Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Bald Barbie to Comfort Kids with Cancer
Originally Published: September 28th, 2012

"Barbie has proven a controversial figure since her shapely beginnings in 1959, but as time and different civil rights movements have marched forward, Barbie’s image has morphed to include various races and cultures. Now, she’s going bald for a good cause.

Mattel, the makers of Barbie, announced last month that a hairless "friend of Barbie" will "be distributed exclusively to children’s hospitals and other hospitals treating children with cancer throughout the U.S. and Canada, directly reaching girls who are most affected by hair loss." The decision came after a Facebook group called "Beautiful and Bald Barbie! Let’s see if we can get it made" scored thousands of "likes" within hours of its creation.

Beckie Sypin, co-founder of the cause, has a 12-year-old daughter who lost all of her hair after chemotherapy treatment. Syprin told ABC News that "the hope [of the campaign] is that a bald Barbie will help children with cancer and others who have lost their hair due to illness—such as alopecia and trichotillomania—cope with their conditions." Photographer and co-founder Jane Bingham also lost her hair during treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. "One of the major reasons [we started the campaign] was to reduce the stigma for women and children who have hair loss—being not accepted to be able to go out in public without something covering their head, whether it be a wig or a scarf or that sort of thing," Bingham told NPR’s All Things Considered. "Their beauty and their self-worth is not dependent upon their hair."

Mattel had previously made a one-of-a-kind bald doll for a girl going through chemotherapy in New York City. But when Sypin’s campaign suggested they make a bald doll for commercial sale, Mattel initially told her they did not accept ideas from outside sources, Sypin says. A few months later, they changed their minds: Now the limited-edition hairless dolls—which will come with accessories like hats and scarves—will be passed out at hospitals in 2013 and donated to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation. Bingham is lobbying Mattel to sell the doll in stores.

The Facebook page has 158,000 "likes" and shows no signs of slowing down. Offshoots have sprouted from the original campaign, including the "Bald G.I. Joe Movement" for young boys with hair loss. In February, rival toy company MGA Entertainment announced it would produce a hairless line of "Bratz" and "Moxie Girlz" dolls called "True Hope" (see above) for Toys 'R Us. For every doll purchased, MGA will donate $1 to cancer research at City of Hope cancer center in Duarte, Calif. Since childhood toys teach societal norms just as much as media or pop culture, it's important to see companies like MGA and Mattel taking a positive step to show kids in unusual circumstances that they’re normal, too."

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StatsCan debuts new way to gather, explain data
Originally Published: September 28th, 2012

An employee make his way to work at Statistics Canada in Ottawa. 'More relevant product,' StatsCan says

Statistics Canada on Monday will unveil a new approach to how it presents data, introducing new measures and changing the definition of others.

The federal data agency will issue a comprehensive revision to economic data of the past 30 years, an exercise that was two years in the making and that was designed to comply with revised international standards of economic measurements.

Some gross domestic product numbers will likely move up marginally, in part because research and development will be capitalized and some services will be added to the export tally.

But in broad terms, Statistics Canada is not rewriting the past. The new data will still dutifully record the slumps of the early 80s and 90s, the growth spurts that followed, and the great recession of 2008-09 and tepid recovery since.

"There's no real change in the economic history of Canada," says Jim Tebrake, Statistics Canada's director of the income and expenditure accounts division.

"There are changes from quarter to quarter, but nothing of significance," he said.

More precise picture of data

The value of the exercise is to give economic policy-makers and analysts a more precise picture of the ebb and flow of economic movements, says Paul Jacobson, a Toronto-based consulting economist who has followed the process closely.

"I've been warning people for months this is going to be a biggie, but not everybody's been paying attention." he says.

"Every single identifier people are using is changing, all the matrices change."

Jacobson, who has arranged for a four-hour seminar on the subject later in the month, believes the exercise will be worth it.

"It's going to make things clearer about what the devil is going on."

CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld has compared it to the transition from Fahrenheit to Celsius.

The comparison is somewhat apt because one of the benefits will be that countries, once they've followed suit, will more easily be able to stack their economies and component parts against each other.

'A more relevant product'

The new standards will be a bonanza for "data wonks," Tebrake agrees. That's because they will have so many more data points to follow.

For instance, total exports is currently broken down into seven groupings, now it will be 35. For personal expenditures, StatsCan will issue 100 sub-groupings for analysts to ponder, instead of the previous 38.

The business sector will be split between financial and non-financial corporations, and household income will become more precise after jettisoning tribal government activity, non-profit institutions, and other sectors that really had little relevance to households. Now they will have their own category.

"It's a much purer and clear measure," Teblake explains.

"I think at the end of the day it's a more relevant product. Anyone who does forecasts has much better data at their disposal."

The changes also include re-definitions of categories and new terminology. For instance, terms such as corporate profits, labour income and personal expenditures will be no more."

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October Is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month in Canada!
by Kate Adams
Originally Published: September 28th, 2012

"The Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario – North Bay and Area is very excited to announce that Mayor Al McDonald and Wendy Abdallah are the 2012 Honorary Chair this year’s celebrations.

This year's campaign will raise awareness that all students with learning disabilities have the potential to reach post secondary education, find meaningful employment, and become valuable, contributing members of the North Bay community.

It takes a village to raise a child. LDAO North Bay and Area is proud to be a community leader in supporting children and youth with learning disabilities.

