Four women who’ve accused Cuomo of sexual harassment have been issued subpoenas by New York attorney general

cuomo resignation
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

  • Four women who said Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed them have received subpoenas.
  • The subpoenas represent the next step in the investigation into the claims led by the attorney general’s office.
  • Since December, several women have come forward against Cuomo, who’s repeatedly denied all allegations.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Four women who’ve levied accusations of sexual harassment against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo have received subpoenas, the New York Times reported.

Attorney General Letitia James’ office issued the subpoenas, marking the latest step and potentially opening another door in the office’s probe into the allegations.

James’ investigation began in March in response to pressure from lawmakers demanding that Cuomo resign, which the governor has repeatedly vowed he would not do.

Third-party investigators brought on by James to complete the probe have not yet said when they plan to release the results to the public. The Times, speaking to a person familiar with the investigation, reported that the investigation is expected to be finished by the end of this summer.

Since December, Cuomo has been hit one after the other with several sexual harassment accusations.

The first was from a former aide, who said she had been sexually harassed by the governor “for years.” At the time, Lindsey Boylan, who worked for the governor between 2015 and 2018, did not divulge specific information about the circumstances and declined to speak to journalists.

But months later, Boylan broke her silence in a Medium post, saying Cuomo had touched her inappropriately and kissed her without her consent.

Cuomo’s office has repeatedly denied her claims. “As we said before, Ms. Boylan’s claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false,” Cuomo’s press secretary Caitlin Girouard said in a statement.

Since Boylan’s accusations surfaced, at least 10 other women have come forward with similar allegations of their own against the governor. Cuomo has also denied all the allegations from the women who’ve come forward.

Earlier this week, Cuomo once again responded to allegations of sexual harassment at a press briefing, during which he offered his own definition of sexual harassment.

“Harassment is not making someone feel uncomfortable,” the governor said, speaking to a reporter who asked about workplace harassment. “That is not harassment. If I just made you feel uncomfortable, that is not harassment. That is you feeling uncomfortable.”

The independent investigators hired to conduct the probe are “authorized to utilize any of its resources as it deems appropriate,” documents obtained by the New York Daily News said.

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Why you need to be aware of your implicit biases to support your colleagues during stressful times

stress migraine
To support our colleagues through stressful times, we have to leave bias at the door.

  • Gender bias – the tendency to associate certain traits more so with one gender – can creep into work.
  • Everyone should be aware of their own biases to create a climate of trust for colleagues experiencing stress.
  • Be mindful of others, and don’t assume a colleague’s stress is due to being in a marginalized group.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Let’s say your colleague shows up for your Zoom meeting crying. When you ask what’s wrong, they share that they’re having a tough time balancing the demands of work with three young children at home, caregiving for aging parents, and dealing with a spouse who travels constantly for work.

So, what does this colleague look like? Did you picture a woman?

If so, you’re not alone. Like so many of us, you may have some implicit gender bias about things like who’s more likely to cry at work, who takes care of young children, or who is a caregiver for aging parents.

Gender bias is the tendency to associate certain traits with one gender over another. Sometimes, this means favoring one gender over the other. And gender bias is just one of many biases that we need to be aware of – and work on – to support our colleagues during stressful times.

But let me start with some good news if you’re struggling with the assumptions you made: If you have a brain, you have bias. We tend to think of bias as a bad thing, but it isn’t always.

Read more: I went through a divorce and months of unhappiness in my role before I hit my breaking point. Here’s how I put my life back together.

Bias is a natural byproduct of the way our brains work. Biases help us categorize objects so that we can quickly determine what’s safe and what isn’t. Biases help us make decisions more easily so that we don’t have to tap into our cognitive bandwidth every time we decide something. A bias toward eating more vegetables and less dessert is a healthy bias, for example.

For most of us, starting at a young age, we start to discriminate between those who are like us – the “in group” – and those who are not like us – the “out group.” Recognizing our in group can help us develop our sense of identity, belonging, security, and safety – but it can also lead to harmful prejudices.

As researcher Jennifer Eberhardt explains in her book, “Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do,” “at its root, bias is not an affliction that can be cured or banished. It’s a human condition that we have to understand and deal with.”

So, let’s look at some biases we should all be aware of, especially when creating a climate of openness and trust for our colleagues who are experiencing stress.

Be aware of discrimination and its effects

Chances are, you’re working with colleagues who are part of marginalized populations, which are groups that may experience discrimination because of unequal power relationships across economic, political, social, and cultural dimensions. Here are just a few:

  • LGBTQIA+ professionals
  • Senior citizens
  • Racial/cultural minorities
  • Military combat veterans
  • People with physical disabilities
  • People with mental illness, including substance abuse and other addiction disorders
  • People on the autism spectrum

Of course, your colleague doesn’t have to identify with one of these categories to be subject to discrimination. Perceived discrimination consistently has been shown to be associated with diminished mental health, and even the anticipation of discrimination can lead to higher stress levels. Constantly feeling on edge or unsure about how you’ll be treated can trigger a long-standing stress response.

