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Women of color lead more Global 500 businesses than ever before

August 2, 2021, 1:06 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Academia reckons with the pandemic’s effects on women in the field, Simone Biles will return to Olympics competition, and Global 500 businesses reach an all-time record. Have a great Monday.

– Good news for the Global 500. Every year, Fortune publishes the Global 500, a list of the 500 largest companies in the world. Altogether, the combined sales of these businesses equal $31.7 trillion, or one-third of global GDP.

In 2020, the Global 500 hit a new low. Just 14 women ran businesses on the list, and only one was a woman of color.

In 2021, the Global 500 is roaring back with some progress. The number of women running Global 500 businesses soared by nine to an all-time high of 23, and this time six are women of color.

The number of women running companies on the Global 500 isn’t a scientific assessment of the state of diversity at companies worldwide, but it does provide a useful glimpse into who is leading the global economy. This year’s all-time high of 23, however, still represents just 4.6% of the 500 companies on the list. That’s a much lower statistic than the Fortune 500 (measuring American business), where women run 41 out of 500 companies, or 8.2%.

The women running these businesses include some longtime execs and new faces regular Broadsheet readers have heard before. There’s CVS Health CEO Karen Lynch, whose promotion this year makes CVS the highest-ranked company led by a female CEO on both the Fortune 500 and the Global 500.

In the U.S., there are also new hires Roz Brewer at Walgreens Boots Alliance, Thasunda Brown Duckett at TIAA, and Jane Fraser at Citigroup. Plus some longtime fixtures: GM CEO Mary Barra, Anthem CEO Gail Boudreaux, Best Buy CEO Corie Barry, and more.

The growth in the number of female CEOs running the world’s biggest companies didn’t all happen in the U.S., though. Jessica Tan became a co-CEO at China’s Ping An Insurance. Véronique Penchienati-Bosetta became the interim co-CEO of French food business Danone. Bianca E.M. Tetteroo became chair of the executive board of the Dutch financial and insurance business Achmea. And the manufacturing business Flex, led by CEO Revathi Advaithi, returned to the Global 500 after falling off the list for a year due to a drop in revenue.

All in all, some good news for the global economy. You can read more about these executives and the Global 500 here.

Emma Hinchliffe

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


- Go for the goldSimone Biles will return to Olympics competition to compete in the balance beam final, the last event she was eligible to compete in before the Games' close. Canada beat the U.S. in the women's soccer semifinal. New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard became the first trans woman to compete in the Olympics when she took part in super-heavyweight weightlifting on Monday; she didn't medal, but Canadian soccer player Quinn will be the first trans and nonbinary athlete to win a medal thanks to Canada's soccer win. Members of the U.S. men's fencing team wore pink face masks this weekend in support of sexual assault victims; their teammate, Alen Hadzic, has been accused of sexual assault but was still permitted to compete (he denies the allegations.) 

- Study up. In academia, it was women professors who were hit the hardest by the demands of the pandemic, often because of childcare obligations. This story asks: what will colleges do to fix that? Chronicle of Higher Education

- Sexist suit? Organizations including Women in Film and Time's Up weighed in on Scarlett Johansson's lawsuit against Disney over the streaming release of Marvel's Black Widow. The groups called Disney's response to the suit a "gendered character attack" for painting the actor as "insensitive or selfish for defending her contractual business rights" Disney had said that Johansson's lawsuit showed "callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic." Variety

- Looking for answers. In her first interview since her husband's death, the former first lady of Haiti, Martine Moïse, describes watching attackers kill him. Moïse says they thought she was dead before they left. Now she's urging the FBI to investigate who ordered the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. New York Times

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Former Dun & Bradstreet CEO Sara Mathew joins the board of Dropbox. Ellen Alemany joins the board of Dun & Bradstreet. Tribune Publishing's Margaret de Luna is moving to CNBC as SVP and GM for the direct-to-consumer business. Backcountry CMO Sarah Crockett joined the board of Rumpl. Michelle Williams, dean of faculty at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, was elected to the Americares board of directors.


- All agreed. The U.S. men's national team sided with the U.S. women's national team in their lawsuit over unequal pay. The men's soccer players agreed in an amicus brief field Friday that the women should have been paid more than the men's team. Washington Post

- Shareholder settlement. As part of a settlement with shareholders, Victoria's Secret owner L Brands will release employees from nondisclosure agreements tied to sexual harassment claims. Victoria's Secret and Bath and Body Works will each spend $45 million on new diversity, equity, and inclusion policies. New York Times

- Swipe right. How exactly did Bumble users help law enforcement track down people who participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection? One user of the dating app describes how she swiped through the day after the Capitol riots to find men who had been there and got them to confess to the details with "comically minimal ego-stroking." HuffPost


Female teen lifeguard questions why male teen guards are being paid more for the same job Washington Post

We need to know how menopause changes women's brains New York Times

'I will not be silenced': Women targeted in hack-and-leak attacks speak out about spyware NBC News


"I felt like I had more value as a person, and that was something I hadn’t experienced before."

-Track star Allyson Felix on why she switched from sponsorship with Nike to Athleta

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