Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Jane Mayer is the reporter who won’t stop, Michael Cohen testifies about @WomenforCohen, and EY’s Americas leader talks about responding to sexual harassment claims. Have a terrific Thursday.
• Your Great Places correspondent. Greetings from foggy San Francisco, where I’m in town for the 2019 Great Place to Work For All Summit. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to interview a couple of leaders from GPTW companies—Kelly Grier, EY’s U.S. chairman and managing partner and Americas managing partner, and DJ Casto, Synchrony’s chief human resources officer.
Both conversations gave me a lot to chew on. A special shoutout here to Casto for ably stepping in for Synchrony CEO Margaret Keane at the last moment—and for winning over the crowd with his descriptions of the steps the company is taking to empower and teach new skills to its call center and other hourly workers, even when it leads to them leaving Synchrony for other jobs.
In my conversation with Grier, I was impressed by the new Americas leader’s willingness to talk not just about her firm’s achievements, but also about its missteps—including the two EEOC complaints filed against the company last year by female partners alleging sexual harassment and other misconduct.
“First and foremost, I really believe in the #MeToo movement… I believe in the principles of true equality, and respect, and safety,” Grier told the crowd. “It’s the right way forward.”
She did not get into details about either claim (one of which has been settled; the other remains unresolved), but she did talk about how the firm is responding.
“It was really an inflection point for us… We rigorously examined how could this have happened and we identified a number of mistakes that were made along the way—and we were honest about those mistakes,” said Grier.
The company had an all-hands webcast, where Grier (who was still transitioning into her current role) and her predecessor “looked in the eyes of our people and we accepted the responsibility that the organization really had and committed to taking swift action,” she said.
That action included changes to processes that had enabled bad behavior, as well as “any other lingering issues that could potentially erode our culture.”
“We chose not to sweep it under the rug,” Grier told the Summit attendees. “We chose not to just get through it, but to establish an objective to lead through it.”
Part of that push included bringing in help from outside experts, including Tina Tchen, former chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama and a leader of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, to advise the company on how it can fix what’s broken and “find the highest bar” going forward.
Grier noted that she’s doing a Facebook Live event with Tchen to talk about how businesses are grappling with issues like sexual harassment. That conversation is open to the public, so if you’d like to check it out, you can do so here.
While a short on-stage interview isn’t the perfect format to dig into the details of a company’s mistakes or the changes it’s made to try to prevent them in the future, simply being willing to publicly engage with something as radioactive as a sexual harassment charge is a step in the right direction. We’ll have to watch and see how far those steps go.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Guess who’s back... And, on a darker #MeToo note, it seems that some sexual harassers just won’t go away. John Lasseter, Louis C.K., architect Richard Meier, former Intel CEO Brian Krzanich—they’re all already on their next act after being accused of varying degrees of sexual misconduct. (In related news: Wynn Resorts has to pay a $20 million fine levied by Nevada gambling regulators over the sexual misconduct allegations against Steven Wynn.) Bloomberg
• Resume builder. Elizaveta Peskova is an intern at the European Parliament for Aymeric Chauprade, a far-right member from France. She’s also the daughter of Dmitry Peskov, a longtime spokesman for Vladimir Putin. The 21-year-old’s surprise presence is throwing European lawmakers who already have enough on their plate trying to stand up to the Kremlin. Washington Post
• WWWWD? Turns out, “WW” is confusing. Weight Watchers’ shift toward wellness has been a bust and stock cratered 30% after Mindy Grossman’s company reported earnings on Tuesday. Grossman says the still-renamed WW will tap Oprah Winfrey—whose own 8% stake in WW lost $48 million in value after the report—in its marketing as the company tries to course correct. In other earnings news: Ted Baker shares took an 18% dive as it deals with further fallout from the “forced hugging” misconduct allegations against CEO Ray Kelvin. And Mylan, led by Heather Bresch, saw its worst drop in three years.
• Answering the tough questions. Michael Cohen testified before the House Oversight and Reform Committee yesterday, and among the many things he was forced to answer for was the @WomenforCohen Twitter account he paid for featuring fake women fawning over him. “Was that done to protect the president?” Republican Rep. Jim Jordan asked. “We were having fun during a stressful time,” Cohen responded. Also during the hearing, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez followed a unique line of questioning during her five-minute allotment that’s being widely shared for its precision and its potential implications for Democrats’ access to President Trump’s tax returns. The Cut
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Forerunner Venture founder Kirsten Green and Glenda McNeal of American Express joined Nordstrom’s board of directors. Former Citi exec Deborah Chase Hopkins is now on the board of Deep Instinct. Jennifer Forster starts as a partner at EPIQ Capital Group. Jaymee Messler left The Players Tribune. Gradient Group hired Jennifer de Fouchier as executive creative director and partner. Jennifer Romolini will be editor-in-chief of cannabisMD.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• The reporter who won’t stop. Elle profiles Jane Mayer, the legendary—and funny!—New Yorker reporter. One piece of news in the story: She’s still reporting out more allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Elle
• She said, he said. Canada’s Justin Trudeau is facing the most dramatic crisis of his tenure following the explosive testimony of his former attorney general. Jody Wilson-Raybould broke her silence on a growing scandal involving the end of legal woes for a Quebec construction company. She says Trudeau and top aides pressured her to end the prosecution of the firm in what amounted to interference in the justice system, while the PM says he was trying to prevent job losses. Bloomberg
• Not conservative enough? Neomi Rao is nominated to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals. She’s definitely conservative—especially when it comes to government deregulation—but she’s facing pushback from some conservative lawmakers worried that she’s secretly in favor of abortion rights. Using the term “anti-abortion” instead of “pro-life” in her writing is one hint that has some Republicans concerned. New York Times
• ‘The Bey Keeper.’ Yvette Noel-Schure has been the publicity mastermind behind Beyoncé since the earliest days of Destiny’s Child. Now, the former publicist for Prince and Mariah Carey has mastered how to say no as Beyoncé sets her own agenda without media interviews. (No, Beyoncé isn’t quoted in this story!) Elle
ON MY RADAR
Mrs. Dalloway and the invisibility of older women The Atlantic
What happened when we started a feminism club at our Catholic boys school The Cut
Don’t ask men how they ‘deal with’ their wives Jezebel