Whether it’s related to ethnicity, sexual orientation, or beliefs, feeling undervalued and uncertain about the future directly impacts mental health now and in the future.

Learn about stereotypes and microaggressions

So what can we do about discrimination issues? We need to be mindful of our own stereotypes and microaggressions. Stereotypes are oversimplified ideas about a particular type of person or a group of people.

So, if you’re speaking with a woman about her stress, make sure you don’t assume that she’s the primary caregiver at home. If you’re speaking with a colleague with a disability about his stress, don’t assume that his stress is related to his disability.

And what about microaggressions? According to Columbia University’s Derald Wing Sue, “microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.”

So, if you’re speaking with a non-native English speaker about stress, don’t “compliment them” for being able to speak so clearly or fluently. If you’re speaking with a non-binary colleague about their stress, don’t say, “I can’t keep up with your latest pronouns.”

Finally, we shouldn’t assume that the stress a colleague of ours is experiencing right now is about their marginalized group experience. And we also shouldn’t assume that it isn’t. There’s more about other people’s experiences, cultures, and backgrounds than we can ever truly understand. So be thoughtful, careful, compassionate, and open to feedback about how you’re speaking and showing up for everyone – equitably.

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Rep. Liz Cheney, who was just ousted from House GOP leadership, says she now regrets voting for Trump in 2020

liz cheney
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) heads to the House floor to vote at the US Capitol on February 3, 2021.

  • Liz Cheney told ABC News she now regrets her vote for Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
  • “It was a vote based on policy … in terms of the kinds of policies he put forward,” she said.
  • Cheney criticized House Republicans for ousting her to promote Rep. Elise Stefanik to leadership.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who was ousted as the House Republican Conference Chair after continuing to challenge former President Donald Trump’s false election claims, said in an ABC interview set to air on Sunday that she now regrets voting for the former president in 2020.

Cheney, a staunch conservative and the scion of a GOP political dynasty, was removed from her party’s leadership on Thursday and replaced with Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, a 36-year-old lawmaker who had the backing of Trump.

“I was never going to support [President] Joe Biden and I do regret the vote,” Cheney told ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl. “It was a vote based on policy, based on substance and in terms of the kinds of policies he put forward that were good for the country. But I think it’s fair to say that I regret the vote.”

Cheney criticized House Republicans for promoting Stefanik to leadership, emphasizing that it was “dangerous” to elevate an individual who has continued to legitimize Trump’s debunked election allegations.

“What does it say about the party choosing somebody to replace you, who was effectively chosen by Donald Trump and saying what he’s been saying … those very lies you were talking about?” she asked.

She added: “I think it’s dangerous. I think that we have to recognize how quickly things can unravel. We have to recognize what it means for the nation to have a former president who has not conceded and who continues to suggest that our electoral system cannot function, cannot do the will of the people.”

Read more: How Marjorie Taylor Green became the Voldemort of Congress. Few lawmakers even want to say her name.

Cheney, who saw the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection as an affront to the rule of law, believed that Trump had abdicated his commitment to the secure and peaceful transfer of power and was threatening American democracy.

“We just had a violent mob assault the US Capitol in an attempt to prevent those from carrying out our Constitutional duty,” she said in a statement that day. “There is no question that the President formed the mob, the President incited the mob, the President addressed the mob. He lit the flame.”

After voting to impeach Trump in January for his role in the riot, a February vote was held on the fate of Cheney’s status in leadership. She prevailed in the vote.

However, in the months following her impeachment vote, Cheney continued to reject Trump’s claims of a stolen election, angering pro-Trump conservatives like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana who felt like she wasn’t staying on message for the party.

Cheney said in the interview that it was critical for Republicans who rejected Trump’s false election claims to affirm the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

“Frankly, it’s the same kinds of things that the Chinese Communist Party says about democracy: that it’s a failed system, and America is a failed nation,” Cheney said of Trump’s claims. “I won’t be part of that. And I think it’s very important for Republicans who won’t be part of that to stand up and speak out.”

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Real estate agents reveal the 6 things they wish potential homebuyers knew going into the process

Open house sign in front of house for sale
  • The US real estate market has been in a frenzied state since last year.
  • It’s led to inventory shortages, high prices, and frequent bidding wars for potential homebuyers.
  • Insider spoke with five realtors who shared their best tips for prospective buyers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

So, you’re thinking about buying a house – join the club.

