Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Women are rising amid rapid CEO turnover, Boston restauranteur Barbara Lynch faces allegations of abuse, and Julie Su could be Biden’s next secretary of labor—if she makes it through an uncertain confirmation process. Happy Thursday!
– Tough confirmation. Julie Su spent yesterday in the hot seat. President Joe Biden’s nominee to succeed Marty Walsh as secretary of labor appeared before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions for the first day of her confirmation hearing.
While Su’s nomination is supported by labor leaders, her confirmation is not a sure thing. Some Democrats, like West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, and Arizona Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (formerly a Democrat) have not committed to supporting Su; in a 51-49 Democratic-controlled Senate, securing nearly every liberal senator’s vote is critical to confirmation to the Cabinet.
Su secured Democrats’ votes for her confirmation as deputy secretary of labor in 2021; she took over as acting secretary when Walsh left the administration in March and Biden nominated her to fill the role permanently that month. Before joining the Biden administration, Su served as California’s labor commissioner and secretary. She’s represented low-wage and immigrant workers as an attorney.
Business groups like the International Franchise Association, American Trucking Association, and the gig economy interest group the Flex Association have opposed Su’s nomination based on her track record as a labor ally in California; business-minded critics worry Su will implement regulations to protect gig economy workers and object to her support for such efforts in California.
But Su has been making the rounds with lawmakers and business leaders in recent weeks, and the opposition campaign has failed to recruit some business groups that joined to tank a lower-ranking Department of Labor nomination last year.
During yesterday’s confirmation hearing, Su fielded questions about her record in California as Republicans attempt to win moderate Democrats to their side in the vote. She told the committee that she seeks to expand the “vast areas of common ground between employers and employees” and aligned herself with her former boss Walsh, who was relatively popular with Republicans. She also leaned on her personal story; when asked if she would go after the business model of franchising, she reminded senators that her Chinese immigrant parents owned dry-cleaning and laundromat businesses as well as a franchise pizza restaurant.
If confirmed, Su would be the first Asian-American Pacific Islander cabinet secretary in the Biden administration (other AAPI cabinet members, like U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Vice President Kamala Harris, are not secretaries).
“When he announced my nomination for U.S. Secretary of Labor, the president called me ‘the American Dream,’” Su said during her testimony. “My parents believed in it, I benefited from it, and I want to do my part to make sure it is a reality for workers across the nation.”
On Wednesday, the Senate committee is expected to vote on whether to advance Su’s nomination to the full Senate.
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ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
- Security priority. President Joe Biden and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen are stuck in a balancing act trying to find the right trade-off between protecting national security and pushing economic growth. Yellen said in a speech Thursday that security takes priority, even if that means stunting economic development. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai also said in a speech in Tokyo, mirroring similar remarks made by Yellen, that the U.S. is not trying to decouple from China and will only keep specific sanctions in place.
- Double cut. In a deflating housing market, Opendoor Technologies is laying off more than 20% of its workforce. CEO Carrie Wheeler just took over in November when the former CEO cut 18% of its workforce. Competitors like Zillow have completely left iBuying, an industry term for instantly buying and selling homes using data and technology, due to unpredictable markets and flawed technology that make it hard to predict what homes to buy and sell. The Real Deal
- Stepping up. CEO exits increased 18% in March compared to the same time last year, and women are filling the open spots. More than 30% of incoming CEOs last month were women, breaking a record. Some of the new female CEOs are running Fortune 500 companies, raising the share of female chief executives at the U.S.'s largest companies beyond the record 10% it hit last year. Fortune
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Foot Locker's creative director Melody Ehsani is stepping down. Emily Silver is the new CMO at Dick's Sporting Goods.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- Trans sports. House Republicans passed a bill that would ban transgender athletes from participating in girls' and women's sports. While it has no chance of making progress in the Democratic-controlled Senate, Republicans have gained a lot of traction on this issue as a majority of Americans believe that trans women should not be allowed to compete in women's sports in high school and later. Washington Post
- Lacking accountability. Boston restaurateur Barbara Lynch has long touted her experience overcoming sexism in kitchens. Now, employees of the acclaimed chef are accusing her of misconduct—workplace abuse and a chaotic management style made worse by heavy drinking. Lynch has denied allegations of abuse but acknowledged being "a creature of the alcohol-steeped hospitality and restaurant industry." New York Times
- Out of thin air. Athena Technology II, led by CEO Isabelle Freidheim, has merged with Air Water Ventures, an Abu Dhabi-based company with the technology to produce drinking water out of moisture in the air. The deal comes at a time when special purpose acquisition companies are slowing the number of mergers, but the public listing will help the company expand globally. Bloomberg
ON MY RADAR
Model Aaron Rose Philip is on a mission to level fashion’s playing field British Vogue
40 legendary female artists—and the younger women who remind them why they make art New York Times
We don’t perform motherhood for our kids The Cut
"Moms are like that! You’re going to make it happen. A mom can do 37 things in one day!"
—Actor Keri Russell on playing capable, competent characters, including in her new Netflix series The Diplomat
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