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Fortune Most Powerful Women: Chief diversity officers share the key to leveling the playing field

In a perfect world, Dalana Brand’s role at Twitter as chief people and diversity officer would not exist.

“Because everybody (would be) showing up and being super inclusive and living with principles around our work,” she said. 

But until every employee views it as their role to uphold diversity and inclusion standards, and until companies can demonstrate that they meet these goals with data, her role will remain crucial.

“Really living the promise of what we’re trying to deliver to the organization by making sure every single process, program, policy, and approach that we take on in the company shows up in a very inclusive, equitable and accessible way, if you will. It’s really about embedment,” Brand said while speaking on a panel during a virtual preview event to Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Summit in October. 

Alongside Brand on the panel was Johnson & Johnson’s chief diversity equity and inclusion officer Wanda Bryant Hope; Kellie A. McElhaney, founder and executive director at the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership at University of California, Berkeley; and Girls Who Code CEO Tarika Barrett.

All agreed that achieving equitable outcomes requires a company-wide approach based on data. 

Bryant Hope echoed Brand in saying quantifiable results are necessary. Johnson & Johnson is now using artificial intelligence to write job descriptions, and data shows it’s working. 

“By doing that, we have created more opportunities for women,” Bryant Hope said, adding that 48% of the company’s global workforce is now made up of women at the managerial level and higher. Johnson & Johnson also uses diverse interview panels “because we know data tells us that that makes a difference,” she said. 

Barrett said that while top leaders might be committed to D&I, unless those in charge of hiring practices are equally committed, things can fall apart. 

Another aspect of improving diversity and inclusion begins with hiring practices. Barrett says Girls Who Code has held three hiring summits to bring qualified women in front of hiring managers. 

“​​We bring thousands of young people in front of top companies who would not typically think about these young people as top of their list, and we actually had a company who, to date, has hired over 30 young women,” Barrett said.

Brand also pointed to Twitter’s new policy, which allows any employee to work from home indefinitely as a way to open those jobs to previously unconsidered candidates while working to retain those already with the company. 

“Particularly now in this period, where we sort of pulled back on hiring that is where we are spending a disproportionate amount of of our time is really making sure experientially that we’re doing everything that we can to make sure that people in the organization across all sections and communities really can see themselves having opportunities long term,” Brand says.

A major concern is that those hired more recently with the least amount of experience and who might fall into D&I categories are often the first affected amid layoffs and budget cuts. 

One way to combat that is to use employee photos instead of just a list of names when making choices about layoffs. An executive that McElhaney coaches did this during the pandemic when his company had to lay off staff. 

“Talk about a lever to changing the behavior when you see Black and brown and women’s faces on your wall that are on your layoff list, which otherwise would look like an Excel spreadsheet,” she said. 

One possible obstacle is a general sense of cynicism among upcoming generations watching major companies put on public-facing personas of diversity and inclusion. McElhaney has seen this in her students. 

“This generation is pretty cynical,” she said, “in terms of companies talking about it externally without getting their own house in order.”

All agreed that while the work is nowhere near finished, it must continue, despite missteps along the way. 

“No company is perfect,” McElhaney said. “So does that mean they shouldn’t try?”

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Intel’s Mobileye self-driving tech unit files for an IPO in what may be among this year’s biggest market debuts

Intel has filed for an initial public offering of its self-driving technology business, Mobileye Global Inc., braving the worst market for new US listings since the financial crisis more than a decade ago. 

The company didn’t disclose terms of the planned share sale in its filing Friday with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Mobileye will continue to be controlled by Intel after the IPO, according to the filing.

Intel expects the IPO to value Mobileye at as much as $30 billion, less than originally hoped, Bloomberg News reported this month.

If the listing goes ahead this year, it would be one of the biggest US offerings of 2022. Currently, only two companies have raised $1 billion or more on New York exchanges since Jan. 1, compared with 45 in 2021. This year, the US share of IPOs has shrunk to less then a seventh of the global total from half in 2021.

Mobileye would also be following in the tracks of Porsche AG’s market-defying IPO in Frankfurt this week. That €9.4 billion ($9.2 billion) listing is the world’s second biggest this year and the largest since stock markets began their volatility- and inflation-driven downward spiral in January.

Intel Chief Executive Officer Pat Gelsinger is trying to capitalize on Jerusalem-based Mobileye, acquired in 2017 for $15 billion, with a partial spinoff of its shares. Mobileye makes chips for cameras and drive-assistance features, and is seen as a prized asset as the car industry races toward fully automated vehicles.