Of all children in this country with disabilities, 59.8% have learning disability. In the local context, the following recent statistics from our school boards indicate that almost half of the students with identified disabilities in our schools, have a learning disability.

These are more than numbers. These are our kids that need our advocacy and support.

Near North Board – over 1000

Nipissing Parry Sound Catholic District School Board 243

French school boards in the area have proportionate numbers.

All of these students identified with learning disabilities, have average to above average intelligence!
Each and every one of the students has the “right to learn and the power to achieve.”

Each of them deserves our investment in time and energy to help them reach their full potential.

Unfortunately, there are some statistics that are not so positive. The statistics reflect individuals, who for a variety of reasons, didn't reach their potential.

• 35% of students identified with learning disabilities drop out of high school.

• 62% of students with learning disabilities were unemployed after graduation.

• 50% to 60% of ‘street kids ‘in Toronto have a learning disability.

• 50% of adolescent suicides had previously been identified as having learning disabilities.

• 51% of welfare caseload into U.S. states were persons with a learning disability.

• 45.6% of adult inmates with learning disabilities have previous youth court involvement.

• Ministry of Labour reports that without appropriate education/training; adults with learning disabilities typically hold the job for only three months.

To help raise awareness and understanding of learning disabilities in the community, LDAO North Bay is pleased to celebrate this year's campaign with the raising of our flag by Mayor Al McDonald.

This event will take place at City Hall on Monday, October 1 at 10:30 AM. This is the first time a Learning Disabilities Association flag has been raised in Canada

During October Learning Disabilities Awareness Month, and throughout the year; we have to remember that a different way of learning can lead to success. All of these young people have tremendous abilities and strengths.

We look forward to working in the community to build empathy and support for all of our kids with learning disabilities. 

For further information call The Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario North Bay and Area Elaine Beckett-Albert at 705-472-7688 Connect with us by e-mail at"

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Beating the Bully: National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month 
by  Katherine Prudente
Originally Published: September 28th, 2012

Beating the Bully"Did you know October is National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month? To kick of the month of education, advocacy, prevention and intervention please keep checking in on the blog. I’ll try to keep up with the numerous events and news worthy stories out there – there are a lot!

For starters:

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Women's fight for equality still relevant
by Kathleen Parker
Originally Published: September 28th, 2012"Gloria Steinem is unmistakable.

Across the room surrounded by a clutch of admirers, she is utterly ageless – sleek and svelte in black form-fitting pants and top, a gold braided belt with sparkly fleurettes draped along her slender hips.
At 78, she looks, well, fabulous.

"I suppose it's not very feminist of us to comment on how great she looks," says the woman next to me, apparently feeling compelled to inject the appropriate corrective.

But at a certain age, isn't a woman happy to accept a compliment? And haven't we come a long way, baby?

Judging by the current debate in some Republican circles, one has occasion to pause and wonder.
The purpose of the Thursday evening gathering in a private home was to celebrate "Makers: The Women Who Make America," a multiplatform video production from PBS, AOL and, which launched in February.

The documentary chronicles the history of the women's movement and features women who have, indeed, made things happen so that subsequent generations could do what women were not allowed to do not so long ago – to become doctors, lawyers, legislators, secretaries of state and, perhaps, even president.

Among those assembled were seven of the Makers who appear in the film, including, in addition to Steinem, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, actress Marlo "That Girl" Thomas, Rebecca Adamson (founder of First Peoples Worldwide), Karen Nussbaum (executive director of Working America and founder of 9to5), Malika Saada Saar (executive director, Human Rights Project for Girls) and Muriel Siebert (the first woman to earn a seat on the New York Stock Exchange and namesake of the investment firm Siebert & Co.).

That's quite a lot of feminine – and feminist – power in one room. Quoting John F. Kennedy, Steinem said there hasn't been so much talent in one place since Thomas Jefferson was alone in a room.
"Except now," she cracked, "we know Sally Hemings was probably doing the writing."

The centerpiece of the evening was a preview of excerpts from the documentary, which is scheduled for release in February 2013, the 50th anniversary of Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique."

In one interview, Ginsburg recalls being one of nine women in a class of 500 men at Harvard Law School. Ginsburg remembered being herded into a room with the other women where a professor asked why they were taking up seats that could be filled with men. She later transferred to Columbia University, where she finished first in her class.

Other women tell similar, barrier-breaking tales. All remind us that women really have come a long way, often, one hastens to mention, with the help of enlightened men. Ginsburg paid homage to her husband, who gave up his own successful law practice to follow her to Washington so that she could accept her place on the Supreme Court. He never felt slighted, she said, noting that he was also an excellent cook.

The film, which deserves to be a family event and is certain to spark animated conversations, provides recognition along with reminders that women's rights didn't just happen. They were earned by generations of women who refused to accept that they were limited by their sex. Being demure wasn't part of the strategy. Sometimes, one of the interviewees said, you have to kick down the door.
The value of the film can't be overstated. We have lived in a feminist world for decades, yet younger generations have no sense of the struggle. And though we are correctly horrified at the disenfranchisement of women in other parts of the world, it is useful to recall that American women's freedoms are relatively fresh.

Steinem, her fire somewhat tempered by time and grace, noted that loss of memory is the source of oppression. For centuries, women's stories weren't told. Women had no place at the campfire, as she put it.

