Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Kenney set to fast-track foreign students for immigration
Originally Published:  October 31st, 2012

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has been focused on restructuring Canada's immigration system, with a strong emphasis on finding immigrants likely to integrate and succeed in the Canadian workforce."Immigration minister wants qualified newcomers to integrate quickly 

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has announced that he wants to admit more foreign students currently studying in Canada as permanent residents and potential citizens, though he also plans to maintain Canada's overall immigration level at the same tally that's been in place since 2007 — between 240,000 to 265,000 people.

Flanked by young foreign students from Carleton and the University of Ottawa, and fronted by a large sign that said "Faster Immigration," Kenney said Wednesday he is expanding the number of admissions under the Canadian Experience Class, which aims to recruit and retain international students who have studied and graduated in Canada as well as temporary foreign workers who speak one of Canada's official languages and already have Canadian work experience. 

Up to 10,000 permanent residents will be accepted next year in the Canada Experience Class, up from 7,000 in 2012 and 2,500 in 2009.

Last month, Kenney's department marked its 20,000th immigrant under this class, after five years in existence. Admitting up to 10,000 in a single year represents a big jump.

The minister's annual immigration plan must be tabled in Parliament each year by Nov.1. It sets overall targets for how many newcomers will be issued visas to be admitted to Canada from abroad, as well as how many students and temporary foreign workers already in Canada will be allowed to stay.

Pointing at the students behind him, Kenney said, "These are the kind of bright young people we are trying to recruit." In the past, Kenney said, these kinds of students would be told to leave the country and apply for residency which could take up to eight years.

Kenney said that immigration is a tool to address the problems of Canada's aging population and shortage of certain types of skilled workers. "But we must do a better job of selecting those who can succeed quickly, who can integrate quickly, who can find and keep good employment, who can start successful businesses and add to Canada's prosperity."

"The data tells us [what to do]," continued Kenney. "The reforms we're making are based on evidence, on research and on data that tells us that the immigrants who do better over their lifetimes in Canada are those with a higher level of language proficiency in Canada and those with Canadian degrees and diplomas."

'Under pressure to increase immigration'

Kenney said he was under pressure from some provinces and from some interest groups to increase immigration levels. He accused the NDP of wanting immigration numbers to rise to half a million newcomers a year. But, Kenney said, he was very aware of polls suggesting that Canadians view immigration less favourably than in the past, partially because, he thinks, the unemployment level of immigrants is 14 per cent.

The NDP immigration critic Jinny Sims said she was disappointed that the government was cutting back on the family reunification that allows immigrants to sponsor their parents and grandparent. "This is a government that talks about families, and the importance of families. And yet once again it has abandoned the hundreds of thousands Canadian citizens by not increasing the numbers under the family reunification class."

Kenney said that his department is actually increasing the numbers for family reunification, especially for immigrants' parents, going from 17,000 a year to 25,000 a year. But he added that Canada cannot admit what he called "unlimited numbers of seniors."

Sims also accused the government of being obsessed with temporary foreign employees, such as mining workers, and said that companies, permitted to pay temporary workers lower wages, are actively recruiting them from overseas.

Kenney said that he was disturbed at the number of temporary workers who are often in jobs that can't be filled by Canadians, which he found "bizarre." But he added this was only a "last resort" for companies, and that his government is careful not to do anything that would stall economic growth.

"We are rebuilding our economic immigration programs to get higher levels of employment, higher levels of income, more immigrants realizing their potential contributing at their skill level, rather than coming to Canada and being stuck in survival jobs and being underemployed."

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Meet Laverne Cox, groundbreaking actress and transgender activist 
by Ken Williams
Originally Published:  October 31st, 2012

Laverne Cox as Chantelle and Morgan Spector as Kenny in "Musical Chairs.""Laverne Cox is on a roll as an actress and transgender activist, and 2012 has been very good to her.

This year, Cox earned rave reviews for her supporting role of Chantelle in director Susan Seidelman’s latest film, “Musical Chairs,” playing a vivacious transgender woman who is paraplegic but refuses to let life keep her down. 

“Musical Chairs,” which opened in select cities in the spring, will be screened on Thursday, Nov. 15, at The International Film Festival of Manhattan at the Quad Cinemas. The feel-good movie is inspirational, too, showing how the competitive world of ballroom dancing has embraced the worldwide phenomenon of wheelchair ballroom dancing.

As a transgender woman, Cox says she had no difficulty playing a transgender woman, but that she had to learn how to be convincing as Chantelle, a disabled person who uses a wheelchair. Cox eats up her scenes, creating a colorful and rich character who is strong, funny, resilient, charming and upbeat despite the harsh realities of her situation. 

Cox burst into the public limelight when she appeared on VH1’s “I Want To Work For Diddy,” which won her a GLAAD Media Award. She went on to star in her own VH1 reality show, “TRANSform Me.” Since then she has guest starred on other TV shows and become an outspoken advocate for the transgender community.

SDGLN media partner Huffpost Gay Voices selected Cox as its LGBT History Month Icon Of The Day on Friday, Oct. 26. Cox is also a frequent blogger on Huffpost.

Cox speaks exclusively with San Diego Gay & Lesbian News about her work in “Musical Chairs,” her blossoming career, her transgender activism and much more.

SDGLN: Laverne, did you have to audition for the part of Chantelle in “Musical Chairs,” or was the character written specifically for you? 

Laverne: I had to audition. I was at the Sundance Film Festival a few days before my call back. This was 2011 when they had that big snowstorm in January. I got stranded in Chicago and there were no flights to New York City the day of my call back. I had to fly to Baltimore and take a train to New York. My luggage, of course, got lost. I made it there 15 minutes before the director Susan Seidelman was leaving for the day but I got the part. So it was all worth it.

