Friday, November 30, 2012

“He’s a Boss, She’s a Bitch”? 
by   Tom Matlack 
Originally Published: November 30th, 2012

"A respected writer asserts that men in power are liked and women are uniformly hated.
Let’s just stop and think about that.

My twitter feed is abuzz with comments on Jessica Valenti‘s article today in The Nation, “She Who Dies With the Most ‘Likes’ Wins?” The gist of the article is a feminist call to action that women stop trying to be liked so much, because it undermines their power, and accept the fact that their ambition may make them, by definition, unpopular. Ms. Valenti states: “When Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg gave a TED talk in 2010, one of the issues she talked about—and later expounded on in her 2011 commencement speech at Barnard—was likability. ‘Success and likability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women,’ she said.”

She goes on, “the implications of likability are long-lasting and serious. Women adjust their behavior to be likable and as a result have less power in the world. And this desire to be liked and accepted goes beyond the boardroom—it’s an issue that comes up for women in their personal lives as well, especially as they become more opinionated and outspoken.”

I really try to stay away from these gender debates. Honest. And generally I feel like despite having founded The Good Men Project and been a passionate member of our community for four years now, I know very little about the essence of men (or women). But articles like Ms. Valenti’s and comments like Ms. Sandberg’s really stick in my craw because they seem to me to be moving the ball backwards down the field of gender enlightenment and equality rather than forward.

One of the things I have become crystal clear on, the hard way by running my mouth when in ways that caused a justified backlash, is that talking about gender in universal terms is problematic at best. There is something that theorists call gender “reductionism” that means that if you say that women are always X and men are always Y, any man who is not Y or woman who is not X will be left out of the sweeping generalization. Often this is used in reference to the way that sexism reduces women to a false stereotype. But I refuse to accept that it is a one way street. Both men and women come in a rainbow of shapes, colors, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. There’s no box big enough to hold them and say, that right there is a real MAN or WOMAN.

So let’s come back to this idea that women in some generalized way attempt to be liked at their own peril. I am perfectly willing to accept that we have a glass ceiling that we need to continue find ways to break. And that gender, racial, and sexual preference discrimination does still go on. But a flat comment like Ms. Valenti’s rallying cry:

“Women’s likability is something feminists use as proof of inequity—he’s a boss, she’s a bitch—but not something we’ve put on par with standard feminist fare like reproductive rights or pay inequality. Because there’s no policy you can create to make people like successful women. There’s no legislation to fight for or against, or even a cultural campaign that would make a dent in such a long standing double standard.”

…just doesn’t make sense to me. Do I view every woman in a position of power as a bitch? Do you? How is that possibly a fair comment to anyone who thinks carefully about what it means to lead effectively. I have had plenty of male bosses who were roving assholes who got none of my respect. I can think of ten women in power from Hilary Clinton to Indra Nooyi (CEO of Pepsi) who I like and respect. Hell, I think Mark Zuckerberg is a raving lunatic asshole who is out to take over the world. And for the most part I think the only good thing about Facebook is Sheryl Sandberg. She’s likable, tough, rational. She doesn’t walk around in flip-flops and pretend that the entire world is her inferior.

Towards the end of Valenti’s piece she quotes Sandberg again as saying that women need to “lean in.”

She was referring largely to professional ambitions, but I think it’s good advice all around. We need to lean in to who we really are—not who we think people would like most. We need to tell young women that not being liked, as hard as it may be, is often as sign that they’re doing something right.

I ask again, why is this a gender issue at all? Isn’t a core part of becoming an successful adult, and authentic human being, shedding what people might think of you and having the courage to take off down the path of “who we really are.”?

I’d appreciate your thoughts on this. As always that means not just men but women readers of the GMP. Whether I like you or not I will listen carefully. I promise."
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Aboriginal Languages Reclaimed By Native Gen Y
by Jesse Ferreras
Originally Published: November 30th, 2012

clyde tallio"The Nuxalk word for "rock" is spoken the way it sounds, like feet dragging over a rocky riverbed. When Clyde Tallio says it, he has to conjure saliva from the back of his throat and splash it against the back of his teeth to make it sound right. The word seems impossible to spell out in English.

"Our language is formed because of the environment we live in," Tallio explains. "The English language doesn't reflect that environment and it doesn't reflect the teachings and the spirituality of the land."

That the 25-year-old from Bella Coola, B.C. can pronounce the word at all is impressive enough, but what's even more impressive is that the word is being spoken at all. 

Tallio is part of a movement of young aboriginals who are working to save their traditional tongues, fighting a tide that threatens to kill the languages off for good.

The "Report on the Status of B.C. First Nations Languages, " released by the First People's Cultural Council in 2010, concluded that First Nation language fluency in the province had plummeted from 100 per cent in 1890 to 5.1 per cent in 2010.

The report stated that only 8.2 per cent of the total First Nation population were semi-speakers and that language learners made up only 11.1 per cent of aboriginals in B.C.
The cultural council noted a number of causes for the decline, but one of the biggest was government-run residential schools, which began operating in B.C. in the 1880s.

Children attending the schools were "trained, forced and shamed" into abandoning their languages, the report said, adding that even when they left, they could not go back to speaking their languages or teach them to their kids because of "residual shame and trauma."


Tallio has helped revitalize the language in a number of ways. At 25, he’s the youngest fluent speaker of his people's language and has taken a leading role in trying to teach younger people how to speak in their traditional tongue.

He’s been teaching Nuxalk at the community's Acwsalcta school for the past five years, leading groups of students who are graduating this year. His pupils are mostly in high school and they follow his lessons in traditional song and dance, as well as potlatch and salmon ceremonies.

Tallio also leads the Nuxalk Rediscovery Camp, a program where youth can connect directly with their land. They travel up an inlet to the northern region of Nuxalk territory where they learn to till the land, see sacred sites and tell stories.

Tallio's role is "cultural leader," tasked with telling stories about the spirits that Nuxalk people are descended from.

"This is a perfect opportunity to take our youth and be in an environment that's drug and alcohol free, free of all technologies and just learn how to be ourselves," he told The Huffington Post B.C.

