January 18, 2022

Biz Journal

Business perfection

Biz News

America’s biggest businesses employed more female and Black finance chiefs in 2021 than ever before—albeit coming from a relatively low base—as company leaders and boards are under pressure to broaden their C-suite, a trend recruiters expect will accelerate in 2022.

The number of companies in the S&P 500 and Fortune 500 with Black chief financial officers nearly doubled over the past year, to 20 in 2021 from 12 in 2020, based on new data from executive search firm Crist Kolder Associates. That’s 2.9% of 678 sitting CFOs, up from 1.8% in 2020. The percentage of female CFOs at those businesses also reached an all-time high at 15.1% in 2021, up from 12.6% in 2020, the data show.

Among the firms that gained Black CFOs last year were telecommunications giant

AT&T Inc.,

which promoted Pascal Desroches; sports retailer

Foot Locker Inc.,

which hired Andrew Page; and investment firm Teachers Insurance and

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BERLIN—A surge in luxury-car sales and the shifting of scarce semiconductors to the most profitable vehicles helped many auto makers achieve robust profits last year, even as sales of mainstream vehicles lagged behind and supply-chain disruptions crippled car production.

Confronted with the double blow from the pandemic and a shortage of chips and other components, most auto manufacturers had to cut production throughout the year. Given generally robust demand, many opted to shift available resources toward their most expensive–and most profitable–vehicles in an effort to protect their margins.

Other types of manufacturers have also gave priority to big-ticket products for similar reasons, making it harder for consumers to find cheaper alternatives. But car makers have also benefited from a bump in demand for the more expensive models.

The most luxurious brands such as Rolls-Royce, Bentley,

Porsche

and

BMW


BMW -0.44%

have reported. With international travel stalled during the pandemic and

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Citigroup Inc.


C -1.25%

is sticking with its Covid-19 vaccine mandate for its U.S. workers.

General Electric Co.


GE 0.68%

is not.

The two American companies are going in opposite directions after the Supreme Court blocked Thursday the Biden administration’s rule that big employers require their employees to get vaccines or submit to testing.

Citigroup, which has about 65,000 employees in the U.S., said it had reached 99% compliance one day before a Jan. 14 deadline the bank had set for U.S. workers to get vaccinated or request an accommodation for medical or religious reasons.

“Our goal has always been to keep everyone at Citi, and we sincerely hope all of our colleagues take action to comply,” the company’s human-resources chief Sara Wechter said in a LinkedIn post on Thursday after the high court’s decision.

The bank previously told employees anyone who was still unvaccinated would be placed on unpaid

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President Biden will seek to fill two seats on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors with academic economists Lisa Cook of Michigan State University and Philip Jefferson of Davidson College, the White House said Thursday.

Mr. Jefferson, vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty at Davidson in North Carolina, has spent most of his career in academia since 1990, when he earned his Ph.D. in economics, specializing in monetary economics and finance, at the University of Virginia. He was an economics professor at Swarthmore College from 1997 to 2019 and spent a year as a staff economist in the division of monetary affairs at the Fed board in Washington in the 1990s.

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For workers, it is great news: the U.S. labor market is nearing, or may already be at, its ideal state of “full employment.” But for the economy as a whole, it risks introducing a new source of upward pressure on inflation.

Full employment refers to a labor market in which just about anyone who wants a job can get one, without wages and prices rising out of control. It is the ideal of a healthy, steadily growing economy. In theory, once employment passes that level, wage pressures start to build which employers may pass along in prices.

While economists don’t agree on a single definition of full employment, some see signs the U.S. is getting there or may have already passed it: plummeting unemployment and accelerating wage growth.

The Federal Reserve under

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Washington Post

Executive Editor Sally Buzbee told employees that a top editor has been reprimanded over a tweet in which she criticized an SF Gate column that condemned football player Ben Roethlisberger, according to a company spokeswoman.

Lori Montgomery, who is the Post’s business editor, tweeted last week that the column, which referenced allegations that Mr. Roethlisberger had raped women and exhibited bad behavior, was “easily disproven” and “completely FoS.”

Ms. Montgomery’s initial tweet drew public criticism from some Washington Post employees. She later tweeted that she regretted her initial post and said she didn’t intend to question the validity of accusations against Mr. Roethlisberger. Mr. Roethlisberger has denied allegations of sexual assault.

Ms. Montgomery was given a verbal warning this past weekend, the Post spokeswoman said. The Post is planning to revise its social-media policy as soon as it fills a vacant standards-editor position, she said. Ms. Buzbee’s remarks

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