Good morning, Broadsheet readers! An opera star faces #MeToo accusations, Shari Rtone finally gets her way, and we hear what it’s really like to have a baby while running a company. Have a wonderful Wednesday.
– Babies and business. Emma today has a story featuring 11 CEOs and founders who gave birth while running their companies. But no need to email us to say that pregnant women in positions of corporate leadership isn’t new! Emma acknowledges as much, but notes that they’re becoming more visible, thanks in large part to the growing number of young women launching high-profile, VC-backed startups. So while we’d all like to live in a world where pregnancy and the C-suite were an obvious match, the epidemic of pregnancy discrimination (as detailed by this New York Times must-read)—as well as subtler forms of bias—prove that the combo remains, frustratingly, anything but.
Take The Wing co-founder and COO Lauren Kassan who says she decided not to hide her pregnancy even though the women-focused co-working space was raising its Series B at the time. “Given who we are, and what we are trying to achieve, there was no way I could try to conceal my pregnancy in good faith, but I did have to address the elephant in the room to get it out of the way—with investors and with men in operations, contracting, real estate, and food and beverage,” she says.
Then there’s Katia Beauchamp, Birchbox’s co-founder and CEO, who was put on bedrest 100 days before the birth of her fourth child. (She had a 1-year-old and twin 4-year-olds at the time.) “It was so surreal—I didn’t believe it,” she says. At first she was nervous about being so “vulnerable”— taking meetings from the hospital, having her staff come to her, communicating with directors and business partners via video calls, but eventually, she says, “I got comfortable with it.”
WEX’s Melissa Smith, meanwhile, became CEO of the public payments provider when she was pregnant. “But I was not pregnant when they selected me or when I accepted the job,” she says. So she had to tell her board three months in, and assumed at the time there was precedent. The reality? “We could not find a single instance of somebody who had become pregnant while being a public company CEO,” she says. She initially feared her pregnancy would be perceived as a weakness, “but people were entirely focused on the results and performance of the company.” What’s more, after Smith’s pregnancy, the company introduced a parental leave program. “[I]t reinforced the importance of letting parents take time off,” she says.
You can read those stories and eight others here. The accounts capture each executive’s unique experience with pregnancy and new motherhood, but, taken together, they also send the important message that a new mom as a corporate leader can, in many instances, play out rather matter-of-factly.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
– #MeToo at the opera. Placido Domingo, considered one of the greatest opera singers of all time, is facing allegations of sexual harassment from eight singers and a dancer. He’s accused of pressuring women into sex by dangling jobs and punishing women professionally when they didn’t comply. Domingo issued a statement saying the allegations “are deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate.” Associated Press
– Wall Street wake-up. The House Financial Services Committee has released analysis of diversity at some of the U.S.’s largest financial institutions after hosting bank CEOs at a hearing this spring. It’s well-known that none of the institutions have a female or minority CEO, but the committee’s analysis goes a step further, revealing that none of the major megabanks has a chief diversity officer who reports to the CEO. Fortune
– Rtone’s reign. The deal to reunite CBS and Viacom is a coup de grâce for Shari Rtone. She fended off two of Hollywood’s most powerful men—Les Moonves and her own father Sumner Rtone—to get the merger done. Now she sits unchallenged atop the entertainment giant. As the FT reports, Rtone “has made for a compelling victor in the #MeToo era.” Financial Times
– Lyft’s legal woes. Lyft has presented itself as a “woke” ride-sharing platform, but passenger claims of sexual assault by Lyft drivers are destroying that image. Since Aug. 1, seven women have sued the company in San Francisco, and their lawyers say more complaints are to come. (Lyft had no immediate comment to the new lawsuits.) Fortune
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech, has joined the board of Sustainable Bioproducts.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
– Playing out in public. “The #MeToo case that’s dividing Wall Street.” That’s how The Cut describes Sara Tirschwell’s $30 million lawsuit against asset management firm TCW for retaliation, gender discrimination, and breach of contract. She claims she was fired after filing an HR complaint against her boss, whom she says coerced her into sex. Her boss Jess Ravich says the two had no sexual contact while working together at TCW; he and the company deny that retaliation or discrimination occurred. Such cases are often handled behind closed doors, but in this instance the defendants have decided against settling quietly. The Cut
– Overboard. Julie Golob is a professional sport shooter and an advocate for women’s use of firearms. And she recently became the fourth member of the NRA board to resign in two weeks as the gun rights organization goes through a period of upheaval. Washington Post
– Hair for it. Meet the “sisterhood of legislators, servicewomen, and business moguls” that’s working to end hair discrimination. California and New York both recently passed laws outlawing such bias. Glamour
– Follow the leader. Patrice Harris, the new president of the American Medical Association, gives a new interview about the organization’s involvement in areas that aren’t traditionally associated with medicine like climate change and body-worn cameras in law enforcement. “As an organization, and as individual physicians, we go where the science leads us,” she says. Wall Street Journal
ON MY RADAR
The summer of self-care Good Morning America
“Find your biggest obstacle, that thing that makes you feel most powerless, and ask yourself, ‘How do I fix this?’ That’s the fight you should devote your life to.”