Millions of people across the US have spent the last year in a homebuying frenzy, snatching up available inventory and sending prices through the roof. That demand, driven by a pandemic-fueled desire for more space and a safe haven, isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon.

In fact, a recent report from Black Knight found that there are currently 40% fewer homes on the market than in 2020, while median sale prices have risen 17% nationwide.

Read more: 3 homeowners weren’t planning to sell – until a real-estate agent reached out with an offer they couldn’t refuse. Here are their stories.

Still, if you’re hoping to take advantage of historically low interest rates and settle into a home to call your own, it’s not impossible – you may just need to be especially savvy.

Insider spoke with five real estate agents based throughout the US about the homebuying process. They revealed their top tips for buyers, and the guidance they find themselves repeating to clients over and over again.

Be open-minded.

Sean Waeiss, a broker and the owner of Wise Property Group in Austin, told Insider that it’s important not to have too many preferences set in stone going into the homebuying process.

“Some people are like, ‘Oh, I just want to own a home,’ but they have a lot of parameters: ‘I want to be close in. I want to have a short commute. I want something that’s not dilapidated. I want an extra bathroom,'” Waeiss said. “Well, you’re going to put yourself in a position where you’re not going to end up buying anything.”

Adjust your expectations.

Compass realtor Jared Goodloe, who’s based in Brooklyn, said New York City’s unique real estate market can trip up buyers who are unsure whether they want a co-op unit or a condo, or a new or older property.

“Resell and new development are two different things,” Goodloe said. “So you can’t expect the same amenities, the same upgrades as what you’re going to see with a new development.”

Be prepared for an emotional process.

After a hectic few months in the real estate market, even realtors are starting to feel the emotional toll, Glen Clemmons, a broker and realtor for Costello Real Estate and Investments in North Carolina, told Insider.

“I feel beat up, they feel beat up,” he said. “I had one client who wrote 15 offers before they finally got one, and that’s exhausting.”

Clemmons said his clients are going to multiple showings, putting in several offers, and generally being put through “the emotional roller coaster of, ‘Are we going to get this one?'”

“What I would say is, check your heart when you walk through a house,” he added. “[Going to a showing is] not a guarantee that you’re going to get it. Put your best foot forward, and be patient.”

Be informed, but don’t overdo it.

Goodloe issued the same advice many healthcare professionals likely tell patients: If you have concerns, don’t fall down a Google rabbit hole.

“Google helps you and it aids you and it’s a good cross-reference, but when you hire a dynamic team, I would use my team as the biggest resources – that’s your inspector, your real estate agent, your attorney, your lender. They play a pivotal role in this,” Goodloe said. “I always tell my people, Google, feel free to, but also use me as a resource.”

Choose an open-minded realtor who has experience winning a bidding war.

Given the low inventory and rising prices for homes in the US right now, buyers have a high likelihood of ending up in a bidding war. According to Katie Day, an agent with Coldwell Banker Realty in Houston, working with an experienced agent is a must.

“It’s super important to have someone helping you that understands how to navigate these times and how to navigate the market, and has a track record of winning in multiple-offer situations and negotiating,” Day said.

Sara Olvera, a real estate agent with Dream Town Realty in Chicago, also echoed the importance of the right realtor, and suggested looking for someone who’s willing to get creative when, say, you have a limited budget.

“Sometimes as professionals, we kind of are quick to just be like, ‘Nope, that’s not going to work. You’re not going to do that.’ I’ve had clients come to me and say, like, ‘Hey, [another realtor] said that I couldn’t do that,'” Olvera said. “And I’m like, ‘Well, why not? Let’s play with the numbers.'”

Have patience.

According to Goodloe, the home-buying process is still taking “just a tad-bit longer” due to the pandemic, and he said he urges his clients to be patient.

“I always tell my buyers, focus on something else outside of the transaction,” Goodloe said. “So whether that’s meditating, hanging out with your friends, going on a walk, do something outside of the transaction.”

He did issue one warning though: Don’t spend the time car-shopping, as taking on an auto loan could interfere with a buyer’s preapproval.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Bitcoin bulls have long claimed the cryptocurrency is an inflation hedge. But recent price swings have challenged that idea.

bitcoin
  • Bitcoin bulls have long argued that the cryptocurrency is a hedge against inflation, particularly because of its fixed supply.
  • But bitcoin tanked this past week after stronger-than-expected inflation data when it theoretically should’ve gained.
  • We spoke to one bitcoin expert who isn’t concerned about bitcoin’s recent downward movement – and who said it’s still undervalued as an inflation hedge.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Fears of rising inflation came to a head on Wednesday when key data came in significantly higher than economists expected. Bitcoin, touted by some of its biggest supporters as an inflation hedge – because it has a finite supply, unlike the dollar – didn’t rise in response. It instead slumped around 7% on the day.