As Tallio tells it, there's an increasing passion among Nuxalk youth to learn the language. He relates the story of one of his students who was asked to give a speech. Tallio only expected him to give a short speech demonstrating progress with the language, but every word he spoke was perfect. He blew his teacher away.

"I don't see young people push it away or reject it as it once was," Tallio says. "I think we've accomplished a lot because we've returned the spirit of being Nuxalk back to our people."

A similar story is unfolding in the traditional territory of the Squamish Nation near Vancouver. For three years, Dustin Rivers, a 22-year-old community activist, has been holding "Language Nights" that allow Squamish members to practise in a collaborative environment.
As he tells it, revitalizing the language is a good antidote to other problems such as drug and alcohol addiction.

“It also benefits other ways. With high self-esteem, we have youth that transfer that strength into other areas, whether it be school or sports or other things, so it starts to create this net benefit across the whole community,” Rivers says. 

Rivers began offering the classes as an alternative to traditional language courses taught through the school system. He found that Squamish members didn't succeed in that environment because the courses were modeled after second-language classes, which often involve translating English words directly into other languages.

At Language Nights, instead of being instructed on what they should be learning, participants are allowed to "hunt" the parts of the language they want to learn, and develop enough foundational skills that they can speak it with confidence. Mistakes are treated as speed bumps rather than bad marks on a report card.

The nights attract an average of two dozen people. Many have been young people from the community, with young mothers showing a particular enthusiasm for learning the language.
"There was kind of a long-term vision, where they really felt like the language is important not just for me, but for my children," Rivers says.

Learning the language in an informal, collaborative environment has shown him that the current generation of young aboriginals is "taking charge" of preserving Squamish culture and language, and giving hope to a people who have long strived to reclaim their identity.
"There's a lot of benefit in reclaiming our culture and saying for ourselves that we have problems, but we're going to solve them and our culture and traditional values are going to lead us in finding these solutions." "

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Mind the generation gap: how managers can engage with Gen Y
by Penny de Valk
Originally Published: November 30th, 2012

"Just as you can’t choose your family, so you can’t always choose your colleagues – and the generation gap can cause problems in both cases. Recent research carried out by career management company, Fairplace, indicates that the disconnect between Generation Y staff and their Generation X managers could mean that businesses are missing the chance to harness the enthusiasm and potential of Gen Y by failing to help them plan their careers. 

As the concept of a 'job for life' wanes and working lives lengthen, more people are opting to work in varied roles in different sectors or try their hand at a new career. Planning and goal setting is crucial in this more flexible career market, where choice can overwhelm as well as excite, and leave people feeling directionless and confused. Employees who have set themselves achievable career goals will feel more engaged at work, progress faster and make a more significant contribution to their company as they embrace opportunities to learn and develop.

However, Fairplace's recent survey of UK employees indicates a worrying trend whereby young UK employees start out on their career with a long-term plan and clear goals, but lose sight of these goals as they get older. When we asked respondents about their career plans, only 8% of 18-24 year olds said they did not have a long-term career plan, but among 34-44 year olds this figure tripled to 24%. Employees begin their careers with ambition and ideas about what they want to achieve – yet if they can't see how to realise these goals and aren't supported in developing an achievable career plan, then this vision fades, and their motivation, productivity, and fidelity to the organisation are also likely to decline.

The challenge for employers is reluctance among managers and staff about having career conversations. Overall, a quarter of our respondents said they would not want to talk to their manager about their longer term career development – however, among the youngest generation of workers (18-24 year olds), this increased to 41%. Meanwhile, our research also suggested that Gen Y employees are dissatisfied with their managers' advice. Over half (53%) of those 18 - 24 year old employees who have talked to their manager about their long-term career development said that the conversation was 'not very helpful' (compared to just 30% across all age groups).

There are a number of reasons why Gen Y may not want to open up. First, articulating ambitions and plans takes practice – while younger employees may have a general idea of what they want career-wise, they may not have much experience in describing it. Second, Gen Y tends to be more aware of its 'personal brand', and may prefer to play their cards close to their chest as they see regular moves between organisations as the 'norm' and the best way to progress. Equally, having graduated in a recession, other Gen Y employees will feel acutely relieved to have a job at all and this can lead to them being unnecessarily cautious about being seen to 'throw their weight around'.

Despite these hurdles, managers who fail to put sufficient time and effort into engaging with Gen Y employees are taking a risk – companies that invest a lot in their graduates but fail to engage with them will lose out on their investment.

There are simple steps that managers can take to adapt their approach towards Gen Y employees. Leaving plenty of time for one-to-ones is a no-brainer; these should not be a rushed formality, but should have scope for open questions. Asking employees where they want to be in 10 years, then discussing how the company can put one-, three- or five-year stepping stones in place to work towards that goal will foster a sense of cooperation and trust in the organisation and make employees feel appreciated and valued.

While younger staff are limited in the responsibilities they can be expected to shoulder, Gen Y thrives on challenge – although 11% of our respondents said they needed a new challenge once a week to stay motivated in their job, this rose to 21% amongst 18-24 year olds. It's important to give meaningful tasks that build up responsibility and demonstrate how hard work will bring exciting new opportunities. Giving Gen Y the chance to shadow senior staff will give them a chance for hands-on learning, with supervision and support. Pairing Gen Y with mentors within the organisation also gives them an opportunity to think about career development by talking with their role model about how they got to their current position.

Finally, it's crucial that managers are genuine and reliable. The economic climate they have grown up in makes Gen Y especially suspicious of empty promises and they are therefore quick to become disengaged when their aspirations don't come to fruition. It's important to act on career conversations by quickly setting into motion some of the initiatives discussed, while also setting realistic expectations about the speed of their progression. Showing Gen Y employees that you are listening and reacting will encourage them to speak up again in future, and managers who take this empathetic, cooperative and positive approach will benefit from high retention levels among their brightest and best."

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6 Ways to Foster Collaboration in Your Workplace 
by Andrew Field 
Originally Published: November 30th, 2012

"What do the The Avengers, The A Team, The Expendables and X-Men have in common? They are all stories of individuals combining their talents to achieve a common goal. Teamwork produces victory in the world of fiction and can help you do the same in business. 

