Friday, June 29, 2012

Motivating Employees from Other Cultures
Originally Published: June 2012

"Differences in cultural values require extra skill when attempting to motivate changes in behavior. Managers need to accurately interpret the situation and design a strategy that fits an individual's values and needs. This process is fairly straightforward when working with people of similar backgrounds, but is much more difficult when attempting to understand and motivate employees whose values and backgrounds may be different from your own.

The three steps listed below will help you design motivation strategies that are culturally aware and, therefore, useful in your efforts to maintain a harmonious and productive multicultural workplace.

Effective behavior change begins with accurately interpreting why an individual is involved in undesired behavior. Understanding why a person behaves in a particular way makes it easier to modify that behavior. For example, it is common for managers to misinterpret the speaking of a foreign language in the workplace as a sign of laziness, rudeness and disrespect. In fact, most often, using another language is an effort to communicate a job-related message accurately, a sign of extreme stress or fatigue or an effort to speed up the communication process.

You might be wondering, "How can I possibly know enough about cultural differences to accurately interpret all the different behaviors I may encounter?" The answer is simple: Ask. Ask the employee why he is late for work or why he failed to get the job done on time. If you do so with respect, you gather valuable and accurate information that will help you motivate the change you desire.

Explain your expectations in a way that can be understood by someone who was not raised in US culture. You would be surprised how often employers and managers fail to explain what they want and why they want it. Immigrant workers are rarely formally instructed in the values of US culture and even less often in the desires of US management.

Explaining what we want from others is not easy. Often, the most familiar procedures, policies and expectations are the most difficult to articulate. One example is the need for team members to voice their problems and complaints. A noncomplaining staff could be a hindrance, because you do not have the information you need to solve problems.

Many immigrants have a great deal of respect for their managers and feel it is inappropriate or a sign of disloyalty to complain. Your employees will never know what is expected of them until you take the time to spell out that you need to know about problems to do your job well and that a good employee brings difficulties to the manager's attention.

Positive Reinforcement
Reinforce desired behavior. Most of the time, this is simple. Notice that workers are doing what you want and praise them for it. When it comes to motivation across cultural boundaries, however, this step becomes a bit tricky.

Behaviors such as expressing problems or admitting lack of understanding can be difficult to reinforce because there is the temptation to shoot the messenger. It is understandably difficult for managers to praise the worker who arrives bearing news of a missed deadline or a broken piece of equipment. Even though it isn't easy, try to distance yourself from the problem long enough to praise the staff member for keeping you informed and to encourage him to continue to do so.

Another problem with reinforcement is the danger of taking certain behaviors for granted. US managers, for example, may not realize how difficult it is for non-English speakers to consistently speak English in the workplace and will, therefore, fail to compliment them on that effort. Try to be aware of behaviors that are easy for you but may be difficult for others. People are different, but they all respond to kind words and thoughtful praise."

Service Oriented: Jim Bush sets new standards for service at American Express
by Brooke Perry 
Originally Published: June 29th, 2012

"Not so long ago, the words "customer service" called to mind a scripted, maybe even surly, exchange with a distant, detached call center agent. In business, this less-than-likable function was often relegated to a back-office role and usually seen as an expense, rather than an investment.

"In today's environment, getting service right is increasingly becoming more than just a nice thing to do," says Jim Bush, executive vice president of world service at American Express and a newly  appointed executive officer. "Failing to do it right can curb incremental business from existing customers and increase the risk that they jump ship to a competitor."

Bush assumed responsibility for the company's global customer service  operations in 2005, following a four-year post in Singapore as regional president  of Japan, Asia Pacific and Australia, one of more than a dozen positions he has held  in his 26 years with the global services company. 

"I've had the privilege of leading a lot of teams," he says modestly.

In fact, Bush is credited with a range  of ground-breaking innovations that have contributed significantly to the company's success. As executive vice president and general manager of the Strategic Alliances Group, he played a key role in the growth of the consumer card business, forging and strengthening strategic relationships with Delta Airlines, Starwood and Hilton hotels, and Costco Warehouse stores. He has also been instrumental in enhancing the value of the American Express Membership Rewards program and launched the popular Blue from American Express card and The Centurion Card, better known as the iconic "Black Card."

His current position, though, is one  he feels he was born to fill. Inspired by  the years he spent immersed in Asia's service-centric culture, Bush spearheaded a reexamination of American Express's approach to customer service.

"When I assumed this role," he says,  "I looked at it differently. I felt that every customer interaction was an opportunity to change the customer's perception  and build a relationship. We're not a  credit card company. We create unique experiences for our customers around  the payment products we offer."

As such, Bush studied the service  cultures of top hotels, airlines and cruise lines to ensure that "we were doing the best job we could to become the world's most respected service brand."

Through careful observation and his own sixth sense about "the power of  personal connection," Bush revolutionized American Express's approach to  customer service by globalizing the  operation and creating a relationship-driven (and now trademarked) ethos called Relationship Care.

"We strive to deepen relationships with customers," he says, "by empowering our customer care professionals in customer care centers to deliver outstanding service, and we do that by actively listening to and creating an emotional, thoroughly unscripted connection with customers."

