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IBM CEO Trump, Amy Klobuchar Boss, Arjuna Capital: Broadsheet for February 15

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The military’s sexual assault problem isn’t getting any better, Google and Apple are under fire for a wife-tracking app, and more companies are prodded to disclose their gender pay gaps. If you’re in the U.S., enjoy the long weekend. See you back here on Tuesday.


• Pushed on payWhen Citigroup disclosed its global median gender pay gap of 29% last month, it isolated itself as perhaps the only bank in the U.S. to make such a revelation—and the only one to take heat for it.

Well, maybe not for long.

Arjuna Capital, the same activist investor group that prodded Citi to release its pay gap figures, is now urging a whole swath of other companies to do the same, including Adobe, Amazon, American Express, Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, Facebook, Google, Intel, JPMorgan, MasterCard and Wells Fargo.

The push from Arjuna is reminiscent of the U.K. government’s requirement that firms publicly publish their gender pay gaps. The approach of targeting a firm’s median pay gap—meaning comparing women’s versus men’s compensation across the entire firm, rather than within a single job—is often criticized for unfairly penalizing companies that may have, for instance, a disproportionate share of women in lower-paying service jobs, even if they have women in leadership positions, too.

To that criticism, Natasha Lamb, director of equity research and shareholder engagement at Arjuna Capital, told the Washington Post: “What people are paid is a reflection of their value to the company, and who the company values.”

We also know now that public scrutiny on this front does, in fact, prompt change. As Kristen reported last month, a study of companies in the wake of a Danish law requiring employers to report gender pay gaps 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.

Lamb also characterizes the data as a starting point: “Investors want a baseline from which to measure progress.”

That argument also seemed to resonate with Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat: “You really have to get below it,” he said of the pay gap last month. “You can’t fix it until you get below it and until you acknowledge what it is.” Washington Post

And a special plug for Fortune‘s upcoming Brainstorm Health Summit. The gathering of C-Suite leaders of top companies, hospitals, insurers, and cutting-edge pharma and biotech firms is taking place this April 2-3 in San Diego. Among the conference’s confirmed participants are Mindy Grossman of WW International, Mei Mei Hu of United Neuroscience, actress Edie Falco, Westlake Village BioPartners Managing Partner Beth Seidenberg, and McCain Institute Chairman Cindy McCain. Check out the full agenda and register here


Not a blip. Despite closer government scrutiny and preventative efforts, sexual assaults at U.S. military service academies keep going up. There were 117 formal complaints last school year at Army, Navy, and Air Force academies, up from 112 the year before. What’s worse, an anonymous Pentagon survey found that 747 students said they received unwanted sexual contact, up from 507 a year earlier. “This isn’t a blip, a ‘me too’ bump, or some accident,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D–Calif.) during a hearing. “It’s a clear illustration of a destructive trend and systemic problem.” NPR

• App-auling. Google and Apple have come under fire in recent days for carrying an app that lets Saudi men track their wives. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said he wasn’t aware of the app but that Apple would “take a look at it.” The app, called Absher, lets men designate when and where their wives can, for instance, go through airport customs. The tool has gotten attention as Saudi women make high-profile pleas for asylum.  Fortune

Seeking counsel. IBM’s Ginni Rometty and Lockheed Martin’s Marillyn Hewson are among the chief executives who’ve signed on to President Donald Trump’s business advisory board aimed at preparing American workers for the shift toward automation and artificial intelligence. The board will be co-chaired by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Ivanka Trump. You’ll recall that an earlier version of Trump’s business council dissolved after his equivocation on white supremacy following the deadly Charlottesville Unite the Right rally.  Fortune

Passive aggressors. New analysis from Bloomberg found that activist hedge fund managers made a poor showing of pushing for board diversity. Of the 143 board members activists nominated last year, just 19—some 13%—were women. Two of the biggest names in this space—Carl Icahn and Nelson Peltz—nominated a combined 21 directors in 2018, none of whom were women.  Bloomberg

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Cindy Robbins, president and chief people officer at Salesforce, has joined the board of nonprofit Year Up. AR firm Ubiquity6 has hired Ann-Marie Harbour, previously of Magic Leap, as its head of studio. Zendesk went on a bit of a hiring spree, announcing Elisabeth Zornes as chief customer officer, Colleen Berube as chief information officer, and Shawna Wolverton as SVP, product management.


• Ain’t no love. HSBC was getting no love on Valentine’s Day after a special deal for bank staff in Hong Kong promoted discounts on laptops ‘for him’ and vacuums and kitchen appliances ‘for her.’ In response to employee anger, HSBC said the offer was produced by a third-party; the bank itself is “committed to gender diversity.” The controversy comes, of course, as the bank takes flack for having a giant gender pay gap.  Reuters

• Who’s the boss? More on Amy Klobuchar’s reported reputation as a tough—if not abusive—boss, this time from Jennifer Palmieri, the one-time communications director for President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. “In my 30 years in politics, including working for female bosses and as one,” she writes, “I have observed that the complaints about such work environments hit women faster and harder than they do their male colleagues.” Politico

Breaking news. In a new piece for HBR, Barnard College president Sian Beilock, who’s a cognitive scientist, offers advice on how highly-skilled women can break the cycle of “succumbing to stereotype-driven expectations.” One of her tips: “Try journaling.”  Harvard Business Review

Under fire. In this stomach-turning piece, the NYT investigates a fire that killed 41 girls at a government-run home in Guatemala two years ago. Police officers stationed outside the girls’ room waited nine minutes to unlock the door as the blaze raged. The probe of the tragedy uncovered other horrific alleged misdeeds at the home, including physical, psychological and sexual abuse.  New York Times

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The secret history of women in coding  New York Times

Top Philippine journalist Maria Ressa released on bail after libel charges   Washington Post

The ‘Salt Queen’ working to transform the health of a nation  CNN


I was never afraid to tell him when I thought he was wrong.
Debbie Dingell, whose husband John, the longest-serving member of Congress, died last week. A three-term representative herself, Dingell is the only woman to have ever assumed her husband’s congressional seat while he was still alive.