EyeQ Shipments

Now with about 3,100 employees, Mobileye has collected data from 8.6 billion miles on the road from eight testing sites globally, according to its filing. the company says its technology leads in the race to shift the automotive industry away from human drivers. It’s shipped 117 million units of its EyeQ product.

Mobileye has been a particularly bright spot for Intel and has consistently grown faster than its parent. As of July, it had $774 million of cash and cash equivalents. In the 12 months ended Dec. 25, it had a net loss of $75 million on revenue of $1.39 billion.

The company said it plans to use proceeds from the IPO to pay down debt and for working capital and general corporate purposes.

McCaskill, Huntsman

Mobileye said in its filing that its board will include Gelsinger as chairman, and also former US Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, and Jon Huntsman, the former Republican governor of Utah as well as ambassador to China who is now on Ford Motor Co.’s board.

In its filing, Mobileye noted that it acquired mobility and transportation business Moovit from Intel this year. Moovit, another Israeli-based business, had been acquired by Intel for $900 million in 2020.

A successful Mobileye listing could break the ice for an array of startups that have been waiting for the year’s market tumult to ease before moving ahead with IPOs.

More specifically, it could clear a growing logjam of chip-related assets waiting to come to market. SoftBank Group Corp. also is trying to sell shares of semiconductor designer Arm Ltd. by early next year. Ampere Computing LLC, a startup making processors for data centers, is planning an IPO as well.

The Mobileye offering is being led by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley. Mobileye plans for its shares to trade on Nasdaq under the symbol MBLY.

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September worst month for stocks since pandemic hit U.S.

Wall Street closed out a miserable September with a loss of 9.3%, the worst monthly decline since March 2020. The S&P 500 fell 1.5% Friday and is at its lowest level in almost two years. The benchmark index has lost ground for six of the last seven weeks and posted its third straight losing quarter. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.7% and the Nasdaq fell 1.5%. Nike fell sharply after the company had to slash prices to clear inventories, while Carnival dropped following weaker-than-expected quarterly results. Bond markets were showing more calm as yields relaxed.

Wall Street is at its worst levels in almost two years Friday as the end nears for what’s been a miserable month for markets around the world.

The S&P 500 was down 0.4% in afternoon trading after flipping between small losses and gains through the morning. It’s at its lowest level since November 2020, and it’s on pace to close out its sixth weekly loss in the last seven, one of its worst months since the early 2020 coronavirus crash and its third straight losing quarter.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 213 points, or 0.7%, at 29,010, as of 1:56 p.m. Eastern time, and the Nasdaq composite was down 0.2%.

The main reason for this year’s struggles for financial markets has been fear about a possible recession, as interest rates soar in hopes of beating down the high inflation that’s swept the world.

The Federal Reserve has been at the forefront of the global campaign to slow economic growth and hurt job markets just enough to undercut inflation but not so much that it causes a recession. More data arrived Friday to suggest the Fed will keep its foot firmly on the brakes on the economy, raising the risk of its going too far and causing a downturn.

The Fed’s preferred measure of inflation showed it was worse last month than economists expected. That should keep the Fed on track to keep raising rates and hold them at high levels a while, as it’s loudly and repeatedly promised to do.

Vice Chair Lael Brainard was the latest Fed official on Friday to insist it won’t pull back on rates prematurely. That helped to keep snuffed out hopes on Wall Street for a “pivot” toward easier rates as the economy slows.

“At this point, it’s not a matter of if we’ll have a recession, but what type of recession it will be,” said Sean Sun, portfolio manager at Thornburg Investment Management.

Higher interest rates knock down one of the main levers that set prices for stocks. The other lever also looks to be under threat as the slowing economy, high interest rates and other factors weigh on corporate profits.

Cruise ship operator Carnival dropped 21% for one of Wall Street’s worst losses after it reported a bigger loss for its latest quarter than analysts expected and revenue that fell short of expectations.

Nike slumped 12.1% in what could be its worst day in two decades after it said its profitability weakened during the summer because of discounts needed to clear suddenly overstuffed warehouses. The amount of shoes and gear in Nike’s inventories swelled by 44% from a year earlier.

This year’s powerful surge for the U.S. dollar against other currencies also hurt Nike. Its worldwide revenue rose only 4%, instead of the 10% it would have if currency values had remained the same.

Nike isn’t the only company to see its inventories balloon. So have several big-name retailers, and such bad news for businesses could actually mean some relief for shoppers if it leads to more discounts. It echoed some glimmers of encouragement buried within Friday’s report on the Fed’s preferred gauge of inflation. That showed some slowing of inflation for goods, even as price gains kept accelerating for services.

