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February 24, 2021

This is the web version of The Broadsheet, a daily newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Biden’s Cabinet nominees face Senate questioning, Hillary Clinton is writing a political thriller, and Martha Stewart sure seems to be enjoying life. Have a wonderful Wednesday.

– More Martha. For my money, Martha Stewart is one of most, if not the most, fascinating characters in American business. Now 79, America’s first self-made female billionaire (minted when her company went public in 1999) has been a publishing titan, a lifestyle influencer, a TV star, a convict, a model, a CBD peddler, a stockbroker, a caterer, an author 98 times over, a QVC pitchwoman—the list goes on.

So, as you can imagine, I had a great time reading this delectable new Harper’s Bazaar profile of Stewart by Jada Yuan. Oh and the photos! Iconic.

It’s an interesting time to think about Stewart and the place she holds in American culture. The profile points to Stewart’s deep knowledge of DIY and the domestic arts as a reason she, a wealthy and privileged white woman, might not work people’s nerves the same way, say, Gwyneth Paltrow does, adding: “And there’s the endless dedication to improving people’s lives, by showing us how to get oil stains out of our clothes or reminding us that we deserve a delicious, easy cocktail (with dried cranberries and a sprig of rosemary!) at the end of the day.”

Frankly, I don’t buy it. There have always been those who’ve found Stewart, with her laborious projects and impossibly high standards, ridiculous. And that hasn’t changed just because the pandemic spurred many of us to try her sourdough recipe. In fact, considering the difficulties too many people are facing just to pay rent or get the kids through another day of Zoom classes, the idea that we should be living a Martha-fied life right now feels downright offensive.

For me, Stewart’s real appeal lies in how little she seems care about whether or not the public believes she that she has, as Bazaar asserts, “never felt more relevant.” Her epic confidence, her entrepreneurial zeal, her refusal to disappear from public life after her time in prison, her total disregard for what we expect from a rich white lady staring down 80—that’s what made her a fixture in the public consciousness.

Yuan’s story doesn’t sugarcoat Stewart. It’s clear she’s not the easiest person to work with (unless you plan to take her calls during your Sunday bath time) and her take on the #MeToo movement is muddy. It also provides a glimpse at the cost of becoming the woman Stewart is today. ()f her prison stint, Stewart says: “I’m not bitter about it, but… My daughter knows all the problems that resulted because of that. There’s a lot.”) But it’s the final quote I’ll walk away with: “I’ve said it so many times, but take your life into your own hands. Don’t let other people direct you. Know what you want. I really believe in that.”

Kristen Bellstrom

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




- Confirmation process. The Senate yesterday confirmed Linda Thomas-Greenfield as President Joe Biden's U.S. ambassador to the UN. At another confirmation hearing, Rep. Deb Haaland, nominee to be secretary of the interior, was grilled by Senate Republicans about views on climate and energy that they considered "radical." As Neera Tanden's Office of Management and Budget nomination appears to be in jeopardy, HuffPost observes in this piece that women of color nominees seem to be facing a tougher confirmation process than many white Cabinet nominees. 

- Roman a clef? Hillary Clinton, with author Louise Penny, will write a political thriller with an interesting plot: a secretary of state working in a rival's administration, trying to solve a wave of terrorist attacks. CNBC

- Disability diversity. Activists are petitioning Nasdaq to expand its recent proposed rules on board diversity for listed companies to include disability alongside gender, race, and LGBTQ representation. The exchange, led by Adena Friedman, said it "welcomes all views" regarding its proposal. Bloomberg

- Behind the scenes. A report by the Directors Guild of America found that the share of women directing episodes of television grew from 31% to 34% last year; women of color directed only 10% of TV episodes. Some shows—like The Chi and Queen Sugar—are responsible for an outsize proportion of hiring of diverse directors. LA Times

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Skincare company Heyday hired former Rent the Runway COO Maureen Sullivan as president. Goldman Sachs promoted Margaret Chinwe Anadu to global head of sustainability and impact for asset management. Carbon Health hired Claire Hough as chief technology officer. Former Frontier Communications CEO Maggie Wilderotter joined the TripActions board of directors. JustLeadershipUSA CEO DeAnna R. Hoskins joins the board of R3 Holdings, a criminal background report and alternative credit score company. Leading Now hired Root, Inc.'s Alison Lazenby as VP, client solutions. 


- Rowed to a record. Jasmine Harrison, 21, set a world record last weekend, becoming the youngest female solo rower to row any ocean. After rowing for 70 days, departing from the U.K., she arrived on the coast of Antigua. Harrison is part of a group of women who are becoming better represented in the endurance sport of ocean rowing. New York Times

- Dire consequences. How does losing access to contraception derail women's lives? The disappearance of affordable birth control in Venezuela has made the consequences clear. New York Times

- Bitcoin buy. Square yesterday announced it has bought $170 million in Bitcoin; that's on top of the $50 million worth of Bitcoin it purchased in October. CFO Amrita Ahuja said the investment "comes down to the alignment with our purpose." She sees Square's commitment to cryptocurrency as a way to expand "economic empowerment opportunities." Fortune


The lies Hollywood tells about little girls New York Times

They fled domestic violence in a pandemic. Then came the winter storm Marie Claire

Simone Biles hasn't competed in more than a year. She's not alone Wall Street Journal



"It’s going to be incredible to see all sorts of different creations made by Black people."

-Aurora James, founder of the 15% Pledge, on West Elm and CB2 signing onto the promise to devote 15% of shelf space to Black-owned businesses. Their addition helps move the pledge beyond the fashion and beauty industries. 

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