SDGLN: What was it like playing a voluptuous transgender woman who was also paraplegic? How did you prepare for such a role, and make it believable? 

Laverne: Voluptuous? Why thank you. The script didn’t say voluptuous. I think that’s my own unique quality that I brought to the role. But with the wheelchair element, I got really lucky. We had about four weeks of rehearsal to learn to ballroom dance in wheelchairs. Those rehearsals and getting to spend time with a few of the disabled actors in the film mainly Auti Angel and going out into the streets of New York City in a wheelchair were immensely helpful for me to understand what life might be like for me if I didn’t have the use of my legs. It was a very emotional process. I developed a new respect and admiration for the disabled people I got to meet on this journey.

SDGLN: Did you have any input into creating your character? Did director Susan Seidelman allow you much freedom as an actress? 

Laverne: Building a character is always a collaboration between my director and me. So I always value that guidance. But Susan definitely trusted my impulses about the character and let me play. 

SDGLN: What attracted you to this role? 

Laverne: Chantelle is just a lot of fun. She’s black, trans and disabled but she doesn’t allow herself to be defined by those things. She has a great sense of humor about her circumstances. And she always insists on being sexy. I also grew up studying dance, mostly classical ballet. So the dance element felt like a great fit for me and ballroom dancing in a wheelchair was a great challenge that I was very excited about.

SDGLN: You made history in 2008 when you became the first African-American transgender woman to appear on reality TV, and accepted the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Reality Program for “I Want to Work for Diddy.” How did that experience transform your life? 

Laverne: That was quite a year for me. That whole experience made me believe that anything is possible. A black trans woman from Mobile, Alabama, a single mother and a working class background could be on a reality show on VH1 nonetheless and be professional, fun, have dignity and be respected. Folks still remember me and recognize me on the street from that show and still say I should have won. It’s mostly black women. That feels truly amazing.

SDGLN: You also produced and starred in your own reality show, “TRANSform Me,” on VH1. What was the most important thing you learned from that series? 

Laverne: Gosh I learned so much. That show was the first time I starred in my own show. A black trans woman starring in her own show on VH1. That’s crazy, when I think about it in retrospect. I learned how I respond to a tremendous amount of pressure and that I really need to take care of myself physically and emotionally in high pressure situations. I was majorly bullied as a kid. I always had this fantasy that one day I will be on TV and successful, and I will show all those bullies and all that pain would be wiped away. Starring in my own TV show -- the pain of my childhood didn’t melt away. I learned that career success doesn’t heal childhood trauma. That work has to be done separately.

SDGLN: You have become a highly visible activist for the transgender community. What is your mission and goals? 

Laverne: I want to see more trans folks in the media represented in authentic ways. It is my hope that diverse, authentic representations of trans identities in the media will encourage everyone whether they are trans or not to define what it means to be a man, woman or neither on their own terms.

SDGLN: When and how old were you when you began to identify as transgender, and what was the reaction of your family and friends? 

Laverne: I feel like it was late for me, actually, embracing the label transsexual. I was in college. I always felt like a girl but I had internalized so much transphobia. I had to move to New York City and meet trans folks to get over my preconceptions about trans people and to accept that that was me. I was always very feminine growing up. And in high school, I started wearing makeup and was very androgynous for years. So anyone who would have a problem with gender nonconformity wouldn’t have been my friend anyway. So my friends were like, yeah, that makes sense. My family has been the same way. My mom freaked out about the medical part of it, hormone replacement therapy and surgeries. But she’s my mom. She’s concerned about my health. My brother is so educated about trans issues and has many trans friends. So he’s super cool. I have been very lucky.

SDGLN: Mitt Romney or Barack Obama? And what could the election results mean for transgender Americans? 

Laverne: Obama, hello! Obama has been the most pro trans president ever. He has appointed trans folks to various positions. His administration changed surgical requirements for changing gender markers on passports. Huge for trans folks traveling internationally. On his watch earlier this year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that trans folks are protected under title VII, which bans job discrimination based on sex. This is just to name a few advances for trans folks during his term. I hear there are also many trans folks working at the White House. Forward.

SDGLN: What’s next on the horizon for you?
Laverne: I have a recurring role on a new original series for Netflix called “Orange is the New Black.” It’s created by Jenji Kohan who created “Weeds.” I just finished the third episode which was directed by Jodie Foster. It should be out on Netflix in the spring.
SDGLN: Single or taken? 

Laverne: Completely single, dating though and hopeful.

SDGLN: What’s playing on your MP3 player? 

Laverne: Christina Aguilera’s “Your Body” and Bruno Mars “Grenade” the acoustic version. I love his voice. 

SDGLN: If you could have the ultimate dinner party and invite three guests (living or dead), who would be there and why? 

Laverne: Leontyne Price, Eartha Kitt and James Baldwin would be the guests. Leontyne Price is my ultimate idol. She changed the opera world through the power of her art. Eartha Kitt, another idol. She was political and sexy, and she and I seem to have similar sort of tragic love lives. James Baldwin. Baldwin’s life and work I find endlessly fascinating. These are all black folks who made a space for themselves through their art at a time when there weren’t spaces really carved out for black artists. They made their own spaces to thrive creatively. This is what I hope to do with my work."

