Thursday, July 31, 2014

Doing Business the Old Fashion Way: Face to Face

by Julie Barnes
Originally Published: July 31st, 2014

Most people that know me... know I'm a bit of a rebel. If I don't enjoy doing something, I don't do it, despite the 'current' trends.

That includes... hiding behind the computer to build my business. It seems it's the latest rage.

Why this is great for some, I soon found out, it wasn't so great for me... because I love being around people.

Now don't get me wrong. I love technology. It allows me to work with my clients no matter their location and connect with amazing people throughout the world, but nothing can compare to going out to networking events while meeting and connecting with people... face to face.

The excitement and energy buzzing around with other entrepreneurs and small business owners is truly inspiring, not to mention, the opportunities for business and joint ventures that arise due to meeting and personally connecting.

I also discovered... in a sea of 'sameness'... getting out and sharing about my mission in business, actually sets me apart by bringing a new awareness to me and my business that could never happen from behind the computer screen.

When I tell people I actually leave my house to attend live networking events... that depending on the area I'm going to... may include a 2 hour commute in San Francisco Bay traffic... I usually get a look as if I have a third eye.

I began to wonder... how many other women entrepreneurs prefer doing business the 'old fashion' way by getting out from behind the computer... so I asked. What I soon found out was this... more and more women are finding that getting out of the office and connecting in person has made a huge difference in their business.

Violette de Ayala, CEO & Founder of Femfessionals, an innovative business community for women entrepreneurs, found that face to face is the key to their programs because it helps to truly unite women and develop a sisterhood of business.

Ayala says, "Corporate professional women have the opportunity to interact daily in the office. However, that is not the case for most women entrepreneurs. The results from this face to face connection vs. the computer mode of contact is incredible in establishing business connections. Every time women gather person to person, business growth occurs for all involved. Social media and emails can then be used to support and facilitate the maintenance of that relationship. The in-person connection can't truly be replaced. We have thousands of women in our community that understand the value of face to face. It works!"

Lisa Calhoun, CEO of Write2Market, along with her CTO, Jean-Luc van Hulst, has learned ways to dovetail and dashboard critical information so they can spend less screen time and more person time.

Calhoun says, "The computer can give us entrepreneurs an artificial sense of scaling your business when it's really just messing with the icing. Using a computer to much is like picking at the frosting on a frosted cake -- you can rearrange and rearrange your impression, but it doesn't really make a difference in how the cake TASTES which is the whole point of the cake. I make a point to block hours in my calendar for business walks, lunches, and after-hours events -- and of course, the regular company meetings like our employee and managers meetings. I find the computer an extremely useful tool but it won't tell you if you are over using it. The fact is, as an entrepreneur, selling the vision internally and externally is my job. The computer is convinced -- it is people that make a difference in the trajectory of my business."

After 20 years in IT and in Corporate America, Saili Gosula made an exciting career change into more of a people business. A single mother of two, Gosula bought a SYNERGY HomeCare franchise - part of a national in-home care company. After leaving the bustling offices of Gap, Inc., the excitement soon faded. Gosula found herself alone in her Synergy HomeCare office - staring at her computer screen trying to figure out how to get her business off the ground.

Gosula says, "The phones weren't ringing. My client list was bare. One day I decided to unplug and make some face-to-face connections in the community. I reached out to the local Chamber of Commerce, met other small business owners and joined several referral groups."

These personal connections helped people realize Gosula was the real deal - a woman who had a passion for helping the elderly and cared deeply about making a difference. Word of Gosula's in-home care business spread quickly and clients soon came calling. Her decision to ditch the computer as her main source of networking was one of the best she has ever made. Her business is growing by leaps and bounds.

Read the original article from Huffington Post here: 

Preschoolers With Special Needs May Gain From 'Inclusion' Classrooms

by Mary Elizabeth Dallas
Originally Published: July 31st, 2014

THURSDAY, July 31, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Preschoolers with special needs benefit from going to school with children who have strong language skills, according to a new study.

Classmates with higher-level language abilities promote language growth in children with disabilities, researchers found. On the other hand, development of language could be delayed if their classmates have weak language skills, they said.