Had there been a "Makers" initiative earlier in our history, said Steinem, we might have known that Mozart had a sister, whom Mozart called "the talented one." We might have known that before there was Martin Luther King, there was Ella Baker, the African American civil and human rights activist from the 1930s. That the guide and translator for Lewis and Clark was a woman who made the same trip the men did while pregnant, nursing and carrying a toddler.

The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist, Steinem insists, nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights. Here's to memory.

Read more here:

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Tunisians Battle Over The Meaning Of Free Expression
by  Eleanor Beardsley
Originally Published: September 28th, 2012

Tunisian artist Nadia Jelassi with two of the sculptures from her exhibit that were attacked by a hard-line Muslim group. Secular Tunisians and Islamists have clashed over multiple issues related to freedom of expression."Tunisia was the birthplace of the Arab Spring last year, and many regard it as the most Western-looking nation in the Arab world. Yet it's also waging a roaring debate over how to define freedom of expression in an evolving society.

Tunisian protesters attacked the U.S. Embassy recently in response to the anti-Muslim video Innocence of Muslims. This was just the latest of several episodes in which hard-line Muslims have acted out publicly to what they see as attacks on their religion.

For Tunisian artist Nadia Jelassi, the trouble started in June when her sculptures, along with those of other artists, went on display at a Tunis gallery.

Jelassi's sculptures featured female mannequins in conservative Islamic dress that included robes, with their hair covered. The work was surrounded by a bed of smooth stones.

Jelassi says everything was fine until the last day of the exhibit, when a man taking photos asked that some of the artwork be taken down.

"Of course we refused," she says. "But before long he came back with a group of bearded men. They scrawled 'Death to Blasphemous Artists' on the gallery walls, and later that night broke into the building and destroyed many of the pieces."

The men apparently thought the stones suggested that Muslim women wearing traditional clothing should be stoned, Jelassi says.

Soon, groups of bearded, hard-line Muslims, known as Salafists, began protesting around the country against what they perceive as un-Islamic art. Artists and secular Tunisians held counterprotests. Some of the confrontations turned violent.

Artist Charged With Disturbing Public Order

Jelassi says the Salafists' behavior didn't surprise her — something else did.

"I was called to appear before a judge by our so-called moderate Muslim government, and charged with disturbing public order. I was fingerprinted, and mug shots were taken. I have a police record now," she says.

Jelassi says she was so shaken by the judge's actions, that when she got home, she took her own mug shots and pasted them onto her Facebook page.

The pictures sparked a campaign of support for freedom of expression. Since Tunisia's revolution in January 2011, the kind of religious extremists who were once jailed under the dictatorship have been harassing Tunisian artists, journalists and intellectuals.

Secular Tunisians accuse the government of turning a blind eye to the aggressions of the Islamists.

Tunisia's Islamist-led government did seem stunned by the attack on the American Embassy in Tunis this month, and quickly condemned it.

Islamist Leader Wants Limits On Expression

But Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of the Ennahda party that captured elections last year, also said that the video that sparked the attack, Innocence of Muslims, wasn't something that should be protected by freedom of expression.

"This video wasn't freedom of expression; it was freedom to attack what is sacred to others," said Ghannouchi. "We don't see a contradiction between free expression and respecting others' beliefs."

Tunisia's government is trying to insert an article into the country's new constitution that would make insulting sacred beliefs a criminal offense. The idea is anathema to secular Tunisians.

But for grocery store manager Salem Amri, freedom of expression stops when it hurts others.
"There are always barriers that we shouldn't be allowed to touch," he says. "We Muslims have our principles."

Amri points out that in some parts of Europe, freedom of expression does not permit denying the Holocaust — so what's wrong with protecting religious beliefs?

Fares Mabrouk, who runs the Arab Policy Institute, says every country has its red lines.
"There is no absolute freedom of expression. Now in Tunisia, are we going to set our limits in terms of freedom of expression? There are different opinions. And this is part of our building a new democracy. This is one of our tasks," Mabrouk says.

Former newspaper editor Hmidi Ben Romdhane disagrees. He says by limiting freedom of expression, Islamists want to push the Tunisian people into a new sort of religious dictatorship.

"We are all Muslims, and the majority of the people are believers, not atheists," he says. "But what these Islamists want to do is to impose new kinds of religious practices that the Tunisian people are not used to. Of course the people of Tunisia reject this."

Back in her studio, artist Nadia Jelassi calls the attack on freedom of expression very grave. And if it isn't stopped, she says, the revolution will be lost."

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The Bullying Dilemma: Is It Behavior Entrenched in Corporate Culture?
by W. Barry Nixon
Originally Published: September 28th, 2012

123RF Stock Photo"First of two parts

One of the subjects we have been studying and researching for quite some time is the phenomena called “bullying in the workplace.”

The literature and research continues to expand. It is to also interesting to note that one of the leading items that we receive emails on to our “Ask the Expert” column at the National Institute for Prevention of Workplace Violence, deals with employees wanting help on situations where they perceive they have been the target of bullying. We have also noticed that more organizations are inquiring about getting help in this area.

The literature is full of cases and situations and definitions of bullying. However, as I have continued my research in this area and worked with several organizations to deal with this troubling issue, several problematic issues in the available definitions are apparent to me:
  • There is not a generally accepted definition of bullying that provides a standard by which to judge employee behavior and many of the behaviors that are identified in existing definitions are subject to wide interpretation by employees, supervisors and employers; and
  • The collection of behaviors that are generally accepted as demonstrating bullying are, in many cases, inexplicably tied to corporate culture.
How do you define bullying?