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How women scientists fare in the Arab world 
by Rana Dajani
Originally Published:  October 31st, 2012

"I will never forget a rich Arab businessman I met in New York at the Clinton Global Initiative. He had an American lady in charge of his non-governmental organization. She was a great woman dedicated to her work, who would stay until midnight doing her job. He said that women in the Arab world will never succeed until they are ready to stay at work until midnight like the American woman. He complained that Arab women want to go home at five o’clock to look after their families. I was upset. I told him that it should be their choice how long they want to work; and if they have priorities such as family and want to leave at five, then this should be respected. It is men like him, and in some cases women, who undermine who we are.

The issues faced by women in science are beginning to receive more attention. On this page last week, Athene Donald highlighted one initiative to tackle gender bias (A. Donald Nature 490, 447; 2012). I would like to offer a perspective from the Islamic world.

Despite the impression given by extremists, Islam gives women the right to education. More than four in ten women who go to university in Jordan go into science, engineering or medicine. Women outnumber men on courses in natural science, pharmacology and agriculture; numbers are equal in maths and computer science; and one in three engineering students in Jordan is a woman.

Some of the problems faced by women scientists in the Middle East are the same as those faced by women around the world. Our productivity, for instance, is measured on a male scale. The years we spend taking care of children are not calculated as part of the gross domestic product of a country. What is more important — to build physical things or to nurture a human being?

As an example of this male scale, L’Oréal and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization are running a competition to award fellowships to Arab women scientists — but you have to be under 40 to enter. This is biased, and based on metrics from a male-dominated world, in which if a man doesn’t make it by 40 he is a failure.

The feminist movement was a good thing, but it was too focused on equality with men and failed to enable us to respect ourselves as women and to be proud of who we are.

Another common challenge to all women scientists is lack of mentoring and networking. Most women scientists everywhere have two jobs — work and home — and most will not give up home for work. They will always be worried about the children, want to be with them, and feel that the father’s presence won’t compensate for their own absence. So they don’t take time after work to have a coffee with their colleagues.

Yet this informal environment is where scientists learn what is going on; where they lobby, network, mentor and get mentored. Women don’t have the time. Networking is an extra effort. Men mentor each other and spend time together after work, fostering the men’s club. Women rush home to take care of children, not because they have to but because they want to.

This is a major obstacle for women scientists in terms of opportunities, learning and support. That is why mentoring projects — something we lack in the Arab world — are important. But social media allow mentoring online, and some women scientists now plan to start an online mentoring scheme for women scientists in Jordan, in collaboration with the country’s first woman university president, Rowaida Maaitah.

Women also have challenges specific to the Middle East. These may not be so obvious because they are subtle, and must be identified, studied and solved by Arab women themselves. For instance, the September study about a bias among US scientists against women, mentioned by Donald last week (C. A. Moss-Racusin et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA; 2012), would not necessarily translate to the Arab Muslim world, where the prevailing attitude among both men and women is that women work hard and are more dependable than men. One must not fall into the trap of transferring solutions from one culture to another.

I know of an American researcher who went to Bulgaria to help women fight for their rights. She went assuming that they would want to demand to work. But Bulgarian women who had lived under Communism wanted the exact opposite. They wanted the freedom to stay at home if they chose.

A much-misunderstood issue is the covering of the hair and sometimes the face by Muslim women. In the West, this is often considered a sign of oppression. Yet more than half the female students and academics in the Arab world choose to cover their hair for religious reasons, compared with fewer than 10% 20 years ago. These young women are educated, affluent and independent. I have a graduate student who covers her face who told me that she believed she would win a Nobel prize. This is not oppression.

I see the Arab spring as an opportunity for women to learn about their rights and to advocate for them — to distinguish between what is tradition and what is religion. This would weed out extremists who, through ignorance, distort the image of Islam. And it would weed out opportunists who want to misrepresent Muslim women. Throughout the Islamic civilization that flourished in the Middle Ages there were more than 8,000 women scholars. 

There are many more on the way today."

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Do Anti-Marriage Equality Ads Just Teach Our Children to Bully? 
by Paul B. Tripp
Originally Published:  October 31st, 2012

gay-voices"The first time I remember contemplating suicide I was 9 years old. An awkward pre-teen raised in a small Montana town with a rough home life and an even rougher time at school -- I was a target of bullying in every aspect of my life. In the 1970s, teachers didn't understand the effects of bullying and the scars my classmate's words carved into my mental psyche as they called me a wide range of anti-gay slurs. There wasn't a day that went by I didn't wish I could be folded up and put away like my failing math homework. Columbine wasn't a part of our collective psyche yet, although the bullying I experienced often times pushed me towards thoughts of unforgiving pain. 

When I see anti-gay television ads that try to claim that marriage equality impacts educational policy, it makes my heart sink. My own experience being bullied in school and the growing number of stories of bullying and suicide that we are hearing coming out of our high schools tells me we still have a long way to go until we teach our students that all people should be treated equally. And votes on marriage equality is not going to have any impact on what we teach our children in schools.

Children are bullied because they appear different. Children are harassed because they do not appear to fit in. Children experience harassment and abuse from their peers because of societal norms, taught at home, that do not embrace inclusiveness. And schools, largely unequipped to handle bulling, stand idly by. A rather large statement, I know, but children do not have the intellect or the ability to converse about inclusion, and so they attempt to understand through exclusion -- which typically manifests itself through bullying and harassment. 

If we as a society continue to vote against LGBT people, based on false and fear mongering messaging, then the message we are sending our children is one of exclusion -- or the right to bully.

My parents are grateful I didn't kill myself while in school. The truth is that they didn't know how close I came. Six out of ten teenagers, in 2011, witness bullying at least once a day in school. Those who are bullied are two to nine times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims. When you add those numbers together, there are a lot of children in our school systems who are isolated and alone and hurting. There are 160,000 children who stay home from school -- every day -- because of fear of bullying. 