"We were surprised to see the striking differences among children's language skills at the end of the school year when considering those with less-skilled peers and highly skilled peers," said the study's lead author, Laura Justice, psychological scientist with the Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy at Ohio State University in Columbus. "In particular, children with disabilities seemed to be very negatively affected by having classmates who were less skilled."

The researchers said the findings, published July 28 in Psychological Science, support the concept of inclusion -- including children of varying abilities in a classroom.

The study involved 670 preschoolers. More than 50 percent of the children were diagnosed with a disability, such as autism spectrum disorder, language impairment or Down syndrome.

At the beginning of the school year, teachers assessed the children's language skills. Their development was reassessed at the end of the year to determine how much their abilities improved. The researchers also compared each child's end-of-year score with the classroom average.

Preschoolers with special needs were more affected by their classmates' language skills than the kids who did not have a disability, the study revealed. By the end of the school year, the special needs children in class with other children with weak language skills lagged well behind their normally developing peers.

In contrast, the preschoolers who had weak language skills when the school year began had greater improvements throughout the year if their classmates had strong language skills. The researchers pointed out these kids had scores similar to highly skilled students who had less-skilled peers.

When kids are in a classroom together, they naturally imitate each other's behavior, the researchers explained. This encourages the development of language skills, such as waiting to speak, communicating needs and storytelling.

"If peer effects operate as our work suggests they do, it is very important to consider how to organize children in classrooms so that their opportunities to learn from one another is maximized and so that young children with disabilities are not segregated into classrooms serving only those with special needs," Justice said in a journal news release.

Since the language skills of normally developing children continue to improve regardless of the abilities of their classmates, the researchers concluded school officials should strive to fill classrooms with students of various skill levels.

Read the original article from US News here: 

Stigma and Discrimination Are Killing LGBT Men -- News From the International AIDS Conference

by Linda Villarosa
Originally Published: July 31st, 2014

What is the effect of the new, repressive anti-LGBT laws around the world?

"We have evidence to show that the law is killing people."

These are the words of Ifeanyi Orazulike (pictured), who runs a clinic for MSM and trans women in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. Orazulike traveled to the International AIDS Conference last week in Melbourne to talk about his work and how the anti-gay laws are affecting access to health care for MSM in Africa.

Earlier this year, Nigeria passed a law mandating a 14-year prison sentence for anyone entering a same-sex union, and a 10-year term for a person or group supporting gay clubs, societies, organizations, processions or meetings. Public displays of affection by gay men and lesbians are also illegal.

"We used to have about 60 people a month; post-law it is down to about 10 to 15 people," said Orazulike, speaking at a standing-room-only press conference that looked at stigma and discrimination affecting MSM and trans women.

"The research shows that around 73 percent stopped accessing health care services, for fear of being discriminated against and for fear of being arrested for who they are," he said. "For fear of going to prison, people preferred to stay at home on their sick bed."

At this year's AIDS conference, organizers shifted the focus squarely on attacking HIV in so-called "key populations." The idea that HIV doesn't discriminate has long been a public health mantra. But, increasingly, it does.

Around the world, 35 million people are living with HIV, and UNAIDS is reporting the lowest levels of new HIV infections this century. AIDS-related deaths are at their lowest since the peak in 2005, having declined by 35 percent. And even in hard-hit sub-Saharan Africa, 90 percent of people who know their HIV status are receiving life-saving treatment.

But HIV prevalence is grabbing hold and taking root in four "key" groups. It is:

28 times higher among people who inject drugs
12 times higher among sex workers
19 times higher among gay men and other men who have sex with men
49 times higher among transgender women than among the rest of the adult population.

In the United States, gay and bisexual men account for 63 percent of new HIV infections and 78 of diagnoses among all newly infected men, reports the Centers for Disease Control. As rates for other groups were falling, from 2008 to 2010, new HIV infections increased 22 percent among young gay and bisexual men and 12 percent among gay and bisexual men overall.

And these are the groups that are most often ignored, shamed, stigmatized and discriminated against, even by the laws that are supposed to protect them. Globally, 76 countries criminalize same sex activity. In a study of 4,000 MSM globally, 1 in 12 reported being arrested or convicted of same sex behavior, noted San Francisco researcher Glen-Milo Santos. Sub-Saharan Africa had the highest rate at 24 percent. The same research shows that getting tangled with the law results in less access to medical care.