Notice that American Express doesn't operate "call centers" or employ "agents," because those linguistic relics don't adequately describe what American Express does. In fact, the company has more  than 20,000 customer care professionals positioned in 22 locations across the globe, servicing more than 62 million  customers and engaged in handling more than 1.3 billion service transactions a year.

"What we've created," Bush says, "is  an environment in which employees are compensated for the value they provide customers, and their performance is  measured according to what customers say about us every day."

As a result, customer care professionals can earn an additional 20 to 30 percent  of their base pay when customers are  satisfied. His strategy paid off almost immediately."


The Second City Way Of Better Brainstorming
by Denis Wilson
Originally Published: June 29th, 2012

"Have you ever briefed your group on a topic and given the greenlight for freeform discussion, only to be met by blank stares and middle-of-the-road ideas? Second City Communications is here to help, with these six tips to quell people's qualms about sharing ideas.

Have you ever called a brainstorming meeting, briefed your group on the topic, and given the greenlight for freeform discussion, only to be met by blank stares, tepid enthusiasm, and middle-of-the-road ideas? Thinking you've just lit the fuse for a thought explosion, this muted response can be a disappointment, to say the least.

But it shouldn’t be. If your team isn't used to working without the safety net of careful preparation and scripted presentations, they have reason to be cautious. They fear being judged, rejected, and---gasp--wrong. "People in business are taught to be right and they're rewarded throughout their careers for demonstrating that they are right," says Tom Yorton, CEO of Second City Communications, a branch of the Chicago-based The Second City (where comedians the likes of Steve Carell, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler trained).

Second City Communications applies the wisdom gained through improv comedy to help companies be more innovative and creative with their thinking. What Yorton has learned is that many folks in the business world simply lack experience thinking in uncritical ways. "People are expected to be good at this stuff, but it's an unrealistic expectation given the amount of practice they get. So it's not surprising that people aren't really comfortable with it."
Here are seven tactics to help spur uninhibited expression. With any luck, it'll be raining innovative ideas in no time.

1. Loosen Up
Practice is important, but so is a culture that encourages offbeat--even "wrong"--ideas. In other words, loosen up. An irreverent culture enjoys less-confined thinking, says John Putzier, author of Get Weird! 101 Innovative Ways to Make Your Company a Great Place to Work. "How many times have you been in a party, and you come up with some really funny and cool ideas when you're in that setting because it's relaxed and you feel comfortable with the people? Work rarely feels like a party."

Relaxing decorum and the emphasis on being correct allows people to be wrong in good ways. "We don't have to punish people for making a mistake if it's well intentioned and they weren't breaking the law," Putzier says. He cites the example of the Post-it note, which came from a faulty adhesive. "Instead of beating people up for making an honest mistake on the journey to success, you reward it by saying 'what can we do with this?'"

2. Respect The Process
Above all, you must respect the process. Second City's success is built on this idea, says Yorton. When they are building a show, they enter a 10- to 12-week process of generating ideas for sketches, incorporating audience suggestions, and determining the sequence of the show. And no one is allowed to mess with the artists. "We declare a protected environment. The only people in that process during the day are the cast and the directors. It's a safe environment where they can create whatever they want to create: lousy stuff, brilliant stuff, everything in between."

Yorton says that these rules of engagement are often absent in business. "My view of brainstorming in the corporate world is people are more reverent about their idea than reverent about the process, and they have it wrong. Do it the other way. Be reverent about the process and good ideas will emerge."

3. Yes, and...
A brainstorm is basically an improvisational session. You go in with a rough idea and hope to come out with something entirely different and awesome. To this end, one of improv comedy's foundational tenets is the notion of "yes, and..." Simply, it means to affirm and build upon each idea, says Yorton. “'Yes, and...' is when an actor offers any idea--'hey it’s nice day out'--and the job of the other actor is to agree with that, not deny it, and add something to it."

When improv performers use this technique and fall into a good rhythm, they're redirecting each other's contributions toward ever-funnier territory. There's something to be learned from that: Shooting somebody's idea down only serves to kill momentum. Rather, affirm and build. "In the business world, that’s a foreign idea. Mostly people are thinking, 'No, but...' Mostly people are thinking about what's wrong with an idea." Of course, business requires good critical thinking--but that needs to be backburnered until brainstorming is finished."

Read the entire article about from here:

Battling the bullies: How I helped curb bullying at my childhood camp
by Joanne Kates
Originally Published: June 29th, 2012

"I grew up at Camp Arowhon in Ontario’s Algonquin Park. It was my happy place, where being a great canoeist mattered more than city stuff like getting the boys’ attention. When the harvest moon turned golden in late summer, I always mourned the loss of the safest place in my world.

In 1989 I had a new perspective when I came home to camp to be the director. That first summer, I saw the many hurts visited upon “uncool” kids. I saw three girls walking down the path giggling, and a fourth girl trailing along behind them, excluded. I heard boys call the unathletic boy a loser when he fumbled the ball. I heard little girls say: “You can’t be our friend” to a cabin-mate. Worst of all, I saw counsellors ignoring the bullying. I felt awful about the unkindness that seemed normal in kid culture (a feeling obviously shared by many adults, as witnessed by the outpouring of support for Karen Klein, the bullied bus monitor in New York).

