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Women Lead Only 2.8% of Fortune Global 500 Companies: The Broadsheet

July 22, 2019, 11:58 AM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Janet Yellen isn’t interested in the Bank of England job, a former member of the European Parliament speaks out about a “culture of sexism,” and women lead just 2.8% of companies on the Fortune Global 500. Have a mindful Monday. 


- Women of the Global 500. The Fortune Global 500 is out today. Unlike the Fortune 500, which tallies the 500 biggest U.S. companies, the Fortune Global 500 ranks the biggest companies in the world. Those 500 companies control more than $32 trillion in revenues—or one-third of the entire world's GDP—to the Fortune 500's $13.7 trillion. 

If you'll recall, when this year's Fortune 500 came out, there were a record high number of female CEOs leading Fortune 500 companies: 33. That number represents progress, but it's still nothing to brag about. And when we expand our lens from the U.S. to the world at large, the picture gets significantly worse. Among the Global 500, only 14 out of 500 companies are led by female chief executives (the stat will tick up to 15 in September when Julie Sweet takes over as CEO of Accenture). The count is up from 12 last year. 

Some of the names on that tiny list are familiar from the Fortune 500: General Motors' Mary Barra, Anthem's Gail Boudreaux, IBM's Ginni Rometty, Lockheed Martin's Marillyn Hewson, Best Buy's Corie Barry, Oracle's Safra Catz, General Dynamics' Phebe Novakovic, Progressive's Tricia Griffith, and Northrop Grumman's Kathy Warden. 

But others are exclusive to the international edition. From the U.K, GlaxoSmithKline's Emma Walmsley. From France, Engie's Isabelle Kocher. From Indonesia, oil and gas company Pertamina's Nicke Widyawati. And at Signapore-based manufacturing and engineering company Flex, Revathi Advaithi (Advaithi works out of California). The global version also includes Megan J. Brennan, postmaster general and CEO of the U.S. Postal Service; fully-owned government entities are not eligible for the Fortune 500, but are eligible for the Global 500. 

If you've been keeping track of that tally: outside the U.S., only four women-run companies make the Global 500. And no other country has more than one woman in the top job at a company on the list. 

The biggest news out of the Global 500 is the number of Chinese companies on the list. But not a single Chinese Global 500 company—from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, or the mainland—has a woman in the top job. 

The numbers throw what we already know into sharp relief: women remain severely underrepresented in the C-suites of major corporations—14 out of 500 is 2.8%—and the problem gets worse when we take a global perspective.

Emma Hinchliffe


- That's a no from Yellen. Janet Yellen was reportedly a top choice for the Bank of England governorship vacated by Mark Carney, but the U.K.'s Treasury couldn't get her to apply. The political turmoil over Brexit deterred the former head of the U.S. Federal Reserve from pursuing the job. Financial Times

- A culture of sexism. Marietje Schaake left the European Parliament this month after 10 years as a member with the Dutch liberal D66 party. Now she's talking about the "culture of sexism" she experienced in the institution as a 30-year-old MEP. Fellow politicians would ask what her father did (to try to figure out how she got the job), ask to continue negotiations late at night in hotel rooms, and, on one occasion, pluck a drink out of her hand, assuming she was a waitress. Guardian

- Hong Kong protests. Antigovernment protests in Hong Kong—which started with the extradition bill backed by chief executive Carrie Lam—escalated this weekend, with police shooting tear gas at thousands of demonstrators. Protestors say Lam hasn't made an effort to have a dialogue with them and want her to officially withdraw the extradition bill. Wall Street Journal 

- Wen and McCain. In a pair of New York Times op-eds, two women speak out. Dr. Leana Wen writes about why she left (or was forced out) as Planned Parenthood president, and The View co-host Meghan McCain shares that she had a miscarriage—and what she learned from the experience. 

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Amazon's Karen Starns joins OJO Labs as CMO. Chico's FAS interim CEO Bonnie Brooks has been named the permanent CEO. Elaine Paul left her post as Hulu CFO to become Amazon Studios' CFO/VP of finance


- Warren and the Squad. Sen. Elizabeth Warren revealed more details in her "economic patriotism" agenda—this time, her plan to rein in the private equity industry. Her proposal would eliminate or overhaul some of the most lucrative business practices in private equity, particularly around how firms by and sell companies (think Toys R Us). And when Sen. Ilhan Omar returned home to her Minnesota district Thursday night amid the attacks on her and fellow freshmen by President Trump, she was met by a throng of supporters and chants of "Welcome home." The Squad even got a vote of solidarity from Angela Merkel on Friday.  

- Salke cleared in college scam? It's been a while since we've had any college scam news! Federal investigators reportedly looked into Jennifer Salke, the Amazon Studios chief, during the investigation. Salke and her husband had hired Rick Singer, the man at the center of the admissions scam, for "legitimate college counseling and ACT tutoring services." Salke and her family deny any wrongdoing, and prosecutors are not planning to charge them. Variety

- Move over, manholes. It's not quite the "ovester" of Legally Blonde fame, but Berkeley, California is getting rid of gendered everyday words. No more "manhole" or "manpower"—instead, the city's municipal code will say "maintenance hole" or "human effort." Fortune

- The brains behind Libra. Facebook VP David Marcus has been the public face of Libra, the tech giant's entry into blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. But 26-year-old Facebook employee Morgan Beller was the brains behind the operation, convincing her bosses to plunge Facebook into blockchain. CNBC

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The rise of the Spice Girls generation New York Times

Are straight women OK? BuzzFeed

Consumer giants turn from diapers and detergent to eye rollers and jelly masks Wall Street Journal

Women are thrilled Natalie Portman will be female Thor in new movie BuzzFeed


"My wish would be, all the photos in the future, there will always be women."

-JoAnn Morgan, an engineer who was the only woman in a famous photo of the control room when Apollo 11 landed on the moon 50 years ago