Collaboration is a big theme in small business today for a reason: it works. As CEO of the first e-commerce company in the commercial printing space, I know the importance of building a team-oriented workforce. I can attest that people thrive in an environment that frees them to collaborate. When my employees experience job satisfaction, my customers reap the benefits.  However, implementing this approach can be challenging. A paradigm shift, which changes the focus from individual accomplishment to team success, is required. 

The first step to getting started is equipping each team member for robust participation. Here are six ways to cultivate a collaborative environment.

1. Communicate company expectations. Make it clear that collaboration is the minimum standard. Define roles and responsibilities within the team. Every team member should understand their position and what is required of them. In a collaborative environment every team member takes responsibility for good outcomes. At, we have a Project Insta Team, or PITstop process. Our employees, from sales through manufacturing, have the power to stop any order to ensure accuracy and quality. Every member of our team knows they are equally accountable for customer satisfaction.

2. Set team goals. Ensure concise, measurable goals are set on a quarterly basis. Getting the team to focus on goals will keep individual efforts aligned with desired outcomes.  Be willing to re-evaluate goals as needed. All our quarterly goals are published on our intranet. Each quarter the outcome of each goal is also published. This keeps us focused and transparent.

3. Foster a creative atmosphere. Allow team members to question and brainstorm in a non-judgmental framework.  Encourage the team to look at obstacles as being conquerable. Nurture a “can do” company attitude. Ask why, or why not, on a regular basis. One way we cultivate a creative atmosphere at my company is by providing leadership training that encourages character development. We purposefully hire employees who aspire to be and produce their very best.

 4. Build cohesion. Include every person on the team in as many large decisions as possible. Create a means of communicating current work flows to avoid duplication of effort. Initiate daily team huddles where each member shares what they will be accomplishing that day. This keeps everyone on the same playbook and enables team members to re-direct their efforts as needed.

5. Know one another. Different personality dynamics, skill sets and experiences are present in every team. It is worth the effort to have each member complete a simple personality profile. Share the results and openly discuss likes and dislikes with regard to communication, tasks and personal focus. At my company we utilize Insight Discovery™ to provide personality and work style assessment. We print the resulting insight “color graph” on each team member’s nameplate.

6. Leverage team member strengths. Position each team member for success by assigning tasks that play to their respective strengths. Reward both individual and team accomplishments regularly.  

Establishing a collaboration policy is just the beginning. Collaboration must be consistent and purposeful, with resources dedicated to its success. You may have many superheroes in your office already; but you can build your productivity exponentially by getting them to work as a collaborative team."

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A Legal Reminder: There’s No Mandate For a Religiously Neutral Workplace 
by Eric B. Meyer
Originally Published: November 30th, 2012

123RF Stock Photo"Christian employee + Ramadan bagel party = hostile work environment?

Yep, someone — represented by a licensed, practicing attorney — brought this lawsuit.
Let’s take you back to August, 2010. David Ross, the plaintiff, attended a meeting of the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Staff Bridge Unit Leaders, where the annual employee appreciation luncheon was discussed.

Mo bagels, mo problems

During the meeting, another employee noted that the luncheon was scheduled during the observance of Ramadan and requested that the luncheon be rescheduled so that one of his subordinate employees, Ali Harajli, an observant Muslim, could attend. An alternative date was proposed and approved by Mr. Ross’s supervisor.

The next month, in an effort to include co-workers and promote cultural diversity in the workplace, Mr. Haraji forwarded an email to Mr. Ross, asking that he invite the Staff Bridge Unit employees to have bagels and cream cheese with employees who are celebrating the end of Ramadan. Mr. Ross refused to forward the invitation. Instead, he informed his supervisor that the luncheon was against his religious beliefs, “seriously inappropriate,” “proselytizing” (more on this later), and promoted Ramadan as “the top religion of staff bridge.”

Upon learning of Mr. Ross’s concern with the supposed religious overtones of the bagel event, Mr. Haraji emailed all Staff Bridge employees, telling them “[f]eel free not to attend if your faith prohibits you from sharing the goodies provided by fellow employees in celebrating their holiday. We do not have any sensitivity regarding participating in occasions celebrated by others.”

HR gets involved

This email prompted HR to get involved and advise all employees that hosting activities with specific religious connotations was considered inappropriate.

In November, Mr. Haraji sent a more generic email to the Staff Bridge Unit employees inviting them to share bagels and cream cheese “[a]s part of our annual treat to staff Bridge.” However, believing that this get-together was just another excuse to celebrate the end of Ramadan, Mr. Ross complained that “this methodology to promote Islam has been common for well over 1000 years, and any organization briefed by Homeland Security is aware of these subtle yet pervasive methods.”

What followed was a charge of discrimination in which, among other things, Mr. Ross claimed that he had been subjected to a hostile work environment because his employer permitted and promoted Muslim religious observances and traditions, rather than maintaining a religiously neutral work environment.

Bagels + Ramadan do not = a hostile work environment

To establish that he was subjected to a hostile work environment, a plaintiff must prove that an objective person, in his shoes, would find that the workplace was permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule and insult that was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of employment and create an abusive working environment.

Had we been dealing with day-old oat bran bagels and a schmear of moldy salmon cream cheese, maybe we’d be on to something here. But under the facts of this case, not so much. 

Here is how the court explained it (opinion here):
Plaintiff does not suggest, and there is no evidence, that anyone at CDOT ever disparaged Christianity generally or him personally because of his religious beliefs….[Plus] there is no evidence suggesting that plaintiff was subjected to a constant barrage of references to Islam or requests to accommodate Muslim employees’ religious beliefs.”
Now, I mentioned above that I would discuss proselytizing, i.e., an effort to convert someone to a particular religion. Proselytizing is not prohibited per se in the workplace. However, if an employee’s proselytizing interferes with work, the employer does not have to allow it. Plus, an employer can restrict religious expression where it would cause customers or co-workers reasonably to perceive the materials to express the employer’s own message, or where the item or message in question is harassing or otherwise disruptive.

