A New Female Fortune 500 CEO Meets the Glass Cliff: The Broadsheet

August 13, 2019, 10:52 AM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! We meet the “alterna-squad,” Missy Elliott gets some VMA love, and the Fortune 500 gains a new female CEO. Have a lovely Tuesday.


- The right woman for Rite Aid? The Fortune 500 has added another female CEO to its ranks. Yesterday, Rite Aid named Heyward Donigan its next chief executive. 

Donigan, 58, comes to the pharmacy chain with little retail experience—she was most recently CEO of Sapphire Digital, which Bloomberg describes as selling "services to help steer people toward health-care providers who offer lower costs and good quality, and [helping] employers and health plans manage patients who need complex procedures." She succeeds John Standley, who announced plans to leave back in March.

The good news: Donigan's appointment (she officially started the job yesterday), brings the current total of women leading Fortune 500 companies to 36. That's a new record.

However, her new gig isn't all popping champagne corks. Indeed, there's plenty about it that screams "glass cliff!" Rite Aid has struggled mightily in recent years, as this Wall Street Journal story details. The company sold roughly half its stores to competitor Walgreens after regulators blocked a 2017 merger between the two. Then a deal to merge with grocery chain Albertsons fell apart, prompting the announcement that Standley would step down and that the company would cut 400 corporate jobs. Since then, Rite Aid has seen its market share erode and its shares crater—the stock is down more than 50% this year.

Well, no one said life in the Fortune 500 C-suite would be easy. Donigan says her experience leading health care companies will help the chain up its game, and perhaps it will. Welcome to the club, Heyward. Good luck scaling the cliff!

Kristen Bellstrom


- #Alterna-SquadGoals? This AP story looks at what it dubs "the alterna-squad," a group of freshman Democratic reps with national security backgrounds who flipped Republican seats last year. The women—Reps. Abigail Spanberger and Elaine Luria of Virginia, Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania—stand in contrast some of their fellow first-timers, as "voices of moderation in a party often portrayed as veering sharply left." The AP

- Minimizing #MeToo. Why have we heard so little about the #MeToo movement from the Democrats running for president? One obvious answer is that Democratic voters are prioritizing defeating President Trump over all other concerns. For some, that means any issue that could sow internal division—including candidates' records on supporting women and women-friendly policies—should be minimized. Washington Post

- Maxwell in the spotlight. In the aftermath of Jeffrey Epstein's apparent suicide, the focus on Ghislaine Maxwell, a British heiress and Epstein's alleged madam, has intensified. The Cut has a rundown of everything we know about Maxwell so far: The Cut

- Northern Ireland gets close to home. For the vast majority of women in Northern Ireland, the only way to get an abortion is to leave the country—a choice that is financially out of reach for many. Their plight, chronicled in this NYT story, has fresh relevance to residents of the several U.S. states that have recently passed legislation placing equally draconian restrictions on the procedure: "Many American women could be just a Supreme Court decision away from finding themselves in a similar position." New York Times

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Cloud software company Domo has hired Pam Marion, most recently of SAP, as its new chief customer success officer. 


- Supa dupa deserved. Missy Elliott—creator of iconic videos and a Broadsheet favorite—will receive the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards. She'll also perform at this year's ceremony, her first VMA appearance since 2003. Fortune

- Old boys sponsorship club. New research finds that employees who have a white male advocate often end up with higher pay and—surprise, surprise!—most of those beneficiaries are also white men. Black and Hispanic women, meanwhile, are the least likely to have a white male sponsor. Bloomberg

- Credit where it's due. Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit and husband of Serena Williams, writes about the stigma that stops some men from taking paternity leave. He also takes the opportunity to acknowledge that Reddit's paternity policy—16 weeks paid—was not his idea; instead, he credits the policy to the company's VP of people and culture, Katelin Holloway. New York Times

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"I have the right to do the things I think I should do. My gender and my race should not be limitations."

-Voting rights advocate and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who is profiled in the latest issue of The New Yorker.

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