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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Greta Thunberg demands more action on climate, Michelle Obama launches a podcast, and WFH could be hazardous to women’s careers. Have a wonderful weekend.
– WFH WTF. With many of us now months into this global work from home experiment, I’m betting you may not even have to click through to this new Harvard Business Review story to answer the question implied in its headline: “Why WFH isn’t necessarily great for women.”
The authors, who include former Australian PM Julia Gillard and London Business School prof Herminia Ibarra, list a slew of reasons our current home office set-up may be disproportionately dinging women’s careers: Working from home can cause an increase in family conflict, a lack of access to informal networks, and a diminished likelihood of being tapped for key assignments, among other hazards. But what jumped out at me is a more forward-looking concept, which the authors dub “a new form of presenteeism.”
The collective wisdom among future-of-work types right now is that many companies will ultimately shift to a hybrid model, where not every employee comes into the office every day. So, some people will go “back to normal”—spending many of their days in the office or traveling for work— while others will just come in for some face time occasionally, or not at all. And given what we know about the uncertainty of schools and childcare this fall (yes, that again!), it seems likely that most working parents, and particularly working moms, will end up in the latter camp.
The HBS authors wonder whether this new hybrid workplace will leave women “out of sight and mind,” and exclude them from those unplanned, informal meetings that we all know are critical to the office hierarchy. They ask: “Will the new environment exacerbate existing disparities, with women likely to be only in the formal, official channels of communication and left out of the myriad subsets of conversations that shape decisions?”
In many offices (including Fortune’s own!), this shift from remote to in-person is already underway. At the moment, those venturing into the office remain in the minority at many companies—but what will happen when that dynamic changes? The HBS story notes that companies must be wary of creating “two tiers of employees”—with the higher status and the perks going to those with the ability to be physically present.
How to avoid that dangerous pitfall? The authors stress the importance of using data (rather than assumptions) to assess the situation, calling on employers to “examine the gender distribution at home and in the less-crowded office, ensuring an equal amount of flexibility and ‘hybrid’ access for everyone.”
Sure, that’s a start. But it’s also up to all of us to remember the downsides of our current WFH situation—the isolation, the difficulty of being left out of essential conversations, the way work so easily bleeds into the rest of our lives… When (and if!) we all make it back to the office, it’s on us to do our part to make sure our remote colleagues aren’t left behind.
Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
- The threat of stereotypes. Stereotyping pregnant women is dangerous, a new study found. When women who are pregnant fear that they will be judged as less devoted to their careers or unable to do their jobs, they're more likely to suffer physical workplace accidents. Fortune
- A true crisis. In a new open letter to EU leaders, Greta Thunberg and three scientists demand immediate, specific action to address climate change—comparing inaction on climate to leaders' immediate responses to the coronavirus. "It is now clearer than ever that the climate crisis has never once been treated as a crisis," they write. Elle
- Listen up. It's always been "the Michelle Obama Show," but now it's official. The former first lady is starting a podcast through an exclusive deal with Spotify, covering topics across relationships and health. Fortune
- Inside football. Fifteen women who worked for the Washington football team say they were sexually harassed by team employees. The club said it will conduct a "thorough independent review" of the claims. Washington Post
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Snowflake CMO Denise Persson joins the board of directors at ON24.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- Lasting legacy. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's legacy may be determined by how she helps Europe through the coronavirus crisis. Germany is at the helm of the EU's rotating presidency through the end of 2020, putting Merkel at the center of the continent's recovery. New York Times
- Money-makers. Joe Biden has raised $242 million from big-ticket donors to take on President Trump. Two of his top contributors, giving more than $500,000, are Laurene Powell Jobs and Quibi CEO Meg Whitman, who once ran for governor as a Republican. New York Times
- Disney on Disney. Abigail Disney has weighed in on Disney's reopening of Disney World as coronavirus cases rise in Florida. "I can't imagine they are able to protect their employees and all their customers," she said. Fortune
ON MY RADAR
Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaves hospital and is 'doing well' at home Guardian
The new nanny novel is a political statement Vogue
Who’s afraid of Ziwe Fumudoh? Vulture
"If you believe that Black Lives Matter, I challenge you to also believe and fight for Black mental health."
-Marah Lidey, co-founder and co-CEO of Shine