Thus, I decided the starting point for this article should be to try to arrive at a generally accepted definition of bullying from an employer or organization viewpoint.

I’m starting here because it is my belief that many organizations have been hesitant to affirmatively address this issue because there is no standard to guide them and they feel like they are dealing with Jello. Without an existing set of policies and unaccepted behaviors identified that are well defined, how do you use a Jello-like description to explain to an employee that they are being disciplined for an infraction that you don’t have a policy on or are not really clear on what it is?’

It reminds me of the now infamous explanation of the definition of pornography offered by former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart:
I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description (hard-core pornography); and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it.”
“In the same league as harassment”

I totally agree with Tim Field’s statement in his article, Myths and Misperceptions About Bullying: Overcoming Stereotypes and False Perceptions of Bullying
. . .bullying is in the same league as harassment, discrimination, racism, violence, assault, stalking, physical abuse and sexual abuse. It can cause trauma and psychiatric injury and can, if untreated, cause a psychiatric injury of sufficient seriousness to blight a person for life, causing a poorer standard of health and preventing them realizing their potential. The symptoms of psychiatric injury caused by bullying are consistent with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).”
A good definition can help you explain to supervisors and employees the behaviors that are considered bullying, thus providing guidance on unacceptable behavior in the workplace.
Based on our research, here is the definition we offer (we welcome your input on this definition so that we can build toward creating an generally accepted standard for organizations to use):

Bullying is a persistent pattern of repeated, deliberate, malicious, abusive, unwanted verbal mistreatment or non-verbal actions, threatening, harassing and/or inappropriate misconduct executed by an employee against another employee. A single act normally will not constitute abusive conduct, unless especially severe and egregious. The behavior has the effect of impairing a person’s ability to perform their job, causes psychological, emotional harm or trauma or impacts the health and safety of an employee(s) and substantially disrupts or interferes with the performance of the work of the organization.

Bullying vs. performance management

One intent we are trying to communicate with this definition is that there must be a collection of behaviors, a repeated pattern of acts that are deliberate (inferring intent to do harm) and must either impact an employees’ ability to perform their job or interfere with the performance of the work of the organization.

Another factor that impacts defining bullying is when does boorish or inappropriate behavior rise to the level of becoming unacceptable and possibly illegal? When does it cross the line into being considered bullying?

For example, a classic dilemma that we see organizations struggling with is this: Is one person’s bullying another’s performance management technique? And where is the threshold for the behavior becoming inappropriate? 

A challenging boss will make employees stretch, demand a high level of quality and productivity, often times much to the subordinates’ dismay, however, does this person’s demanding management style make him or her a bully? I believe each organization will have to define the threshold for themselves based on their culture and accepted behavioral norms.

Consider the following scene from the movie A Few Good Men’when Tom Cruise, whose character was the prosecuting attorney, called Demi Moore’s character, his associate, “cosmically stupid.” He yelled these words at her after the defending attorney got one of the prosecuting attorney’s key witness to admit, on the stand, that he was not at the scene of fatal beating of a Marine and therefore could not testify to what actually happen.

Demi Moore’s character had screwed up (not adequately performed her job of questioning the witnesses during discovery). In the face of her significant error and poor performance did, Tom’s behavior rise to the level of being considered bullying? In my opinion, he provided much needed feedback that was true, timely and needed, although it could perhaps been delivered in a more sensitive manner.

Is it simply accepted in corporate culture?

Nevertheless, regardless of how Demi’s character may have felt about his comment, she was not the victim of bullying. Possibly some of you may disagree, which is why organizations must define the threshold for themselves.

The second part of the definition we propose is to describe a “hostile or abusive work environment.”

An ‘‘abusive work environment’’ is a workplace where an employee is subjected to abusive conduct that is so severe that it causes physical or psychological harm to the employee. This would include ‘‘constructive discharge’’ which causes the employee to resign, and where, prior to resigning, the employee brings to the employer’s attention the existence of the abusive conduct, and the employer fails to take reasonable steps to eliminate the abusive conduct. (California Legislature, 2003–04 Regular Session, Assembly Bill No. 1582)
Armed with the above definition of “bullying” and an “abusive work environment,” we believe that organizations will be better positioned to deal with alleged infractions where an employee is accused of bullying another employee. We believe that this definition provides the beginning point for providing sufficient guidance to supervisors and employees to be actionable and to provide sufficient clarity to perpetrators of why their behavior is unacceptable.

This leads to our second dilemma with bullying: the connection between the collection of behaviors associated with bullying and accepted corporate culture.
Accepting aggressive actions

Kurt Landgraf, president of Educational Testing Service in Princeton, N.J., and former chief executive of DuPont Pharmaceuticals, acquired in 2001 by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company said, “We don’t sell $8 billion worth of antidepressants in this country for nothing,” Landgraf further stated. “I think most organizations all talk about how much they care. But the real fact of the matter is, the corporate culture is so accepting of these kinds of aggressive actions, it’s not going to go away.”

