A Global 500 CEO on leading through crisis
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Sephora signs the 15% Pledge, Rep. Karen Bass has been fighting to reform policing for 30 years, and a Global 500 CEO reflects on leading through crisis. Have a peaceful Thursday.
– Chain of events. When the coronavirus pandemic began to upend global supply chains in January, you could argue that no company was more affected than Flex. “I can’t think of something that’s essential that we’re not involved in,” says CEO Revathi Advaithi.
Advaithi leads the $26 billion global manufacturing and supply chain logistics company, which makes everything from ventilators and other healthcare equipment to the infrastructure needed to keep the world’s communications systems functioning. She is one of few women of color to run a Fortune 500 or Global Fortune 500 company.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic stateside, the Broadsheet has been asking executives to tell us how the crisis has affected their businesses; past interviews include Enterprise CEO Chrissy Taylor and Citi president and global consumer banking CEO Jane Fraser. I wanted to talk to Advaithi for several reasons, including the newfound resonance of supply chains with consumers; casual readers of business news may have never heard of the term before wondering why they couldn’t find toilet paper on store shelves.
Flex’s supply chains are slightly more complex, and Advaithi shares some of those details here. She usually spends 60% of her time traveling to the company’s factories around the world (“Think of a country, I probably have been there in the past year,” she told me) but has been grounded in California since March.
We conducted this interview before protests over police brutality and racism exploded across the country and around the world. While Flex sent a statement from Advaithi about demonstrations in Minneapolis—saying that “we have work to do until every black man can walk on the street without worrying about his life, until every black woman knows that she is safe in this country”—Flex declined to make Advaithi available to answer further questions about leading through this moment.
Hopefully, some of her lessons about leading through the crisis of the coronavirus can apply to the multiple challenges the world is facing right now. Read the rest of our interview here.
Plus: Black employees in the corporate world, Fortune wants to hear from you: Submit anonymous thoughts and anecdotes here to be included in a new series, Working While Black.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
- Chair in charge. Rep Karen Bass, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, is in charge of the House of Representatives' response to the death of George Floyd in police custody. Bass was a Los Angeles activist when Rodney King was beaten by police officers almost 30 years ago. She expected reform to policing then—and is leading the effort to achieve it now. LA Times
- Making up for lost time. Aurora James, a New York-based creative director, started the 15% Pledge, a campaign asking retailers to commit 15% of their shelf space to products from black-owned businesses. Sephora and Rent the Runway, led by CEO Jennifer Hyman, are two of the first major companies to sign on. New York Times
- Cori for Congress. Cori Bush has been an activist in the Black Lives Matter movement since the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri. Now, Bush is running for Congress in the state. In this piece, she makes the argument for why we need a Black Lives Matter activist in Congress: Elle
- Ulta-matum. Major retailers are starting to review their physical stores as they chart the path ahead during and after the coronavirus pandemic. Zara announced it would close up to 1,200 stores yesterday, and Ulta Beauty, led by CEO Mary Dillon, is undertaking a review of the same question. Wall Street Journal
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario is stepping down; the company is searching for a successor. Director Ava DuVernay, producer Lynette Howell Taylor, makeup artist Linda Flowers, and casting director Debra Zane were elected to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' board of governors for the first time.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- Speak first, debate later. PagerDuty was one of the first companies to put out a statement about the death of George Floyd, speaking out before several of its peer companies in tech. How did the company move so quickly? "I called my head of people and said, 'I'm going to make a statement,' not, "Do you think we should say something?" says CEO Jennifer Tejada. Protocol
- Pandemic pressures. Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Indian women were already dropping out of the country's workforce. The lockdown and economic crisis has now accelerated that trend—and has the potential to increase the number of arranged marriages. New York Times
- Mic drop. White women handed over their Instagram accounts to black women yesterday as part of the #ShareTheMicNow campaign to amplify black voices. On Kourtney Kardashian's account, followers heard from Endeavor CMO Bozoma Saint John; Sen. Elizabeth Warren's page was run by Planned Parenthood president Alexis McGill Johnson. Fortune
ON MY RADAR
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As protests rage, more Democrats want Biden to pick woman of color as VP Politico
This filmmaker won't let Breonna Taylor be forgotten Vanity Fair
-Tennis star Naomi Osaka on why she's speaking up about police brutality