Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Penny Pritzker has a new gig, Ivanka Trump has a new initiative, and we learn about how women fare at leading diverse constituencies. Have a restful weekend!
• When women lead. I’ll usher you into the weekend with some fascinating new research to chew on.
Like many of us, Susan Perkins of the University of Illinois and Katherine Phillips of the Columbia Business School were familiar with the McKinsey study that says companies with more women in top management perform 15% better than the industry median. The researches asked themselves: Might this also apply to countries? Meaning, are women better at leading diverse nations than men?
Let’s save the suspense: the answer is yes.
Their study of 188 United Nations–recognized countries found that female leaders were significantly more likely than male leaders to have fast-growing economies when they led very diverse countries. “When led by a woman, they had an average of 5.4% GDP growth in the subsequent year,” the authors write in the Harvard Business Review, “as compared with their male counterparts’ 1.1%.”
They point to former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as a prime example. After reshuffling her cabinet to reflect Liberia’s wide ranges of age, gender, religion, and ethnicity, Sirleaf oversaw 4% GDP growth in her first five years in office, from 2006 to 2010, versus the 1% growth of her predecessor. Her agenda focused on unifying Liberia’s various groups, the researchers write, while her male counterparts had prioritized allocating resources to their favored group.
The researches warn that the strong correlation they found isn’t a guarantee that women will always excel, nor does their study establish a causal relationship. At the same time, though, they say their analysis—along with past research—makes it clear “that companies and countries should make it a priority to identify and promote talented women.” It’s not just the right thing to do, they say, it has “tangible financial benefits.”
What’s more, they learned that “the downsides of diversity—festering biases, discrimination, and racial/ethnic conflicts” must be managed. Otherwise “they are associated with stunted economic growth.”
“No company can afford to be a competitive laggard when it comes to developing all their employees, just as a country cannot maximize its growth if large parts of its populace are left out of the economy.” HBS
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• An inspired choice. In January, we learned that LearnVest founder Alexa von Tobel planned to raise $200 million for a new early-stage venture capital fund called Inspired Capital Partners. Now, Fortune‘s Polina Marinova reports that billionaire businesswoman and former Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will join the venture as a founding partner. Fortune
• America First Aid. The White House yesterday launched its new Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative that aims to improve economic security for 50 million women around the world by 2025. Interestingly, the program that’s being championed up by Ivanka Trump, draws from USAID, the same international development agency whose budget President Donald Trump sought to cut—twice. Fortune
• Fairfax under fire. The sexual assault scandal swirling around Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (he denies the allegations) seems to be gaining steam. Fairfax has hired the same law firm that represented Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings. Meanwhile, 2020 hopeful Kamala Harris called for an investigation of the claims against Fairfax, saying they were “credible.” Politico
• Going green. Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ed Markey of Massachusetts finally unveiled the framework of their “Green New Deal,” a massive policy package that would transform the U.S. economy and, they hope, eliminate all U.S. carbon emissions. “Even the solutions that we have considered big and bold are nowhere near the scale of the actual problem that climate change presents to us,” AOC told NPR. NPR
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Fortune‘s very own Leigh Gallagher, editor, author, and MPW Summit extraordinaire, is moving to Google to be its first director of external affairs. We will miss her dearly.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Art as an antidote. This week’s edition of Time was guest edited by director Ava DuVernay. The art-focused “Optimists” issue features 34 people who are changing how we see the world. Art, DuVernay writes, “is worthy of our interrogation and is in fact an antidote for our times.” Time
• Scooter scoop. Another one from Fortune‘s Polina Marinova: She interviewed Sarah Smith, a partner at Bain Capital Ventures, who co-led Lime’s latest $310 million funding round. The scooter market is crowded these days. Why Lime? Like many things, so much of it comes down to data, she says. “If you have the most experience, the most markets, the most data—you will be better equipped to run a large-scale operation effectively in many different types of markets.” Fortune
• Seeking Sheryl. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg started 2019 on an image rehabilitation tour in an effort to wiggle free from some of the controversy that’s dogged her and the social network in recent months. Sure, she’s taken her fair share of heat, but female leaders quoted in this story say they still look up to her. “She has done a lot for women in tech, we shouldn’t forget that,” said Gillian Tans, the CEO of Booking.com. “It takes 3 to 4 times the effort for a woman to achieve the level of success that many of us who are here have achieved. Yet it takes one misstep to fall off your pedestal.” Bloomberg
• Run like a girl. British runner Susannah Gill completed her “crazy ambition” of running seven marathons across seven continents in seven days—in record time. She won the grueling World Marathon Challenge in the fastest time by a women athlete—a total time of 24 hours, 19 minutes, and nine seconds, besting the previous record by more than three hours. For those setting goals at home: That’s an average of three hours and 28 minutes per marathon. Guardian
ON MY RADAR
Chef Sandra Lee rose to fame on charm and Cool Whip. Now she’s taking on cancer Time
The fight for gender equality in one of the most dangerous sports on earth New York Times
Police dispute Cindy McCain’s claim that she thwarted human trafficking attempt Huffington Post
Diane Keaton is now a fashion blogger and the rest of you can go home Harper's Bazaar