Hadyn Olsen, manager of Workplaces Against Violence in Employment (a New Zealand organization also known as WAVE), says the problem is exacerbated because many employers seek out the ruthless, superficially charming and impulsive qualities of the corporate psychopath.
A lot of employers say, ‘Look, we hire people with these characteristics – they get results, work well on their own and present themselves really well’.” He warns employers about the chronic’s dark side – they are not team players, don’t handle conflict very well, have very low empathy, are manipulative and deceitful and have a Jekyll and Hyde type of character. “They are very ambitious, often seek positions of power and do well on KPIs (key performance indicators). But unfortunately they often destroy people in the process.”
Are Landgraf and Olsen right? Is this simply the way of the corporate world?"

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Want to Drive the Bottom Line? It Takes Getting People Processes Right 
by Derek Irvine
Originally Published: September 28th, 2012

Photo by"I’ve written fairly often on research showing the connection between employee engagement or employee enablement and the bottom line.

Thanks to a post on, I now know about research making the connection between people processes of all kinds and the bottom line impact.

The Boston Consulting Group and the World Federation of People Management Associations published “From Capability to Profitability: Realizing the Value of People Management” in July. Here are some key take-aways:

Bottom line impact from getting people processes right
Companies that are highly capable in 22 key HR topics consistently enjoyed better economic performance than those less capable. In several topics, this correlation was striking – up to 3.5 times the revenue growth and as much as 2.1 times the average profit margin. The high performers differentiated themselves dramatically in three of the most important topics: leadership development, talent management, and performance management and rewards… And unlike their less-successful peers, they clearly define performance norms and standards and adopt them enterprisewide.”
Leadership differentiators
Linking performance and expectations to your core values makes better leaders. And those better leaders are promoted into positions of leadership based on how well they live the values. Doing so makes your company more profitable.
"[High performing companies] are 1.5 times more likely to have in place a leadership model that describes expected contributions and behavior that is grounded in company values. Such models go beyond clich├ęs, offering actionable guidelines that inspire leaders – and that leaders aspire to – daily. Their leadership model guides talent selection and promotion decisions – 1.7 times as often as low-performing companies.”
Performance management differentiators
People clearly understand what is expected of them, daily. And these are standard across the globe for one-company focus on acceptable behaviors and outcomes.
"High-performing companies understand the importance of a well-constructed, balanced performance-management system in motivating and developing employees… They have clear norms that drive performance – 2.6 times as often as low-performing companies. Employees understand clearly what constitutes superior performance and, just as clearly, what is unacceptable… High-performing companies have global performance management standards in place 2.2 times as often as low-performing ones.”
Recognize “How,” not just “What”
This is a central best practice for truly strategic, social employee recognition based on core values. It doesn’t matter what you accomplish if you do so in a way that violates core values.
"In all the activities we studied, high performing companies reward behavior, not just results, to a greater degree than low-performing companies.”
Where would you score on “people practices?”  Are you driving as much value to the bottom line as you should?"

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The Plight of Young, Black Men Is Worse Than You Think 
by Peter Coy
Originally Published: September 28th, 2012

Inmates at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York"The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any wealthy nation, with about 2.3 million people behind bars at any given moment. (That’s 730 out of 100,000, vs. just 154 for England and Wales.) There are more people in U.S. prisons than are in the country’s active-duty military. That much is well known. What’s less known is that people who are incarcerated are excluded from most surveys by U.S. statistical agencies. Since young, black men are disproportionately likely to be in jail or prison, the exclusion of penal institutions from the statistics makes the jobs situation of young, black men look better than it really is.

That’s the point of a new book, Invisible Men: Mass Incarceration and the Myth of Black Progress, by Becky Pettit, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington. Pettit spoke on Thursday in a telephone press conference.

On the day Barack Obama was inaugurated in 2009, Pettit said, “there was hope that perhaps the U.S. was becoming a post-racial society.” But it wasn’t true then, and it’s not true now. The gap between blacks and whites remains wide in employment, income, wealth, and health. And as Bloomberg’s David J. Lynch reported earlier this month: “The nation’s first African-American president hasn’t done much for African-Americans.

The unemployment rate and the employment-to-population ratio reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics are based on a survey of households—people “who are not inmates of institutions (for example, penal and mental facilities and homes for the aged) and who are not on active duty in the Armed Forces.”

The reported figures are bad enough. The employment/population ratio for black males aged 16-24 was 33 percent in August, vs. 52 percent for white males of the same age group. But the black number is skewed upward by the exclusion of jail and prison inmates. The white number is also skewed upward, but less so because a smaller share of young white males are incarcerated.

“We’ve developed a distorted idea” of how young, black men are faring, Pettit told reporters on the call, which was hosted by the book’s publisher, the Russell Sage Foundation. The BLS methodology didn’t begin to distort the statistics until the mid-1970s, when the incarceration boom began.

I asked Pettit how this problem can be solved. The first thing she recommended was doing more to help young, black men get an education, since there is a strong link between failure in school and a life of crime and imprisonment.

A further idea is to reduce the penalties for nonviolent drug crimes, recommended another academic on the call, Ernest Drucker, who is a scholar in residence and senior research associate at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and adjunct professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Imprisoning people for drug offenses can damage their ability to earn a living for the rest of their lives, dooming them to a life of poverty and recidivism, said Drucker, author of A Plague of Prisons.

Inimai Chettiar, the third speaker on the conference call, would go a step further and decriminalize acts like “turnstile jumping”—i.e., getting into the subway system without paying. Chettiar is director of the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

The popular “broken windows” theory of policing says that cracking down hard on minor crimes creates an atmosphere of law and order that helps prevent more serious crimes like robbery, rape, and murder. So Chettiar and others are fighting an uphill battle with their decriminalization argument.

