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Tokyo Games will push Olympic corporate sponsors to set gender diversity goals

April 27, 2021, 1:01 PM UTC

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The DOJ opens a probe into Louisville policing, Franklin Templeton has a plan to improve remote work, and Tokyo Olympic organizers now see the Games as a tool for change. Have a lovely Tuesday.

– Gender at the Games. The Tokyo Olympic Games seem to have entered a brand new era.

Earlier this year, planning for the Tokyo Olympics had turned into a sexist gaffe-fest, kicked off by Yoshiro Mori, then-head of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics organizing committee, who said that meetings with too many women drag on because women talk too much. Mori resigned several days later, calling it “pathetic” that one “brief remark” had led to his ouster.

In February, a selection panel named Seiko Hashimoto, Japan’s minister for gender equity and a seven-time Olympian, as Mori’s successor. Since she took over, the organizing committee has established a gender equality team headed by Mikako Kotani, Japan’s first female Olympic flag-bearer, and added 12 women to the committee’s executive board, raising its female representation above Hashimoto’s goal of 40%.

Now Kotani says that the Tokyo committee will ask corporate sponsors of the postponed 2020 Games, which start on July 23, to set their own equality and inclusion targets. In an interview with Bloomberg, Kotani didn’t name names, but the companies behind the upcoming Olympics include some of Japan’s biggest firms, like Toyota, Nomura Holdings, Fujitsu, NEC Corp., and Canon.

On the World Economic Forum’s gender gap index, released in March, Japan ranked 120th out of 156 countries. Women in Japan account for 8.4% of board members at listed companies and 14.7% of senior and managerial positions. (In the U.S., which ranks No. 30, those numbers are 26.1% and 42%, respectively.)

“Our goal is not to restore the reputation of the organizing committee,” Kotani said in an interview. “We want to straighten up ourselves and put out there the right message to the world as we are under the spotlight.”

Using the world’s largest sports stage as a way to press for more gender diversity at Japan’s biggest companies represents a wholly new tone for the Tokyo Games after its earlier debacle. It’s encouraging that the long-awaited Olympics may be an opportunity to change Japan’s misogynistic culture rather than reinforce it.

Claire Zillman
claire.zillman@fortune.com
@clairezillman

Editor’s note: Fortune on Monday launched a new platform, Fortune Education, that’s here to help you prepare for the new world of work. Our team of experienced editors will rank, rate, and recommend the right solutions for you and your career. First up is our new ranking of best online MBA programs, as well as must-reads for anyone considering an MBA. You can explore the whole site here.

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- DOJ and LMPD. The Justice Department opened a probe into Louisville's police force following the killing of Breonna Taylor. The DOJ will investigate whether there is "a pattern of discrimination or excessive force." NPR

- Working on it. At a Fortune event yesterday, Franklin Templeton CEO Jenny Johnson weighed in on the war for talent in the era of remote work. The key to retaining employees will be the "little things," she said, like "not talking over each other, making sure people speak up, making sure there's microphones so that the person who's on video has the same opportunity as the people in the room." Fortune

- Equal recovery. In an opinion piece for Fortune, Arianna Huffington and Michelle A. Williams, dean of the faculty at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, offer five ways to make sure the post-pandemic recovery focuses on women. Fortune

- Publishing petition. Employees are petitioning Simon & Schuster, led by publisher Dana Canedy, to demand the company stop publishing books by authors who worked in the Trump administration. More than 200 employees signed the petition following the publishing house's acquisition of a memoir by former Vice President Mike Pence. Wall Street Journal

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Hall of Fame women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey is leaving Baylor for LSU. Minted CEO Mariam Naficy joins the board of Medium. Optiv Security named Heather Rim CMO. At Spectrum Labs, Box chief security officer Lakshmi Hanspal will join the board of directors, while Slack chief privacy officer Megan Cristina and Launch Consulting's Lisa Thee will join as advisers. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Van life. If you want to know more about the story behind Nomadland, Chloé Zhao's now Oscar-winning film, read this piece by Jessica Bruder, the author of the book the movie is based on. Bruder spent three years reporting on the kinds of nomads depicted in the movie—and even living out of a van herself. She's come to the conclusion that people living out of vehicles shouldn't have to fear "the knock" that often comes warning them to leave. New York Times

- Health risks. In an op-ed, Chelsea Clinton and her coauthors argue that the U.S. must end fracking, characterizing the practice as a threat to both general public health and maternal health. "Environmental pollutants caused by fracking are known risk factors for congenital heart defects, hormonal disruption, maternal stress, and preterm birth," they write. STAT News

- Women of Bear Ears. Native American women are fighting to restore Bear Ears National Monument, which was slashed in size by the Trump administration to open up land to fossil fuel development. The Women of Bear Ears in this piece emphasize the importance of the land to Indigenous people—and express hope that Interior Secretary Deb Haaland will fight to preserve it. New York Times

ON MY RADAR

Olivia Rodrigo is in the driver's seat Elle

Women's college basketball isn't turning back Sports Illustrated

Jill Biden gives quiet lesson in juggling first lady role with outside job Guardian

PARTING WORDS

"I don’t think it hurt that I had become more well known than when I sent it out."

-Stacey Abrams on the publication of her new book, While Justice Sleeps. She wrote the legal thriller a decade ago. 

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