Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Elizabeth Warren has a plan for student debt forgiveness, a Disney heiress takes on CEO pay, and Google walkout organizers say the company is retaliating against them. Have a terrific Tuesday.
• Retaliation recriminations. The drama inside Google continues. Fortune’s Beth Kowitt writes about an internal letter that circulated within the tech giant yesterday, in which long-time employees Claire Stapleton and Meredith Whittaker, key organizers of last year’s walkout and other protests, say the company has retaliated against them. (In a statement to Fortune, Google denied the allegations, saying: “There has been no retaliation here.”)
A quick refresher of what’s at stake: About 20,000 Googlers participated in the November walkout to protest the company’s handling of sexual harassment. And that’s just one example of how Google employees have publicly expressed their dissatisfaction with its actions and policies. A more recent one occurred earlier this month when the company disbanded its artificial intelligence ethics council after employees voiced concerns over the inclusion of the president of conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, citing what they described as her “vocally anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-immigrant views.”
Stapleton, a 12-year Google vet, wrote that she was demoted two months after the walkout, told she would lose half of her reports, and that an approved project was no longer on the table. It wasn’t until she got a lawyer involved that Google backtracked on her demotion.
Whittaker says that not long after Google announced that it would disband the A.I. council, she was told in order to stay at the company, she would have to abandon her work on A.I. ethics at Google—and leave the A.I. Now Institute, an outside organization she co-founded.
The situation puts Google—once again—at the forefront of the changing nature of the relationship between employees and their companies. In a #MeToo world, a growing number of workers feel not just empowered, but actually responsible for holding their employers accountable for their actions on issues like sexual harassment, diversity, and ethics. If even Google, which has long been known as one of the most open and democratic companies on the planet, is indeed applying this kind of pressure to employees who don’t toe the company line, I think we can expect to see these kinds of clashes become a major theme in corporate life in the months and years to come. Fortune
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• How Kleiner came crashing down. Fortune‘s Polina Marinova has the definitive account of how the Kleiner Perkins empire fell. One reason: Mary Meeker, along with her growth-stage investing team that has since left the storied Silicon Valley firm, was consistently outperforming the earlier-stage investors who were supposed to be at KP’s core. Spend some time with Polina’s piece for more on Kleiner’s decline, Meeker’s stunning successes, and their divorce. Fortune
• Disney on Disney. Disney heiress Abigail Disney—you might remember her recent interview in The Cut—posted a Twitter thread this week criticizing the $65 million earned by Disney CEO Bob Iger last fiscal year. She urged the company co-founded by her grandfather, Roy Disney, to allocate some of those millions to its lowest-earning workers. Fortune
• 2020 vision. Sen. Elizabeth Warren yesterday unveiled a plan to cancel student debt for 95% of debt-holders—up to $50,000 in households earning under $100,000 a year. The money would come from Warren’s proposed wealth tax, which would also fund her universal childcare proposal. Meanwhile, the New York Times takes a look at Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s effort to distinguish herself as the Democratic candidate with bipartisan appeal, and Sen. Kamala Harris joined Warren in calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment.
• Fed up. Now that Herman Cain has withdrawn as a Federal Reserve Board nominee (recall that he was accused multiple times of sexual harassment), attention has turned to past statements by Trump’s other board pick Stephen Moore. CNN dug up past National Review columns in which Moore makes breathtakingly offensive remarks about women in sports, including that they shouldn’t be allowed to work at men’s games unless they are attractive. In one, he asks why there is no place “where men can take vacation from women.” Moore attributed the “spoof” remarks to his “sense of humor.” CNN
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Bed, Bath & Beyond nominated Harriet Edelman, Andrea Weiss, Mary Winston, and Ann Yerger to its board of directors as part of a board overhaul spurred by a battle with activist investors. Legal advisor to the State Department Jennifer Newstead joins Facebook as its general counsel.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Michelle for mayor. Michelle Wu is a Boston city councilor—and one of the city’s rising political stars. Rep. Ayanna Pressley was the first woman of color elected to Boston’s city council in 2009, and Wu is following in her footsteps. Wu has led the charge on reforms checking the power of city officials and a paid leave program for city employees. The Atlantic
• Fertility talk. It’s National Infertility Awareness Week, and here are a few interesting perspectives from Glamour. One story asks: why aren’t men talking about fertility? And writer Hannah Selinger says she spent $17,000 freezing her eggs—and regrets every penny.
• Talks the talk, walks the walk. For New Yorkers and visitors alike, here’s a new kind of walking tour: the “Most Hideous Men in NYC” tour. Longtime Elle advice columnist E. Jean Carroll takes her participants past the Plaza Hotel where Betty Friedan once led a protest; past Tiffany & Co where estate jewelry head Paula Smith won the largest settlement in NYC history when she was fired after a male colleague said she was too aggressive; and past Trump Tower. The tour is meant to celebrate the #MeToo movement and its achievements—and Carroll’s commentary is priceless. The New Yorker
• Perfect 10. You might remember Katelyn Ohashi’s viral, joyful gymnastics routine from earlier this year. The UCLA senior is saying goodbye to gymnastics years after she forewent the Olympics and found a healthier relationship to the sport. “I’ve said before, ‘gymnastics is abusive,’ but now I know it’s not the sport that’s abusive—it’s the culture that was created and accepted and normalized,” Ohashi says. Marie Claire
ON MY RADAR
Why don’t women get comebacks like Tiger Woods? New York Times
Chick magnets on Gentleman Jack and Killing Eve The New Yorker
How women are transforming organized labor Washington Post
The company that sells love to America had a dark secret New York Times