Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Workers file 23 claims of harassment and retaliation against McDonald’s, Hope Hicks is subpoenaed by House Democrats, and unicorn founders finally embrace “female.” Have a wonderful Wednesday.
• Fumbling with “female.” Following last week’s news that luggage startup Away had reached unicorn status (a new $100 million round of capital brought its valuation to an estimated $1.4 billion), Emma caught up with the company’s founders, CEO Steph Korey and president and chief brand officer Jen Rubio.
Their conversation touches on everything from the founders’ reaction to crossing the $1 billion threshold to plans for expansion (spoiler: they want to go way beyond bags), but what really jumped out at me is Korey and Rubio’s response to very idea of being considered “female founders.”
Rubio tells Emma that for many years that designation was something she and Korey “really shied away from.”
“Any time someone wants to talk about being a female founder, woman entrepreneur—it’s something that we really kind of dismissed,” she said. But as the company has grown and hit benchmarks very few women-led startups have reached, the pair’s reaction has evolved. Now, says Rubio, “We almost have the responsibility of embracing it… If we become part of the case study that shows investors that this is possible, then we think that’s a great thing.”
It’s an interesting conundrum. On one hand, it’s easy to relate to the idea of wanting your success to be judged solely on its merit, no gender lens necessary. Indeed, slapping the word “female” onto founder or any other title can feel like an asterisk—as if you’re in JV and the men are playing varsity.
But at the same time, there’s no denying the facts: far fewer women run big companies than men do. So when a woman (or in this case, women) make it into one of those rarefied positions, it’s worth celebrating. And, as Rubio points out, such success allows women a platform, which—if they embrace it—has the potential to help others follow in their footsteps.
What do you think, Broadsheet readers? Do you balk at having your gender mentioned in the context of your professional achievements? Or do you prefer to own it? Pop me and email and let me know—we may use your response in a future newsletter. Fortune
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• #TimesUp at McDonald’s. McDonald’s workers filed 23 new complaints against the fast food chain of gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation. These cases have received the most resources of any from the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. New York Times
• The name change game. As of 2015, only 20% of women kept their maiden name after they got married. So figuring out how to change your name: potentially a big market. Colie Christensen founded a small startup, NewlyNamed, that will help women handle the form-filling and legalese of name changes after marriage. Fortune
• Hearing from Hicks. House Democrats issued subpoenas for Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson, former chief of staff of White House counsel Don McGahn, in the investigation into possible obstruction of justice by President Trump. Dates for both to testify are set for mid-June. The Daily Beast
• Started from the bottom. Given our usual focus on the C-suite, you may be surprised by a new Fortune series launching today. Called Entry/Level, it focuses on the opposite end of the professional spectrum: those foot-in-the-door jobs that launched all of our careers. In the debut stories, Fortune‘s McKenna Moore catches up with young workers at Google, Amazon, and Madewell. Fortune
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Snap promoted Lara Sweet to chief people officer. Walmart chief sustainability officer and head of the Walmart Foundation Kathleen McLaughlin was promoted to EVP. Lauren Dolgen left her role as head of BuzzFeed Studios for a job as senior VP, unscripted development and production at Paramount Network.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Not done with Nike. Nike agreed to adjust the language in its contracts around pay to athletes during their pregnancies, but lawmakers want more answers. Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Lucille Roybal-Allard are asking Nike for more details—including whether male athletes have been subject to similar cuts in pay after becoming fathers. Washington Post
• Abortion ads. Ads on Google around the topic of abortion in the U.S., U.K., and Ireland will have to be certified as coming from “abortion providers” or “abortion non-providers.” The change by Google comes after outrage over misleading ads, including one from an anti-abortion group presenting itself as an abortion provider. New York Times
• Trading places. Trade associations are making strides on gender diversity, with women holding 41% of CEO or executive director roles. That includes the Out of Home Advertising Association of America, the American Forest and Paper Association, and more K Street groups. The Hill
• What about China? Sheryl Sandberg countered the argument that Facebook should be broken up by pointing to China—and tech companies that won’t be broken up there. “You could break us up, you could break other tech companies up, but you actually don’t address the underlying issues people are concerned about,” Sandberg says. CNBC
ON MY RADAR
How Beanie Feldstein made it to the party Vulture
End the plague of secret parenting The Atlantic
How Sackler became the most toxic name in philanthropy Town & Country Magazine