Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Ellen Pompeo calls out a lack of diversity, Goop could be headed to Netflix, and a Fortune Businessperson of the Year finalist is rethinking retail. Have a wonderful Wednesday and a happy Thanksgiving.
• A ‘personal priority.’ The Broadsheet with be off this Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. But before we sign off for this mini-break (we’ll be back on Monday!), here’s a CEO profile fit for Black Friday, the unofficial launch of the holiday shopping season.
Fortune’s Phil Wahba spent some time with Michelle Gass, the new CEO of department store Kohl’s, who was No. 21 on Fortune’s MPW list and, more recently, third runner-up for Fortune’s 2018 Businessperson of the Year. What earned her that latter distinction?
“In 2017, Kohl’s enjoyed one of its most successful holiday seasons in years, with comparable sales up 7%; it has now clocked five straight quarters of “comp” growth. The growth has been driven by factors ranging from bread-and-butter moves, like overhauling its e-commerce and bringing in coveted brands like Under Armour, to counterintuitive ones, like inviting Amazon in—or deciding to shrink nearly half of its stores while closing none. The upshot: Kohl’s stock trades near all-time highs these days on the assumption that its recent momentum is no fluke.”
That’s right, Kohl’s has embraced Amazon, the arch enemy of brick-and-mortar stores, with an initiative that sees its physical stores handle the returns of Amazon online orders. Some Kohl’s locations even sell the e-commerce giant’s smart-home products, such as the Amazon Echo, at branded kiosks.
That “daring experiment,” as Phil puts it, fits neatly into Gass’s playbook; she’s made a career out of layering innovation on top of a company’s long-held traditions. At Procter & Gamble, for instance, she helped develop the wildly popular Crest for Kids toothpaste brand. At Starbucks, she helped grow the frappuccino into a billion-dollar business and improved the chain’s food offerings that are now a staple of its cafes.
As she puts it, “How do you evolve? How do you keep your core…but then innovate?”
The challenge for Gass now is to maintain Kohl’s momentum and skew its shopper demographics to a younger age set: the average Kohl’s customer is about 50 years old. “We have not done our job [in attracting millennials],” she says. “And I’m making it a personal priority to make sure that once and for all, we crack the code.” Fortune
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Giving thanks for Sarah. Broadsheet reader A.R. alerted us to a woman in history whose legacy is coming up tomorrow. Sarah Josepha Buell Hale campaigned to make Thanksgiving a U.S. holiday until President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation for “a day of thanksgiving and praise” in 1863. Time
• What she knew. Former Michigan State University president Lou Anna K. Simon was charged with two felonies for lying to police about what she knew about disgraced doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse of young gymnasts. New York Times
• Now streaming. Next up for Goop? TV. Gwyneth Paltrow’s brand is reportedly in talks with Netflix for a streaming series built around wellness. WWD
• Amazon: return to sender. Rashida Tlaib, the new representative-elect for Michigan’s 13th Congressional District, writes for Fortune about Amazon’s decision to build its so-called HQ2 in New York City and Northern Virginia. She says the soon-to-be host cities offered the company too many tax breaks and didn’t focus on the needs of the nearby communities. That pattern is “nothing new” to the people of her district (which includes Detroit), she says, and it’s time to break the cycle. “If developers want our public dollars, the exchange must come with real accountability and a higher standard of responsibility,” writes Tlaib. Fortune
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Eventbrite hired Deborah Sharkey as chief commercial officer and Crystal Valentine as chief data strategy officer. Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Dana Gelb Safran joins the joint health care venture by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and J.P. Morgan as head of measurement. Karina Wilsher was promoted to global CEO and partner of the agency Anomaly.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Called out. Have you seen this Hollywood roundtable clip circulating? In the video filmed for Net-a-Porter, Grey’s Anatomy‘s Ellen Pompeo calls out the set she was on at the time for its lack of diversity. “I didn’t see enough color when I walked in the room today,” she says. On the same panel, Gabrielle Union described how she and other actresses up for the same part turned down offers until the first-choice actress—who had been lowballed by producers—got paid what she asked for. Huffington Post
• Chicago tragedy. The shooting at Chicago’s Mercy Hospital on Monday was yet another example of domestic violence taking a deadly turn. Tamara O’Neal was an emergency room physician who had broken off an engagement; her former fiancé showed up at the hospital and killed her and two others. Washington Post
• Next steps. Here’s a fascinating case study into what happens after a boss is accused of sexual harassment. At the Besh Restaurant Group in New Orleans, Shannon White took over as CEO from founder John Besh and made necessary changes like eliminating employee discounts on alcohol and setting up an anonymous tip line. Change is still on-going, but the restaurant group sets a strong example for how a toxic work environment can move forward. NPR
• Hyde-Smith reaction. Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) drew outrage earlier this month when she said, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row,” as a way of—she says, rather puzzlingly—complimenting a supporter. Now Hyde-Smith is losing donor support, including a retracted donation from Walmart. Hyde-Smith faces a runoff election Nov. 27. Vox
ON MY RADAR
Glamour to cease monthly print publication New York Times
Olivia Colman reigns supreme in The Crown and The Favourite Time
How tech bros disrupted sourdough and erased women from the 6,000-year-old craft of making bread Eater