The camp I loved, like many camps, was a great place to be – if you were cool. Even more than schools, camps are a petri dish for bullying because peer culture rules and it’s recess all day – social aggression can run rampant if the people in charge aren’t paying attention. If a camp says they don’t have bullying, they’re ignoring the problem – and parents have reason to worry.

Peer culture is powerful at camps because many draw kids from the same neighbourhoods who bring their beliefs about who’s cool (and who’s not) to camp. They also tend to be staffed by people who grew up there.

Who stays around to be staff? The “cool” kids who are unlikely to be empathetic to outsiders, and who are desperate to be perceived as cool by the campers.

That is the law of the jungle that I set about to change.

An anti-bully program isn’t something you write in a handbook or talk about once. It’s daily attention to kids’ relationships, in a structured and planned way. It’s not just reaction, it’s prevention, too. At Arowhon we pay attention to it every day, every summer.

Each summer our anti-bully program starts with a workshop to sensitize staff about bullying. On the first day of camp, I ask the members of each cabin what they need to feel emotionally safe in their group and have them make a plan if there is bullying.

That evening I tell the whole camp that we are all each others’ keepers, with an obligation to act in the face of bullying. I teach them that bystanders can stop bullying if they side with the victim, or even just report the incident to a counsellor. At bedtime, counsellors lead our Anti-Bullying Cabin Circle in every cabin. When kids talk about their own painful experiences, you can see the empathy bloom.

We haven’t eradicated the problem; we watch for trouble and intervene promptly. Every counsellor makes a sociogram (a social map) of their cabin twice per four-week session, to show which campers are in and who’s being left out. On day five of each session, every camper fills out a questionnaire, which asks, among fun stuff like favourite activities, if anyone has made them feel unsafe.

We’ve learned that bullying is often more complicated than it first appears. Yes, we still intervene, deal consequences and send bullies home if necessary. But these are last resorts.

When someone reports bullying, we step back from labelling “victims” and “bullies,” and start by supporting what is clearly a broken relationship. The “bully” often has no idea how hurtful they were being. Sometimes there’s a history driving mean behaviour, and when that hurt gets voiced it’s defused, like a bomb that loses its detonator. Sometimes bullying is a power grab, and bringing it out in the open yields better behaviour, perhaps because if that child talks about their vulnerability, they feel less compelled to make someone else feel small.

We once had a camper who was viciously bullying her counsellor; when I asked her why, and what she was feeling, she said the counsellor bore a strong physical resemblance to her dad’s new wife, who was keeping her dad from his kids. As soon as she said it, her hostility evaporated."

Talent Development: Business Benefits to Helping Women Have It All
Originally Published: June 2012

"Is there a business case for promoting women executives to serve on corporate boards? Data revealed in a new report by the Committee for Economic Development (CED) argues that giving women a seat at the table and providing adequate talent development not only can deliver measurable business gains but is the key differentiator in future global success. 

A panel of experts in New York this week discussed the implications of “Fulfilling the Promise: How More Women on Corporate Boards Would Make America and American Companies More Competitive,” as well as recommendations for improving the talent development and promotion of women to senior management roles. Ernst & Young’s Beth Brooke, global vice chair of Public Policy, moderated the panel, and Chairman and CEO Jim Turley, who has been a visible advocate for cultural diversity, gave the opening keynote. Ernst & Young is No. 6 in the 2012 DiversityInc Top 50

The other panelists were: Janna Bursch, principal at McKinsey & Company; Nels Olsen, vice chairman and co-leader, board, and CEO for Korn/Ferry International; and Gail Becker, chair for Canada, Latin America and U.S. Western Region at Edelman. 

Why Talent Development for Women? 
The report provides evidence that U.S. businesses need to make talent development for women a top business priority to retain global competitive advantage. This will be necessary to attract, retain and develop the best female talent, a group that is increasing in economic influence, according to its findings. 

The biggest implications for developing female talent are global demographic and economic shifts. 

“Executives are 70 to 75 percent white men but, if you look forward, demographic shifts in gender and ethnicity show that employees and customers will not be,” explained Turley. “Boards need to be more actively engaged with who they represent.” 

“Women can be quantified as an emerging market. They are the No. 3 economic power in the world today, behind only India and China,” added Brooke. “Women are an untapped engine for American competitiveness.” 
  • Women are highly talented: 36.8 percent of master’s degrees now are earned by women. In 2010, more women earned bachelor’s degrees  than men (20.1 million compared with 18.7 million, respectively), according to census data. Read Women’s History Month Facts for more.
  • Businesses with more women directors perform better: A Catalyst study of 2004–2008 data shows that companies with the highest average of women directors (top quartile) outperformed companies lacking representation at senior levels (bottom quartile) by 26 percent in return on invested capital.
  • America is falling behind: Currently, 15.6 percent of U.K. board members are women. The percentage of U.S. women on corporate boards ranges 12.1 to 12.3 percent, with Fortune 100 companies averaging about 11 percent women and Fortune 500 companies averaging 15 to 16 percent.
  • European countries will continue to promote women: The United Kingdom announced in March a strict diversity goal to obtain a minimum of 25 percent women board members for FTSE companies by 2015; the European Union’s justice commissioner has noted that legislation on the issue could be passed since self-regulation has not brought enough progress. Quotas of 40 percent are being considered in Norway, Spain, France, Italy, Iceland and Belgium, cites the report. 
Talent Development: The Solution? 
Referencing The Atlantic’s provocative “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” cover story, the panelists discussed how male-oriented corporate cultures can be a roadblock to developing women executives. The main challenge, cites the panel and the article, is in managing time between a high-performance career and equally important family responsibilities. "

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Muslim athletes face fasting dilemma as Ramadan coincides with Olympics
by Lauren La Rose
Originally Published: June 29th, 2012

"As he laced up his shoes and headed out to train last summer, Mohammed Ahmed would often end up logging 160 kilometres or more in a given a week — all while fasting.

