[Christina's World, 1948, tempera, by Andrew Wyeth]
Like rubbernecking past a car wreck, I can't resist octogenarian retired CEO Al Neuharth's weekly column, every Friday in USA Today.
Neuharth has influenced Gannett more than any other executive -- probably including founder Frank E. Gannett himself. Ever wonder why the nation's top newspaper publisher emphasizes diversity in employment and editorial policies so fiercely?
Big Al explains it in a column today that opens a window on how his childhood in Alpena, S.D., drives Gannett's corporate culture today -- 17 years after he retired as chairman and CEO. The column is a call for the Obama Administration to safeguard women's rights in the new economic stimulus package's work programs.
"These signs were posted at the WPA swimming pool and park project next to the public school,'' he writes:
- Men $5 a day
- Women $3 a day
"But for some time,'' he says, "I had to browbeat racist or sexist managers who did most of the hiring. Some didn't buy my equal opportunity policy until they found their own jobs were at stake if they didn't carry it out. President Barack Obama probably doesn't have a sexist or racist bone in his body. But he must make sure those who implement the stimulus plan don't sabotage him -- and women across the USA."
Neuharth's feminist wife No. 2
She's former state Sen. Lori Wilson of Cocoa Beach, Fla., who fought for the Equal Rights Amendment; they were married 1973-86:
[Christina's World is at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City]