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Transgender workers and the unexpected upside of WFH

January 12, 2021, 1:30 PM UTC
Big offices all over the globe are closed as employees work from home.
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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The House of Representatives moves forward on impeachment, Black female chefs see their careers stalled in fine dining, and we learn about an unexpected upside of working from home. Have a thoughtful Tuesday.

– Coming out—from your living room. In the midst of a raging pandemic, the option to work from home is blessing—and one that many Americans do not have. But among those who do have the luxury, there’s mixed feelings about whether the current WFH mode is, on balance, a good way to work or a not-so-good one.

I’m not sure it will settle that debate, but this story from the Wall Street Journal story puts a strong tally in the “good” category. The piece digs into one little-discussed upside of remote work: it’s made coming out to colleagues easier for some transgender employees.

The people who spoke to the Journal about their experiences list a host of ways that being removed from the spotlight of the physical office made the process less painful: They could share their news from the safety of their own homes, turn off their cameras if they felt scrutinized, and have greater control over when and how to engage with coworkers’ questions.

It makes sense. So much of what gets people tied in knots over others’ gender identities comes down to self-presentation (which is itself often based on stereotypes). At its best, working remote can shift the focus from how a person looks or dresses or wears their hair to what they have to say and what they bring to the workplace.

These benefits can stretch beyond trans employees. The WSJ also talks to Carol Cochran, a VP at the remote job-listings website FlexJobs:

“She says offering remote jobs can help level the playing field for underrepresented workers, such as those who are LGBT, nonwhites and disabled employees. It ‘gives them at the very least a running chance to let their talent speak first,’ Ms. Cochran says. Remote workplaces can also help eliminate unconscious bias in hiring, for example, when interviews are conducted over the phone instead of via video interviews.”

At the very least, our current global WFH experiment is forcing us to examine how the usual office routine just doesn’t work for some people—exposing the way workplaces have long been designed to accommodate the needs of some groups, while ignoring others. And with that knowledge, there’s a real opportunity to make them better for everyone. So, while I personally can’t wait to be able to go back to the office, I hope the workplaces we return to won’t be quite the same as the ones we left.

Kristen Bellstrom
kristen.bellstrom@fortune.com
@kayelbee

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Roll call. The House of Representatives is moving forward on impeaching President Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi instructed members to return to the Capitol to vote on Wednesday, exactly a week following the riots. In more House news, two congresswomen—Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Bonnie Watson Coleman—have tested positive for COVID-19 after sheltering in place in a crowded room where, they say, several GOP lawmakers did not wear masks. 

- Social media mayhem. In a new interview Monday, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg claimed the insurrection at the Capitol last week was largely organized on other platforms—not on Facebook—and she said Facebook has "no plans" to lift its suspension of President Trump. Meanwhile, Susan Wojcicki's YouTube is the lone mainstream social media platform to not suspend the president's account after he helped incite the Capitol attack. YouTube has explained its stance by citing its 'three-strike' policy. 

- Riot response. Melania Trump on Monday morning responded to last week's riots at the Capitol. Trump said in a statement that she mourned those who died amid the violence, but did not place any responsibility on President Donald Trump. The first lady also complained that she was a victim of "salacious gossip" following the riots. CNN

- Betting on care. Chelsea Clinton's Metrodora Ventures is one of the investors behind Alula, a startup building a hub of resources to support patients and families through cancer diagnosis, treatment, recovery, and bereavement. Liya Shuster founded the company after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Fortune

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Visa promoted Kelly Mahon Tullier to EVP, chief legal and administrative officer. Blanca Gonzalez, former VP/GM for Los Angeles/West at Nike, will join lululemon as SVP, Global Merchandising. At CNN, Abby Phillip will become anchor of Inside Politics Sunday With Abby Phillip; Kaitlan Collins was promoted to chief White House correspondent, while Dana Bash and Pamela Brown were also named to anchor positions. Janice Min joins Time as contributing editor. Alison Jacobs Levitan joins Kindred as chief growth officer. The American Sustainable Business Institute named MaryAnne Howland, founder of Ibis Communications, as its new board chair. New York Public Radio hired Rebecca Kaplan Haase of Hearst Communications’ King Features as SVP of sponsorship. Automotive ecommerce platform Modal hired Brandee Sanders as VP of marketing. Advertising agency FIG promoted Kristen King to partner. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Dream on. Elizabeth Williams, player for the Atlanta Dream, led the WNBA team's movement to speak out against its owner, Sen. Kelly Loeffler—and to support Rev. Raphael Warnock in the Georgia Senate race. But when Warnock defeated Loeffler last week, Williams was busy playing in the women's basketball league in Turkey. New York Times

- Scripture says. In Catholicism, women will now officially be allowed to read prayers and scripture at Mass. Women have served in such roles for decades, but local bishops have been able to cite church law to restrict women from those activities if they wished to. Pope Francis issued the papal decree Monday. Wall Street Journal 

- Bon appétit? Fine dining has stymied the careers of Black female chefs, they say in this story. Black women, including Auzerais Bellamy, say they've felt both "invisible to their managers, yet put under a microscope by peers who had stereotyped expectations of their behavior." New York Times

- Containing joy. Marie Kondo's empire is expanding to the Container Store, where the Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up author now has a new line of home organizational products. Kondo says she trusted the Container Store to "deliver a versatile line that would also spark joy." Fortune

ON MY RADAR

A.I. in the beauty industry: How the pandemic finally made consumers care about it Fortune

Jodie Turner-Smith in bloom Elle

Sen. Amy Klobuchar to write antitrust book New York Times

PARTING WORDS

"I couldn’t believe how good it felt to do something I love."

-Pooja Goel, who left her job as a family medicine physician to found the brand Hara Clean Beauty