No mandate for a religiously neutral work environment

Was Mr. Ross subjected to proselytizing? Nope:
Plaintiff did not attend either of the bagel breakfasts, and there is no other evidence suggesting that those events involved any form of proselytization. Nothing other than plaintiff’s own ipse dixit supports his otherwise unsubstantiated belief that the mere fact of inviting others to share food around the end of Ramadan constitutes an attempt to “indoctrinate non-Muslims into the religious customs of Islam.”
Employers should be aware that, while Title VII protects workers from religious discrimination, it does not mandate a completely religiously neutral work environment.
So, get in the holiday spirit. Put up the Christmas tree, light the menorah, embrace diversity.
Just don’t jam it down your employee’s throats."

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Evaluation Blues 
by Craig Storti
Originally Published: November 30th, 2012

Diversity Journal"Conscientious managers throw up their hands when it comes to performance evaluations for a multicultural group of direct reports. They want to be fair to everyone, but they don’t see how that’s possible because it means choosing between two unpalatable options: evaluating everyone by the same criteria, which might contain unfair cultural bias, or using different criteria for different staff members which is inherently unworkable.

The problem is the belief that because the job criteria might be culturally biased, they will therefore be unfair. Culturally biased they almost certainly will be—and should be—but that doesn’t make them unfair. Job criteria naturally reflects the attributes needed to perform a particular job, and there’s a good chance that many attributes will reflect the prevailing values of the local culture. If that culture values people who are self-starters and require minimal supervision, then these factors will be part of the evaluation criteria, and people who are not self-starters will be evaluated poorly.

Granted, some people will come by those attributes more easily than others (anyone raised in and conditioned by the local culture), and this will give such people inherent advantages in performing their job over foreigners who have not been exposed to the same cultural attributes. While this makes such attributes culturallybased, it hardly makes them unfair.
The best managers will recognize the cultural basis of certain job criteria and the challenges they pose for some employees. They will sit down with those employees, point out the U.S.-centric elements of those criteria, and discuss how to help those employees overcome any disadvantages posed by cultural differences.

An example: Yang, raised in a Chinese family in the U.S., is uncomfortable disagreeing with higher-ups in a meeting and prefers to bring up his objections afterwards, one-on-one (because he has been taught that it’s disrespectful to argue with one’s superiors in public). But this behavior would frustrate many American managers who believe the purpose of a meeting is to hear everyone’s views to make the best decision. The more Yang keeps his opposing views to himself, the more he defeats the purpose of a meeting. Sooner or later, Yang is going to hear from his manager that he “doesn’t perform well in meetings” and be evaluated poorly.

And none of this, incidentally, is being unfair to Yang. What would be unfair, not to mention patronizing, would be to pretend that Yang’s behavior is ok, that not speaking up in meetings won’t have any negative consequences for Yang’s career."

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Gender balance lags on Canadian boards 
by Pamela Jeffery
Originally Published: November 28th, 2012

Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images"When it comes to gender diversity on corporate boards, Canada sits in the middle of the pack — 10th spot in 2011, down from sixth a year earlier — according to Governance Metrics International, a global corporate governance ratings agency that ranked 23 industrialized economies.

This is hardly surprising given the success of Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Finland and Sweden, which, in just two years, have increased the number of board seats held by women from 2.2 percentage points for the U.K. to 7.5 in France. 

Meanwhile, in Canada board seats held by women rose only 0.7 percentage points.

In the 2012 budget, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty signalled the federal government’s growing concern, framing the issue as an economic one. “[I]ncreasing opportunities for women to serve on corporate boards makes good business sense for Canadian women and for Canada’s economy,” he said. This is the government’s first policy initiative to promote women on private sector boards, and comes as countries around the world increasingly are adopting mandatory quotas or voluntary targets for women on boards.

Those initiatives are wide ranging. In January 2010, France’s National Assembly passed legislation requiring boards to be 20% female by Dec. 31, 2012, and 40% by Dec. 31, 2015. The percentage of female directors in France is now 16.6%; almost nine of 10 French companies have at least one woman on the board. Australia has taken a different approach, putting standards in place for ASX-listed companies to disclose their diversity policies, the percentages of women in their work forces and on their boards, and their specific objectives for improving gender diversity. As a result, women now hold 13.8% of board seats; almost seven in 10 Australian companies now have at least one woman on the board.

On the other hand, 40% of Canadian corporate boards do not have a female director. As for visible minority and Aboriginal representation, the percentage of seats stands at 4.6% and 1.1% on a self-reporting basis, the Canadian Board Diversity Council’s 2012 Annual Report Card shows.

While the CBDC wants to see a faster pace of change, it does not support unwarranted intervention or quotas, but rather a made-in-Canada approach based on collaboration with the corporate director community to recruit beyond directors’ networks. It’s time to engage in a rigorous process to identify new directors with the assistance of search professionals and the council, allowing boards to benefit from individuals who bring a wider range of credentials, skills, experiences and perspectives to corporate governance.

As part of a made-in-Canada approach, the council would conduct annual research to track progress and deliver hard copies of this Annual Report Card to every FP500 board chair. This would allow directors to contextualize the composition of their boards.

The council is also prepared to provide the tools that boards need to execute a diversity strategy. Its Get on Board program provides a cost-effective orientation to board service. Earlier this week, it released a list of 50 board-ready men and women from across Canada, Diversity 50. These individuals have been introduced to council members’ boards and executive teams throughout the month. Detailed information on each is available to non-member companies at

Countless studies have shown the positive benefits diverse leadership and boards can have on a company’s bottom line. It will take enlightened leaders to change the composition of Canada’s boards so shareholders can benefit from directors who are the most qualified in a greatly expanded talent pool. Now is the time for action."

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Gender Equality 
Originally Published: November 30th, 2012

"In each issue, the editors of Global Agenda invite contributors to explore one of the big questions of the year. In this issue we asked: What does Gender Equality mean? Is it achievable? Below are responses from Naomi Wolf, Ronan Farrow, Chloe Breyer, Naina Lal Kidwai, Caitlin Moran, Ellen MacArthur, Nicholas D. Kristof and Leta Hong Fincher. 