It's been a familiar routine for the 21-year-old Muslim distance runner since he was in high school and found his training schedule coinciding with the month of Ramadan.

"Every single year, I fast, I do the training. But it would give me a couple of months where the important races, the races I was preparing for, where I can gain any weight that I've lost, any energy that I've lost .... But training-wise, it didn't really affect me," Ahmed said in an interview from the University of Wisconsin in Madison where he attends school and competes for the Badgers.

"It actually got me stronger," he added. "Mentally, I was very, very strong. I've been training through it. But training and racing at the same time is not an easy thing."

So when Ahmed races for Canada at the London Olympics, the St. Catharines, Ont., native will forgo fasting until after he's finished competing.

"It's very tough," said Ahmed, who qualified for London this week after winning the 10,000 metres at the Canadian trails in Calgary. "I'm not going to be in an environment where my fasting is going to be beneficial.

"Once I'm finished with my races ... then I'm going to start fasting. But the days leading up to it, obviously, my energy levels have to be high, my glycogen levels have to be high. And with fasting and training and travelling, it's going to be very hard."
It's a dilemma facing many Muslim Olympians as they prepare to descend on London to compete on the world's biggest sports stage: To fast or not to fast?

The Summer Games kick off July 27, a mere seven days after the start of Ramadan. Muslims refrain from eating or drinking from dawn until dusk during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.

"(Fasting in Ramadan) is one of the five pillars of Islam," said Sikander Hashmi, an imam based in Kingston, Ont. "It's an obligation for anyone who is an adult and who's able to do so safely and without compromising their health in a major way."

Hashmi said the main reason behind fasting is to increase piety and consciousness of God. But there are exceptions that can be made with respect to abstaining from food and drink during Ramadan.

Hashmi said travel, illness and endangerment to a person's health due to a lack of food and drink are all valid reasons to postpone the practice.

Under the "most generous allowances" travellers intending to stay in a city less than 15 days can postpone fasts. But Hashmi noted concessions normally aren't granted for sports and other activities which are not considered essential to one's well-being.
With no central authority in Islam, Muslim athletes are likely to turn to Islamic scholars in their respective countries for guidance on fast- breaking or wait for a fatwa, or religious edict, to be issued.

The United Arab Emirates's soccer team received approval to break its fast by the country's Department of Islamic Affairs. The department said while competing isn't an excuse for breaking the fast, travelling was — provided the athletes don't remain in one place for longer than four days.

It won't be the first time in recent memory that Ramadan has coincided with a major sporting event. It fell during the track and field world championships in South Korea last year, as well as during the 2010 Youth Olympics in Singapore.

"Certainly, Muslim athletes are competing every single year during Ramadan," said Canadian exercise physiologist and sports nutritionist Trent Stellingwerff. "But obviously the Olympics brings a certain focus and highlight, all of a sudden, to the parameters that they need to play with to ensure that they're satisfying and they're staying true to their faith."
Stellingwerff will be working with Canada's rowing and track teams in London. He said the International Olympic Committee convened nutrition experts for a meeting in 2009.

"A major take-home message was the fact that we're talking about short-term fasts here," said Stellingwerff, senior physiologist with Canadian Sport Centre Pacific in Victoria.

"Each and every single one of us fasts every single night when we sleep — and we aren't talking about a two or three or four-day cleansing fast here. We're talking about shifting fasting hours and basically flipping the day so they can eat all they want drink all they want in the evenings and at night," he added.

"But, it does offer another layer of complexity and another layer of choices and considerations that the athlete and their coach and anyone that's advising them needs to consider."

Stellingwerff said he would be a little less worried about the amount of calories being consumed but more focused on when athletes would be training during the day.
With the first and last meal before sunrise and after sunset, it would offer different potential pockets of time to train, like at 4 a.m. followed by a meal. But if deciding to eat and then train four hours later, for example, recovery can't be optimized because athletes can't eat or drink after training, he noted.

Stellingwerff said there's good research to show if someone can stay in a relatively cool environment and not be very active during the entire day that they'll only lose one per cent of their body water — which isn't much. Some athletes can lose one per cent of their body weight in a half-hour of exercise, he noted.

"We know that once athletes get to two per cent of their body weight or further that performance can be compromised, so body weight tracking is one way we look at hydration status," he said.

Hydrating with electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, will allow the body to retain water more effectively than pure H20, which will go through the system quickly, he noted.
Stellingwerff said the effects of Ramadan fasting on performance will be "incredibly dependent" on which sport athletes are competing in and the time their events are scheduled."

A Call to Action: U.S. B-Schools to Identify Board-Ready Women
by Alison Damast   
Originally Published: June 29th, 2012

"Less than a year after a European initiative to increase the number of women on corporate boards, U.S. business schools will launch a similar effort to identify board-ready women from their alumni and faculty ranks.

