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Busting Another Boardroom Myth: The Broadsheet

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Athleta wades into athlete sponsorship with Allyson Felix, Fidji Simo says running the Facebook app is a ‘huge responsibility,’ and are women directors ‘overboarded?’ Have a wonderful Wednesday. 

EVERYONE’S TALKING

– Busting the ‘overboarded’ myth. Bloomberg introduced a new word to the gender diversity lexicon yesterday: overboarded. The idea behind it is this: “Lone female directors served on an average of about 1.4 boards, the busiest of all classes of directors.” In other words, firms that have just one woman on their boards are more likely to pluck her from the pool of existing female directors. Boards with two or more women—perhaps a sign of wholehearted diversity efforts—appear to be looking farther afield to find candidates; their female directors don’t have the same kind of conflicts.

The trend is interesting, but what’s perhaps more noteworthy is how limited it is. According to the database of 16,000 sitting female directors kept by MSCI, two-thirds are on one board; 13% are on more than two. 

Those stats run counter to news reports of the same women being tapped again and again for board seats as shareholder pressure in the U.S. and legal mandates in Europe encourage director diversity. For instance, this 2016 Financial Times story about former GE executive Clara Gaymard being nominated for three boards in one year (and she already sat on one!) has stuck with me.  

The Bloomberg story is also reminiscent of a PWC study earlier this year that pointed to firms’ efforts to be more creative in their director recruitment efforts amid the drive for diversity, with a smaller share of independent “younger directors” last year having a CEO title—a traditional prerequisite for a directorship: 29% versus 31% in 2017. 

Meggin Thwing Eastman, research editorial director at MSCI, went as far as to tell Bloomberg that the idea of women being “overboarded” is fiction. “The vast, vast majority are not overboarded or anywhere near it,” she said. “There is this kind of myth out there that it must be the same women on all these boards because there aren’t enough women to become directors, which just isn’t true.” 

Claire Zillman
claire.zillman@fortune.com
@clairezillman

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

– First place. Athleta has never sponsored an athlete before, but the women’s sports apparel brand is making a big statement with its first. Allyson Felix, one of the track and field stars who criticized Nike for its lack of maternity leave policies, will be sponsored by the Gap Inc. brand—with 100% protection that her deal will not be compromised by any future pregnancies. Felix told Fortune that she hopes the news will compel other sponsors to step up when it comes to maternity leave. Fortune 

– Dem debate. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is one winner of last night’s Democratic debate. She eloquently enunciated her liberal ideas, even as she shared the stage with Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose policies overlap with hers. Meanwhile, there were signs of life from Marianne Williamson as the self-help author made an emotional appeal for slavery reparations

– DCCC-risis. Speaking of the Dems, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is in the midst of a crisis after six top staffers resigned in protest of the organization’s lack of diversity. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) is said to have replaced black and Latino aides with new staffers who are mostly white; executive director Allison Jaslow was among those who quit. Fortune

– Fidji and Facebook. Facebook’s Fidji Simo gives an interview to Bustle about her new job running the Facebook app. “It’s a huge privilege and huge responsibility,” she says, adding: “This is fundamentally a different company than it was two years ago.” Good news for Sandberg and co.? Bustle UK

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Gucci hired Major League Baseball’s Renée Tirado as its first global head of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Castlight Health promoted Maeve O’Meara to CEO and a seat on the board of directors and Siobhan Nolan Mangini to president, in addition to her existing title as CFO. After winning back-to-back World Cups, USWNT coach Jill Ellis will step down after a five-game tour in October. Nordstrom named Ann Munson Steines of Macy’s EVP, general counsel, and corporate secretary. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

– Sarnoff’s studio. Over at Warner Bros., Ann Sarnoff talks about her new position as CEO and chairman; she replaced Kevin Tsujihara, who resigned after reports that he used his position to find roles for actress Charlotte Kirk, with whom he had an affair. “It’s a big job. I understand that,” Sarnoff says. She’s the first woman to lead the studio. Variety

– Goodall’s favorite. Yesterday we had Meghan Markle and Michelle Obama; today it’s Prince Harry and Jane Goodall. For his wife’s guest-edited British Vogue issue, Harry talks to the legendary primatologist and conservationist. Goodall weighs in on how greed hurts the planet and says her favorite animal is actually not a chimp—it’s a dog! British Vogue

– Mad as hell. Many of the highest-profile #MeToo accusations were from younger women about behavior from the past two decades. But, the New York Times reports, older women in their 60s and 70s—like E. Jean Carroll—are ready to chime in. “Some of those women are just now playing catch-up with their vociferously outspoken daughters, nieces and granddaughters — and with their younger selves,” Ruth La Ferla writes. “Anger is trending.” New York Times 

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

ON MY RADAR

Cardi B and Bernie Sanders sit down together to sort this country out Vulture 

Brexit is destroying sex lives Mashable

46 horror movies that pass the Bechdel test Bustle

Having six women running for president changes everything Marie Claire

QUOTE

“I am in no way rebellious. I am in no way contrarian. I just want people to like me.”

-Actor Kristen Stewart in a Vanity Fair profile