As a retired Naval Officer with a son in high school I know I would move heaven and earth to ensure my son wouldn't have to endure the bullying I went through. If that means that he receives education on how to respect and appreciate the rich diversity of people within our country, then I will put my personal agenda aside so that he can be a better person than I ever hoped. After all, isn't that what we want for our children -- for them to have a better life than us? Education is the only key we have to offer our kids -- and in the process, we just might save someone who is being bullied.

The tools that didn't exist in the 1970s are now available through awareness programs like Spirit Day, as well as organizations like GLAAD, The Trevor Project, GLSEN, and through stories -- like mine. 

Take a stand towards the affirmative. Be a better parent than your own parents, and in turn, your child will become a better parent than you. Inclusion: It's the only way to stop bullying and end the harassment. If we teach our youth anything, we should be teaching them to respect and care for all people, regardless of how different they might be from ourselves. Then, we can move forward together."

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Plan now for effective disaster relief: advocates for BC residents with disabilities
by Tom Sandborn
Originally Published:  October 31st, 2012

The Tyee"With earthquakes shaking B.C.'s north coast and news from the east coast storm catastrophe pouring in this week, an advocacy group for B.C. residents living with disabilities is calling for improved planning for people with mobility issues or disabilities in the case of natural disasters. 

"Emergency preparedness for individuals and communities that includes the needs of people with disabilities is critical," said Karen Martin of the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities (BCCPD).

She said the BCCPD has worked for years to help ensure that community organizations, businesses and people with disabilities are prepared for all types of emergency events. The group is concerned that many communities in B.C. are not adequately prepared for ensuring that people with disabilities and seniors are safe in emergency events. 

When there are emergency events in other areas, there is a relatively brief spurt of interest which declines fairly quickly, she said.

In a telephone interview, Martin said that her group offers half and full day workshops in emergency planning and preparedness for individuals living with disabilities, businesses, community groups and long-term care homes.

"So far, although we have been in contact with the provincial government and many municipalities on this matter, progress has been slow," she said. "Disabled people are one of the groups hardest hit in a disaster, and much more needs to be done to prepare.”

The BCCPD urges individuals whose disabilities leave them more vulnerable to natural disasters to build up a personal network of friends, neighbors and caregivers to support them if a disaster strikes, and to prepare their homes so that an earthquake doesn't bring down appliances, shelves and furniture in ways that block their ability to get out of the house. 

On a larger institutional scale, Martin said, emergency planning in B.C. has not yet considered how to proceed if it becomes necessary to evacuate people from hospitals and long-term care facilities."

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Whitewashing Canada's National Heroes 
by  Rachel Décoste
Originally Published:  October 31st, 2012

Rachel Décoste"I am fortunate enough to be a member of U.S. President Barack Obama's re-election team in a swing state this election season. Four years ago, I canvassed by telephone and in-person over multiple months. This election cycle, I have a prolonged and increased role in Michigan, which has given me the opportunity to visit and familiarize myself with the Great Lake State.

The Detroit metropolitan area boasts a surprising number of world-class attractions and museums. Michigan has named main arteries for national heroes Berry Gordy (founder of Motown Record Company), Rosa Parks (the woman who spearheaded the civil rights movement when she refused to give up her seat in a segregated bus in Alabama 1955), and Elijah McCoy (engineer and inventor of the revolutionary lubrication device which allowed trains to make continuous journeys in the 1800s). So transforming was his 19th century invention that McCoy, who begat the expression "the real McCoy", was posthumously bestowed the honour of having a U.S. federal building named after him this earlier this year.
The Detroit area is also home to the National Arab American museum to showcase the varied contributions of well-known Americans who's Arab heritage is often unknown (including Apple genius Steve Jobs).

Despite their humble beginnings, all of these legends, masters of their domain, contributed to making America what it is today.

While America's sordid history includes some particularly ugly episodes of civil war, a long-standing adherence to slavery, segregation and internment of its ethnic residents, to name a few, they seem quite comfortable celebrating the full spectrum of the American experience, warts and all.

Thinking of home, it dawned on me that there wasn't any grand boulevard named after Canada's Rosa Parks, Viola Desmond. The courageous African-Canadian woman had refused to give up her seat in a segregated theatre of New Glasgow, N.S. a decade before the feted Rosa Parks. Her subsequent arrest, her incarceration and her legacy remain buried while Parks' statues have multiplied across the USA, far beyond her home state.
By the same token, the inventor Elijah McCoy was a Black Canadian born in Ontario. His one-time Detroit home is adorned by a commemorative plaque, while there is no grand recognition of his achievements in the country of his birth. The last time our federal government saluted a scientist by placing a plaque before a federal building, it was to honour a leading eugenics advocate

The Japanese-Canadian team which broke the colour barrier in B.C. baseball would have been properly saluted with a permanent public structure by now, had their courage been manifested on American soil. This month, the City of Montreal found a street and a park to name after American Gary Carter. Strangely, the man who put Montreal on the baseball map before braking the baseball colour barrier, Montreal Royals' marquee player and league MVP Jackie Robinson had a plaque inaugurated in front of his Montreal home in 2011 -- not by Canadian authorities but by the U.S. government ever eager to salute transformative figures of all shapes and colours. 

For their courage, it is curious that the Asahi Baseball Team have not been bestowed their due while there is seemingly an abiding appetite to commemorate Canadians of "neutral ethnicity"

In contrast, top American dignitaries descended on Washington D.C. in 2009 to unveil the bust of Sojourner Truth, the first African American woman to have a place among the statues in the U.S. Capitol. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted, "We're here because of barriers she challenged and fought to tear down."