The Forté Foundation, a group of 39 business schools working to increase the number of women MBAs, is spearheading the effort. Members include Columbia Business School, MIT’s Sloan School of Management and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

Forté asked its 33 U.S. member business schools to participate in the effort at the organization’s annual MBA Women’s Conference in Los Angeles yesterday. Each school will be asked to identify at least five women with the potential to serve as corporate board members. In addition, the Forté Foundation said it will consider self-nominations from its membership database of 60,000 women, and will partner with other groups to expand the list, including the Women on Boards 2020 campaign.

The ultimate goal is to produce by the end of the year an initial list of about 165 or more vetted and board-ready women that companies can use when trying to identify potential board candidates, said Elissa Ellis-Sangster, Forté’s executive director. Forté will also help women interested in serving on a board 10 years down the road, providing them with assessment tools and educational programming.

“I think it is important that we shed light on this issue and dispel some of the arguments out there that there aren’t enough women who are qualified or that companies don’t know where the women are,” Ellis-Sangster said, in an interview. “We’re just now seeing the voices coming together on this issue in the last year.”

The number of women in the U.S. who serve on corporate boards remains disproportionately low. In 2011, U.S. women held just 16.1 percent of board seats, according to a study of Fortune 500 companies released last year by Catalyst, a group working to expand opportunities for women in business. In both 2010 and 2011, about one-tenth of the companies said they had no women at all serving as board members, the same study found.

The situation in Europe is similarly grim, with women representing only 14 percent of board members in Europe’s biggest public companies, according to the European Business Schools Women on Board Initiative. In the fall, the European Business Schools and Senior Executive Women groups launched a “call to action” to raise awareness of the barriers preventing senior women executives from taking on board positions. Viviane Reding, vice president of the European Commission and the commissioner responsible for justice, fundamental rights, and citizenship, has also gotten involved in the initiative. In March 2011, she challenged all public companies in Europe to commit to increasing women’s participation on corporate boards to 30 percent by 2015 and 40 percent by 2020. A year later, only 24 companies had signed the pledge.

This year, the European Business Schools Women on Board Initiative published a “Board Ready Women” list, with 7,000 European women the organization believes are qualified to serve as board members, including B-school alumni and faculty. Several of Forté’s member schools, including London Business School, INSEAD, and SDA Bocconi School of Management, contributed to that list, Ellis-Sangster said, inspiring Forté to launch its own “call to action” in the U.S., she said."

On Being A Filipina Business Woman And Having It All
by Elisa Doucette
Originally Published: June 29th, 2012

"While women in Western countries frequently note the tension and struggles they face in this new age of modern feminism where they are supposed to have it all, the concept is lost on many of the women I meet in Southeast Asia.

No where is this dichotomy more apparent than in the few weeks I have spent in the Philippines.

With a storied history of prominent standing in their culture and community, women here are not women to be coddled or relegated. Yet a quick internet search for “women in the Philippines” produces a healthy batch of women’s groups and legislation mixed with a mass amount of sites dedicated to buying wives and hiring girls. The difference between women having it all and having nothing here are painfully opposite.

In 2009, the Philippines took a hard stance on this equality gap with the Republic Act 9710, also called “The Magna Carta For Women.” The bill kicked around in legislation and negotiations for nearly seven years before President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed it officially.

With provisions that protect a woman’s rights at home and at work, the bill includes specifications regarding the percentage of positions within various industries that must be filled by women, dedicating resources in every village to counter violence against women, and an eventual move towards a full 50-50 gender balance in every aspect of their lives.

In the 2011 Global Gender Gap Index Report compiled by the World Economic Forum, the Philippines ranked 8 out of nearly 180 countries indexed. Far ahead of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Women continue to gain power in their positions here in the Philippines, which they in turn use to empower the women of their country.

Such was the case when I met Maylen Cooney, the owner and proprietor of Badladz Adventure Resort in Puerto Galera, where I stayed for our company’s two week startup sessions.

Maylen’s story begins like so many in the Philippines. Born in Bikol, she grew up in Bulacan, the oldest in a family of 11 children. Her home was barely even a shack, with walls constructed from a hybrid of any available flat material scraps that they could piece together to form a structure. This is a common building practice in some of the more impoverished and rural areas of Southeast Asian countries.

She started working at the age of 14, manufacturing fireworks, to help out at home. By the time she was 16 she was working full-time and no longer enrolled in school.

When she turned 18 she knew that she wanted more experiences in life and that she was not going to get those where she was. Maylen made the decision to move to Manila and took a job as a shopgirl in the mall, still sending most of her wages home to support the family."

It Is Not My Fault and I Am Responsible from MARC by Catalyst
by Bill Proudman
Originally Published: June 29th, 2012

"When I am fully present and noticing, I become more active and engaged.

 A disclaimer: I write this with the mindset that men and women both have key roles to play in their work partnerships. I invite readers to think about this post through an “and/both” lens rather than an “either/or” lens. What’s the difference? An “and/both” lens assumes that both men and women have struggles, both at the group level (as part of being in the male or female group) and also as unique individuals.

My and/both lens assumes that both men and women are impacted by gender inequity - though not necessarily the same or equally. When we focus on just one gender, we're not automatically diminishing or excluding the other gender.