Needless to say, Nigerian officials deny the legislation is affecting MSM health. In Nigeria, HIV prevalence is about 4 percent, but much higher among MSM -- 44 percent in Abuja and 27 percent in Lagos. MSM represent an estimated 3.5 percent of the Nigerian population but account for more than 40 percent of new HIV infections.

"The government keeps saying law does not affect service provision," said Orazulike. "But when you tell people that they are going to go to jail for 14 years for being who they are, how can it not make a difference?"

At one point as Orazulike was speaking, a Nigerian journalist demanded to know where he had collected his data, because "MSM are not that common in Nigeria."

Surprised, Orazulike responded, "It is quite incredible to hear for the first time in my life doing this work for the past 8 years that gay men are not common in Nigeria. I am a gay man; I am Nigerian."

He then pointed to a group of his friends sitting in the front row and added, "they don't live in Australia; they live in Nigeria. We are very visible."

Read the original article from Huffington Post here: 

Giving colleagues with disabilities a voice

Originally Published: July 30th, 2014

Most companies have nondiscrimination policies and encourage people with disabilities to identify themselves and request accommodations. Unfortunately, the reality is that most people who have disabilities, even visible ones, choose not to discuss their situations in the work environment.

Many “invisible” disabilities are particularly difficult for people to disclose, such as depression, anxiety disorders, dyslexia, attention deficit, hearing loss, traumatic brain injury, or PTSD. The belief that they must actively conceal their disabilities—and anything in their personal lives that might reveal them—leaves many employees feeling invisible or alone.

The Company as Advocate

There are two important things every company can do to give employees with disabilities a voice, says Deb Dagit, disability advocate and founder of Deb Dagit Diversity.

1. Change the way you see (and talk about) disabilities. Too often, disability is viewed through a medical lens, as something that needs to be “cured,” instead of through a social lens or as a civil rights issue. Disabled individuals do not need to be fundamentally “fixed” or changed! As a result of this viewpoint, the conversation around disability often takes on a philanthropic tone.

“I think the disability community can be its own worst enemy by continuing to foster events where, if there is not a dry eye in the house, it’s a success,” says Dagit. “That’s hugely problematic if we want candidates with disabilities to be viewed as competitive, highly sought talent.”

2. Include people with disabilities in your advisory committees. No organization would even consider creating a program to enhance representation and inclusion for women, people of color, or the LGBT community without leaders of these constituencies playing a central role in developing and executing the strategy.

“We must follow the same ‘not-about-us-without-us’ anthem for people with disabilities,” says Dagit.

Read the original article from Diversity Journal here: 

Inclusion, Technology Keep Remote Workers Up Close & Personal

by Paula Fernandes
Originally Published: July 31st, 2014

The business world has long had a love-hate relationship with flexible work arrangements. Nearly 80 percent of workers claim they want more access to flexible work options and would use them if there were no negative career consequences, according to a report compiled by the Georgetown University Law Center.

Employees report that flexible work options — such as job sharing, part-time work, flex schedules, compressed work hours and telecommuting — improve their work-life balance. However, recent decisions by high-profile companies, such as Yahoo and Best Buy, to overhaul or eliminate their flexible work programs demonstrate that there is still much ambivalence about the effectiveness of flexible work options.

In this contentious climate, where there is often a gap between what employees want and employers need, small businesses are emerging as leaders in the flexible work movement. According to the 2014 National Study of Employers, which surveyed more than a 1,000 employers, small businesses allow employees more control over the hours they work.

Investing in employees

The founders of Group PMX, a New York-based consulting company that specializes in project and construction management, have adopted such an approach. In fact, all of Group PMX’s business is conducted from remote locations. The company does not have a central office for its 20 employees. Its human resources manager works from home full-time, and all other employees are based on-site at clients' locations and move from project to project as needed.

"There are many firms with large office spaces in midtown Manhattan and no one there because they are out where the clients are,” said Farid Cardozo, president and chief operating officer of Group PMX. By growing its employee base without being limited by physical boundaries, Group PMX is staying ahead of national trends. In fact, a recent study by the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College shows that workplace flexibility, though offered in some capacity by many companies, is still out of reach for most employees.