Even the new Museum of History is off to an achromatic start. Jocelyn Formsma, a Cree woman, expressed disappointment, stating "[...] there's such a fuller, more diverse history of Canada that could be represented [...]". The archival whitewash persists. 

For all the racial adversity the Unites States have faced, they still elected a minority to head a major party and their country. When it comes to honouring their heroes, American cynosure comes in all colours. Canada, which professes allegiance to the multicultural mosaic paradox, could stand to learn a thing or two from this particular slice of Americana which fosters a more inclusive, more perfect Union."

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Choosing the Right Incentives For Your Corporate Culture 
by Jennifer Vecchi
Originally Published:  October 31st, 2012

© freehandz -"The air is getting cooler and storefronts are beginning to display Thanksgiving and Christmas decor … which means another year is almost over. The time has come to reflect on what worked for your company in 2012, and more importantly, what did not.

By now, organizations are scouring their sales figures and analyzing their low revenue streams while pushing for those last-minute deals to go through. It’s no surprise that in the midst of all this, most companies don’t take the time to look at how their sales incentives or employee recognition programs may have impacted company morale or their bottom line.

Why is this important? Ultimately, it’s your human resources that make your company operate. So if your recognition program (or lack of one) is negatively affecting your workforce’s outlook on the company, productivity levels are guaranteed to drop, thus impacting your bottom line.

Is your recognition program still working?

Moreover, if your turnover rate is high, it’s costing your organization a lot of money and time to replace the people you lost – money and time that could be better spent investing in resources such as technology or business development.

If your recognition program is working, congratulations on motivating your workforce! It’s still important not to rest on your laurels and assume that it’s perfect.

Often, clients tell me that they’ve been doing the same program for years and everyone loves it. Truth be told, employees will rarely tell you that they don’t like a recognition program unless it impacts their livelihood. If your program resembles a “thank you, here’s a little something” approach, they’ve likely written it off and a small token of appreciation but not necessarily something that’s making them work harder for you.

My point: there are always ways to improve or refresh your rewards program without necessarily costing you more. A new approach to the way you communicate it or a more flexible variety of reward options can be all you need to give your initiative a face-lift and renew their commitment to the organization.

Remembering the “silent stars” in your organization

A recognition program can have negative results if it’s executed wrong or unfairly, so don’t assume everyone feels appreciated just because you have a program. It’s possible that you’ve got a pool of talent that has gone unnoticed because they don’t make a fuss over their accomplishments.

Be sure to remember your “silent stars” who work hard but don’t seek fame or glory. That said, be careful about how you reward those silent stars because if they don’t normally seek recognition on their own, they may have negative feelings towards recognition in general and feel uncomfortable with public displays of praise. In this case, a low-key or private reward may be your better avenue.

If you notice a slight increase in productivity only during the incentives program, and then a drop off once the program ends, there could be other underlying issues such as lack of communication or an issue with engagement. If your employees don’t seem to care at all about the program, it could be that your program is not a good match to your corporate culture.

Knowing your corporate culture will help you motivate your workforce, whether it’s comprised of Baby Boomers who still prefer more traditional methods or tech-savvy Millennials, or a combination of both. If you haven’t taken the pulse of your corporate culture in a while, you might need to take another look.

While your Baby Boomers may be looking for that end-of-year bonus with a personalized note to cover a year’s worth of performance, your Millennials are likely expecting to see instant recognition on a social media-based site each time they outperform as well as a variety of redemption options that don’t necessarily include cash.

Good morale takes year-round work

If you have a mixture of demographics, it doesn’t mean you have to develop more than one incentives and rewards program. That would get very tedious and confusing for most companies! It’s more likely you’ll operate one program that’s very flexible and manage it accordingly to your demographics. Combining a mix of electronic and physical communication methods and a variety of reward options are two of your main objectives.
Most importantly, it’s critical to keep morale high throughout the year, rather than trying to play catch up at the holidays when everyone is already busy trying to juggle work and family commitments.

New Year’s is a time when most people begin to reflect on their life in general, so employees who are already looking to move on may not be swayed by last-minute attempts at motivation or rewards. This is especially true if your office is staffed with Millennials. They are more likely to change jobs frequently if they feel they are not getting recognized for what they contribute.

In order to keep the best employees working for you, make sure that your incentives and recognition programs are tailored and managed properly. Do they fit in with your corporate culture and are you prepared to make changes if that culture has changed? You need to be flexible and in all aspects of your business, including your incentives and rewards program, to be truly competitive.

Jennifer Vecchi is the Manager of Individual Incentives and Recognition Programs at Atlas Travel International in Milford, MA, where she is responsible for supporting her client’s recognition programs and sales contests."

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Unblocking Women's Paths to the Boardroom
by Monique Valcour
Originally Published:  October 31st, 2012

Harvard Biz Review"Earlier this month in Strasbourg, European Commission Vice President Viviane Reding proposed a new law that would enforce quotas of 40% for women's representation on European corporate boards by 2020. Why did she do it? Because experience suggests that this is the most effective way of substantially increasing the representation of women in top leadership. Many companies have embraced gender diversity initiatives, women's mentoring networks, and leadership development programs with great enthusiasm. But the continuing low level of representation of women in the highest levels of corporate leadership shows that these strategies for facilitating women's entry into managerial career paths and supporting them once there are inadequate.

Now that the EC quota initiative has been blocked, what other pathways to women's advancement should we be focusing on? Organizational solutions must focus both on the development of high-potential women themselves and on systemic and sustainable change to the organization's mindset and processes regarding gender diversity. A number of systemic issues block women's path to the top, and any comprehensive gender diversity and inclusion initiative must take steps to recognize often invisible barriers to women's advancement, to act on the system as a whole, and to promote ownership of solutions by men as well as women.

