Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Sen. Kamala Harris has a plan to fight state legislation restricting abortion, Netflix threatens to pull out of Georgia if its ‘heartbeat bill’ goes into effect, and we learn what happens when a company CEO and COO take paternity leave—at the same time. Have a wonderful Wednesday.
• Endorsing paternity leave. What happens when the CEO and the COO of a 30-person firm take paternity leave at the same time? Live-chat software provider Olark found out when its co-founders took more than three months off with their newborns earlier this year.
The outcome? “Its workers found that life at work didn’t go off the rails with the bosses gone,” the Wall Street Journal reports. Yes, there was more work to go around, including a few ‘Yikes’ moments, as Olark director of product Julie Williams put it. But on the flip side, she says the experience improved teamwork and employees’ problem-solving skills.
The execs themselves admit it was hard to unplug; to stop lurking on Slack. But, of course, there was ultimately an upside on their end too. COO Matt Pizzimenti says he gained confidence in his own parenting abilities, found new empathy for the mental burden of full-time parenting, and set firmer boundaries between home and work.
The benefits of taking paternity leave are pretty undeniable, with an 11-nation study in 2016 finding that leave of one month or more makes fathers more assertive as parents, and results in them doing more housework that’s usually shouldered by mothers. Yet without a direct endorsement of an extended leave, few men take it, the study says. That’s backed up by data in the U.K., where the government offers shared parental leave (though it is not fully-paid), and as few as 2% of eligible parents take advantage of it each year. The financial penalty is thought to be a factor, as are cultural barriers and the fear of workplace discrimination.
The Olark execs’ simultaneous leaves were meant to fight back against those forces, Mandy Smith, director of people operations, told the WSJ. “When employees see the CEO and COO use our parental-leave policy and have faith that it’s going to work, they think, ‘Hey, I can do the same thing if I need to.’” Wall Street Journal
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Netflix and defend abortion access. On both the policy and corporate side, some major efforts yesterday to counter restrictive state legislation on abortion. Sen. Kamala Harris proposed a plan that would require the Department of Justice to pre-clear new state laws on abortion, à la the Voting Rights Act. And Netflix said it would rethink its investment in Georgia if the state’s new legislation goes into effect—the first major studio in Hollywood to speak out.
• Trouble in Germany. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer is supposed to be Angela Merkel’s successor as German chancellor, but Merkel has decided AKK isn’t up to the top job. The pair’s Christian Democrat Union party, now led by AKK, saw its worst results ever in a national election last weekend. Merkel is now determined to stay in her role until the end of her term in 2021. Bloomberg
• Where are the women? For the companies at the center of this spring’s biggest IPOs, women in the C-suite are still a rarity. At the 10 biggest companies that have gone public (or plan to) in the first half of this year, the average number of women among the highest paid executives at each is a whopping 0.56. What’s more, the largest number of women on any of the executive teams or boards of the cohort is three. Quartz
• Delayed divestment. When Elaine Chao was confirmed as transportation secretary, she promised to divest from Vulcan Materials, the construction materials company where she served on the board before joining the Trump Administration. But more than a year after the deadline for Chao’s divestiture, she still holds shares worth $400,000. Wall Street Journal
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch is joining the law firm of Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison as a litigation partner. Beth Hammack, treasurer of Goldman Sachs, was one of three executives named to its management committee. Personal Capital CMO Porter Gale will be the first female member of the board at Reddit. Christine Ourmières-Widener stepped down as CEO of the airline Flybe. Suze Orman joins jobs platform Mogul as a board member and advisor. Earthjustice promoted Jill Tauber to VP of litigation for climate and energy and Kim Smaczniak to managing attorney for its clean energy program.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• World Cup women. Glamour spends time with the U.S. Women’s National Team before the players defend their World Cup title in June. Meanwhile, four of the team members are launching a clothing company that will support women in fashion and VC, in part, because success in women’s soccer doesn’t bring lifelong financial security. And in Norway, player Ada Hegerberg—thought of by many as the best women’s soccer player—is sitting out the World Cup in protest of a lack of resources and respect toward women’s soccer by the leaders of the sport in Norway.
• Just do better. Nike’s habit of stopping pay for sponsored athletes when they became pregnant has gathered a storm of criticism. But Serena Williams—who continued to be paid during her 2017 maternity leave—defended the brand as it changes that policy. “They started with making a statement with me,” she said. “Going forward, they’re doing better. And that’s what it’s about—learning from mistakes and doing better. Business Insider
• Research gap. Women make up half of all HIV patients. But most research subjects are men—an especially important problem because women and men respond differently to the infection. New York Times
ON MY RADAR
Supreme Court upholds controversial Indiana abortion law Fortune
Alison Roman gives Instagram food trends a good name Elle
Parenting by the numbers The New Yorker
How have men changed after generations of being raised by single mothers? MEL Magazine