There’s no question, though, that the plight of young, black men is even worse than the statistics generally show."

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Boys' Clubhouse: Why Women Should Write About Sports
Originally Published: September 28th, 2012

Women sports journalists"Being a woman who writes about sports puts me in some elite company: Just 10 percent of all sports columnists last year were women, according to the latest report from the Women's Media Center. And while I'm honored to count myself part of that talented tenth, it's long past time to fix this extreme imbalance.

Of course, the disparity is not limited to sports journalism—though women make up 73 percent of journalism and communications graduates, they represent just 22 percent of radio journalists, 40.5 percent of newspaper employees, and 21 percent of Sunday political show commentators. But even amid all the terrible news about whose voices are being heard, the statistics on sportswriters stand out.

And in fact, the problem posed by a lack of women sports journalists is fundamentally different from the oft-cited reason the media at large needs gender diversity. We generally assume that we need women journalists because they can do a better job of writing about half of the human population. And while it’s certainly crucial that we staff women to tell women’s stories, the rationale is not all that applicable in big-time athletics, which are played and coached exclusively by men. (The lack of coverage for women's sports is important too, but they remain a niche activity compared to mens' pro and Division I college competition.) In other words, the sports world doesn't need women to write about women; it needs women to write about men.

For decades, men on the field and in the newsroom have effectively derailed this discussion. Too often, the role of women in sports journalism is reduced to the tired debate over whether women should be in pro locker rooms. This has not been a salient issue since 1979, when a federal judge mandated equal access in the workplace, yet columnists and commentators see fit to beat that dead horse once a year or so. A quick Google search shows that not a single sportswriter has weighed in on the sports angle of the Women's Media Center report.

That oversight reveals a broader problem with modern sports journalism: Its writers are frequently afraid of or simply uninterested in tackling the major societal issues posed by a multi-billion-dollar industry made up of celebrity male athletes and ultra-rich male businessmen. Sports reporters were wholly unprepared to report on the child rape scandal at Penn State, which led to a press conference in which the first question posed by a journalist centered on the football team's upcoming game. The debate over the NBA lockout failed to capture the paternalism employed by commissioner David Stern in the negotiations. Most recently, the biggest feel-good sports story in recent memory, Jeremy Lin's surprising dominance of professional basketball, has been overshadowed by racism from pro sports commentators.

Women are by no means inherently better suited to think critically than their male counterparts. But the boys’ club nature of the field contributes to some serious blind spots in its coverage. A diverse pack of reporters is necessary to cover all the bases, and to hold the sports world—and one another—accountable. The biggest sports story of 2011—the Penn State scandal—was broken not by one of the football team's many dedicated sportswriters, but rather by a 24-year-old crime reporter for a small local newspaper. Sara Ganim had no relationships with the coaches and athletic department officials who allowed Jerry Sandusky to continue raping children unchecked, and that outside perspective may have been key in pursuing a story that devastated the team and its fan base.

The popular narrative around watching—and by extension, covering—sports involves broing down with the guys and seizing the opportunity to "fart, burp, drink, eat gross food, bust balls and say inappropriate things” away from women, according to Bill Simmons's treatise on why women shouldn't play fantasy football. Including women in fantasy leagues, he concluded, would turn men into "chicks.”

Sexist arguments like that one beg for a female perspective, but the boys’ club mentality goes deeper than a simple gender divide. Sports coverage is one of few forms of journalism in which reporters and columnists are assumed to be fans. Because fewer women than men are avid sports fans (about a third of regular football viewers are female, according to Nielsen data), editors have a convenient excuse not to hire women. But there are plenty of smart women writers who would jump at the chance to write about the issues raised by sports even if they don't play fantasy. Journalists hired to write about local politics or education aren't assumed to be experts in zoning law or teaching theory; they learn the beat as they go. In fact, outsiders could lend a much-needed critical eye to the extraordinarily influential cultural phenomenon of sports. The only thing stopping them is the fact that those jobs don't exist.

It’s time for sports editors to look outside their regular lineups. Go out and recruit smart women journalists, even if they haven't been obsessing over stats since they were 5. Offer them the chance to cover not just the action on the field, but the ramifications off it. Show them their perspective is valued, not as a token, but as a required part of the conversation. Promote them within your own organization and to other powerful people in the business. The stakes are too high for sports journalism to be content to cover the burps."

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Rugby's Ben Cohen launches magazine to battle bullying and homophobia in sports
by Greg Hernandez
Originally Published: September 28th, 2012

"Since retiring from professional rugby last year, Ben Cohen has dedicated himself to combating bullying and homophobia in sports.

In November, he will unveil the first issue of a StandUp Magazine on which he appears on the cover. The quarterly publication is from Cohen's magazine of the same name.

The magazine, which carries the tagline 'True Champions Stand Up,' will feature the personal stories of athletes and focus on such things as character, fairness and inclusion. Among the articles in the debut issue are on the National Hockey League taking the lead in the fight against homophobia and whether the National Football League is ready for an openly gay player.

'We stand up against bullying regardless of to whom it happens,' the foundation states on its website. 'Because lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are often targeted by bullies, we give particular attention to this community. We include removing homophobia from sports as central to our mission.'