Headline inflation data as measured by the Consumer Price Index rose 4.2% year-over-year in April, the fastest rate since 2008, while core inflation rose 0.9% in the largest monthly increase for the core index since 1982. The Dow shed nearly 700 points Wednesday.

Meanwhile, alleged inflation hedge bitcoin dropped below $50,000 to its lowest level in nearly three weeks.

The day that inflation fears hit a boiling point would have been bitcoin’s time to shine as the hedge against devalued, government-backed money its supporters claim it to be. With its fixed supply of 21 million bitcoin, the cryptocurrency is meant to protect against reckless central bank policy and helicopter money distributed by governments during the pandemic.

But as inflation concerns built in the weeks leading to Wednesday’s crescendo, bitcoin was unable to break out past new records. It has slumped 24% in the last month, and Elon Musk’s tweet about its environmental impact following the inflation print didn’t help.

The world’s most popular cryptocurrency may not be the hedge it is claimed to be, and its sensitivities to everything from local restrictions on bitcoin mining to Elon Musk’s latest tweets show that the coin is really treated by market participants as a risk asset and a vehicle for speculation.

Read more: A 29-year-old crypto billionaire who’s perfected digital-currency arbitrage shares 2 tips for investors looking to get started in trading – and explains why ether is unlikely to surpass bitcoin

Still, some bull are steadfast that bitcoin will get its day in the sun as inflation rises.

Dan Held, head of growth at cryptocurrency exchange Kraken, doesn’t think bitcoin’s recent price movements indicate it’s not a good inflation hedge, and said it’s developed a floor at the current price of $45,000-$50,000.

“I don’t think there was one singular catalyst that would either have pushed bitcoin up or down that’s inflation related,” he told Insider. “Bitcoin moved so intensely upwards earlier this year, this was sort of a bitcoin catching its breath before another big leg up.”

Held said bitcoin is still undervalued as an inflation hedge, especially considering that at a $1 trillion market capitalization, its much smaller than other assets that are traditionally seen as inflation hedges like gold and real estate.

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A Starbucks worker reveals the average customer order costs more than she makes an hour, as the coffee giant focuses on more expensive, complicated drinks

Starbucks barista
  • Starbucks is relying on fewer customers who are spending more on their orders.
  • Workers told Insider that customizations with the expectation of fast food delivery is unsustainable.
  • Some workers say the company has not adjusted staffing needs appropriately to deal with the new volume.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

With the US job market heating up, a shift supervisor at an Atlanta Starbucks told Insider she’s leaving for a job with better pay and benefits. The final straw for leaving her job of two years, she said, was realizing how her pay compared to the increasingly pricey drinks Starbucks sells.

“The thing that really radicalized me was that our starting wage ($9) is less than one average customer’s ticket,” she told Insider.

Though pay varies across Starbucks locations, this supervisor’s experience is at the heart of the company’s strategy. The coffee chain relies on fewer customers who spend more on customized drinks. In the second quarter of 2021, US same store sales increased by 9% despite a 10% decline in number of transactions. The growth was driven by a 22% increase in average ticket size as orders grow larger and more complicated. Additions like different milks and sauces can increase that base price of a drink.

Read more: McDonald’s franchisees blame hiring challenges on unemployment benefits and say an ‘inflationary time bomb’ will force them to hike Big Mac prices

Mobile orders and drive-thru orders tend to be larger and more costly than in-store, according to Starbucks earnings, so many of the most complicated orders are coming through these channels. Drive-thru and pick-up mobile orders made up 80% of transactions before the coronavirus pandemic and have increased since then.

The chain continues to add customization options and new, multi-step drinks even as competitors pare down offerings to make drive-thrus more efficient. While drive-thru menu offerings are trending slimmer at most restaurants, some experts don’t expect that from Starbucks. “They have a ton of customization, and that’s not going away. They believe it’s a strength” Mark Kalinowski, founder of Kalinowski Equity Research, told Insider.

In 2020, Starbucks lagged behind coffee competitor Dunkin’ in terms of speed, according to QSR’s annual drive-thru study. While Starbucks is working to make drive-thrus more efficient, it isn’t trying to be the fastest drive-thru around, Kalinowski says. “Customization is much more meaningful for Starbucks,” he says, even if it means slightly longer waits.

Instead, Starbucks is more of a destination where customers spend time and money for a drink made to their exact specifications.

Workers say customization and speed are at odds

Erika, a Starbucks shift supervisor in Ohio, told Insider that as the business has changed to focus on customizations through drive-thru and mobile, the company has not adjusted staffing needs appropriately to deal with the new volume.