Early on in my diversity journey, I thought gender inequity was somehow my fault. I’m a pretty big guy and I’ve been taught and rewarded for many years to “suck it up,” so it seemed natural to run with that message until I realized that it was not a very sustainable partnership proposition for me and other men.

Feeling of fault or blame initially helped me to notice inequity occasionally, but it didn’t do much for keeping my voice in the dialogue. It mostly kept me silent and cautious. I noticed how I would be reluctant to speak or act out of concern of doing or saying the wrong thing. I didn’t bring all of myself to my work partnerships. I thought my role was largely to be quiet and get out of the way. When my voice did show up, it was often from an apologetic place.

Then a series of events occurred. This progression happened over several years and the results were transformative and startling. In the early 90’s when working with corporate leadership teams in the US, I began to notice white men almost always deferring to women and people of color when any diversity issue arose. They also often thought gender or race inequity was being blamed on them personally.

No matter what diversity issue came up, white men would almost always yield to the “other” and/or feel blamed. They would also look past each other and discount their role in ending the inequity. I came to believe that this predictable pattern was built on three mistaken assumptions:

1. White men weren’t diverse.
2.  White men can’t possibly know anything about diversity or contribute anything meaningful to the dialogue.
3. White men need to seek out “others” for coaching, advice, leadership and mentoring on diversity.

I then noticed the same dynamics happening in myself. I looked past other men or whites whenever gender or race inequity reared its head. I believed that I and other white men didn’t have a clue, or worse, couldn’t get a clue about diversity. I combined that with the disempowering message that all inequity was my fault.

It was not until I tried an experiment in the mid 90’s by bringing together white men that I started to more fully understand the paradox of “it is not my fault and I am responsible.” When it was just white men in the room, we discovered we knew a lot more about diversity than we realized. It re-empowered our voices and strengthened our self-interest in equity work. We also came to realize and more clearly see our systemic advantage in society simply because we were male. This inequity is not my fault, but I am responsible for noticing how it affects my and others view of the world, especially if I am invested in co-creating more effective partnerships.

I am responsible for bringing my full self to each interaction and noticing how historical patterns of systemic inequity affect my myth of meritocracy - that everything one accomplishes in life is not simply based solely on hard work.  And this does not negate the fact that I and other men have worked hard for what we have accomplished individually. (Again think and/both.)

When I don’t see the systemic privilege, I make it harder for women to tell me their truth because I think my reality is everyone’s reality.  I am responsible for applying the necessary rigor to see the full picture along with the complexities of multiple truths. I am responsible to notice these systemic inequities not because they are my fault (which they are not), but because they affect how we hear each other - how I hear others - particularly women and how others hear me.

I am responsible for keeping my brain connected to my heart to help me see the complexities of how our lives intertwine. I am responsible for noticing all this rather than assuming women are always responsible for raising examples of systemic inequity. When I am fully present and noticing, I become a more active and engaged partner.

If you value full and equitable partnerships with others, what are you responsible for and why is it important to you?"

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Mental illness accounts for almost half of all public service disability claims
by Kathryn May
Originally Published: June 29th, 2012

"The steady rise of disability claims related to mental illness in Canada’s public service continued last year and accounted for a historic 48 per cent of all claims filed.

The grim tally was to be presented to this week’s annual meeting of the Disability Insurance Plan’s Board of Management, which was cancelled unexpectedly.

The report comes when the public service’s soaring absenteeism rates and disability claims are under the spotlight as Treasury Board wraps up a three-year disability management initiative and contemplates how to overhaul a 45-year-old sick leave and disability insurance plan to get sick and injured workers back on the job faster and healthier.

On any given day, 19,000 public servants are booked off work on some kind of sick leave. Federal employees were absent 12.5 days last year – twice the average rate of the employees in the private sector. In the core public service, however, workers are off 18 days a year, when you include paid and unpaid sick leave, workers compensation and disability.

Public servants get 15 days of sick leave a year, which they can accumulate and carry over year to year. The value of all banked sick leave is pegged at about $5 billion.

For the first time in years, the number of overall claims filed by public servants in 2011 dipped slightly to 3,790. The reasons are unclear but the size of the public service has shrunk with the government’s spending cuts and some speculate that some workers, worried about losing their jobs in a looming downsizing, were afraid to take time off for illness.

In the months leading to the Conservatives’ March budget, departments were also more aggressive in getting ill or injured employees back to work so they knew what jobs they had vacant when it came to managing the $5.2 billion in spending cuts and the 19,200 jobs that have to go.

The incidence of disability claims per 1,000 members also dipped slightly to 15.82 compared to more than 16 the year earlier.

But the most worrisome statistic is that mental health conditions, led by depression and anxiety, are now responsible for 48 per cent of all approved claims. That is the highest proportion since the plan was created 45 years ago.

Twenty years ago, mental health conditions accounted for 23.7 per cent of approved claims and have been rising ever since. They have represented more than 40 per cent of all claims cent since 1997.

The breakdown of mental health issues include:
23 per cent of all claims are for depression
6.4 per cent for recurrent depressive disorder
4.7 per cent adjustment disorder caused by grief or separation
4.1 per cent for anxiety
2.1 per cent for bipolar disorder
1.8 per cent post-traumatic stress disorder.
5.9 per cent include acute stress reaction, chronic fatigue syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, schizophrenia, bulimia, anorexia, dementia phobias and illness related drug and alcohol use.