First, we need to understand what holds women back. Research has found that a number of unintended selection and performance biases disadvantage women on their pathways to top leadership. The closed networks from which board members tend to be recruited make it less likely for qualified women candidates to be identified. Women in leadership face a higher burden of performing well due to their minority status. Aware of the importance of turning in flawless performance, women take fewer risks than men and are less likely to promote themselves, with the result that they appear to lack ambition. Wary of putting women in situations where sub-optimal performance could hurt not only their own career chances but those of other women, even well-meaning superiors are less likely to give them critical developmental assignments. Superiors also often decline to offer critical international assignments to women, assuming without verification that their family demands would make expatriation impossible. While the socio-emotional support from women's mentoring networks is valued and appreciated by women, women are less likely to have powerful career sponsors who actively advocate for them when decisions about developmental assignments and promotions are made.

Progress requires action. The European Business Schools/Women on Boards initiative was launched in September of 2011 as a centerpiece of EC Vice President Reding's efforts to increase gender diversity on boards of directors. This initiative has produced the "Global Board-Ready Women" searchable database, an excellent new resource for corporations seeking candidates to appoint to their boards. The GBRW database, which will be publicly launched on 12/12/12, will be administered by the Financial Times Non-Executive Directors' Club on the LinkedIn social network. The participating European business schools are currently busy populating the searchable database with over 7500 alumnae certified as board-ready.

Within corporations, gender diversity initiatives that are added on to the same old way of doing business cannot have significant impact. Instead, the most successful initiatives are integrated with the organization's core strategy and processes from the top down. The CEO must identify gender equity and diversity as a core strategic priority; in turn, this organizational priority must be translated into operational goals and processes at every level of the organization. Managers must have goals for recruitment and promotion of women in their departments and divisions, and achievement of these goals—including such factors as climate for gender equity and managerial support for women—should be measured and reinforced by the performance management and reward system. 

While there is a wealth of research information available to support the business case for gender diversity overall, sustainable change within organizations requires the articulation and demonstration of a company-specific business case. In what ways does your company perform better, innovate more, provide better customer service, identify more exciting market opportunities, promote faster learning, recruit more outstanding talent, and more effectively develop employees as a result of increased gender diversity? In order to answer these questions, one straightforward and powerful practice to implement is highlighting success stories of women leaders and recognizing people in the organization who are helping to drive and sustain the move towards greater gender equity. The more visible, exciting, and dynamic the bandwagon, the more people will want to get on board."

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Montreal métro worker may face assault charge in language incident 
by Andy Riga
Originally Published:  October 31st, 2012

Montreal métro worker may face assault charge in language incident"Montreal’s transit authority has launched an investigation and will provide police with surveillance video after a métro ticket-taker allegedly put a passenger in a headlock and punched her during a language spat on Monday.

“I’m told there’s going to be a police investigation and there may be an assault charge,” said Société de transport de Montréal vice-chairman Marvin Rotrand. “We will turn over whatever surveillance video police want.”

The métro employee is in a hospital and the STM has yet to interview her, he said. It’s unclear if the hospitalization was a result of the incident.

The alleged assault is the latest in a string of altercations between passengers and subway employees.

Mina Barak, 23, told CBC News that Monday’s incident at the De La Savane métro station began when an Opus machine took her money but did not provide transit tickets.
Barak said she asked for help, in English, from the STM ticket-booth employee. A dispute erupted. The agent told her to “go back to your country” and “in Quebec, we can only speak French,” Barak said.

She said she immediately called the STM and filed a complaint, returning to the booth to advise the employee, who was knitting. She said she told the agent: “I’m going to make sure you’re going to lose your job for what you said to me.”

At that point, Barak said, the employee “got out of the booth and she literally had me in a headlock and she was just punching me.”

Jamie Salomon, who happened to be leaving the station when the incident occurred, said the ticket agent “came out of the kiosk, slammed the door and started wailing on” Barak, repeatedly punching her. Salomon said he called 911 and started pounding on a turnstile and yelling in an attempt to stop the fight.

Another man intervened, managing to pull Barak out of the grips of the agent, who was “completely enraged and acting like an insane, violent maniac,” Salomon added.

He did not hear what prompted the incident, which lasted about a minute. “I couldn’t imagine what it was that (Barak) had said to set her off — she was so enraged.”

Rotrand said the STM wants to “instill a sense of pride in all our employees and moreover a sense of customer service being their prime mission. An incident like this clearly is a black eye to us and sets us back.”

The STM notes that under Bill 101, it can’t require employees to know a language other than French. Bill 101 provides for exceptions when “the nature of the duties requires such knowledge.”

The STM says it will not look into requiring front-line employees to speak English. 

“My understanding from our legal department is we do not have wiggle room” on Bill 101, Rotrand said. But “insulting customers or refusing to serve customers — it won’t be tolerated.”

If an STM employee can’t speak English, he or she must find another way to communicate, he said. That could include providing a pamphlet or map, or asking another employee or supervisor to serve the customer, Rotrand said.

He said the issue will be discussed at the STM’s board meeting next month.

“I’ll raise the fact that there’s a perception from some in the English community that there isn’t enough backup available to provide riders who don’t speak French with basic information they need,” he said.

Other recent incidents:

This month, the STM forced an employee to remove a sign at a métro ticket booth that said: “Au Québec c’est en français que ça se passe!” (Roughly translated: “In Quebec, we do things in French”).

In July, an STM customer alleged that two métro agents told him: “We don’t serve English people.”

