Melinda Gates’s Outrage Prompts a $1 Billion Pledge: Broadsheet
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! America’s wealthiest women hit a new milestone, Vice acquires Refinery29, and outrage over inequality—rightfully!—boils over into action. Have a lovely Thursday.
- When outrage turns to action. Did you feel it yesterday—the outrage over gender inequality coming from different pockets of the globe? In case it’s needed, here’s a refresher.
In the U.S., philanthropist Melinda Gates pledged $1 billion over the next decade to expanding women’s power and influence. She’ll focus on three areas: dismantling the barriers to women’s professional advancement, fast-tracking women in sectors with outsized impact on our society—like technology, media, and public office—and, finally, amplifying external pressure, via shareholders, consumers, and employees, on companies and organizations.
“It’s frustrating—even heartbreaking—to confront evidence of the many ways our country continues to hold women back,” she writes in a Time op-ed.
Meanwhile, in the U.K. a group of more than 100 women in business and government launched a campaign called #MeTooPay aimed at achieving equal pay in the workplace. One force behind the initiative is former Royal Mail CEO Moya Greene, who started pursuing it after reading of a woman’s victory in a discrimination case against BNP Paribas. The proceedings of the case revealed that the woman earned a salary 25% less than that of her male colleague; her first-year bonus was less than 50% of his.
The case showed “how pervasive this issue is across different sectors and across industries and how unequal pay affects women in theatre, film and finance, everywhere,” Greene told the FT.
The name of the U.K. campaign is a clear reference to the on-going #MeToo movement. That cultural phenomenon is a factor in the timing of Gates’s announcement too. She says she’s trying to make the most of the current moment, in which workplace power dynamics are under scrutiny and there’s a sense of exasperation over women’s underrepresentation in business and politics. “Here’s what keeps me up at night," she says. "I imagine waking up one morning to find that the country has moved on. That the media has stopped reporting on systemic inequalities. That diversity remains something companies talk about instead of prioritizing. That all of this energy and attention has amounted to a temporary swell instead of a sea change.”
It all speaks to the gravity of this moment; that even amid all the other distractions, it's still so clearly being seen as an era with lasting effect; one that will either incite change or be remembered as a missed chance.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
- Vice29. Vice Media, led by CEO Nancy Dubuc, reached a deal in its long-rumored acquisition of Refinery29. The price of the deal wasn't disclosed but it reportedly valued Refinery29 at $400 million; the acquisition gives Vice a stronger foothold in women's media. Wall Street Journal
- Women's wealth. Forbes' list of wealthiest Americans was out yesterday. One take-away? The women on the ranking are the wealthiest they’ve ever been; representing a combined net worth of $429.7 billion, up from $330 billion in 2018. That uptick is "largely due to divorce and death," Forbes reports. For instance, No. 13 Julia Koch, worth $41 billion, inherited a 42% stake in Koch Industries from her late husband David Koch after he died in August. No. 15 MacKenzie Bezos accumulated her $36.1 billion fortune, in large part, though her divorce of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos earlier this year. Forbes
- Across state lines. As Missouri moves to shutter the state's sole abortion clinic, Planned Parenthood plans to open a large facility in western Illinois—13 miles from St. Louis—that can serve Missouri women. The organization has been building the clinic through shell companies for more than a year to avoid protests. Reuters
- Not an asset. Asset management is the only industry in the U.K. where the gender pay gap increased last year. For Fortune, Adrian Croft reports on what's keeping the industry behind: Fortune
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Former Starbucks CMO Sharon Rothstein joins the board of LOLA. Cushman & Wakefield promoted Sandra Boyle to west region lead for asset services. Christine Gulbranson and Wendy Lim were named CEO and COO of Nicole Shanahan's Bia-Echo Foundation. PwC U.S. chief employment counsel Yolanda Seals-Coffield was named president of the PwC Charitable Foundation, taking over from Shannon Schuyler, who was named chief purpose and inclusion officer last month.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- Nielsen's departure. President Trump, as you likely already heard, asked aides about installing a trench filled with alligators at the U.S.-Mexican border, putting electrified spikes at the top of his border wall, and shooting migrants in the legs. That story also includes the behind-the-scenes account of Kirstjen Nielsen's resignation as Secretary of Homeland Security: New York Times
- Sweet on the inside. If you've done IVF, was the pineapple your "call to arms?" Among many women it is. The fruit—said to "debride scar tissue and decrease inflammation" and help an embryo transfer lead to pregnancy, although those claims are not scientifically backed—is now a symbol among women struggling with fertility, and is emblazoned on leggings, charm bracelets, and ice packs packs used after daily injections. New York Times
- WWII-era childcare. The United States once provided child care for working parents—during World War II, when women went to work. Why not again? New York Times
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