Nearly 70 per cent of the claims for mental health conditions have been filed by women, a proportion that has been relatively steady since 2005. Experts offer many reasons why women account for a higher percentage of the claims.

Bill Wilkerson, cofounder of the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health said women are diagnosed with depression four times as often as men but men are four times more likely to take their own lives due to depression. Women are more liable to seek professional help than men and they carry the burden and conflict of “role overload” in juggling demands of work, home, child and elder care.

The disability plan, administered by SunLife, has 241,785 members and paid $256 million in benefits to the 11,100 public servants who are on disability.The plan’s reserves now stand at $1.7 billion and annual premiums – mostly paid by government – are $301 million.

The management board overseeing the disability insurance plan has long warned the plan, close to 45 years old, is so archaic that the benefits aren’t helping a growing number of sick and disabled public servants to get better and back to work.

The board has raised red flags about the design of the plan, the rising number of claims, and the governance of the giant insurance plan which hasn’t been updated or re-tendered since it was awarded to SunLife in 1970. The board is comprised of union and government representatives and reports to Treasury Board.

It’s unclear how the government intends to revamp its sick leave and disability plan but many said it wants to replace accumulated sick leave with a short-term disability scheme. Treasury Board Officials were supposed to brief the board on its next steps at the meeting that was cancelled at the last minute.

Wilkerson said the latest report is a “telltale sign” that the government’s existing sick leave and disability management system isn’t working in today’s epidemic of chronic and episodic illnesses. He’s a proponent of getting rid of banked sick leave but he said the plan has to be overhauled to put more emphasis on prevention, rehabilitation, wellness and disability case management to get the ill and injured back to work faster.

He chastised the government for “stigmatizing” its own workforce by allowing all the debate to focus on the large number of sick days public servants take off rather than getting to the bottom of what’s wrong with the workplace that’s making people sick.

Wilkerson said he worries the government is going to isolate sick leave as the main issue and “stigmatize” its own workers to get rid of it."

Changing Roles of Muslim Women in the USA
by Anne Doyle
Originally Published: June 28th, 2012

"You might not think of Detroit as an epicenter of  insight about the changing roles of Muslim women in the United States.  It’s best known to the world as the home of Motown Music and the U.S. auto industry, with Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Chrysler all headquartered here.

But metropolitan Detroit , where I live these days, is also home to the largest concentration of Arab Americans outside of the Mideast — over 400,000.  Mosques, great Mideastern food and women clad in the hijab (headscarf) and even head-to-toe in burqas are common sites.

The growing presence of Arabs, Muslims and fellow citizens raised with Islamic traditions and perspectives creates multiple opportunities to move out of our comfort zones and “Drink at Dangerous Waters,” as I write in my leadership book, POWERING UP!

But rich yet complex cultural differences between Western and Islamic thinking and practices, particularly around gender roles, are often at the heart of misunderstanding, discomfort and distrust so many Americans feel toward people, now often neighbors, we have just begun to understand.

Recently, our terrific Detroit National Public Radio Talk Show host, Craig Fahle, led a courageous and fascinating on-air conversation about the changing roles of Muslim women.

I was honored to be part of the discussion with Wayne State University‘s professor Dr. Saeed Khan and lecturer Layla Saatchi, both with deep expertise and personal experience in the cultural collisions underway around this topic.

My perspective was that of a Western-educated, American who has just returned from the International Women’s Forum’s global Cornerstone Conference — Morocco and the Future of the Arab World — held in Rabat.  I was given the opportunity to both open and wrap-up the discussion, but also learned so much from listening to the perspective of Saeed Khan and Layla Saatchi.

Mental health group says combat PTSD deserves Purple Heart 
by Rebecca Ruiz
Originally Publisehd: June 28th, 2012

"The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a grassroots advocacy organization, released a report Thursday calling for the military to make service members with combat-related post-traumatic stress and other psychological injuries eligible to receive the Purple Heart.

The report, Parity for Patriots, argues that mental health disorders are "signature" injuries of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. In 2011, there were more hospitalizations for mental disorders amongst active-duty service members than for any other major illness or injury, affecting one in five individuals.

Sita Diehl, the report's author and director of state policy and advocacy for NAMI, said that in addition to PTSD, the military should also consider combat-related depression for Purple Heart eligibility. Previous research, Diehl said, has shown that after a sixth or seventh deployment, it is standard to experience about six months of combat-related depression.

The Purple Heart is awarded to service members who have been wounded or killed by the enemy in combat. Post-traumatic stress disorders currently do not justify a Purple Heart, according to Army regulations. Other injuries that do not merit the Purple Heart include heat stroke, frostbite, battle fatigue and accidents.

Awarding the Purple Heart for mental illness that results from combat, Diehl said, would "help to recognize these are genuine medical conditions. If you get a psychological wound in battle, that means you are courageous. We want that to be recognized."

NAMI spokesman Bob Carolla said the organization previously approached military leaders privately about Purple Heart eligibility, but said it never received a response. This is the first time the organization has publicly called for changes to the regulations.

