WeWork Has an All-Male Board—and It’s Not Alone: The Broadsheet

August 15, 2019, 11:46 AM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! We meet the women leading some of Fortune’s Fastest Growing Companies, Stacey Abrams is ready to be veep, and WeWork has an all-male board—and unfortunately it’s not the only one. Have a productive Thursday.


- Dudes-only directors. Co-working behemoth WeWork dropped its IPO filing yesterday, revealing many of the details it's been able to keep quiet as a private company—such as the fact that it lost $1.6 billion last year. Understandably, the majority of the business press focused on parsing the company's financials, but there were plenty of us who noticed something a bit more Broadsheet-centric: The WeWork board does not include a single woman.   

The company's decision to assemble an all-male board is perplexing. In addition to all the usual business advantages provided by diversity, there's reason to believe that WeWork in particular could benefit from a more gender-balanced perspective. After all, the company has faced high-profile allegations of sexual harassment and a "frat-boy culture," and is currently being sued by two former executives who accuse it of gender and age discrimination. (WeWork has denied all claims).

That being said, we're sorry to report that WeWork isn't very far out of step with its peers. According to data provided by Pitchbook, of the nearly 100 companies that IPOed between January and mid-August of this year, roughly 40% currently have all-male boards. That underwhelming stat is on par with slightly older research from Equilar that looked at IPOs dating back to 2015 and found that just 60.5% of companies had at least one female director. 

There is a bright(ish) side here: Equilar contrasted those new IPO companies with a set of 500 of the biggest players already on the public market (the "Equilar 500"). There, the percentage of companies with at least one female director shot up to a more respectable 96.4%. Perhaps, with the type of public and investor scrutiny that has undoubtedly prodded some established companies to move in the direction of better gender diversity, WeWork and the rest of the IPO herd will follow suit.

Kristen Bellstrom


- Three to grow on. Fortune's annual list of the fastest growing companies is out this morning. The ranking, which lists the world’s top three-year performers in revenues, profits, and stock returns, includes three companies run by women: Arista Networks, led by CEO Jayshree Ullal; Match Group, led by CEO Mandy Ginsberg; and WEX, led by CEO Melissa Smith (who also appeared in Emma's Tuesday story about executives who gave birth while running their companies!). Check out the full list here: Fortune

- Bad day for Jones Day. A couple who previously worked at Jones Day is suing the law firm, charging that it discriminated in its parental-leave policies and that the husband was fired after he objected to the practice. The pair also says the firm promoted gender stereotypes (one lowlight features a male partner who allegedly asked, “What would a man do on parental leave—watch his wife unload the dishwasher?”). Jones Day is defending its policy and says the firing was not retaliatory. The suit comes on the heels of a recent class-action complaint filed by six female lawyers who say they experienced gender and pregnancy discrimination at the firm. New York Times

- Vying for veep. Stacey Abrams, who earlier this week officially stated that she won't be running for president this time around, says she is open to a veep job with "any nominee." She also announced the kick-off of Fair Fight 2020, an effort to enfranchise voters across 20 states.

- Another accuser. Jeffrey Epstein accuser New York Times

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: New York Public Radio has named Goli Sheikholeslami, leader of Chicago Public Media, as its new CEO. Kimberly Hammond joined the board of directors of Segment. Activision Blizzard has named Claudine Naughton as its new chief people officer; she was most recently CHRO for AIG. Joanne Bradford, former SoFi CMO, joined startup Honey as president


- Foul play. In the late 60s, Jane Christoffer was one of the best basketball players in Iowa. But after she got married and gave birth to a daughter in 1970, her high school denied her eligibility to play during her senior year. She sued. What happened next "paved the way for an organic civil rights movement within the Corn State, shattering the illusion of 'farm-girl femininity' that had long defined its prep athletics." Longreads

- On the trail with Marianne. The New Yorker attempts to the get the bottom of the mystery that is Marianne Williamson by tagging along on a campaign stop in New Hampshire. The New Yorker

- A rarity. Meet Amanda Lacaze, CEO of Lynas Corp—the world's largest producer of rare earths. Her company's mission is "weaning the West off its dependence on China for the obscure metals needed in high-tech gear including cellphones, electric cars and jet fighters." WSJ

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