By not being confined to the traditional office structure, Group PMX did not need to purchase, rent or renovate an office space. "We took the money saved from real estate and reinvested it in our employees in the form of a great benefits package," said Michael Giaramita, the company's CEO. As a result, Giaramita said, Group PMX is able to offer benefits that are on a par with those of much larger firms in its industry. Such benefits include competitive salaries, full health care, vision, dental, a 401(k) plan with a 4 percent company match and 17 paid days off. "Of course, all this is great for retention and recruitment, but it all started with being flexible," Cardozo added. [What Your Workers Want ... It's More Than Money]

Fostering connectivity

Without a central office, Group PMX has looked for other ways to keep its people connected. All new employees meet with the HR manager prior to starting, and Cardozo and Giaramita travel to job sites regularly to meet with their employees as well as the clients.

"We don't micromanage, but it's our job to be extremely approachable so people who don't see us every day can still feel comfortable telling us what is going on," Cardozo said. Cardozo and Giaramita recounted how when their part-time bookkeeper expressed an interest in full-time work, they were able to transition her into the role of human resources manager, which still provided her with the flexibility to work from home.

The firm also hosts quarterly meetings, where all the employees come together to socialize, learn about new marketing initiatives and gain insight into the state of the firm and upcoming projects.

"We also invite potential hires," Giaramita said. "This way, they can meet everyone and see if we are a good fit. Once they see the energy in the room, they are usually hooked."

Staying in control

One reason many companies have been resistant to adopting flexible work arrangements is that they're afraid of losing control over their work environment. Employers report worrying about the potential abuse of flexible working arrangements, a decrease in employee productivity and difficulty in managing people in remote locations. Giaramita and Cardozo, however, find that technology provides a more-than-adequate solution to these concerns.

"It is key to invest in IT if you are going to offer a significant level of workplace flexibility," Giaramita said. Group PMX provides all its employees with iPhones, state-of-the art laptops and iPads as needed. In addition to using email for daily communication, Group PMX makes use of Web tools such as Replicon, a cloud-based timesheet and expense management system; Egnyte, a file storage and management system that can access files for any project from any device, from anywhere in the world; and Evernote, a software designed for note-taking and archiving that helps manage the firm's marketing needs. These systems make it seamless to submit invoices and timesheets, get paid on time, and communicate with colleagues and clients.

Ultimately, the degree of flexibility that each company can provide is shaped by the unique nature of its business, but Cardozo and Giaramita believe that many of the strategies that have worked for them can be adapted to meet the needs of all sorts of workplaces. In their experience, establishing flexibility as part of the company culture and not just as an accommodation is key, as is investing in IT and prioritizing ongoing and open communication with employees and clients. Additionally, they've benefited from eliminating the need for a central office and have been able to reinvest the savings to benefit their employees.

"With flexibility at our core, we've been able to excel at what we do and not miss a beat," Giaramita said.

Read the original article from Business News Daily here: 

In Promoting Board Diversity — Should Investment Funds Practice What They Preach?

by Beth Senko
Originally Published: July 31st, 2014

The push for increased diversity on corporate boards has been going on for some time. But the push for diversity hasn’t really reached the boardrooms where those shareholder votes are cast.
Last September, The Thirty Percent Coalition, a group formed in 2011 to address issues of gender diversity in the boardroom, congratulated eight companies for adding women members to their boards and noted that overall progress continues to be slow. However, there were a couple of bright spots:
“During the 2013 proxy season, shareholder resolutions on board diversity were filed with 25 companies. Of the 25 shareholder resolutions filed, 18 have been withdrawn based upon mutual agreements, an important mark of progress in the work on board diversity. Three board diversity shareholder resolutions went to a vote in 2013: proposals at CF Industries, Urban Outfitters, Inc. and Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. received support of 50.7 percent, 27.5 percent and 28.9 percent respectively. The impressive vote at CF Industries marks the first time a board diversity resolution has received majority support from shareholders.”
Many members of The Thirty Percent Coalition come from the institutional investing world and while its member firms lead in the area of board diversity, according to a recent study by BoardIQ, women may not be doing as well in the fund management boardroom as they are in the corporate boardroom.

BoardIQ studied fund filings on board composition of the 20 largest fund groups by assets and 125 other random boards overseeing assets ranging in size from $19 million to $193 billion. Their analysis showed, “nearly a quarter, including Pimco, DoubleLine and Fidelity Sector Funds, don’t have any, the analysis shows. Another 30% of boards have only one woman director.”

