Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Oprah Winfrey sits down for an exceptional interview, the Obamas reveal their first projects with Netflix, and #MeToo is popping up at annual meetings. Have a wonderful Wednesday.
• #MeToo takes on the annual meeting. There’s a new item on some shareholders’ agendas as firms’ annual meetings take place: concerns related to the ongoing #MeToo movement.
The Financial Times reports that directors at firms like Amazon and Walmart are being asked to more fervently combat sexual harassment.
Amazon, for instance, is facing a campaign urging it to publish statistics related to its disciplinary actions. And Walmart is under pressure from a group representing retail workers to release a report about how it handles sexual harassment allegations. Other companies are hearing calls for more board oversight and to explain their use of mandatory arbitration in fielding sexual harassment claims.
Firms’ responses to such efforts are uninspiring to say the least, with some simply stating what they’ve already done on such issues or by seemingly waving off the suggestions altogether.
Amazon, for its part, says it “does not tolerate sexual harassment” and has banned retaliation against employees who file legitimate sexual harassment claims. Walmart called the push it faces “unnecessary,” arguing that it prohibits discrimination and harassment; a report on its handling of such claims would “distract” from other strategic initiatives. Property company CBRE responded to demands that it prepare a report on its use of mandatory arbitration by deeming the initiative “costly, ineffective and distracting.” The firm takes the “prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace very seriously;” fulfilling the request would be “unnecessary given the company’s established and ongoing practices.”
Despite the pushback, activists have seemingly notched at least one win. CBS, of the recent Les Moonves-#MeToo debacle, settled with campaigners who were demanding more board oversight. Plus, Institutional Shareholder Services, an influential shareholder advisory group, is backing the CBRE measure, meaning some institutional investors could hop onboard.
The whole trend is reminiscent of shareholder pressure that’s bubbled up on the diversity front with investors like BlackRock and Vanguard demanding that companies add more women to their boards. In the case of board diversity, investor pressure can fill the role that legal mandates play in other countries, Paula Loop, head of PwC’s Governance Insights Center told me last year. It’s easy to see the same applying to #MeToo issues like mandatory arbitration where legislation has so far failed. Recall that Congressional Democrats introduced a bill to end some uses of forced arbitration in late February; earlier iterations of the measure were drafted in 2017 but never made it out of committee.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Stacey skips the Senate. Stacey Abrams will not run for Senate in 2020, despite Democrats’ pleas that she do so, she confirmed yesterday. The decision fueled rumors about her 2020 plans, but Abrams could also be waiting for a 2022 rematch with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. “My responsibility is not simply to run because the job is available. I need to run because I want to do the job,” she said. Atlanta Journal-Constitution
• Open-ended with Oprah. In an astonishingly wide-ranging interview, Oprah Winfrey discusses who she may support in 2020 (and calls Mayor Pete Buttigieg “Buttabeep, Buttaboop”), why she left her role at 60 Minutes before the show’s sexual harassment allegations but after producers told her she was “too emotional” when saying her name on air, how she helped Gayle King negotiate her contract at CBS, and plenty more. It’s definitely worth reading the whole thing: The Hollywood Reporter
• First lady of Netflix. Michelle and Barack Obama revealed the first set of projects they’ll be making with Netflix through their production company Higher Ground. There are four TV shows and three movies, including American Factory, a documentary about a factory that opens in an abandoned GM plant; Listen to Your Vegetables & Eat Your Parents, a show for preschoolers that, appropriate for the former first lady and her Let’s Move initiative, tells the story of food; and Overlooked, an adaptation of the New York Times obituary series documenting the lives of notable people in history whose deaths weren’t reported by the paper. The Hollywood Reporter
• Making e-history. Another male-dominated industry? E-sports. Chiquita Evans made history as the first woman drafted to the NBA 2K League, reports Fortune‘s Lisa Marie Segarra. Fortune
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Former Google Cloud chief Diane Greene will leave Alphabet’s board. Index firm MSCI named former Moody’s finance chief Linda Huber CFO and treasurer. Google’s Diya Jolly joins identity management company Okta as chief product officer. Comcast’s Lysa Dahlin joins DigitalOcean as chief people officer. Chandra Recchi is now SVP, product development and design studio at Burberry. Linda Wells left her role as chief creative officer for Revlon; she’ll still be consulting for the makeup line Flesh.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Fines in France. Since France enacted legislation in August defining and punishing street harassment, French police have issued 447 fines between €90 and €750. “Many of you on these benches told us it would never work,” equality minister Marlène Schiappa said to her colleagues, but the law seems to have been quite effective. Guardian
• A radical leader. An ongoing effort by Occidental Petroleum to bid for Anadarko Petroleum has put a spotlight on Occidental CEO Vicki Hollub. Between the possible deal and her efforts to reduce Occidental’s contributions to climate change, her leadership now appears more “radical” than expected when she took the job three years ago. Financial Times
• Chao’s approach to crisis. The crisis over Boeing’s 737 MAX jet has highlighted Elaine Chao’s agenda as secretary of transportation. Chao’s response was to send a one-page memo instructing the head of the Federal Aviation Administration to figure out how it lost its place as the world’s leading regulator of air safety. Wall Street Journal
• Not quite a slam dunk. The Baylor Lady Bears on Monday became the first women’s championship team to be honored at the White House since President Trump took office. Other women’s winners haven’t been invited; some said they would have declined if they were. No professional women’s team has been hosted by the president. New York Times
ON MY RADAR
Humor: Welcome to our co-working and community space for men McSweeney's
Talita Von Furstenberg continues the family legacy with TVF for DVF collection Elle
Director John Singleton’s movie legacy exalts black women Refinery29
Why I am taking the sari back to the street Vogue