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It’s been a tough year for female founders. This investor and CEO have some advice

September 8, 2020, 12:21 PM UTC

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Women are getting bad financial advice, Paris Hilton is still building her brand, and an investor and founder share their top startup tips. Have a productive Tuesday.

– Advice for female founders.  The last few months have been tough on some female-founded brands. As the fight for racial injustice and the pandemic have demanded more of the business world, several firms—Reformation, Refinery29, Ban.do, Glossier—have come under fire for failing to meet the expectations of employees and customers, and, in some instances, even those they’ve set for themselves.

At a Fortune Most Powerful Women’s “Paying It Forward” virtual event last week, Cowboy Ventures founder Aileen Lee and Rachel Carlson, co-founder and CEO of Guild Education (Lee was an early investor in the edtech unicorn), addressed the trend head-on.

In short, it’s not an easy time to be a female founder.

“You’ve just got to be super careful about everything you do because people are just looking to throw stones at every female CEO out there,” Lee said.

“Our employees expect more out of us, and that’s okay,” Carlson said of being a mission-driven company in the middle of a pandemic, “but in this chapter it’s been really, really hard to acknowledge when we can’t do as much as we had hoped.”

On the childcare front, for instance, Guild is building a daycare center, but it can’t open due to COVID-19. “At the end of the day there’s only so many things I can do to step into the homes of our employees,” Carlson says.  

In this moment, Lee and Carlson offered up tips for those in the startup space. Among them? Find investors and customers who fit your mission.

During the Fortune event, Carlson recalled having to end talks with a potential client, a pizza chain, after its CEO made racist comments. “These are tough conversations you have to have internally,” she says.

Claire Zillman
claire.zillman@fortune.com
@clairezillman

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Suspect advice. A new study of financial planning firms in Hong Kong found that women are more likely to be pushed into chancier investments. "Advisers think they can fool the women and get away with selling them advice with sub-par results,” study co-author Utpal Bhattacharya said. The approach could backfire, however. A separate Bank of America study found that wealthy female investors who have bad experiences with financial advisers are more likely than men to fire them. Bloomberg

- Parental perks. Employers, especially tech companies known for doling out workplace perks, have rushed to bestow additional pandemic-era benefits on parents as they navigate at-home learning and closed daycare centers. In some corners, the policies have sparked backlash from workers without kids, who argue that they're shouldering heavier workloads as colleagues with children get preferential treatment. New York Times

- On defense. As President Donald Trump denies the bombshell Atlantic report that he disparaged military veterans, he's lashed out at two women by name. He demanded that Fox News fire reporter Jennifer Griffin after she confirmed parts of The Atlantic story (Griffin's colleagues defended her), and he attacked Laurene Powell Jobs, The Atlantic's majority owner. 

- VP vaccine. Another target of Trump? Kamala Harris. The Democratic VP nominee said this weekend that she would be skeptical of any COVID-19 vaccine approved by the Trump administration, unless a "credible" source agreed it was safe. Trump, who's tied his reelection hopes to a vaccine approval, accused Harris of sabotaging U.S. efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine at record speed. Politico

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Girls Who Code Chief Operating Officer Tarika Barrett is joining the board of McGraw Hill.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- According to Archambeau. Shellye Archambeau ran an enterprise software company now known as MetricStream for 15 years, making her one of the first (and still very few) Black women to be CEO of a Silicon Valley tech company. She stepped down in 2018. Archambeau is out with a new book and tells Fortune's Maria Aspan she's pleased that talking about race is no longer taboo. Fortune

- Paris on Paris. Emma interviewed Paris Hilton about an upcoming documentary that examines Hilton's legacy as the original influencer. She's far from her Simple Life days, but she's still working to expand her personal brand and is "excited for the next phase." Fortune 

- The face of TikTok. How did Charli D’Amelio, a teenager from Connecticut who's amassed over 6 billion likes and 82 million followers, become the face of TikTok? The competitively-trained dancer's self-assuredness and approachable choreographies make her a 'safe' recommendation for TikTok's algorithm, which has catapulted her to stardom. New Yorker

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PARTING WORDS

"My commitment is to finding solutions, and I am more than willing to work with him."

-Anita Hill on her plans to vote for Joe Biden, despite Biden overseeing the 1991 confirmation hearing of then-U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. Hill was the star witness.