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Weinstein Company faces yet another major setback

Feb 19,2018
NEW YORK - The Weinstein Company thought it had found a path to survival. A group of investors led by a respected businesswoman offered to acquire the company, rebrand it and install a female-led board of directors.

It was an eye-catching idea in a country where men dominate corporate boards in almost every industry.

Unmoved, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman threw a wrench in the deal, filing a lawsuit against the company partly out of concern that executives who failed to protect Harvey Weinstein’s accusers would continue to run the operation. Swiftly, the Weinstein Company fired its president and chief operating officer, David Glasser, late Friday, only five days after the lawsuit.

A statement announcing the firing was released to the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.

The set of moves raised the question: Is putting women in charge of a company enough to guarantee an environment safe from sexual misconduct?

In the wider business world, promoting more women to boards and the C-suite is considered a critical step, but critics caution it is not enough, particularly when it comes to turning around a company so engulfed in scandal that it has become the poster child for sexual misconduct.

“Just having a female-led board is not enough of a solution. You need to disrupt the disease within the culture and that is an entire ecosystem change,” said Lisen Stromberg, COO of the 3 Percent Movement, an organization that promotes gender equality in advertising companies.

The $500 million acquisition proposal was put together by Maria Contreras-Sweet, a former U.S. small business administrator under the Obama administration.

She had no background in the film industry but her proposal beat out several offers from established entertainment companies including Lionsgate and Miramax, the studio formerly led by the Weinstein brothers.

The cornerstone of her vision was “reorganizing the company as a woman-led venture” that would create a “new model for how an entertainment company can be both financially successful and treat all its employees with dignity and respect,” according to a November letter to the Weinstein Company board.

That included establishing a female-majority board of directors, with Contreras-Sweet as chairwoman, and women investors controlling its voting stock.