’ll leave you with Griffith’s advice to anyone looking to replicate her path. “Focus on the job you’re doing now,” she says. “You will get noticed.”
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Facebook’s fight. The New York Times has a major investigation into Facebook’s attempts to contain the numerous scandals that have plagued the social media behemoth over past year or so—and COO Sheryl Sandberg does not come off looking good. Sandberg oversaw Facebook’s lobbying campaign against its critics, which, according to the Times, involved employing a Republican opposition research firm to discredit protesters by linking them to George Soros and persuading a Jewish civil rights group to say that some criticism of Facebook was anti-Semitic. “Some colleagues believed that Ms. Sandberg—whose ambitions to return to public life were much discussed at the company—was protecting her own brand at Facebook’s expense,” the Times reports. “Friends told Sandberg that if Facebook did not address the scandals effectively, its role in spreading hate and fear would define her legacy, too.” New York Times
• Mayday. Hours after announcing that her cabinet collectively backed her draft Brexit deal, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May saw a slew of those same ministers resign in protest. The growing exodus puts the future of the deal—and May’s own tenure—in serious doubt. Fortune
• Year-over-year? Microsoft’s latest diversity report shows small but consistent gains in representation of women throughout the company, from interns up to leadership. But the overall share of women at the company is actually down from four years ago, a drop that Microsoft attributes to its divestiture of Nokia. Fortune
• Missed opportunity. The plus-size fashion startup Dia&Co raised $40 million—and revealed that it never announced a 2017 round of $30 million. That’s a serious chunk of change—but founders Nadia Boujarwah and Lydia Gilbert say it’s no surprise: They estimate that the plus size market is worth $100 billion in latent demand. Fortune
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Jan Singer steps down as CEO of Victoria’s Secret. Alison Rose takes on the role of deputy CEO at Royal Bank of Scotland. Paloma Castro Martinez joins Lime as head of communications. Linda Hand is the new CEO of Cardinal Analytx. Alexandra Lebenthal will be senior advisor of capital markets at Empire Global Ventures. Women Rising brought on Catherine Connors as president and Marissa Garcia as head of strategy and partnerships. Lisa Bridge is the first female CEO of Berkshire Hathaway’s Ben Bridge Jeweler.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• OG IG. Bailey Richardson was one of the first 13 employees at Instagram—the ones who worked there before the app was acquired by Facebook. Now, she’s disillusioned with what Instagram has become, losing “the sense of intimacy, artistry and discovery” in favor of “a celebrity-driven marketplace that is engineered to sap users’ time and attention at the cost of their well-being.” Washington Post
• Circuit pick. Brett Kavanaugh’s replacement on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is Neomi Rao. Rao is administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which means she works on much of the deregulation favored by the Trump administration. Politico
• ‘Why Congress needs a fierce voice like mine.’ Writing for Fortune, incoming New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland says Congress has never heard a voice like hers. “Growing up in my mother’s Pueblo household, I never imagined a world in which I would be represented by someone who looked like me,” she writes. “That might be because just over 50 years ago, Native Americans in New Mexico couldn’t vote.” Fortune
ON MY RADAR
Being a Wendi Deng stan has gotten very complicated BuzzFeed
A bot now tells Financial Times reporters if they’re only quoting men Nieman Lab
Caroline Rose Hunt, the oil heiress who turned her inheritance into vast wealth as her brothers squandered their fortunes New York Times