Good morning, Broadsheet readers! 23andMe enters phase two, Barstool Sports’ founder faces chilling accusations, and a former electric vehicle exec sues for discrimination ahead of a major IPO. Have a relaxing weekend.
– On a familiar road. Auto exec Laura Schwab, a vet of Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover, is suing Rivian, the electric vehicle startup where she was formerly VP of sales and marketing, for allegedly firing her after she complained about gender discrimination.
Her case—which is detailed in this Wall Street Journal story and in a Medium post Schwab published yesterday—alleges that she was routinely ignored and excluded from meetings and conversations that were essential to her job. She says that two days after she went to HR to discuss the “toxic ‘bro culture,’” she was fired as part of a reorg—in which she was the only person to lose her job.
The accusations hit the company at a pivotal moment: it’s expected to go public next week. Rivian cited that debut to the WSJ, declining to comment during its pre-IPO “quiet period.”
I will admit that one of the things that went through my head while reading this story was: If companies are going to insist on perpetuating exclusionary “bro” cultures, could they at least try to be creative about it?
Okay, okay—this is nothing to be flip about, but when you’ve read enough of these kinds of stories—and believe me, I have!—you can’t help but predict the similarities that crop up, time and time again. As Schwab herself writes in her Medium post: “Sadly, my story is not unique.” Female executives marginalized and shut out of critical conversations: CHECK. Women’s ideas ignored until they find their way into the mouths of male colleagues: CHECK. A male boss who makes himself unreachable: CHECK. Male CEOs surrounded by “yes men,” female execs boxed out of promised compensation, and ultimately, HR responding to cultural concerns by finding a reason to rid the company of the complainant: CHECK, CHECK, CHECK. (Again, in the case of Rivian, the company has not commented on any of these allegations.)
It’s interesting to note, as the Journal does, that Schwab is being represented by the firm that worked on behalf of Françoise Brougher, the former Pinterest COO who brought a gender discrimination and wrongful termination suit against the company that was ultimately settled for $22.5 million. As you may recall, Brougher’s account of her experience at Pinterest ticked off pretty much all of the check boxes listed above.
With apologies to Tolstoy, it seems as if all unhappy, gender-discriminatory company cultures are alike—or at least share some powerful similarities. So, if you spot even one or two of these behaviors at your company, the takeaway is clear: you have a problem. Speak up via internal channels, fix it (if you’re in a position to do so), or, if all else fails, follow Schwab and Brougher’s lead by publicly calling out the toxicity. Otherwise, the checklist will continue to repeat itself.
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
- DNA dynasty. What comes next for 23andMe after its exit? CEO Anne Wojcicki's plan was always to start with curiosity-driven DNA testing and eventually become a pharma business—using genetic information to identify links between genes and diseases and to develop new drugs. The company is now squarely in phase two, having gathered enough DNA to work on drug development. Bloomberg
-Not a game. Multiple young women say they engaged in sexual activity with 40-something Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy only to have the encounter turn, as Insider describes it, "violent and humiliating." (In a response, the company's lawyer said the accusations "embody half-truths, are highly misleading, lack appropriate context" and challenged the credibility of the women involved.) Anyone who has followed Portnoy will know he's no stranger to repulsive behavior, but these charges are very difficult to read. Insider
- Last but not least. Magdalena Andersson is likely to become the first female prime minister of Sweden, after the finance minister was elected party leader of the ruling Social Democrats. Sweden is the last remaining Nordic country never to have been led by a woman. Bloomberg
- The 1619 experience. Nikole Hannah-Jones has received both the credit and the hate associated with the New York Times' 1619 Project over the past two years. It's been exhausting, says the journalist and academic. In this profile, she discusses what it feels like to become a political symbol, her own identity, and the GOP uproar over "critical race theory." Vanity Fair
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Veronica de Souza, former senior director of publishing at Vice, joins WNYC as director of digital news & audience.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- Race is still on. The race to succeed Keisha Lance Bottoms as mayor of Atlanta is headed to a runoff. City Council president Felicia Moore, who finished first in the Tuesday race, will compete against former mayor Kasim Reed in a Nov. 30 election. New York Times
- Vaccine success story. A new U.K. study finds that rates of cervical cancer are 87% lower among women who received the HPV vaccine compared to women who haven't been vaccinated against the disease. The research studied women offered the vaccine between ages 12 and 13, who are now in their 20s. Guardian
- Run for office. Jaha Dukureh is running for president of Gambia. The 31-year-old is known for her advocacy against female genital mutilation; she advised President Obama on the issue in the U.S. But she's unknown in Gambian politics. "It’s an answer to everyone that has ever questioned our ability to lead not only in Africa, but across the world," she says of her run for office. Guardian
ON MY RADAR
The stories only women are told Slate
Time, facial feminization, and the transgender experience STAT News
Women won NYC Council seats in historic numbers. Here’s how three of them got elected The Lily
"Could we try it without the crown?"
-Annie Leibovitz, when she photographed Queen Elizabeth II. Her new book is Wonderland, an anthology of her photography.
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