Author of ‘'The Beauty Myth'’ and ‘'Vagina: A New Biography'

When I hear the words ‘'gender equality,’’ or ‘‘feminism,’’ I am always baffled as to why these concepts could ever be contentious. To me, these ideas are so mainstream, so much a part of our basic cultural heritage. 

What ‘'gender equality'’ or ‘'feminism'’ should mean — I suppose if gender equality is the goal, feminism is the process of how we get there — is the logical extension of the core idea of democracy. 

I date my feminism to the Enlightenment — to Mary Wollstonecraft, who wrote, at the end of the 18th century, ‘‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.’’ Her essay was squarely aligned with other Enlightenment thinkers’ appeals to reason, to the rights of man, and to the notion of equality of dignity among all people. This Enlightenment vision is so powerful, and so right, that it has spread around the world, from the ‘‘one person, one vote’’ advocates in Sierra Leone, to the Tahrir Square protesters in Egypt, to the furious parents in Sichuan Province in China, who fought the regional Communist Party’s refusal to release information about how their children died in a poorly-built school during an earthquake. Underlying all of these movements is the democratic ideal from the 1790s that asserts: No one person has the natural right to suppress, silence or dominate any other person, simply because of where both are situated in society. 

But what that set of beliefs isn’t is as important as what it is. Feminism, in my view, should always have kept that original precept in sight as it pursued its aims from one generation to the next. It doesn’t prescribe lifestyle choices. It doesn’t dictate sexual decisions. It doesn’t define itself in terms of cultural battles. True feminism empowers anyone to be free and to have equal opportunity and access to equal legal rights and the rule of law. But it doesn’t dictate what that free person should be doing with her or his freedom. 

Unfortunately, Western feminism is too often bogged down in cultural battles, in asserting a checklist of political policies. For two decades, I have been insisting that there can certainly be a right-wing, a libertarian, and a left- wing feminist agenda — because what makes a ‘'feminist'’ is not the policy outcome. Democracy is a concatenation of voices arising out of many individual free lives. 

I think we need to reassert our Enlightenment heritage in the fight for gender justice in the West. The feminists of Africa, Asia and the Middle East have now outstripped Western feminists as pioneers for gender justice — partly because they do not see women’s fight for justice as pitting them against men, against family life or even against faith. They draw on the Wollstonecraftian heritage of democracy and human rights, which is very hard to mock or dismiss.

Writer and diplomat, most recently special adviser to Hillary Clinton

I grew up with seven sisters. I tolerated boy bands. I learned to put the seat down. I also witnessed the power of women’s leadership. My childhood dinner-table fights would still be raging without steely negotiation from girls. Years later, watching an argument rage in a dusty Islamic classroom in Dhaka, Bangladesh, I remember seeing that same power. At first, only the men talked. But finally, Nipa Masud, seated in the back with a dangerous glint in her eye, leapt to her feet, unleashed a torrent of critiques. The floodgates open, every girl spoke up, swiftly ending the debate. The girls didn’t speak first, but they spoke loudest. There can be no confronting our challenges without those voices. Countries with more women in their governments are less likely to suffer internal armed conflicts. Goldman Sachs projected that leveling women’s and men’s employment rates would add 9 percent to the United States’ G.D.P., 13 percent to Europe’s, and 16 percent to Japan’s. In some ways, we are closer to securing equal space for women to participate than ever. Gender gaps in primary and secondary education rates are closing. More than half a billion women joined the work force over the last 30 years. But women everywhere still face senseless obstacles. In October, militants in Pakistan gunned down 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai for her activism supporting girls’ education. Countless stories like hers never reach the world. It is up to all of us to protect women, their rights and their opportunities. In a recent McKinsey survey of successful female businesswomen, an overwhelming majority said they don’t aspire to top positions. Women who have made it to the top need to stay there and fight for a world where Nipa, Malala, and countless girls like them are not just able, but expected, to lead. 

Episcopal priest and Executive Director of the Interfaith Center of New York

Were you to stop someone in the street and ask them if the world’s great religious traditions would help or hinder the achievement of gender equality, my guess is they would conclude that religion was a hindrance. In Christianity and Judaism, the first book of the Bible, Genesis, describes Eve emerging from Adam’s rib. A few lines later, Eve succumbs to the serpent’s temptation, takes a bite of the forbidden fruit and offers it to her partner. For centuries, authorities within the church patriarchy attributed to Eve the majority portion of guilt for original sin and taught that the pains of childbirth were just atonement for Eve’s misstep. With so many obstacles like this within many religious traditions, what possible hope could there be for gender equality unless humanity becomes less religious? There is an alternative. I would propose that a less-religious world is not one in which gender equality will be more quickly achieved. Indeed, Christianity has untapped resources when it comes to achieving gender equality: Today’s women of faith who occupy two-thirds of the pew benches in churches around the globe. It is a matter of time before we will share power with men of our faith. From an earlier passage in Genesis come the explicit instructions that both men and women are created in the image of God: ‘‘So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.'’ (Genesis 1:27). These words offer hope and a way forward.

Head of HSBC India
The reality of gender equality is complex and diverse, even more so in India. What is theoretically simple — that men and women have the same rights and opportunities in every walk of life — is more difficult to implement and measure. An increasing number of companies recognize that a healthier gender mix makes for good business, helping talent retention and enhanced innovation. What must also be recognized is the revolution in the smaller towns and villages that is even more important, as it will impact a larger number of women. HSBC has given me opportunities to interact with rural women in India and I have seen their contributions and progress — albeit at a slow pace — at close hand. Once a woman steps out to earn her livelihood, she becomes independent, not just economically but psychologically. She gains better control over the family’s finances and acquires stronger decision-making powers. With a rise in the number of schools and vocational training centers, women everywhere now have the opportunity to gain knowledge and acquire skills. As a result, we see women from smaller regions in India becoming engineers, doctors and even astronauts, which was unimaginable a few decades ago. I remain optimistic on the ever-greater participation of women in public, corporate and political decision-making. 