“Drinks are becoming increasingly more complicated as they are offered unlimited modifications, and people are still bored from lockdown so they visit us for a sense of normalcy,” she told Insider, explaining that the heavily modified drinks take more staff to make and keep lines moving.

Starbucks did not respond to Insider’s request for comment about customizing orders and the time they might take for workers.

Another supervisor in Pennsylvania told Insider that situation is the same at her location. “Custom drinks from social media like TikTok are also increasing the need for labor. These drinks are getting more and more complicated while the company is pushing for drive-thru times under 40-50 seconds,” she told Insider. These demands create an “impossible standard for partners to uphold” with “a large amount of stress on partners.”

While Erika would like to make those drinks for customers, she says supervisors expect the impossible, with strict limits on wait times in the drive-thru. It isn’t sustainable, she says, and creates a problem because people expect Starbucks to act as a quick service restaurant.”Simplification of our menu and restricting modifications would improve our speed, or set us up for success by labeling us as a custom beverage establishment that prides itself on the limitless modifications” she told Insider.

“We can’t do both. At least not staffed the way we are.”

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

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Israeli airstrike destroys Gaza media building housing the offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera reports on the destruction of the Al-Jalaa tower in Gaza
Al Jazeera reports on the destruction of the Al-Jalaa tower in Gaza City.

  • Al-Jalaa tower housed the offices of several international media organizations.
  • Those in the office building were not given time to evacuate their equipment, according to Al Jazeera.
  • It was flattened by an Israeli airstrike about an hour after a warning was issued, the Associated Press reported.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Al-Jalaa tower, home to the offices of several international news organizations, has been destroyed by an Israeli airstrike, the Associated Press reported.

The Gaza tower housed the offices of the Associated Press, Al Jazeera, and local media outlets, according to DW News.

Israeli forces warned those in the building about an hour before the attack that the army would target the high-rise building, according to the AP.

Those in the office were not given time to evacuate their equipment from the building, Al Jazeera producer Linah Alsaafin said.

“We ran down the stairs from the 11th floor and now looking at the building from afar, praying Israeli army would eventually retract,” the AP’s correspondent in Gaza, Fares Akram, wrote shortly after the warning was issued.

Videos of the airstrike show that the building was flattened almost immediately.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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Government partnership with big business created the internet and cell phones – an economist says it can deliver a new generation of innovations, too

paycom HR tech
  • Paul Constant is a writer at Civic Ventures and cohost of the “Pitchfork Economics” podcast with Nick Hanauer and David Goldstein.
  • In the latest episode, they spoke with economist Mariana Mazzucato on government’s role in the economy.
  • Mazzucato says collaboration between government and corporations can boost economic “outcomes as opposed to just output.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When you trim away all the complications and high-minded theories, the single mission statement of an economy under capitalism is to grow. We say an economy is healthy when it’s adding jobs, productivity, and profits, and we say an economy is sick when it’s contracting, losing jobs, and failing to hit profitability markers.

But shouldn’t we expect more than aimless growth from an economy? Shouldn’t our economy reward growth in sectors that would benefit everyone – environmental science, say – and discourage growth in sectors that harm the public good, such as the privatization of our water supply?

How government influences the economy

Government is supposed to be a counterweight on the economy’s untapped growth. Regulations, tax credits, and other incentives are supposed to encourage beneficial growth and discourage the harm produced by unfettered capitalism. But over the last four decades, the government has largely abdicated itself from the regulatory role, giving companies free license to blindly pursue growth for growth’s sake.

In this week’s episode of “Pitchfork Economics,” economics professor Mariana Mazzucato discusses her new book “Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism.” Her goal with the book is, in the words of co-host David Goldstein, to encourage a new kind of economics that values “outcomes as opposed to just output.”

“For some years now, I’ve been working with policymakers globally, trying to convince them that we need to redesign policy away from fixing markets and towards creating and shaping markets,” Mazzucato said.

That would take the form, she explained, of governments creating “a list of big problems that we have” as a society, from “the future of mobility” to “solving key issues around the digital divide,” to “getting the plastic out of the ocean.” Lawmakers would then design a strategy to involve “as many different sectors as possible to collaborate and to innovate together to solve that problem.”

Government’s role, in this case, would be as a purchaser, as a backer of “grants and loans to galvanize as much bottom-up innovation and investment as possible to actually solve problems,” and as a director of “what I’ve been calling mission-oriented policy.”

It would direct and incentivize the best of corporate America to solve some of humanity’s biggest problems, putting the profit motive to work for the greater good.

The DARPA example

Mazzucato says in the United States we already have one perfect example of a government entity that encourages innovation in pursuit of a single goal: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. Founded in the 1950s alongside NASA as during America’s race to the moon, she says, the government established in DARPA “a new design of public-private partnership.”

