Why Female CEOs Are Outnumbered by Jeffreys: Broadsheet for June 28

June 28, 2019, 10:30 AM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Democrats hold Debate No. 2, the NYT comes around to E. Jean Carroll’s story, and new female CEOs among top firms were outnumbered by Jeffreys. Kick back this weekend!


- Outnumbered by Jeffreys. Fortune's Shawn Tully parsed a new report on CEO appointments in the top 250 S&P 500 firms last year and came to a conclusion that might sound familiar: "Female CEOs are shockingly rare."

Of the 23 new CEOs among the top 250 companies measured by revenue last year, just one was a women: Michelle Gass of Kohl's. In fact, Shawn points out that there were fewer appointments of women than those of men named Jeffrey and Michael—two each.

Last year's grand total of one was a dip from 2017, when a pair of women—Gail Boudreaux at [f500link]Anthem[/f500link] and Geisha Williams at PG&E—got CEO gigs.

In trying to get to the bottom of this "sorry record," Shawn quizzed Marc Feigen, whose firm Feigen Advisors conducted the report. His explanation?

First, poor planning. "Companies think about CEO succession three to five years out, yet they fail to develop a deep pool of female candidates who'd be ready for the top job in that short time-frame," Feigen says.

And second, bias. "You also can't underestimate hidden bias by male bosses, who wrongly convince themselves that women won't have the drive necessary to succeed in key jobs running a P&L."

Shawn himself actually points to an overarching third factor: companies' adherence to "'best practices' that have guided the CEO succession dynamic for decades"—an adherence that means boards fail to identify and groom women to become superstars. "The tradition-bound succession process needs an upheaval," he writes, "an all-out campaign to bring female talent to the top."


Claire Zillman




- Harris has a night. California Sen. Kamala Harris was the standout on Night Two of the Democratic debates. She pressed frontrunner Joe Biden on his past remarks on working with a pair of segregationists when he was in the Senate. “I do not believe you are a racist. And I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground,” she told Biden. “But, I also believe—and it is personal—it was actually very hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputation and career on the segregation of race in this country.” Fortune 

- Money talks. A big narrative of the 2019 World Cup is that the U.S. women are competing as they sue their employer for equal pay. Turns out, the players tried to hold talks on the matter prior to the tournament, but were never able to meet with U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro, despite attempts to do so. The team plays their quarterfinal match today. Wall Street Journal 

- Broadside. In an investigation into U.S. chipmaker Broadcom, EU antitrust czar Margrethe Vestager wielded a new weapon, the innocuous sounding "interim measure." Deploying the little-used tool, the FT reports, represents "a new determination by the EU’s competition enforcer to crack down on technology groups." Financial Times

- Corroborating Carroll. The NYT's Daily podcast featured a conversation with E. Jean Carroll and the two women with whom she shared the story of Donald Trump raping her when the alleged incident happened. The episode is certainly worth a listen, but note that it comes after the paper was criticized for initially burying news of Carroll's claims in its book section. New York Times

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Andrea Lamari Walne has joined Manhattan Venture Partners as partner in San Francisco. Partners HealthCare Organization has appointed Anne Klibanski as its first female CEO.


- Family tree. The daughter of Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein is getting into the family business. Gabrielle “Ellie” Rubenstein, 31, launched Manna Tree Partners last year to invest in companies focused on healthy food. Its first bet was Vital Farms, a producer of pasture-raised eggs and butter. Bloomberg

- Burkini ban. That pool where women were defying a burkini ban? It was shut down after lifeguards asked the city of Grenoble to do so, despite Europe's ongoing heatwave. The episode is the latest row over Muslim women's face- and body-coverings in a country with strict laws on secularism. Guardian

- Open at Old Navy. For Fortune, Old Navy CEO Sonia Syngal writes about the apparel chain joining the Open to All campaign, "a coalition of businesses, civil rights and faith leaders, and communities across the country affirming their belief that when businesses open their doors to the public, they should be open to everyone on the same terms." Fortune

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We don’t remember what we want to remember. We remember what we can’t forget.

—Journalist Lisa Taddeo in her new book 'Three Women,' which follows three women's sex lives for nearly a decade.