Screencap/Times Up Website
On January 1, a group of over 300 women in the US entertainment business, including prominent actors like America Ferrera, Eva Longoria, Natalie Portman, and Reese Witherspoon, announced the launch of a massive, nationwide initiative to address sexual harassment, misconduct, and assault in their own workplace as well as other industries. Their effort, entitled Time’s Up, is a leaderless, volunteer-powered campaign to put pressure on employers to take action against harassment, connect victims to legal resources, and protect them from retaliation for speaking out about their experiences of harassment and abuse. As the New York Times’s Cara Buckley reported when the initiative was launched, Time’s Up is starting out with four key components:
- A legal defense fund, backed by $13 million in donations, to help less privileged women — like janitors, nurses and workers at farms, factories, restaurants and hotels — protect themselves from sexual misconduct and the fallout from reporting it.
- Legislation to penalize companies that tolerate persistent harassment, and to discourage the use of nondisclosure agreements to silence victims.
- A drive to reach gender parity at studios and talent agencies that has already begun making headway.
- And a request that women walking the red carpet at the Golden Globes speak out and raise awareness by wearing black.
Central to the endeavor is a focus not only on the rarefied world of these Hollywood stars, but also—especially—on women who lack their power, privilege, and wealth, such as domestic and agricultural workers, who suffer extensively from sexual harassment and violence in the workplace but often lack the resources to fight back. The Time’s Up legal defense fund, which has by now attracted over $16 million and counting in crowdfunded donations, will be housed at and administrated by the National Women’s Law Center and led by Tina Tchen, former chief of staff to first lady Michelle Obama, and Roberta Kaplan, who successfully argued before the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.
Samantha Bee and writer Ashley Black (Screencap/TBS)
When her hit show Full Frontal premiered in February, Samantha Bee became the first woman host in the pantheon of late-night comedy, so it’s no surprise that she’s committed to breaking down barriers in her industry. Alex Morris’s recent interview with the former Daily Show star in Rolling Stone touches on the diversity of her writers’ room, which Bee achieved through a blind hiring process:
“We didn’t know what the show would look like,” says Bee, “but we knew what it would feel like. We wanted a show that was visceral, that came from a really gut place, that tapped into our fury.” That required hiring people who had fury to spare, beginning with showrunner Jo Miller, who’d worked with Bee as a writer for The Daily Show. “Jon [Stewart] loved Jo and believed in her for sure, but I don’t know how imminently anyone was ready to offer her up her own show,” Bee says. “I don’t know that any television network would say, ‘Hey, obscure woman. I’m going to pull you out of here and give you your own ship to sail.’ I don’t know what enabled me to see that, but step one was hiring Jo Miller.”
Bee took the same approach to hiring writers, creating a blind application process that didn’t favor people who’d already had success. (It spelled out, for example, how scripts should look when submitted, leveling the playing field for the uninitiated.) Lo and behold, she ended up with a writers’ room that looked kind of like America: 50 percent female; 30 percent nonwhite. One of her hires had been working at the Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles. “We don’t feel like we solved the diversity problem. We didn’t fix racism, quite,” Bee jokes. “I mean, we almost did. We’ll see how things pan out. I’m feeling really good about it.” Anyway, the strategy worked. “I have literally filled my office with people who have been underestimated their entire careers. To a person, we almost all fit into that category.”
Things seem to be panning out just fine so far creatively—her writing team just picked up an Emmy nomination:
In response to the controversy over the absence of any non-white actors in this year’s Oscar nominations, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has included many more women and minorities in its latest round of invitations, following up on an earlier pledge to diversify its voting membership, Michael Cieply reports at the New York Times:
By the academy’s count, 46 percent of this year’s 683 invitees are women, and 41 percent are minorities. Included were many of the stars and filmmakers who some felt were snubbed when the Oscar nominations were announced this year, including the director Ryan Coogler (“Creed”) and actors like Idris Elba (“Beasts of No Nation”). But the academy still has a long way to go to reach its goals, and the pace of new membership could be hard to sustain. Even if all of the new invitees join, minority membership would rise to 11 percent from 8 percent, and the percentage of women would increase to 27 percent from 25 percent.
HSBC in London (Chris WarhamShutterstock.com)
While the overall economic impact has been decidedly negative, the Brexit is expected to have a variety of effects, making its mark on various sectors to different degrees and hurting (or helping) some firms more than others. One of the biggest victims is the financial sector, for which London serves as a global capital. Reuters‘ Olivia Oran, Anjuli Davies and John O’Donnell look into how banks are responding to the vote:
Bank executives have been making contingency plans for months, but many were still surprised by the outcome of a British vote on Thursday evening to leave the European Union (EU). Even with those plans, huge uncertainties remain about when Britain will formally exit the EU, and what cities could replace London as New York’s transatlantic counterpart. … Among the questions being asked in C-suites across Wall Street: What’s the best European city to house a broker-dealer, if not London? Does Frankfurt have the capacity to house tens of thousands of bankers and their families? Will language be an issue in cities where English is not the primary tongue? Will American bankers abroad be able to find schools for their kids?
Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam and Dublin are all in contention for relocation. Even with all that uncertainty – and a timetable of at least two years for Britain to formally exit the EU – U.S. banks appeared to be moving quickly to respond to the Brexit decision. JPMorgan Chase & Co is considering changes to its legal entity structure in Europe, as well as moving some of its 16,000 U.K.-based employees, according to a staff memo signed by Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon and other senior executives.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc has been planning for the possibility of a Brexit vote for “many months,” Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein said in a memo. The bank has been building a new European headquarters in London, and is now considering what to do with all the space, a source familiar with the matter said.
For a fuller picture of how banks are responding, Portia Crowe at Business Insider has compiled a helpful roundup of the memos major finance CEOs sent to their employees in the wake of the Brexit referendum. Stephen Gandel at Fortune counts how many jobs Brexit might cost the City of London:
The original cast of the hit Broadway musical Hamilton have struck a deal with producers that will give them a cut of the show’s immense profits, New York Times’ Michael Paulson reports:
The deal, which was announced by a lawyer representing more than two dozen actors and dancers who were part of the show’s development and first productions, is a major victory for the cast and could have ripple effects in the theater industry, where the huge success of “Hamilton,” and the lack of profit-sharing, catalyzed a growing debate about actor compensation.
The agreement means that actors will have a piece of “the profit stream from the play,” Ronald H. Shechtman, a leading labor lawyer in the theater industry who represented the “Hamilton” performers, said in a statement. Jeffrey Seller, the lead producer of “Hamilton,” a megahit now generating upward of $500,000 in profit every week on Broadway, confirmed the agreement. Neither Mr. Seller nor Mr. Shechtman would discuss details, some of which remain to be hammered out, and Mr. Shechtman said that the performers were not ready to comment on the deal.
After the sudden announcement that Thomas Staggs, Disney’s chief operating officer and the putative heir to CEO Bob Iger, would be leaving the company this year, Disney’s board now has to scramble to find a new successor. Jena McGregor at the Washington Post explains just what a tricky situation they’re facing:
While Disney may have plenty of talented people on its management team, some say an obvious next-in-line for the CEO job is missing from the lineup now that Staggs is leaving. Jay Rasulo, Disney’s former chief financial officer, departed the company after Staggs was given the COO job last year, which followed a five-year bake-off that included the two executives switching roles. “If anything unexpected happens to Bob Iger, there’s a leadership vacuum at the top of this company,” said Laura Martin, an analyst at Needham Securities who has a “hold” on the company. “There is no plan B.”
A lack of obvious internal candidates, says Noel Tichy, a professor at the University of Michigan’s business school who authored a recent book about succession, makes things particularly challenging for any board. Two years isn’t long enough to groom an internal CEO, he says, while outside candidates typically face long odds. While there are exceptions, such as Alan Mulally’s recent success at Ford or Lou Gerstner at IBM in the early 1990s, “it’s very hard to go outside and get it right.”
This dilemma has raised the possibility that Iger will not retire when his current contract expires in 2018, as he had been expected to do, but stay on until Disney can find and train a new CEO. According to the Wall Street Journal, the board is looking for someone to continue Iger’s strategy rather than take the company in a new direction. Nonetheless, with its top two internal candidates out, Disney’s next CEO may come from outside the organization. Christopher Palmeri at Bloomberg looks at some of the names being mentioned:
Sean Locke Photography/Shutterstock.com
Following the recent controversy over the lack of non-white acting nominees for this year’s Oscars, the New York Times analyzed the demographics of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences to gauge how hard it would be for the organization to meaningfully diversify its voting membership. Using public and private databases, they compiled basic racial outlines of the more than 1,100 members who control the acting nominations for the Academy Awards. In doing so, they found (and confirmed with an Academy spokesperson) that:
Roughly 87 percent are white. About 58 percent are male. As many as two-thirds are at least 60 years old…Along with the white members, about 6 percent are black, under 4 percent are Hispanic and less than 2 percent are Asian. Women make up about 42 percent of the branch.
They then ran the numbers to calculate how many of people of color the Academy would have to add each year to meet its goal of doubling the number of minorities in its membership by 2020:
Over the next five years, the academy would have to annually add about 14 black actors and at least nine actors who were either Asian or Hispanic to double the number of acting branch members in those ethnic groups. That would account for almost all of the slots if it invited 25 actors, which is how many were offered membership last year. To attain gender parity among actors in five years, the academy could more than triple the number of annual admissions, to 80, while adding three women for every man. Assuming a typical annual attrition rate of about 26 people (largely because of death), the branch membership would be about 51 percent women by 2020, but women would then far outnumber men among the younger members.
Now, the details of the Academy’s demographics are very interesting, and the challenges it faces should resonate with any organization in which committees are making decisions, whether with regard to recognition or hiring. Especially in predominantly white and male industries, how can organizations ensure that decision-making committees are conscious of diversity and inclusion?