In June, Montreal Impact soccer player Miguel Montano said that when he spoke with a métro ticket-taker in English, he was told he needed to speak French and his money was refused."

Charlotte Beers: How Women Can Win in a Male Dominated Workplace 
by Dan Schawbel
Originally Published:  October 31st, 2012

"Charlotte Beers’ illustrious career began in product management for Uncle Ben’s and took her to the heights of advertising and government. She was the first woman senior vice president at J. Walter Thompson Advertising in the firm’s 106-year history, leaving to become CEO of the advertising agency, Tatham-Laird & Kudner, where she tripled billings. She then became Chairman & CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, where her leadership was renowned. Harvard Business School still teaches their bestselling case study on leadership titled “Charlotte Beers at Ogilvy.”

Beers eventually returned to J. Walter Thompson as Chairman. From 2001 to 2003, she served as Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy & Public Affairs. She was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the State Department’s highest honor. Her latest book is called I’d Rather Be in Charge: A Legendary Business Leader’s Roadmap for Achieving Pride, Power, and Joy at Work.

In this interview, Charlotte talks about how women can compete against men at work, the factors that tend to keep women out of management roles, and more.

New studies show that the workplace is still heavily dominated by men. How did you build your career and compete in a male dominated work environment?

The key to success in advertising and marketing is ideas. Ideas tend to be gender neutral. I was good at idea generation and helping people get their ideas out. The other thing that matters in an agency is understanding and motivating clients. I came from the client side so I had comfort there. I think those two things kept me from being classified as “the girl”.
But equally important was the way I presented myself and built relationships. I was often the only woman in the room and the men would give me direct feedback – some of it not polite. But I would immediately take it in and understand what they meant. In today’s workplace, I think that women have a hard time getting that type of direct and open feedback. We are so politically correct. Most women managers tend to be distant from the men at the top. That’s something we have to overcome.

What, ultimately, keeps women out of the inner circle of management?

Relationships. ‘But women are more adept socially’ you must be thinking. Yes, but relationships at work are a whole different ball game. Men get these kinds of relationships. And they set the rules of engagement – especially at the top. When a woman brings her uninformed concept of what a productive relationship is, it makes her look less like a leader.
Another problem is that many women leaders copy men. I know I did for a while, but if a method is going to work, it has to come from the center of who you are and what you want and a rock bottom assessment of what you can offer. It’s much harder finding your own model of how to be a leader, though men are given their model practically at birth. It’s not fair, but there you are. But I promise you, women are going to set a whole new standard in authentic leadership.

Why aren’t women getting the recognition they deserve in the form of pay and advancement?

In the realm of tasks, reports, projects, good old down and dirty getting it done, women do an excellent job. But that ceases to be the point at any manager’s level. The work then becomes about propelling projects forward, getting your ideas heard, imposing them on a reluctant group, even. That’s a very different skill set, one which women have had less opportunity to develop. Women, for all their verbal excellence, are uneasy with “guts ball’ – putting it all out there, exposing their commitment and passion, pushing their audience.
Particularly in even the daily presentations, this is needed to project real authority. Some women try to do this by being severe, looking tailored and buttoned up. This may project “I mean business,” but it doesn’t communicate the kind of fervor and persuasion skills needed to be seen as a leader. Authority, or taking charge, is messy, uncomfortable, edgy, challenging. It can feel foolish, daring, or pushy. This is the nature of leadership, and women have to get ready for it and comfortable with it.

What do you do if you are stuck at work and don’t know what to do next with you career?

I think the most important thing to do, if you are stuck and want to grow, is to be an ambassador for your own brand. Get out of your own department. Go and meet, relate to and ask questions of colleagues in other departments. Even the ones you don’t normally have access to. You should ignore the limitations imposed by the company culture. You should take on unexpected projects. Volunteer for things. Show genuine interest in the work that goes beyond your normal territory. You have to take responsibility for your career to breakout.

What are your top three pieces of advice for young women in the workplace?

First, don’t take it personally. In most business situations – meetings, presentations annual reviews – many emotions and feelings will be expressed, but they aren’t personal.
Second, be authentic. Know and respect what you are about and what you truly believe in, not just what is on your resume.

Third, learn to keep your own scorecard. Don’t let other people tell you who you are. You will be reviewed, but your most important assessment is how you feel on your own. It is extremely important, especially to women to know what people think of them, but don’t hold it as the truth. Be sure it fits with your own self-assessment.

And here’s a fourth idea. Women think being taken seriously as leaders means they have to be serious all the time. That’s not true. You don’t have to be serious all the time. But you should behave like a leader, which means replacing modesty with bravery. Women must accept the seriousness of their leadership roles, but they should lighten up.

What goes into turning a company around? How do you know when it’s time for a change?

Picking what to change and what to keep in a business turnaround is key. As a CEO, knowing who you are and learning how to speak in such a way that people will follow you, even if they are not invested in it is essential. Very few people who are candidates for being leaders have trouble with strategic thinking. Where they fall into uncertainty is how difficult the relationships are."

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Log Cabin Republicans' Mitt Romney Endorsement Prompts Los Angeles Couple To End Membership 
by Amanda Terkel
Originally Published:  October 31st, 2012

"The Log Cabin Republicans have been important in Kevin and Don Norte's lives. They run a blog called "BlogCabin: Our Life As Gay Republicans," and their affiliation with the group is mentioned in the second line of their Wikipedia page. They figure they've been members for about a decade, with Kevin winning a "Grassroots Leadership Award" from the group in 2009. At one point, Kevin served as a California trustee, and Don was on the board of the Los Angeles chapter. A fellow member was one of the best men at their wedding.
But on Oct. 25, Kevin and Don tweeted from their joint Twitter account that they were leaving the group: "@LogCabinGOP Please accept our resignation from #LogCabin effective immediately." The reason? The group's endorsement of Mitt Romney.