The report also outlines a looming mental health crisis for service members, veterans and their families. Studies have shown that military spouses and children are diagnosed with anxiety, depression and other mental disorders at rates comparable to service members.

In order to address various aspects of the crisis, the report called on the Department of Defense to require commanders to focus on preventing psychological injuries and deaths; said the Veteran Health Administration should ensure that more veterans and their families have access to care; and recommended that the Department of Health and Human Services finalize regulations for a federal parity law that would fully end discriminatory practices in mental health care treatment."

Undersea Leadership Lessons From Filmmaker James Cameron
by Rick Lash
Originally Published: June 28th, 2012

"Business leaders must dig deep like explorer and filmmaker James Cameron.
He’s known by most of us as an award-winning Canadian filmmaker and Hollywood heavyweight who’s the driving force behind the two highest-grossing big screen blockbusters of all time.

Those who dig (or dive) a little deeper will learn the director of Titanic and Avatar is also a science-minded explorer and innovator whose thirst for knowledge has taken him on numerous research expeditions. In the latest one ,he became the first person to make a solo dive to the deepest place in the world’s oceans aboard a custom-designed submarine he helped develop.

But filmmaker, explorer and inventor aside, James Cameron is first and foremost a visionary leader with tremendous power to inform, influence and inspire those around him.

Learning from passion & relentless curiosity

And, organizations striving to groom and develop leaders in their own executive ranks can learn a great deal by paying attention to the relentless curiousity, innovative thinking and passion Cameron displays while leading the teams involved in his films and expeditions.

Shortly after he resurfaced from his history-making seven mile dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the Western Pacific two months ago, Cameron was interviewed by the expedition’s back-up physician and electronic journalist, Dr. Joe MacInnis, about what enabled him to realize his dream of reaching the earth’s deepest point.

MacInnis, a Canadian researcher, deep-sea explorer and author, studies leadership in lethal environments. He spoke to Cameron as part of his research for an upcoming book, Deep Leadership: Essential Insights from High Risk Environments, which is scheduled to be published in September.

Cameron’s 5 leadership insights

During a lengthy segment of the interview that aired recently on CBC Radio’s IDEAS program, Cameron provided insights into his success and survival during the high-risk mission. Many of these can be adopted by business leaders navigating the dangerous world of corporate sharks, including:
  •  “Failure equals death.” No one knew this simple equation more clearly than Samurai swordsmen, who had to succeed each and every time their picked up their weapon or it would be their last, Cameron said. This blunt and powerful motivator was also true in his mission. Cameron’s life would have certainly have been lost if any of technology on the submarine he helped custom design had failed during the dive. Corporate boardrooms and domestic and international marketplaces may not strictly be considered lethal environments, but failure in business can quickly add up to business death as well.
  • Picture yourself in the vision because one day you will be there. For Cameron, this meant going beyond a theoretical planning exercise when trying to figure out what kind of sub his team would have to build to reach the bottom of the ocean, since none existed to that point. Instead, of focusing on questions of “What if?,” Cameron said imagining himself working the controls of the yet-to-be-designed sub and descending into the depths allowed him to move on to questions, such as “When?” and “How?” Innovators and leaders exploring their own business ideas need to adopt the same practical approach for the day they move their projects off the drawing board and into practice.
  • Your market is your best laboratory. Cameron and his team had to use the ocean itself as their lab because there was no pressure chamber large enough to test their new sub. They tested it at increasingly greater depths, fixing new problems as they discovered them. The lesson? Innovations must be tested early at varying thresholds, but always in the real-world environment — something tech giant RIM discovered the hard way when its Playbook was launched with insufficient market testing.
  • “Explorers are the Avatars of the human race.” It’s not enough for explorers to strive to reach new worlds and new limits — they must also bring back the tale and the images of what they’ve discovered to inform humankind, said Cameron, who’s artistic talent makes him ideally suited for this facet of exploration. Corporate leaders must adopt the same mindset and think like explorers when investigating new concepts and innovations, documenting what they’ve found for their teams.
  • Leadership is a solo dive, but behind you is an entire team. Cameron was the only person crammed into the tight space of the Mermaid Sapphire during its record-setting descent, but he was far from alone. The scientists and engineers who helped Cameron conceive and build the vessel over seven years were there to help operate it and monitor it during the dive. While each member of the team was individual intelligent in their own area of expertise, they achieved “team genius” when they combined forces, Cameron said. Top corporate leaders must be able to motivate their teams and pull each member together to heighten the group’s collective IQ."

30 LGBT Artists You Should Know
Originally Published: June 28th, 2012

"LGBT artists have continually challenged mainstream understandings of gender and sexuality, and the impact of this on our society is immeasurable. Like artists of the 1980s who worked tirelessly to bring attention to HIV/AIDS in America, artists today maintain their roles as leading figures striving for change and cultural awareness.

As Pride Month comes to a close, we would like to showcase a number of LGBT artists who have influenced the progress of art and society throughout the past hundred years or so. While this list is in no way comprehensive, we hope to highlight some of the many creative individuals who as members of the LGBT community have put their unique stamp on art history.

Check out the list below of amazing LGBT artists who have irrevocably changed the art world and beyond with their work. You can help us to increase this list by adding your favorite LGBT artists to the comments section below. To see more, we ran a tribute to "Artists Who Passed Away From AIDS" yesterday.  "