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January 26, 2023

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Lauren Sánchez gives her first interview since pairing up with Jeff Bezos, a company files a lawsuit over state abortion restrictions, and a CEO learns what it means to be a caregiver. Have a thoughtful Thursday.


– CEO to caregiver. Sarahjane Sacchetti has spent three years as the CEO of Cleo, a B2B family benefits platform. So if anyone was primed to understand the impact that caregiving has on an employee, it was an executive who strategizes every day how companies can support staffers navigating that very issue. 


Yet understanding something and experiencing it are two different things. When Sacchetti’s stepfather was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, two-and-a-half years ago, the impact of that diagnosis on her own life came as a shock. 


Sacchetti was the only child in her family who lived near her mother and stepfather in the Bay Area. She moved her parents even closer to her own family and became the keeper of financial, legal, and home care logistics as they navigated the neurodegenerative disease that leads patients to lose the ability to speak, move, eat, and talk.


In October 2022, her family decided that the level of paid help they had at home was no longer enough as her mother’s health began to worsen too. Sacchetti began a leave of absence as Cleo’s CEO that month to coordinate 24/7 home care and devote her full attention to her family. “All my spreadsheets for Cleo turned into spreadsheets for caregiving,” she says. 


Her stepfather died in December at 79 years old. “The decision I made [to take leave] was probably the best I’ve ever made,” she says. “Because you don’t know how long you have with people. But I was there every day.”


As she continued to care for her mother and mourned her stepfather, a California native and veteran who spent his career as a State Farm agent, Sacchetti began to think about her own future. She then made the decision, announced today, to step down as CEO of Cleo and begin a new role as the company’s chief business officer. 


The responsibilities that come with a CEO job—frequent travel, long hours, and the emotional stamina to support her staff—were outside her bandwidth for now. But she wanted and needed to continue working. Once Cleo’s board decided that two executives, chief clinical officer Madhavi Vemireddy and COO Tsion Lencho, would succeed her as co-CEOs, they settled on a chief business officer position for Sacchetti that would be more limited in scope. 


Cleo CEO Sarahjane Sacchetti will become the family benefits startup’s chief business officer. Courtesy of Cleo

Sacchetti wants to discuss this experience in public because as she made two decisions—first, to take a leave of absence, and then to step down from her CEO job—she saw no examples in public of peers who’d been through something similar. “We kind of go along straight lines in our careers,” she says. “And I’d just never seen it.” She’d had two children, now ages 9 and 6, and taken maternity leave, but taking a leave of absence to care for an ailing parent felt entirely different to her. 


“It’s not understood,” she says. “On maternity leave, you hold up your little joy of a human, and everyone says they’re so cute. But caregiving has all the transition and change, but none of the joy, so people don’t talk about it.” 


It’s an issue employers will need to reckon with more and more as life expectancies increase and members of the sandwich generation care for their parents. Seventy-three percent of the workforce has some form of caregiving responsibility, including parenthood, research has found. Fifteen to 20% of caregivers are in an acute situation like Sacchetti’s, and the majority of caregivers are women. Rather than avoid the topic or leave it to human resources, employers should work to understand the needs of their staff, from entry-level workers to senior executives, and aim to find creative solutions like Cleo did for Sacchetti, she says. 


Sacchetti’s experience has affected how she thinks about Cleo’s work as she returns to the workforce. She’s shared some of her caregiving coordination spreadsheets with Cleo’s product team. 


“Even as the CEO of a caregiving company, I had so much trouble navigating all of that,” she says. “Let’s destigmatize it, let’s talk about it, let’s not have it be shameful that someone has to step aside or step out for a moment.”


Emma Hinchliffe
emma.hinchliffe@fortune.com
@_emmahinchliffe


The Broadsheet is Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Today’s edition was curated by Kinsey Crowley. Subscribe here.


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ALSO IN THE HEADLINES


- Constitutional rights. GenBioPro filed a lawsuit in West Virginia arguing that a state ban on abortion pills is unconstitutional because it encroaches on the FDA’s jurisdiction. If the court rules in favor of the pharmaceutical company, it could help people in other states with abortion restrictions access the medication via telemedicine. New York Times


- Not flying solo. In her first solo interview since her relationship with Jeff Bezos became public, Lauren Sánchez said she loves working, working out, and eating pancakes with the world's third-richest man. She also explained how her media background led her to a career flying helicopters, and how her love of heights will take her to outer space with an all-female crew. Wall Street Journal


- State of childcare. New Mexico is slated to pass sweeping reforms in the coming weeks that will invest millions in the state’s childcare industry. The win comes after months of Latinas' grassroots organizing where cultural alignment was key to community buy-in. The 19th


- 'Tenderness, please.' The Pope said that homosexuality is not a crime and called for Catholic bishops who support LGBTQ+ criminalization to have “tenderness, please, as God has for each one of us.” He still considers homosexuality a sin, however, and did not address trans or nonbinary people explicitly. Associated Press


MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Gates Foundation director Vidya Vasu-Devan has been appointed to UNICEF USA's Impact Fund for Children’s board of directors. Amy Bricker has been named EVP and chief product officer of CVS Health's consumer division. New Ocean Health Solutions, a provider of digital health management platform solutions, promoted Marnie Hall to chief marketing and strategy officer. IPG's Huge has hired Urvashi Shivdasani as global chief financial officer. 


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT


- A step further. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told congressional leaders that the Treasury will stop putting money into the federal bonds that make up some government workers’ savings plans. It is the most recent "extraordinary measure" she has announced since the U.S. hit the debt ceiling last week. Associated Press 


- Sing it loud. Beloved Abbott Elementary star Sheryl Lee Ralph will perform ahead of kickoff at Super Bowl LVII. She joins Babyface and Chris Stapleton as opening performers; Rihanna is headlining the half-time show. Vanity Fair


- Joining forces. The registry and product review site Babylist recently acquired Expectful, a mental health app for early stages of parenthood. The two CEOs invested in each other's fundraising rounds last year. TechCrunch


- DEI cuts. Diversity, equity, and inclusion roles have been among those cut in the recent Big Tech layoffs and have seen a decline in hiring in the past year. Those who have been impacted say that the responsibilities are likely to be spread out to other people or to employee resource group leaders, without compensation. Bloomberg


ON MY RADAR


In the midst of the Black maternal health crisis, could midwives be the answer? Cosmopolitan


Why are toy commercials still like this? The Atlantic


Cat Person, Brett Kavanaugh, Fair Play, and the anger of entitled men Vox


Meet the 14-year-old hockey phenom who’s ‘going to be a household name’ The Athletic



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PARTING WORDS


"If things line up in a way that I have an opportunity to land on the moon, of course, I would love to do that."


Samantha Cristoforetti, the only woman in the running to be the first European to put boots on the moon. 


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