Cohen will host a kickoff party for the magazine on 14 November at W Midtown Hotel in New York City."

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How Women Lead: It’s All About Creating a Culture of Collaboration 
by Sharon Hadary and Laura Henderson
Originally Published: September 28th, 2012

Howwomenlead"When it comes to team building, women have a terrific advantage.

Women’s leadership styles are collaborative, inclusive, and consultative. They gain commitment by enrolling their team members in achieving a common vision, actively soliciting and listening to employees’ ideas, and creating a culture focused on ethical behavior, quality, and concern for the individual.

Women leaders recognize that people want to be intellectually stimulated and energized by their environment, to know they are making a valuable contribution, and to be recognized for their performance.

Not command, but collaboration

The leader’s job is to get everyone enrolled in her vision so that it becomes a shared driving force. Every team member has to be committed to the overall organizational goals rather than to departmental or individual group goals.

Choose team members who bring purpose, passion, and commitment to the team’s endeavors. Team members who can easily grasp and take ownership of the team’s purpose, desired measurable outcomes, urgency, and relevance to the com- pany’s strategic goals will contribute at a higher level.

You have to communicate the vision and shared goals time and time again, in multiple ways. Use every communications channel available — meetings, written communications, and voice and video messages. Open up channels of communication using social media techniques to interact with groups within your organization, with individuals, and with the entire team.

Command has given way to collaboration in every modern organization. Judy Robinson says outsiders have the perception that since there is a clear chain of command in the Army, you can just give orders and people will obey you.

Explaining why your goals are important

While you may get action by giving orders, you are getting obedience, not a sense of achieving goals that make a difference. “If that’s how you try to lead, you don’t get anybody anywhere,” says Judy Robinson. “You need to explain to your team why the goal is important. You have to make it a team effort and value what everyone does.”

Shared values are a high priority for a team working under time and resource constraints on important issues. Make sure your team members share the values inherent in the project’s purpose. As the leader, it is your job to tie together the purpose, values, and importance to the company and the client. Shared values add to the team’s cohesion.

Instilling passion to achieve the organization’s mission in your team members generates energy and commitment. “Having shared vision and goals really helps create a culture of success,” says Maria Coyne. “Part of a culture of success is that you all want to achieve the mission, and working together, you have fun in the process. It doesn’t imply that you are just working insane hours — although that happens sometimes — but that you are balanced and having fun and focusing on the right things. Success creates success.”

Inspire and demand results

As the leader, you provide both inspiration and structure. The Committee of 200 women characterized their leadership styles as energetic, inspiring, and results-oriented. “I have a preference for creating teams that want to grow together and have fun building value for all of our constituents,” comments one woman.

One of the most important ways to engage people in their work is to make the work meaningful to them. Take the time to ensure that your team members understand the importance of the work they are doing, how it will be used, and how it will contribute to the success of the company and the client. Teams that believe their work will make a difference are more enthusiastic about their work and work harder to achieve the goal.

Set high standards and ambitious goals, and expect results. Establish a structure of performance evaluations and program reviews as a means of both communicating expectations and recognizing accomplishments. Demand the best from your team, and when people are successful, recognize and reward them.

“While building the business, I focused on creating a winning culture and a passion for success in the people who worked with me. It was important we were all on the same page, and all prepared and ever ready as a team to accomplish our shared objective,” says Beverly Holmes.

Recognizing – and rewarding – success

“The first year’s success generated enthusiasm for the next year’s success. Everyone took pleasure in and enjoyed the energy that being part of a winning team provided. I made every effort to ensure that those who contributed the most to the team’s success were recognized and compensated for their contributions. Making sure they knew they were appreciated was a necessary and rewarding business strategy.”

Recognize and reward success. When your team has done a good job, let them know. Take the time to celebrate the team’s progress and success and to recognize individual performance.

In addition to performance evaluations and salary increases when appropriate, take advantage of the company’s options for recognition. People love unexpected recognition, even if it is small. A gift certificate to a restaurant or tickets to a ball game or a theater performance let employees know you recognize and appreciate their contributions.
Anne Stevens, Chairman, CEO, and Principal at SA IT Services, characterizes her leadership style as “push, push, hug.” She says that you have to set goals that stretch people and be explicit about your expectations. But “you can’t push without a hug,” says Anne. There has to be a balance. If you do either one without the other, you will be ineffective. “It’s setting objectives, and then at the end of the day, recognizing the humanity in all of us.”

Show individuals they are valued

In addition to believing that the organizational vision is worth pursuing, employees must perceive that in achieving the organization’s goals, they also will be successful in achieving their own personal and professional goals. Take the time to understand what success means to your team members and how you can help them achieve it.

Professionally, they may want to gain experience, develop new competencies, and advance in the business. Personally, they may want to have a strong family life and have the resources to fulfill a lifelong dream of organizing a group bicycle tour across Europe.

Sometimes learning about employees’ personal passions and experience may open up new ways they can contribute to the organization. The same organizational skills that the employee needs to organize a tour may be skills she can apply to a business project. Her knowledge of the countries to be included in her dream tour may be valuable when doing busi- ness internationally. Find ways to offer employees experiences and opportunities that contribute to their achieving their professional and personal goals as well as to the organization’s success.

