Bryan Singer, Sheila Jackson Lee, Gawker: Broadsheet January 24
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Men come forward with #MeToo accusations against ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ director Bryan Singer, MacKenzie Bezos’s novels are intriguing, and we get more context on Citi’s decision to share its gender pay gap. Have a terrific Thursday.
• Still minding the gap. Claire, who’s still braving the snow in Davos for the World Economic Forum, brings us a new report that adds fascinating context to a story we flagged earlier this week—Citi’s recent decision to publish its gender pay gap.
In an interview, Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat, who is also attending the Swiss confab, discussed the bank’s decision to reveal that, as a whole, women at the firm globally earn 29% less than men. While Citi isn't legally required to disclose its global gaps, it does have to answer to its investors—including Arjuna Capital, which last year convinced the bank to publish first its “adjusted” pay gap (which showed that men and women with the same job title, education, and experience earned roughly the same pay), and then its firm-wide, unadjusted gap—i.e. that jarring 29%.
The unadjusted figure is “an ugly number on the surface,” admitted Corbat. But, he added, “you can’t fix it until you get below it and until you acknowledge what it is.” What that 29% reveals, he says, is that the firm has an “imbalance at the senior job and leadership level,” Corbat said. In other words: men hold the high-level, high-paid jobs, while women are concentrated lower on the corporate ladder, where pay is less. Citi is now attempting to chip away at the disparity by setting a goal of hitting 40% women at the assistant VP to MD level in the U.S. by the end of 2021, bringing on more “balanced” classes of new hires, and looking at new policies to curb the attrition of promising women.
Citi’s actions strike me as worth dwelling on for a couple reasons. First, this is not the last we’re going to hear of the importance of unadjusted vs. adjusted pay gaps. From a personal perspective, I think a lot of women tend to focus on the latter. That's understandable: What could be more infuriating than learning that the guy sitting across the office—with your same title, responsibilities, and experience—is earning more than you? But consider the ways in which the unadjusted gap, too, directly affects your career and compensation prospects. A big unadjusted gap says that even if you and that same guy make identical salaries right now, things are likely to look very different for the two of you in, say, five or ten years. In a company with a significant median gap, he’s likely to get many opportunities for promotions and pay bumps that will never come your way.
The Corbat interview also underlines the importance of new research published in Harvard Business Review, which looks at what happens when companies are required to report their gender pay disparities—because, let’s face it, not all companies are going to follow Citi down the path of voluntary disclosure. The researchers studied a group of companies in the wake of a new Danish law that required employers with more than 35 employees to report their gender pay gaps. They found that, over five years, the companies that had to disclose the information were able to shrink their gaps, while the wage disparities of those that did not stayed in place. The employers that shared their pay gap data also experienced other improvements, including an increase in the number of women hired and promoted.
The gender pay gap is a big and persistent problem. And while we still have no perfect strategy for closing it once and for all, these stories demonstrate that measuring the gap from multiple perspectives—and sharing that information with the world—is an essential first step.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• A long-awaited #MeToo story. Accusations of sexual misconduct have trailed director Bryan Singer, who is credited on Oscar contender Bohemian Rhapsody even though he was fired midway through the production. Now four men describe how they were assaulted by Singer when they were as young as 13. A yearlong investigation reveals "a troubled man who surrounded himself with vulnerable teenage boys" and how he was enabled by friends, associates, and the entertainment industry. The Atlantic
• Stepping aside. Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who represents Houston, resigned from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and temporarily from a role as chairman on a House Judiciary subcommittee after a lawsuit charged that the congresswoman fired a woman working at the foundation who reported that she was sexually assaulted by a staffer and planned to sue. New York Times
• Abortion rights victory. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law protecting abortion rights in the state even if Roe v. Wade is ever overturned and eliminating late-term abortion from New York's criminal code—an outdated restriction and recent focus of activists. Fortune
• Roman à clef? MacKenzie Bezos's entry into the news cycle this month might have made you curious: What are her novels about anyway? The New Yorker reviewed her books, and found in their characters "idealized, introverted wives" who are hard to understand without wondering about Bezos herself. The other verdict: The Testing of Luther Albright is her best book. The New Yorker
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Under Armour hired Harley-Davidson's Tchernavia Rocker as chief people and culture officer as the company deals with a problematic culture. NBC promoted Saturday Night Live PR chief Lauren Roseman to senior VP of NBC Entertainment Publicity.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Goodbye, Gawker. The two writers hired to staff the revived Gawker under Bustle Digital Group, Maya Kosoff and Anna Breslaw, resigned after the company refused to fire recently-named editorial director Carson Griffith. Offensive tweets of Griffith's were published in Splinter, and Kosoff and Breslaw reported other serious concerns to HR. The Daily Beast
• Arrest in Arizona. Police arrested a 36-year-old nurse at Hacienda Healthcare after an investigation into a woman who conceived and gave birth while in a vegetative state. After DNA tests of staffers, Nathan Sutherland has been charged with sexual assault and vulnerable adult abuse. CNN
• Dipping into controversy. Here's an interesting one: Did you know there's a hummus brand called "Me Too!"? Unsurprisingly, the British brand's sales have been on the decline over the past year as buyers have become reluctant to stock the products on grocery shelves. Founder Ramona Hazan has finally decided to change the name after the hashtag turned out not to be a short-lived trend—and she didn't want to be seen as capitalizing on other people's pain. The Guardian
ON MY RADAR
The long lines for women's bathrooms could have been eliminated. Why haven't they been? The Atlantic
[Humor] The bad-boy chef The New Yorker
How the Meghan Markle effect has transformed Canadian fashion Refinery29