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Fortune 500, Beyoncé Uber, Alabama Abortion: Broadsheet May 16

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! More CEOs were pushed out in 2018 for ethical lapses than financial performance, Beyoncé makes bank on Uber, and—hooray!—the new Fortune 500 sets a record! Have a terrific Thursday.


• A Fortune 500 record. The latest Fortune 500 list—out this morning—sets a new record: as of June 1, 33 companies will be led by female CEOs—the highest total ever.

To be sure, that sum represents a disproportionately small share of the group as a whole; just 6.6%. But it also marks a considerable jump from last year’s total of 24, or 4.8%.

The uptick in female CEOs this year is largely the result of women being named chief executive in the last 12 months, such as Best Buy’s Corie Barry and Land O’Lakes’ Beth Ford. And two of the new additions—Williams-Sonoma CEO Laura Alber and Advanced Micro Devices CEO Lisa Su—have held their jobs for years, but they’re joining the club now because their companies have surpassed the Fortune 500’s revenue cut-off.

The relative barrage of new female CEO is a far cry from last year’s narrative, when the departure of high-profile chief executives—Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Meg Whitman, Mondelez’s Irene Rosenfeld, Campbell Soup’s Denise Morrison—pushed the count down to 24.

So what might be behind the dramatic one-year reversal? In a word: boards.

“We are seeing women and minorities on boards ticking up, and boards have a lot to do with who becomes CEOs,” Lorraine Hariton, CEO of nonprofit Catalyst, told me. Fifteen years ago, women accounted for 15.7% of board seats in the Fortune 500. Now, it’s 25.5%.

Christy Glass, a Utah State University professor who focuses on gender inequality, says her research with co-author Alison Cook “has shown that when boards are well-integrated with women, women are much more likely to be appointed CEOs.” The push for board diversity, she says, “may be paying off in terms of women appointed as CEOs.”

While the new Fortune 500 list marks a record for total number of female CEOs, it also continues a troubling trend: that so few of those chief executives are non-white women. Last year’s tally included PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi, who’s Indian-American, and PG&E CEO Geisha Williams, who’s Latina. Both left their posts in recent months. Bed Bath & Beyond’s Mary Winston is the first black woman to serve as a Fortune 500 CEO since Xerox’s Ursula Burns stepped down two-and-a-half years ago, though Winston is in an interim post.

Down the line, this problem may be helped by the board diversity push too, Glass says. “Our research suggests that when women lead companies at the board rank and as CEOs, [there’s] more attention [paid] to equality policies and practices. So one added bonus of the growth of women directors is that CEOs place more emphasis on recruiting, retaining, and advancing people of color.”

You can read my full story, which includes a list of all the female CEOs, here.

Claire Zillman


• How Hollub did it. For our Fortune 500 issue, Jen Wieczner dives into the Occidental-Anadarko acquisition brokered by Occidental’s Vicki Hollub. Sneak peek: It only took her an hour to get Warren Buffett to agree to back the deal. Fortune

Not about the money. More CEOs in 2018 were pushed out of their corner offices for ethical lapses than the usual poor financial performance or board power struggles, a first in the years this has been tracked. The category of ethical lapses includes not just sexual misconduct, but also fraud, bribery, insider trading, environmental disasters, and inflated resumes. Washington Post

• #MeToo in law. A third of female lawyers say they’ve been sexually harassed, according to a global survey by the International Bar Association. Half say they’ve been bullied. Bloomberg

Greedy? Not so fast. Remember how the workplace becoming “greedy”—by requiring longer and longer hours—is a major driver of the gender pay gap? Despite the growth of the greedy professions, efforts by companies to counter those flaws, like allowing remote working, are on the rise in the tight labor market. New York Times

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Deloitte’s Cathy Engelbert, who was not renominated to another term as CEO by her board of directors, will move over to the WNBA as its new commissioner; she replaces Lisa Borders, who left to briefly lead Time’s Up. Ruth Leas will take over as chief executive of Investec Bank. Refinery29’s Work & Money director Lindsey Stanberry joins CNBC Make It as deputy managing editor. Joyce Tang, former deputy managing editor of Gizmodo, was promoted to executive managing editor at G/O Media, the renamed Gizmodo Media Group.


About Alabama. Concern over Alabama’s new abortion law, which all but bans the procedure, is growing among supporters of reproductive rights. In Glamour, a striking graphic featuring the 25 white men who voted in favor of the legislation. And here, a guide to what it means to have the country’s strictest abortion law: Fortune

Pay me in equity. Uber’s IPO lost money for some investors—but it made bank for Beyoncé. The superstar performed for an Uber event in 2015 and asked for equity instead of her $6 million paycheck—and it paid off in the IPO. (And it’s reminiscent of how the master negotiator took a cut on her Coachella fee for the rights to the show, leading to her $60 million Netflix deal for Homecoming.) Refinery29

Progress in Paris. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s meeting about social networks’ handling of terrorism took place in Paris on Wednesday; Facebook announced Tuesday night it would take steps to prevent extremist videos from reaching its platform. NPR

More Bull. After actress Eliza Dushku came forward about the harassment and retaliation she experienced on the set of Bull—and after Steven Spielberg and his production company dropped out—CBS renewed the show anyway. Star Michael Weatherly—a CBS mainstay on NCIS and the alleged perpetrator of the harassment—was “apologetic,” “remorseful,” and willing to take training on creating a positive environment on set, said the network once overseen by Les Moonves. “When we looked at the totality of the situation, we felt comfortable bringing Bull back on the air,” a CBS spokeswoman said. Variety

Today’s Broadsheet was produced by Emma HinchliffeShare it with a friend. Looking for previous Broadsheets? Click here.


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