British journalist and author of ‘'How to Be a Woman'’ and ‘'Moranthology'’
Gender equality simply means ‘‘women being equal to men’’ — however nuts, dim, deluded, underachieving or ill-kempt the men may be. I mean none of this to belittle menfolk. On the contrary. As a woman, that’s the bit I want in on. That’s the sweet stuff. For when we imagine the fully emancipated 21st-century woman, we are apt to think of some toned, immaculately dressed overachiever, leading a Fortune 500 company while bringing up bilingual twins. And that’s what simultaneously stresses women out to the point of living on a Pinot Grigio drip, and terrifies insecure men. This idea of perfect, sexy, superhuman lady-titans, winning at everything. That’s what scuppers moves toward gender equality. For my feminist money, I don’t see gender equality as ‘‘women exhausting themselves to be more incredible than any other human beings have ever been at any other point in time.’’ Mainly because it sounds a) pretty unlikely to happen terribly often and b) like a massive administrative headache. For me, true equality would be getting in on a bit of that male, ‘‘14 pounds overweight but I don’t care,’’ ‘‘getting sexier as I get older,’’ ‘‘confidently chipping in at meetings with crazy idea,’’ ‘‘I definitely need some golfing me-time’’ action, instead. While one hugely important part of equality is to have extraordinary people’s achievements facilitated and recognized — whatever their gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion or ability to accessorize — an arguably even bigger part of equality is for everyone to feel comfortable being a massively average schlump.This, clearly, is not the case for women, who treat themselves like a massive ‘‘To Do’’ list. What an intolerable burden! And that’s why gender equality means ‘‘women being equal to men’’ — however nuts, dim, deluded, underachieving or ill-kempt the men may be.

Yachtswoman and charity founder

 I am a sailor and have been, at the pinnacle of my racing career, the fastest solo sailor to ever circumnavigate the globe. Focus, hard work and belief in one’s potential do not have a gender. Offshore sailing is one of the rare sports that offers the opportunity for men and women to compete on equal terms, so was my gender relevant? I never thought so. This does of course not mean that, in the grand scheme of things, gender equality is a nonissue and that we live in a fair, balanced world. But in my particular case, it has no importance and in fact focusing on that specific element would equate to missing the bigger picture. By analogy, and to talk about things that occupy my life now that I’ve created the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, only looking at one piece of the economic puzzle will not give you the full scope. Taking a restrictive approach to complex issues amounts to flicking one switch on a giant switchboard, not considering its impact on others. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation aims to accelerate the transition to a circular economy by shifting away from the ‘‘take-make-dispose’’ model we’ve inherited from the Industrial Revolution. What we’re talking about is a systems-level change, not tweaks to the existing model. The circular economy keeps materials flowing so they can be used and reused, while waste is phased out by design. When it comes to reinventing progress, we need all the determination, creativity, enthusiasm and talent we can get. And these have no gender.

Columnist for The New York Times
We’ll know we have gender equality when we’re no longer talking about it. And this is definitely achievable. One of the problems with journalists and humanitarian organizations is that we’re sometimes so focused on problems that we don’t adequately acknowledge the progress that is being made. And that progress on gender issues is pretty stunning. Look at the education gap. In the United States it has disappeared, with girls doing better than boys in school. Globally, the education gap in primary school has disappeared as well and although it persists in secondary school it is diminishing. Even a poor Muslim country like Bangladesh now has more girls in high school than boys. In the United States, rape and other kinds of sexual violence seem to have diminished significantly (as best we can figure from flawed reporting), in part because the police now take date rape seriously. Domestic violence is now often taken seriously by American police departments and more and more police departments abroad are starting to tackle it as well. Sex trafficking remains a huge issue around the world, but traffickers are now sometimes going to jail. It’s striking that every aid organization and N.G.O. now seems to market itself as focused on women and girls. Even in the State Department and the Pentagon, officials recognize that a focus on girls’ education is useful to bring about stability and change. So I imagine a world a couple of decades from now where sex trafficking is largely behind us, where girls have as much chance to go to school as boys, where reproductive health for women isn’t a taboo. We will all be benefiting from a more equal world, and then finally we can stop talking about gender equality.

American doctoral candidate in Tsinghua University’s Department of Sociology
A century ago, Chinese feminists fighting for the emancipation of women helped spark the Republican revolution, which overthrew the Qing dynasty. After the Communist revolution of 1949, Mao proclaimed that ‘‘women hold up half the sky.’’ In the early years of the People’s Republic, the Communist Party sought to transform gender relations with expansive initiatives such as assigning urban women jobs in the planned economy. Yet those gains are now being eroded in China’s post-socialist era. Women’s labor force participation has fallen dramatically, the wealth gap is widening, and women’s legal rights to property are under attack. So what would gender equality in China look like? All parents would welcome their baby girl into the world with as much love as if she were a boy. Rural parents would give a plot of family land to their daughter as well as their son. Villages would protect women’s rights to land. Urban parents would no longer buy their son an expensive apartment while leaving their daughter to fend for herself. Young women applying to university wouldn’t need to outscore men to gain admission. The state feminist agency would no longer shame single, professional women over the age of 27 by calling them ‘‘leftover.’’ Women who report domestic violence wouldn’t be blamed for ‘‘exposing family ugliness.’’ The saying ‘'men belong in public, women belong at home'’ would become a relic of history. Half of the country’s leaders would be women. Is gender equality achievable? Yes. It may take several generations, but it is worth fighting for."

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The Future of Personal Branding
by Mareisha Winters
Originally Published: November 30th, 2012

"The future workplace is changing.  Are you ready? What will the workplace look like 5-10 years from now?  I can guarantee that it will look very different from today. The role that technology will play in where we work, how we work, and what we work on, is mind-boggling.  Staying current with what the workplace will demand in the future is important if you want to stay competitive and employable.
Branding is not just for celebrities or consumer goods. A strong personal brand is important in your career.  Do you know what your colleagues are saying about you when you leave the room? Is it what you want them to say?  You are not just your name.  You are your look, your reputation, your skills and your abilities.