“There was lots of investment by companies like Honeywell, Motorola, and General Electric,” Mazzucato said, and in the quest to build spacefaring technologies, American companies built inventions that would eventually create the touchscreens, voice-activated artificial intelligence, camera phones, GPS, and driverless car tech. Basically, without the moonshot, we might still not have the necessary technologies to build smartphones today.

But those technologies were not the end goal for the “purpose-focused” organization. “For example, DARPA basically invented and funded what we today call the internet,” Mazzucato explained. “But no one in DARPA said, ‘Oh, we need the internet.’ They had a problem to solve, which was getting the satellites to communicate, and the internet was the solution to that.”

DARPA is singularly focused on defense issues, so Mazzucato is calling for an array of new ARPAs to address societal problems, which “are much harder than purely technological ones. They often require regulatory change, behavioral change, and political change,” she said.

Unleashing innovation

When governments set these huge, seemingly impossible goals for industry, they empower our sharpest minds to broaden their thinking and elevate their game to work in concert with others. Part of the reason this framework has been far more successful than traditional corporate structures in terms of unleashing innovation, Mazzucato explains, is that the thinkers are “explicitly told to be risk-taking, to welcome the uncertainty.”

The path to the Moon was littered with waste, dead ends, and spectacular failures. That was all part of the plan. Putting government in charge of the direction establishes “the idea of having real impact so that your successes matter,” Mazzucato said, but it’s also clear about “the admission that along the way you’re allowed to fail,” in a “process of trial and error and error and error.”

Economic growth for growth’s sake is simply not enough of a mission statement for a society to thrive. Mazzucato believes that government has a necessary goal to direct that growth toward a common good, so that we all – corporations, humans, and the planet as a whole – can benefit from the journey.

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A Kellogg finance professor explains why companies are adding more women to their leader boards

STOCK of people at a boardroom desk
American companies only recently tripled the rate at which they added female directors to prominent boards.

  • Professor David Matsa believes “the Big Three” investment companies influenced the recent uptick in female directorships.
  • “The more of a firm’s stock the Big Three held, the more women directors appeared on that firm’s board.”
  • The Big Three’s campaign to get more women on boards shows there are qualified women ready to serve.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The dearth of female leaders in corporate America is well established. For example, at the end of 2020, fewer than 8% of companies in the S&P 500 were woman-led.

One way to address this gender imbalance would be to increase female representation on corporate boards. Not only are board members corporate leaders in their own right, but they also hire CEOs.

While countries such as Norway have used government mandates to force companies to include women on their boards, few such rules are on the books in the US. Nonetheless, American companies recently tripled the rate at which they added female directors.

Were US firms unusually enlightened? Or were they responding to pressure from another source?

Kellogg finance professor David Matsa suspected the latter. In recent research, he and coauthors noticed that the conspicuous uptick in female directorships coincided with a cascade of gender-diversity influence campaigns mounted by a trio of powerful institutional investors: Vanguard, BlackRock, and State Street. Known as “the Big Three,” these firms manage over $15 trillion, accounting for three-quarters of indexed mutual fund assets. That means that these companies hold shares in almost every large firm in the US – in fact, they’re the dominant shareholder in 88% of firms on the S&P 500.

Given this outsized influence, Matsa and his collaborators – Todd Gormley of Washington University in St. Louis, and Vishal Gupta, Sandra Mortal, and Lukai Yang of the University of Alabama – wanted to know if the Big Three really were moving the needle on boardroom-diversity efforts. And if they were, how did those efforts compare to government-enforced quotas in other countries?

The researchers found evidence that the Big Three were indeed driving boardroom gender diversity – and that these efforts led to women in more powerful board positions than those spurred by government quotas. Furthermore, by analyzing how firms responded to the Big Three’s demands, the researchers shed light on why companies may be slow to appoint female board members in the first place.

“The Big Three changed the conversation around gender in corporate boardrooms,” Matsa said. “When your largest shareholders create a ruckus, you listen. And in important ways, their advocacy can be more effective than legislative mandates.”

The Big Three’s campaign

State Street led the Big Three’s charge for gender diversity with its March 2017 “Fearless Girl” campaign, named for an eponymous statue the company placed in front of the “Charging Bull” sculpture on Wall Street. By early 2018, Vanguard and BlackRock had launched similar campaigns.

Each member of the Big Three also backed up its campaign with a threat: it would vote against directors at any firms who failed to appoint more women to their boards. Directors on a corporate board are elected by the firm’s shareholders. And since Big Three investors tend to be a firm’s dominant shareholders, their voting threats are not idle.

“Being a director is a highly sought-after job: it’s prestigious and well-compensated. Directors don’t want to lose it,” Matsa explained. “Even though these elections typically aren’t contested, it doesn’t look good to have a lot of votes against you.”

