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For Women, That First Promotion Makes All the Difference: The Broadsheet

October 15, 2019, 12:17 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Esther Duflo is the second woman to win the Nobel Prize in economics, the Match Group heads for a spinoff, and we dig into the power of that first promotion. Have a terrific Tuesday. 


- The power of promotions. When we think about corporate America's gender gap, there's a tendency to look to the top (how many women in the C-suite?) or the bottom (how many women are being hired in at the bottom of the funnel?). However, a new report out today from Lean In and McKinsey suggests that our attention should be trained on one particular spot closer to the middle: the first promotion that boosts an employee into management. 

According to the research, for every 100 men promoted or hired into their first management position, only 72 women are given the opportunity to take the same step. (And as you might imagine, that number gets even smaller when you look specifically at women of color.) This missed chance has cascading repercussions, since it positions fewer women to able to take the next step up the corporate ladder (and the next, and the next...). So, perhaps it's no surprise that Lean In and McKinsey dubbed it the "broken rung." According to their calculations, fixing fixing the rung—and closing the promotion gap—would add 1 million women to management jobs in the U.S. and Canada.

So how do we do that? Alexis Krivkovich, a McKinsey senior partner and co-founder of the report, had a few suggestions for Emma, who covered the news. 1. Give these roles greater attention by setting targets for the number of women in first-level management. 2. Require diverse slates of candidates for hires and promotions at the early manager level. 3. Establish clear evaluation criteria before the review processes so employees and managers have a concrete idea of what it takes to get that promotion.

None of these ideas will be brand new to Broadsheet readers—but perhaps that 1 million number will be enough to give them fresh importance. As Krivkovich told Emma, if we can fix the "broken rung," the implication in sheer, absolute numbers is enormous."  

By the way, if you haven't seen Fortune partner Great Place to Work's list of the Best Large Workplaces for Women, check it out here. Hilton, Ultimate Software, and supermarket chain Wegmans come out on top.

Kristen Bellstrom


- Prizewinner. The Nobel Prize in economics yesterday went to three researchers, including MIT's Esther Duflo. At 46, she is the youngest person to win the honor and only the second woman to do so. Duflo said she hopes her win in the field known for hostility toward women will "inspire many, many other women to continue working." Duflo received the award with her husband and another colleague for their "experimental approach to alleviating global poverty." Fortune

- Salke's studio. Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke gets a big profile in Elle, where she's credited with turning the studio into a storytelling powerhouse. As The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel creator Amy Sherman-Palladino says of Salke: "Having a competent person at that helm is just such a relief." Elle

- Finding a new Match. IAC said yesterday that the holding company plans to spin off Match Group, the online dating behemoth headed by CEO Mandy Ginsberg (along with flagship dating website Match, the company owns Tinder and OKCupid). IAC owns 80% of Match and would distribute its shares to IAC stockholders. CNBC

- Compost cookie queenpin. Fortune's Beth Kowitt has the exclusive on a Series B funding round raised by Milk Bar CEO Christina Tosi. The investment will come entirely from Sonoma Brands and will be used, in part, to back the whimsical dessert business into retail outlets like grocery stores. In related news: Focus Brands COO and North America president Kat Cole has joined Milk Bar's board. Fortune

- Say no to housework. "Don’t pour water for everyone at the conference table. Don’t put that dirty mug in the office dishwasher. And definitely don’t volunteer to take notes." Women are fighting back against automatically taking on the "office housework." Wall Street Journal

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Opendoor hired Julie Todaro as president of homes and services; former TPG Capital partner Carrie Wheeler joined the company's board of directors. 


- Venture-ing abroad. Fortune's Polina Marinova called up U.S. Venture Partners general partner Dafina Toncheva to talk about immigrating to the U.S. from Bulgaria, communism vs. capitalism, and investing in cybersecurity. Fortune

- Women win. This weekend was a major one (pun intended) for women and girls winning milestone victories in sports. We already noted in the Broadsheet Simone Biles' record-breaking gymnastic feats and Brigid Kosgei's marathon world record. Combined with 15-year-old tennis phenom Coco Gauff's first singles title, the trio made athletic history. CNN

- SNP fight. Scotland is poised to enact a law intended make it easier for transgender people to change their "legal sex" without requiring a medical diagnosis. But some women within the Scottish National Party have threatened to quit it over worries that the changes could lead "women and girls could fall victim to predatory men or lose access to single-sex services"; they also cite backlash they've received for voicing those concerns. SNP leader and Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she doesn't see "the greater recognition of transgender rights as a threat to me as a woman or to my feminism." Guardian 

- Barneys, meet Saks. Barneys New York, which filed for bankruptcy protection in August, could get a second life as departments inside Saks Fifth Avenue stores. Authentic Brands Group is reportedly bidding $270 million for the chain headed by CEO Daniella Vitale and would license the Barneys name to Saks, which is part of Helena Foulkes's Hudson's Bay Company. Wall Street Journal

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


Ronan Farrow, NBC News at odds over sex abuse allegations Fortune

The RealReal's online luxury consignment shop The New Yorker

Enough leaning in. Let's tell men to lean out New York Times

When these executives want candid advice, they text Wall Street Journal


"The steering wheel knows no gender." 

-Deb La Bree, a cosmetologist-turned-truck driver. More women are working in trucking in pursuit of equal pay