Male Directors Are Sick of Hearing About Gender Diversity—Tough Luck: The Broadsheet

October 8, 2019, 11:59 AM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Female founders give startups a fundraising advantage, the Supreme Court is set to hear cases on gay rights and abortion this term, and some directors are fed up with board diversity talk—tough luck. Have a lovely Tuesday. 


- Fed up? Tough luck. PwC is out with its annual directors survey this morning; Emma reported on the results

One positive takeaway: 62% of directors surveyed strongly agree that diversity brings unique perspectives to the boardroom, while 52% say gender diversity specifically is very important to achieving diversity of thought

One wrinkle: they’re really tired of hearing about it. Sixty-three percent of directors now say that their investors devote too much attention to board gender diversity, according to the survey. Last year only 35% said the same. 

Men in particular are fed up, with 72% of male directors saying gender diversity gets too much attention, versus 25% of female directors.

Paula Loop, leader of PwC’s Governance Insights Center, told Emma that frustration with the topic could be a result of the progress that’s been made. Women now hold 20% of board seats throughout the Russell 3000, and as of this summer, there were no all-male boards in the S&P 500. 

"They're saying, 'We heard you, we've taken a lot of measures and we're focused on it—now go away and focus on something else,'" says Loop.

It goes without saying that 20% female representation on boards makes this far from a settled matter, and one reason why women’s share of directorships has inched up is because people have talked about it. 

In fact, according to PwC's analysis, State Street Global Advisors' installation of the Fearless Girl statue on Wall Street in 2017 took gender diversity on boards mainstream, as did subsequent shareholder activism for gender diversity

If directors want advocates of gender diversity to shut up, they may be decidedly out of luck.

Claire Zillman

This essay has been updated to correct the name of PwC's Governance Insights Center


- Female founder advantage. Startups with at least one female founder raised 21% more in venture capital funding than companies with all-male teams, according to a new study. The advantage appears in third and fourth funding rounds rather than early on—and stands in contrast to the limited funding that goes to all-female founding teams. Bloomberg

- Paid leave proposal. Sen. Kamala Harris released a plan called the Children's Agenda, which aims to reduce child poverty. Also included on the agenda is a paid family leave proposal that would provide parents or anyone who needs to care for a sick relative with six months of paid leave—the most generous plan offered by any of the 2020 candidates. Vox 

- Ronan returns. This week, the New Yorker is publishing a trio of excerpts from Ronan Farrow's upcoming book, Catch and Kill. The first provides a glimpse into the shadowy world of Black Cube, the Israeli private-intelligence agency that was hired by Harvey Weinstein to spy on Farrow, the New York Times' Jodi Kantor, and other journalists—as well as the women who told their stories of alleged sexual assault and harassment to those reporters. The details are straight out of a spy thriller: The New Yorker

- On the docket. The Supreme Court began its new term yesterday. Coming up are landmark cases on abortion (centering on a law in Louisiana), whether employers can fire workers for their sexual orientation or gender identity, the first test of gun regulations in more than 10 years, and the Trump administration's challenge to Dreamers. NPR 

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Tina Tchen will take over as president and CEO of Time's Up. Bonnie Hammer is no longer heading NBCUniversal's forthcoming streaming service and will instead become head of the new NBCUniversal Content Studios. In a shakeup at Quartz, chief commercial officer Katie Weber was promoted to president. Dame Helena Morrissey, one of London's best-known campaigners for equal pay, quit as the head of Legal & General’s personal investing business. Mitel named Polycom's Mary T. McDowell president and CEO. Tempo Automation named board member Joy Weiss president and CEO. Maria Pergolino joins ActiveCampaign as CMO. 


- At an impasse. The United Autoworkers union and Mary Barra's General Motors hit a setback in contract talks over the weekend, pushing the strike into another week. A UAW rep said the talks took "a turn for the worse." GM reportedly felt "blindsided" by the union's rejection of its offer. Wall Street Journal

- Regulating BBC. The BBC has been dealing with the fallout from its decision that host Naga Munchetty violated its guidelines after she said on air—in reference to President Trump telling four U.S. congresswomen of color to "go back"—"Every time I have been told, as a woman of color, to go back to where I came from, that was embedded in racism." The BBC reversed its decision after public outcry, but now faces concerns from broadcasting regulator Ofcom for its handling of the incident. Guardian

Extremism on trialGlamour examines Robbie Kaplan and Karen Dunn's lawsuit against the organizers of the alt-right and white supremacist march in Charlottesville. Dunn recalls Kaplan's initial ask: "Do you want to sue Nazis with me?" Glamour

- Teaching responsibly. How should teachers and professors handle assigning work—or not—by writers who have been accused of sexual assault or harassment? In this story, colleges handle protests over Woody Allen film classes, and a high-school teacher whose students are mostly Native American grapples with whether to teach Sherman Alexie. New York Times

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


Who are feminist baby books for? Slate

I think about this a lot: Greta Thunberg's mom, Europop icon The Cut

Group Nine Media to acquire PopSugar Wall Street Journal

Edna O'Brien is still writing about women on the run The New Yorker


"I try to give them the best advice. I’m like their manager."

-Reese Witherspoon on parenting 

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