Good morning, Broadsheet readers! GlaxoSmithKline’s Emma Walmsley is close to a deal with Unilever, we look at the best workplaces for parents, and West Point cadets teach us a lesson in women helping women. Have a terrific Thursday.
• Ask Army. In a new article for Harvard Business Review, two researchers asked the question: How do we know whether women actually help other women?
In an ideal world, the answer would be, “Hello! Why wouldn’t we?!” But we know, all too well, that there are circumstances, especially in competitive settings or where quotas are present, when being in the company of other women makes things harder.
So the researchers turned to an interesting time and place in history to weigh their query—West Point in the early 1980s. The United States Military Academy provided what they needed to make a determination: By randomly assigning cadets to companies, West Point unintentionally created “treatment groups”—women in companies with other women—and “control groups,” or women in companies without other women.
The researchers, Nick Huntington-Klein of California State University Fullerton and Elaina Rose of the University of Washington, studied the classes from 1981 to 1984, just a few years after West Point first allowed women, and found that when another woman was added to a company, it “increased the likelihood a woman would progress to the next year 2.5%.” That means an extra two women in a company would erase the five percentage point deficit in women’s progression rate versus men’s.
The researchers provide a few caveats for applying their findings to modern day. First, remember that this was the early 1980s, when West Point was overwhelmingly male, cadets were largely cut off from the outside world, and men and women there were often subject to severe hazing. The outside world in 2018 is much more aware of the challenges associated with being a female minority and there is—at least we hope—more willingness among leaders to mitigate those hurdles. That being said, the researchers conclude: “the best evidence is that attending to gender when assigning women to groups can be a powerful tool for increasing the representation of women in male-dominated fields.”
The study also includes this point, which I found especially pertinent: that women’s increased likelihood of progress did not make their male peers less likely to succeed. “In other words,” the researchers write, “there was only an upside to increasing the number of women in the group.”
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Ch-ch-changes at Chico’s. Dismal earnings at Chico’s yesterday sent shares down an astounding 35%, their worst drop in 25 years. As Fortune’s Phil Wahba reports, the clothing chain, led by Chico’s FAS CEO Shelley Broader, has made the mistake of abandoning its core customer—older women—in favor of younger shoppers who haven’t materialized. “It is a classic mistake we see time and time again in retail,” Phil writes. Amid the turmoil, the retailer is also replacing Diane Ellis, head of the Chico’s brand; Broader will lead the unit as it searches for a new president.
• The evidence. Another bombshell on Les Moonves: the New York Times reports on how the former CBS titan—who was ousted over years of alleged sexual assault and harassment—tried to silence one of his accusers, actress Bobbie Phillips. Included are hundreds of text messages—and those texts may keep Moonves from his $120 million severance.
New York Times
• House updates. Democrats voted overwhelmingly to nominate Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House on Wednesday. California Rep. Barbara Lee, meanwhile, came close to taking over the House leadership position of Democratic caucus chairman, losing to New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries in a 123-113 vote.
• Home for Horlicks. Unilever is in exclusive talks to buy the Indian business of GlaxoSmithKline, the British pharmaceutical giant led by Emma Walmsley, No. 1 on Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women International list. This segment of the business includes the popular Horlicks malted drinks, and bidding was competitive with Nestlé. It’s another major change as Walmsley makes her mark on the company.
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Pam El, CMO at the NBA, will retire at the end of this year. Cara Brant is the new CEO of Clinical Trial Media, taking over ownership of the company.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Parental feedback. Fortune partner Great Place to Work, which ranked the best workplaces for women in October, now has its first-ever ranking of the best workplaces for parents. At the top: PWC, Edward Jones, and Ultimate Software, ranked based on paid leave, work-life balance, and more.
• Be the judge. In November, Lina Hidalgo was elected as Harris County judge, the top administrator role for the county of 5 million people that surrounds Houston, Texas. Hidalgo is 27, and she doesn’t have much experience (she’s spent most of her adulthood so far as a student). She also unseated the incumbent, a popular moderate Republican. Much of the coverage of this surprise win has been slightly condescending, wondering if Hidalgo has what it takes to do the job and discrediting her win as a total fluke of straight-ticket Democratic voting and high turnout for Beto O’Rourke’s Senate race. But her platform and ideas for the low-profile job did resonate with voters.
New York Magazine
• The full Stanich’s story. Did you see this widely-shared Thrillist essay about how a rave review for a hole-in-the-wall burger place killed the joint? Turns out, that wasn’t the whole story. The restaurant Stanich’s closure was also influenced by the owner’s serious legal troubles; he was sentenced to four years probation for domestic violence.
• Help still wanted. In a new NYT opinion piece, former Fortune editor and writer Wyndham Robertson asks why—50 years after job ads went unisex—there are still so few female CEOs: “At the time, I thought this would be a game changer for women, and of course, it was — to a point. But the real mystery, after half a century, is why life at the top of large American corporations still seems so overwhelmingly male.”
New York Times