What makes you unique, relevant and differentiated? Personal branding is about the ability to communicate this to your target audience so that you can reach your career and business goals. You can use your strengths, skills, passions, and values to separate yourself from your competitors and really stand out.

By definition, personal branding is the way we market ourselves to others.  As a brand you can leverage the same strategies that make celebrities or corporate brands appeal to others. You can build brand equity. Personal branding is not a new term.  Tom Peters authored an article for Fast Company magazine in 1997 titled “The Brand Called You”.   He explains how everyone is a brand and has the chance to stand out, not just large consumer products companies.
“Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” –Tom Peters
::Read More: Your Personal Brand Part 1 | Everybody Has One::
::Read More: Your Personal Brand Part 2 | Honing and Developing Yours::

::Read More: Your Personal Brand Part 3 | Popular Personal Brands and How They Did It::

The workplace is not the same as it was in 1997. The difference between today and what’s to come in the future from when Peters’s article was first penned is the rise of social technologies that have made branding more personal and more accessible. Last year Don Schawbel wrote an article for the Brazen Careerist blog predicting the future of personal branding. He identifies five trends that you should be aware of to remain competitive.
  1. Social networking sites will replace job boards and resumes: Schawbel says that the real pathway to employment is the connections we share. He predicts that eventually companies will no longer ask for you to send your resume, but a URL directing them to the reason they should hire you (e.g. your LinkedIn profile).
  2. Convergence of personal and professional life: What you publish online could possibly be viewed by potential or current employers. While your employer may not be able to ask you for your social media password, depending on your privacy settings what you post may be accessible without a password. Is what you say on your Facebook page or in your Twitter feed representing your personal brand? Think twice before you post, what you publish online can ruin your reputation.
  3. Mandatory online presence background check: In 2010 a survey revealed that 80% of companies plan to use social networks in their background check process. Recruiters are even asking for Facebook usernames and passwords during job interviews.
  4. Online influence: Are your Twitter followers quality? Many people want to have the quantity when it comes to followers, but they don’t often think about the quality. Are you connected with people who are influential? Would your future or current employer find you invaluable based on who is in your social network?

  5. Relevancy: Keeping up with the latest information and technology that is pertinent to your career field is going to be the greatest challenge, Schawbel says. If you are not current you’re irrelevant.
The future is now! Embrace it!"

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Do You Know Disability Etiquette?
by Howard Ross
Originally Published: November 29th, 2012

"Developing awareness of disability biases takes practice, but the more people learn about proper etiquette, the greater the opportunity to improve engagement, productivity and inclusivity. 

Most people want to do the right thing, particularly on the job. However, there may be many different interpretations of what the right thing is, especially when it comes to how to treat people with disabilities. Further, the fear of doing something wrong can prevent people from authentically and fully engaging.

“Disability etiquette is another cornerstone in the evolution of diversity and inclusion,” said Jonathan Kaufman, president of DisabilityWorks Inc. “With an aging population, returning wounded warriors and the unique fact that the disability community is the only minority anyone can join, etiquette training will be vital for the long-term health of D&I strategies for corporations around the globe.”

Customers and co-workers come from a variety of backgrounds, and their customs, thinking, behavior, values and communication styles vary accordingly. Demographic shifts also introduce new people and unfamiliar ideas. Successfully navigating the evolving workforce and marketplace requires a realistic sense of what it is like to work with a disability. Diversity executives need to understand effective and respectful communication between diverse people, and how to provide for the physical and cultural needs of people with disabilities.

Why We Need Disability Etiquette

In 2008, the United States Census Department reported that people with disabilities represent the largest minority in the world. Nearly 20 percent of Americans — 54 million people according to the Census Department — qualify as having a disability. According to the Justice Department, this community’s disposable income is measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars, and the aggregate income more than doubles that. There is nothing touchy-feely or politically correct about paying attention to the human dynamics behind these numbers.

However, as Lobna “Luby” Ismail, founder and president of Connecting Cultures Inc., said, “too often the focus is on the ‘dis’ and not the ‘abled.’ Instead of disability, I title it diverse-ability. The unconscious and conscious or subtle ways in which people speak, or presumed misperceptions, feeds inequity before a person with a disability even gets hired. As a result, almost 70 percent of people with disabilities are unemployed.”

Disability is often less about physical or mental impairments than how society responds to real or perceived physical, mental and cognitive differences. As disability becomes a more common factor in the workplace, the need for inclusive approaches to communication and interaction increases. This requires an understanding of a new kind of etiquette.

Etiquette is a set of rules that articulate what constitutes socially acceptable behavior in a broad array of circumstances. Breaking these rules can cause embarrassment, discomfort and has the potential to alienate important clients, customers and colleagues.

“When thinking about language choices, be mindful to avoid invoking a medical or deficiency model for people with a disability,” said Deborah Dagit, chief diversity officer at Merck. “Words that speak to a person’s medical condition are rarely appropriate, and it is important to put the person first, e.g. a person with a disability versus diabetic, quadriplegic, etc. It is not so much about etiquette as it is respect and empowerment.”

Concern about doing something inappropriate can cause people to behave awkwardly or tentatively, make unintentional mistakes and cause injury or insult. Learning and practicing disability etiquette can foster interactions that are comfortable, meaningful and inclusive.
Regardless of a particular disability, the following behaviors are often appropriate to ensure proper etiquette:

Put people first, and not their disability. The language “people with disabilities” is an important variation to “disabled person.” Identifying people by their disability tends to increase the potential for stereotyping or imply a homogeneous group separate from society as a whole.

When communicating about disability, do not focus on ability level unless it is crucial to the situation at hand. Do not portray people with disabilities as heroic underachievers or long-suffering saints. In addition to overemphasizing the person’s disabilities, these characterizations also raise false expectations. 

“People often associate the limitations of my body with limitations of the mind,” said Ileana Cruz-Martinez, manager of IT sourcing at NextEra Energy Inc. “It seems to be an unconscious bias — perhaps arising out of fear of the unknown. Often when people meet me and I tell them that I have a master’s degree and that I am a CPA, it is as if they can’t believe that a person with a disability can achieve those educational levels.”