To determine whether companies were responding to the Big Three’s diversity demands in 2017 and 2018, the researchers gathered two types of information about companies in the investors’ portfolios. First, they measured how much of a stake each Big Three investor held in each of the firms, with the idea being that the bigger the stake, the bigger their campaign’s influence would likely be.

Second, the researchers gathered information about the composition of each firm’s board of directors – whether members were male or female, when they’d been hired, whether they’d previously served as board members at this or other firms, and which board committees they served on.

They then analyzed the data across two spans of time: Three years before the Big Three’s gender-diversity campaigns (2014-16) and three years after (2017-2019). Together, this provided a before-and-after picture of how firms under the Big Three’s influence behaved.

“The firms with a larger share of their stock held by State Street, BlackRock, and Vanguard – to what extent did they change their boards of directors relative to other firms during this period?” Matsa said. “That’s the variation that we studied.”

More stake, more women – with more power

The results were undeniable: the more of a firm’s stock the Big Three held, the more women directors appeared on that firm’s board after 2017.

Indeed, for every additional 8% owned by Vanguard, BlackRock, or State Street, the number of new female board members rose by 76%. Before 2017, only one in twelve firms added a woman to its board each year. By 2019, one in four did.

The Big Three’s campaigns each had a slightly different focus. For example, State Street targeted firms without any female directors. BlackRock, meanwhile, said it expected at least two women directors on every board. So the researchers were able to track whether firms responded differently depending on the relative ownership stake of each of the Big Three institutions.

Sure enough, the researchers found that companies with larger State Street ownership exhibited the largest increases in diversity among those firms with all-male boards. Similarly, firms held more by BlackRock – and with fewer than two female directors prior to 2018 – made larger board-diversity changes compared with firms where Blackrock was less invested.

“The way a company changed their board corresponds to who holds large ownership stakes in them, and what those specific asset managers were pushing for,” Matsa said. “This finding gives us more confidence that these changes in the board-member composition are indeed a reaction to the pressure from these institutions.”

But to Matsa, the most interesting finding was the quality of the Big Three’s effect on board diversity.

He explains that previous research has shown that government quota systems – like California’s 2019 requirement that every public company have at least one woman on its board – can result in tokenism as boards “check the box” of adding female directors. But, the previous research shows, the companies often fail to put these women on committees where power is actually exercised.

“A lot of a board’s work is done in these committees,” Matsa explained. “For example, the audit committee oversees the company’s financial reporting and disclosure.”

The companies that responded to the Big Three’s diversity demands, however, did appoint more women to influential audit- and nominating-committee positions than firms complying with a mandatory quota did. This implies that institutional investors may be more effective than lawmakers at creating what Matsa calls a “ripple effect” in female corporate leadership.

“When women are involved in the nominating committee, it might begin a cycle of the boards being more open to female membership in the future, even when they aren’t subject to the shareholder campaign,” Matsa said.

Why aren’t boards hiring women already?

For Matsa, these results beg a larger question: Why aren’t companies doing this on their own? “This paper is also about understanding what impediments keep firms from appointing more women, outside of these influence campaigns,” he said.

The most commonly cited reason for failing to recruit qualified female board members, Matsa said, is that there simply aren’t enough of them. But that reasoning depends on certain biases.

For one, board nominating committees often use previous CEO experience as a proxy for “qualified” – even though, in practice, boards often include other senior business leaders and nonexecutive experts like lawyers, bankers, scientists, or academics. Since most CEOs are still men, this bias curtails the number of female board candidates. Moreover, nominating committees often rely on personal connections to filter potential candidates – so when those committees are male-dominated, their networks tend to be, too.

To satisfy the Big Three’s diversity demands, Matsa found that firms simply did the obvious: they didn’t prioritize previous CEO experience, and they ventured beyond their personal networks.

But did this result in a flood of unqualified female board members? Hardly. The Big Three believed that there were plenty of qualified women out there ready to serve on boards if only existing board members broadened their searches. And, indeed, the women who were nominated were “overwhelmingly” voted for by shareholders, Matsa said – and not just by the Big Three, who may have had a motive to see their diversity campaigns succeed.

“That fact is not consistent with there being widespread opposition to adding these women,” he explained. In other words, it’s often the old boys’ network – not a lack of real qualification – that’s keeping women out of boardrooms.

To Matsa, these findings are less about assigning blame than about illuminating what works.

“My sense is that few board members believe that they were selecting a man because he was a man,” Matsa said. “They would think of it as looking for someone experienced, who they can trust. It’s difficult to move outside of that frame. It takes someone influential, like your largest shareholder, to tell you that you should approach this differently.”