"Leaving them is kind of like a divorce," Kevin said sadly in an interview with The Huffington Post that night.

LCR is a national gay and lesbian Republican organization, focused on issues like marriage equality and employment non-discrimination and dedicated to working with GOP officials to advance equal rights.

The group announced its qualified endorsement of Romney on Oct. 23, stating, "There has been discussion about whether we, as members of Log Cabin Republicans, are LGBT first or Republican first. Ultimately, we believe the answer is neither. We are Americans first, and as such, must stand for what we believe is right for our country."

In its statement, the group added that if "LGBT issues are a voter's highest or only priority, then Governor Romney may not be that voter's choice."

For the Nortes, who have been together for 34 years and were high school sweethearts, the issue of marriage equality is at the top of their agenda and has been the focus of their activism.

Kevin is an attorney in Los Angeles, and Don was one of the first openly gay Republican appointees to a governing body, when then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him to his Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. The couple actively campaigned against Prop. 8 in 2008, a ballot measure that barred same-sex marriage.

The two are proud of a photograph they have of Schwarzenegger and wife Maria Shriver, taken in 2006, as well as a plaque reading, "Thanks for the heavy lifting -- Arnold Schwarzenegger." As LCR members, they worked hard to elect Schwarzenegger. At a Feb. 2008 event, they publicly approached the governor and urged him to oppose Prop. 8 (which he eventually did).

For Kevin and Don, Romney's opposition to marriage equality and his promise to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court -- something President Barack Obama's administration has stopped doing -- is an insurmountable obstacle that prevents them from supporting the GOP nominee. They would have liked to have seen LCR decline to endorse a presidential candidate in this election, like the group did in 2004, when -- for the first time in its history -- it declined to formally back the GOP presidential nominee.

"There's a difference between acceptance and endorsing. There's a difference between tolerating and acceptance. They're all degrees," said Kevin. "Romney's on the point of tolerating us; he doesn't advance us in the world. And then everyone's so happy when people see a sign that he doesn't say anything negative. But he signed the National Organization for Marriage pledge last year, and he didn't retract it."

NOM's pledge requires candidates to promise to support a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and appoint Supreme Court justices who oppose marriage equality.

"If we have Romney in office, he'll get the Department of Justice to keep DOMA upheld," added Kevin. "Obama's position is to the contrary. I can't support somebody who wants to destroy my family."

"I'm at a point where I just can't put myself with [the LCR] anymore because of what their positions are on marriage. They act like it's not important anymore," agreed Don.
R. Clarke Cooper, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, disagrees, arguing that the group continues to fight hard for marriage equality. He said the decision to endorse Romney came after consulting with the group's chapters nationwide, and so far, the response from its members had been "very supportive." He added that in California -- which is, after all, one of the most progressive states in the nation -- there were individuals who did not want the group to make an endorsement, but said they were a minority in the organization.
Cooper also downplayed the extent of the Nortes' involvement in the organization, saying he didn't think they were active members.

Kevin countered that he went to a Los Angeles LCR event as recently as this month benefiting Elizabeth Emken, the Republican challenger of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). He also showed The Huffington Post the copy of the $600 check he and Don paid to the Los Angeles chapter on Aug. 6 as dues.

"Log Cabin's membership roster is confidential and our policy is to not discuss individual members," said Brad Torgan, president of the Los Angeles chapter. "We regret anyone’s decision to leave the chapter or the party, although we respect their decision to do so. We choose to remain within the party and fight for freedom for all Americans from within."
Within the group, as The Huffington Post has reported, members are troubled by Romney's positions on LGBT issues but feel that deep down, he's an ally.

As one board member explained at the Republican National Convention this year, “We don’t listen to what a candidate actually says. We try to feel where they seem to stand.”
One issue the group's leaders seem particularly hopeful about is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would make workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity illegal. Cooper recently told BuzzFeed that he had "discussed legislative vehicles and executive actions with Romney regarding workplace non-discrimination, including ENDA."

James Abbott, a LCR trustee, lives in Virginia with his husband and children.
He argued that if Romney becomes president, the group's endorsement of him will give the LGBT community more power than it would otherwise have.
"I think it gives us access," he said.

"You can't unilaterally make change of this magnitude through one party. The gay community has sold themselves quite short and is very short-sighted on this issue," he said of the LGBT community's traditional support for Democrats, adding, "We have thinned, as a gay community, the ranks of supportive Republicans ... by not supporting candidates because they happen to have an R rather than a D behind their name -- and because of that, and not really because of their stance on issues."

Responding to widespread criticism of the Romney endorsement among members of the LGBT community, Log Cabin Republicans Programs Director Casey Pick said the group was confident Romney would not reinstate Don't Ask, Don't Tell and would not stop same-sex partners from visiting loved ones in hospitals.

"As we said in our endorsement statement, Mitt Romney is not Rick Santorum," she said.
But for Kevin and Don, those assurances aren't enough. They still prefer the stance the group took in 2008, when it ran ads hitting Romney for becoming less moderate.
"You have to always be on the attack in the world. I don't need people on our side not helping our fight. I can't be around those people anymore," said Kevin.

The Nortes have declined to become affiliated with another political party, and they're not sure whom they're going to vote for in the presidential election next week.

"There's a rift between California Republicans and the rest of the country. We're the party of Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. We're different," said Kevin. "But in California, we think that because we're so big, we can change the rest of the country. That's what people always say, but that's not always true. ... I feel like we failed."

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