Avoid sensationalizing and negative labeling. Saying “afflicted with,” “crippled with” or “victim of” devalues individuals with disabilities by portraying them as helpless objects of pity and charity. It is more neutral to describe somebody as having a disability such as “a person with AIDS,” rather than “an AIDS victim.”

Emphasize abilities, not limitations. For example, “uses leg braces or walks with crutches,” is more accurate than “confined to a wheelchair or wheelchair bound.” Wheelchairs and crutches represent independence, not a burden. To emphasize capabilities, avoid words that start with in, dis, un, or de that imply lacking or inferiority, such as invalid or defective.

Bypass condescending euphemisms. Many disability groups object to euphemisms to describe disabilities. Terms such as “handicapable,” “differently abled,” “special” and “challenged” reinforce the idea that people cannot deal honestly with their disabilities.

Maintain the integrity of each individual. Do not use words or phrases regarded as offensive or patronizing such as “freak,” “subnormal,” “vegetable,” “misshapen,” “feeble-minded” or “imbecile.”

Do not imply disease when discussing disabilities that result from a prior disease episode. For example, people who had polio and experienced aftereffects have post-polio syndrome. They are not currently experiencing the disease. Do not imply disease with people whose disability has resulted from anatomical or physiological damage — for example, a person with spina bifida or cerebral palsy. Individuals with disabilities should not be referred to as patients or cases unless their relationship with their doctor is under discussion, or they are referenced in a hospital or clinical context. 

Creating an Inclusive Environment

There are myriad structural or technological solutions that can be used to adapt a workplace environment to create accommodations so that key workers can function at their highest levels. In addition to accessible tools such as ramps, easy access to offices, elevators and lifts, computers with voice recognition systems or verbal feedback can help engage employees who may otherwise be limited or unable to contribute.

People with disabilities continue to confront workplaces where environmental impediments prevent them from doing their jobs effectively. There are two important reasons why. One, there is a prevalent mindset around normalcy that does not include accessibility in its fullest form. Rather than seeing that environments and work processes should be designed to be inclusive of the nearly 20 percent of Americans with a disability, many environments view accessibility or accommodations as either necessary or bothersome and often costly. In that mindset, the short-term expenditure of time or money does not consider the long-term gain of skilled and dedicated employees, nor the potential legal risk and costs.

Second, accessibility is often an afterthought in physical environment and work process design. And when accessibility is included, these designs may not be constructed with but rather for people with disabilities. There are several things organizations can do to facilitate this process:

Include people with disabilities in the earliest stages of planning physical environments and work processes. This can be an important role for disability-related employee resource groups. Engaging people at this stage enables stakeholders to consider how people work, where people work, how people communicate and how information is shared. It is also more cost effective than changing existing structures. 

Consider how people with disabilities experience the current environment. A six-foot-tall person who can walk may not understand how difficult it is for a person in a wheelchair to get into a room. A hearing person may have a difficult time appreciating how technology works for someone who is deaf or hard of hearing. Able-bodied people should make a conscious effort to consider alternatives.

Creating an inclusive culture requires an effort to make all employees aware of the kind of environment an organization is trying to create. This involves open communication about why it is important to have that kind of inclusiveness, and what is expected of every employee.

Acting Without Thinking

Many of these solutions may seem obvious. Yet people with disabilities deal with another level of challenge that is often more difficult to identify and address. “During my lifetime, I have never felt that someone doubted how competent I am because I am Hispanic or because I am a woman,” Cruz-Martinez said. “However, I have felt that people have doubted how competent I am because I use a wheelchair for mobility purposes. People generally don’t react to a person with a disability in an ‘I don’t like you because …’ way but rather in an ‘I don’t know what to do or how to act around you.’ There is a fear factor — a fear of the unknown.”

Intention may have nothing to do with the bias people with disabilities face. Research during the past 15 years has demonstrated the power of the unconscious mind to influence biased behaviors related to race, gender, appearance, sexual orientation and almost every other kind of identity distinction. Where disabilities are concerned, for example, a study conducted by Elizabeth Sandel, a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Kaiser Permanente, showed unconscious bias can shape the way patients receive care. For example, bias was found to impact how conscious physicians are about making sure the appropriate equipment and support is ready. 

In an article in the journal Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy created a distinction that may explain how unconscious, unintentional bias manifests. In Cuddy’s model, bias can be dissected in two: bias by warmth and competency-based bias. Bias by warmth is demonstrated when people tend not to like or feel comfortable with a particular kind of person. Even when people with disabilities do not encounter bias based on how warmly people do or don’t feel toward them, they may still experience bias in other ways.

For instance, people may go out of their way to help — or try to help — someone with a disability. However, underneath that well-intentioned action may lurk an unconscious sense that the person is not capable of helping him or herself. This can lead to patronizing, offensive or diminishing behavior. Further, the mind often makes irrational connections.

When a person sees somebody who cannot use his or her legs, for example, the mind may generalize that inability to walk, and assume that person cannot do other things. For example, a person speaks loudly to people in a wheelchair as if their inability to use their legs impacts their hearing.

People have been trained by life experiences to see people with disabilities in a particular way. For example, many were raised to believe it is not polite to draw attention to a disability. Early programming can be tough to shake and can lead to these unconscious behaviors. To accelerate awareness and acceptance of difference:

• Assume there may be bias within perceptions and reactions to people with disabilities. This needn’t be a source of shame or embarrassment.

• Create an environment in which people can openly give each other feedback about how they experience each other’s behavior and encourage non-defensive listening.

• Track data that can reveal behavioral patterns. Measure how processes such as hiring practices, promotion rates, job assignments and performance reviews rate for people with disabilities versus other employees. 

Developing an awareness of these biases takes active practice and compassion. The more people become consciously aware of their actions and guard against viewing those with disabilities through a narrow lens, the easier it is to develop an inclusive organization. 

Disability should be embraced as an integral part of an organization’s diversity and inclusion strategy. Like any other cornerstone of diversity, it is central to business strategy and corporate culture. Organizations committed to providing positive and inclusive work environments are more likely to enhance overall performance and increase profitability. When that happens, everybody wins. "

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