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The famed Preakness Stakes horse race gallops into the NFT market with the first real-time major sports collectible

medina spirit
Medina Spirit was the winner of the Triple Crown’s first leg.

  • Preakness Stakes, one of the oldest elite horse races, has stepped into the booming NFT market with 17 auctions for digital assets.
  • Footage of the 146th running of the race in Baltimore will quickly be turned into a digital collectible, the first such real-time minting for a US major sporting event.
  • “We’ve seen a huge appetite for the growing NFT space and we want to be on the forefront of that innovation,” said an executive at the company behind Preakness Stakes.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The dash towards the Triple Crown title in elite Thoroughbred horse racing continues Saturday with the Preakness Stakes, and the contest that traces back more than 100 years is combining with the new and exploding NFT market by becoming the country’s first professional sports event to hold a real-time minting of a digital collectible.

This year’s Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit is slated to be among the horses at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course competing for the $1 million purse at the 146th Preakness Stakes.

Before the horses line up, an online auction is already underway for 17 individual NFTs that will commemorate the second jewel of the Triple Crown. The title’s past winners include Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Justify. Medina Spirit’s trainer, Bob Baffert, is one of only two trainers to have two horses win the Triple Crown.

“What we’ve amassed is an incredible collection of pretty historic and epic sports moments,” David Wilson, chief marketing officer at 1/ST, the company that owns and operates The Preakness, told Insider in an interview. “What we’ve seen is a huge appetite for the growing NFT space and we want to be on the forefront of that innovation.”

A key auction item will be the real-time minting of the 2021 race. Immediately after the race, a production team will take the full two-minute clip of the race – from the starting gate to the finish line – along with the post-race celebration with the Woodlawn Vase in the winners’ circle and package the edited footage with the official Preakness Stakes NFT seal. The work will be turned around within an hour then posted on the auction’s website.

“Effectively we record our own race and we own our own content and that’s what makes this special,” said Wilson.

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are digital representations of artworks and collectibles that exist on a blockchain ledger, similar to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. NFTs have surged in popularity this year. Among the market’s high-profile transactions was the $69 million sale by auction house Christie’s of a digital collage by artist Mike Winkelmann, better known as Beeple.

The 17 auction items from Preakness Stakes will contribute to the fast-growing NFT market, which in 2020 tripled in value to more than $250 million, according to a study by tech tracking company L’Atelier BNP Paribas and NonFungible.com.

Read more: The world’s largest NFT fund spends $250,000 a week on digital art. The co-founder shares 3 platforms set to be industry winners – and his top 6 picks from the $189 million portfolio

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An NFT up for auction during 2021’s Preakness Stakes

The Preakness auctions are listed on OpenSea, an NFT and crypto-collectibles marketplace. Another big item is a 1-of-1, 3-D animated likeness of the Woodlawn Vase, the silver trophy designed by jeweler Tiffany in 1860 of which a replica is awarded to the Preakness race winner. The bidding using the Wrapped Ethereum currency recently climbed to nearly $50,000.

That auction winner will not only take possession of the NFT but they will also receive a physical replica of the Woodlawn Vase — the only time that a replica will be given to someone outside of the owner, the trainer and the jockey of the horse that prevails at Preakness.

“It’s a legacy sport that’s been going on for generations and I think more and more, we’ve got to identify creative ways to really attract that younger consumer,” said Wilson. The Preakness’ NFT collection “offers some really rare value to our existing fans but also, from what we’ve seen at Zed Run, is they’ve done a great job at attracting younger, newer, curious consumers into the sport of thoroughbred horse racing.”

Zed Run is a digital racehorse platform that Preakness Stakes worked with on the NFT collection. Preakness also teamed up with Medium Rare, whose work in building entertainment brands includes the recent NFT collection from the Golden State Warriors NBA team. Medium Rare was also behind an NFT collection with four-time Super Bowl champion Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski that raked in more than $2 million in sales.

“There have been a lot of NFTs that have come out over the last couple of months. Obviously, it’s a hot sector both in sports and celebrities. Some are doing incredibly well, making millions of dollars, also raising money for charity. Some aren’t doing so well. Some are jumping on the fad train,” Joe Silberzweig, co-founder of Medium Rare, told Insider. With the Preakness Stakes, “what we worked on together … is creating a campaign that stands out and is first-to-market.”

Wilson said the average age of its customers using its betting app and attending races is 60 years old. The average age skews younger for the audience who watches Preakness Stakes through its broadcast partner, NBC.

“I think the sweet spot for our sport is really 45 plus,” said Wilson, noting that the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby feature infield music concerts. “We’ve made huge investments on the entertainment side to make sure there’s an experience for everyone.”

The auction for the Preakness’ digital assets will end Monday and a portion of the proceeds will go to The Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund and the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.

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