Another report on Friday also offered a glimmer of hope. A measure of consumer sentiment showed U.S. expectations for future inflation came down in September. That’s crucial for the Fed because tightly held expectations for higher inflation can create a debilitating, self-reinforcing cycle that worsens it.

Treasury yields eased a bit on Friday, letting off some of the pressure that’s built on markets.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 3.75% from 3.79% late Thursday. The two-year yield, which more closely tracks expectations for Fed action, sank to 4.16% from 4.19%.

Still, a long list of other worries continues to hang over global markets, including increasing tensions between much of Europe and Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. A controversial plan to cut taxes by the U.K. government also sent bond markets spinning recently on fears it could make inflation even worse. Bond markets calmed a bit only after the Bank of England pledged mid-week to buy however many U.K. government bonds are needed to bring yields back down.

The stunning and swift rise of the U.S. dollar against other currencies, meanwhile, raises the risk of creating so much stress that something cracks somwhere in global markets.

Stocks around the world were mixed after a report showed that inflation in the 19 countries that use Europe’s euro currency spiked to a record and data from China said that factory activity weakened there.

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Jack Dorsey and Elon Musk texts criticize Twitter board

If Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey was hoping to see a culture change in the company’s top brass, Elon Musk would certainly fit the bill.

But the Tesla CEO’s first foray into the social media space may prove short-lived. After striking a $44 billion deal last April to buy Twitter, Musk has been attempting to pull out of it since July, citing the unverifiable number of spam accounts on the platform.

With his court date set for next month in Delaware, details continue to emerge about those turbulent few months, including Musk agreeing to sit on the company’s board before abruptly changing his mind and opting instead to buy out all of Twitter’s remaining shares to take the company private.

Musk made it clear that if he had become the sole owner of Twitter—or, now, if a judge compels him to go through with the purchase anyway—he would bring about some big changes to the social media network and how the company is run. And new evidence reveals just how much Twitter cofounder and former CEO Jack Dorsey, who stepped down from the company’s board last May, wanted to see those changes happen.

“The board is terrible,” Dorsey wrote to Musk in a text message, one of many that were collected and disclosed this week as part of a pretrial discovery process. 

Dorsey’s text—dated April 5, the day Twitter announced Musk as a new board member—spared only company CEO Parag Agrawal, who Dorsey called “an incredible engineer.” 

But as the takeover deal dragged on and tensions emerged between Musk and Twitter’s board, Dorsey made his true feelings about Agrawal and the rest of Twitter’s board known in a series of messages that criticized the board’s cautious behavior, while painting Musk as the savior the company had been waiting for.

Dorsey and Twitter’s board

In texts sent to Musk last March, Dorsey revealed that he had tried to get him approved by the board as early as 2020, which the board refused. Dorsey criticized Twitter’s board for being too “risk-averse” and said they had refused to bring on a figure like Musk because they felt it would create “more risk” for the company.

It wouldn’t be the last time Dorsey criticized Twitter’s board in his text exchanges with Musk. 

On April 25, Dorsey defended Agrawal as being “great at getting things done when tasked with specific direction,” but the next day, seemingly after a board meeting, Musk texted to Dorsey that the two of them were in “complete agreement” over Agrawal, specifically that the Twitter CEO had been “moving far too slowly and trying to please people who will not be happy no matter what he does.”

Dorsey answered around two hours later: “It became clear that you can’t work together. That was clarifying.”

Unpredictable Musk

As CEO and founder of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk made a name for himself as a hard, unforgiving, and at times even rash boss.

Last June, Musk mandated that all of Tesla’s white-collar staff return to the office full-time, warning that those who didn’t could “pretend to work somewhere else.” He expects long work hours, willingly working for upwards of 120 hours a week himself, and once allegedly worked a 24-hour day—on his birthday.

Musk’s unique leadership style has gotten him into hot water with his own companies at times. A single foray on Twitter can send Tesla stock prices plunging or cryptocurrencies soaring, and shareholders of his businesses have even asked judges to muzzle his Twitter feed.

Musk’s unpredictability as a person and as a boss left some Twitter employees concerned last spring that him taking over would mean a complete culture change, including a return to the office and a more demanding work environment overall.

But while Twitter employees worried, Jack Dorsey appears to have been eagerly awaiting Musk getting involved at Twitter for quite some time. Last April, shortly after the takeover deal had been announced, Dorsey heavily criticized Twitter’s board, saying “it’s consistently been the dysfunction of the company.”

A week later, Dorsey publicly vouched for Musk as the right person to take the company forward by first taking it private. “Elon is the singular solution I trust. I trust his mission to extend the light of consciousness,” Dorsey wrote.

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