The most successful leaders help people recognize their indi- vidual strengths. They give them opportunities to use those strengths and build new ones. Employees want to feel they are making progress doing work that is meaningful both to them and to the organization.
Reinforce employees’ confidence in their skills by putting them in situations where they can perform successfully and then recognizing."

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Poor innovation dims Canada's competitiveness and prosperity 
Originally Published: September 28th, 2012

Canadian HR Reporter"Canada's sliding global competitiveness ranking is due to its weak innovation performance, according to a Conference Board of Canada analysis of the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index 2012-13.

Overall, Canada's ranking declined to 14th place in 2012 — from 12th place in 2011 and 10th place in 2010. But in the sub-area of innovation and business sophistication factors, Canada fell six places from 15th to 21st — no other top-ranked country dropped as much, said the Conference Board.

Canada needs to take advantage of its basic strengths, leverage its abundance of natural resources and skilled workers, and produce value-added products and services for domestic and international markets, according to Who Dimmed the Lights? Canada's Declining Global Competitiveness Ranking.

"Canada's declining overall ranking is indicative of the country's competitiveness malaise," said Douglas Watt, director of organizational effectiveness and learning at the Conference Board of Canada. "This decline raises concerns about the country's ability to leverage its relatively strong socio-economic footings for competitive advantage. Some of our top competitors are increasing their competitiveness, so Canada must improve just to keep pace. If we don't do something, Canada's future prosperity is in jeopardy.

"Fourteenth place out of 144 countries is good — but 'good' really isn't good enough anymore. Future national competitiveness — the underpinning of social and economic prosperity — requires that our competitive advantage shift to the production of more value-added goods and services. The key is to pursue new opportunities and enter new markets in order to move away from being excavators of minerals, hewers of wood, movers of bitumen and wardens of water."

The Global Competitiveness Index has three sub-indexes that look at the core elements of a country's competitiveness:

•Basic requirements (such as institutions, infrastructure and macroeconomic environment): Canada ranked 14th, a decline of one position.

•Efficiency enhancers (such as higher education and training, labour market efficiencies, technological readiness, market size): Canada ranked sixth.

•Innovation and business sophistication factors (such as the nature of competitive advantage, capacity to innovate): Canada fell from 15th to 21st.

Canada has strong fundamentals when it comes to supporting productivity, business performance and competitiveness, said the Conference Board, with a healthy population, solid education and institutions and infrastructure that, for the most part, are a boon to the country's economic strengths and competitive potential.

“However, Canada's year-over-year decline (from 11th in 2011 to 22nd in 2012) was particularly significant in indicators of innovation performance — such as university-industry collaboration in R&D, quality of scientific research institutions, capacity for innovation, company spending on R&D, and government procurement of advanced technology products,” said the report.

Switzerland, Singapore, and Finland are the top three countries in the World Economic Forum's 2012-2013 rankings. Each performs well across all three competitiveness sub-indexes (basic requirements, efficiency enhancers, and innovation and business sophistication)."

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Staff w. Disabilities can improve wellbeing, claims M&S HRD
by Tom Newcombe
Originally Published: September 28th, 2012

tanith"Marks and Spencer's (M&S), HR director, Tanith Dodge (pictured) claims businesses that employ disabled staff can help improve wellbeing among existing employees. Speaking yesterday at the launch in Castle Donington of a scheme for people with disabilities to support an inclusive workforce, Dodge also said she wants to help disabled people “overcome barriers that stop them finding meaningful work”. 

The M&S employability scheme for people with disabilities and health conditions called Plan A, will be used in its recruitment drive.

As part of this initiative M&S created a "buddy scheme". When someone joins the company they are assigned a buddy, who will work closely with them and mentor them. And it's this that's helping increase the motivation and wellbeing among staff, says Dodge: "In a recent survey we did, 99% of people who were a buddy felt more motivated when they came to work because they were working alongside someone and coaching them. Over 50% felt they had developed existing skills and 84% thought they had learnt fresh skills including mentoring, leading and coaching."

She added: "Because of this scheme, 98% said it made M&S a better place to work."
It was also important to Dodge that the number of disabled staff it employed wasn't controlled. She told HR magazine: "We spent a lot of time talking about how we would measure it and we decided it would not be quota-led.

"If we get 50 disabled staff then great - 500 even better."

At the launch, in M&S' logistics distribution in Castle Donington, there was also a call to encourage people with a disability to move into senior positions. Director of Employment Services at disabled employers Remploy, Beth Carruthers, told HR magazine: "I think by working closely with companies and keeping the employee engaged there should be no reason why they can't reach the highest levels and have the same opportunity as everyone else."

She added: "There have been some managers and directors who have become disabled later on in life and quickly realised they still have the skills and ability to do the job and their disability doesn't affect them."

Speaking at the launch, the minister for disabled people, Esther McVey, stated that there is a role for Government to play in helping disabled people into work: "It's a major priority of mine to get more disabled people into mainstream jobs."

She added: "Although the employment rate of disabled people has improved over the past few years, around half of them are still not in work, and it's something this Government is committed to changing."

The scheme will be used to recruit people into new roles, including: warehouse operatives, engineers, mechanics and management. Dodge thinks a disabled employee has a lot to offer: "They are some of the most motivated, dedicated, loyal and enthusiastic employees around, because they appreciate the chance they have been given."

M&S Plan A scheme is to be implemented in its recruiting for over 100 roles for disabled employees at its distribution centre in Castle Donington, due to open in early 2013."

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