Put simply, 55% of fund boards examined have either one woman or none. In contrast, a 2013 study by 2020 Women on Boards shows that 43% of the companies in the Fortune 1000 index had one or fewer women board members. While the studies aren’t directly comparable, the twelve percentage point difference merits further study.

Is the problem a lack of qualified women candidates?
The BoardIQ study quotes Kristianne Blake, Independent Chair of the Russell Funds noting that board recruiting hasn’t changed that much over time. “I do feel historically the way board seats have been filled is the old boys’ network. It’s who you know.” At the same time, while the network expands when women are on the board, “the pool is smaller of women candidates, so boards have to make an effort to include them in the pool. You’ll have to aggressively look for women candidates.”
The number of women candidates available varies according to source. The University of Mannheim estimates that approximately 10% of equity fund managers are women. On the upper end, an estimate by the Mutual Fund Directors’ Forum says that women account for about one-third of qualified candidates.

Qualifications to be on a fund board are more specific than the qualifications for general corporate board. Candidates need to have an in-depth understanding of investment management including different styles, investment vehicles and measurement techniques. So candidates generally have to come from inside the investment management industry.

Is the challenge raising the issue with fund shareholders?
But what if the difference stems from a lack of shareholder interest in 401k and mutual fund investments?

Investment managers spend lots of money to meet fiduciary duties and vote in the best interests of their shareholders. It’s their job. Board slates, recruitment language and other proxy issues are thoroughly vetted before voting.

Fund shareholders, on the other hand, tend to be individuals, some with little or no investment expertise. Many individuals have their investment and retirement money spread over myriad funds and fund companies. If individuals read their investment statements at all, they likely look at overall performance and probably skip over proxy issues like board diversity. The calculus becomes even more complicated when one considers how many individuals pick their mutual fund investments. The benefit provider picks the funds – and changes them when appropriate and the individuals pick from the list of choices as if they were at the salad bar. Even a well-informed investor with a diversified portfolio of assets probably doesn’t have the resources, much less the interest, in tracking the make-up of the fund boards that manage their assets.

With more and more retirement and pension money managed by a multitude of outside managers, Individual investors have little or no awareness of fund board diversity – and probably less interest. This may partially explain the gap in fund board diversity. The next question is how to raise awareness and interest in the issue.

Read the original article from The Glass Hammer here: 

Playing with the big boys: Gender in business and sport

by Nicky Little
Originally Published: July 31st, 2014

Nicky Little, head of leadership at Cirrus, asks why gender still matters in some sectors more than others.

It was very big news when General Motors appointed Mary Barra as its first female CEO earlier this year, a first for a global carmaker – even if she did start off earning half of what her male predecessor did.

Then there’s Angela Ahrendts, regarded as one of the FTSE’s most successful CEOs when she ran Burberry. In June this year she became the first woman to join the board of technology giant Apple, in a much-publicised move.

These women are exceptional. Only 3% to 4% of CEOs worldwide are female. In most organisations, the percentage of women decreases the higher up the organisation’s career ladder you go.

There are also many influential roles in sport, as in business, that tend to be dominated by men. Tennis coaching is one. So when Andy Murray appointed Amélie Mauresmo as his new coach, headlines were made.

Gender doesn’t seem to be nearly as big an issue for Mauresmo as it is for the media commentators around her. She has openly stated that she took the job because she welcomed the career opportunity – not because she wanted to make a point about equality. And her employer, Andy Murray, stressed the same. He says he hired Mauresmo for her skills and experience.

Although facing obstacles when securing leadership roles is often presented as a women's issue, it affects everyone. All organisations benefit from having a wide talent pool to draw on. And more and more people are seeking out employers with strong ethics.

HR professionals are, of course, big supporters of diversity. However, the HR profession – and business leaders in general – don’t always agree on the best route to equality. Quotas? They’re often considered controversial. More female role models? Many agree this is a powerful way to attract women into ‘male’ professions and leadership roles – which is why the appointments of Mauresmo and Barra were welcomed by so many.

Our world is constantly changing, and perceptions of women in the workplace are in rapid flux. One recent study from Florida International University found that when it comes to being perceived as effective leaders, women are rated as highly as men, and sometimes higher.

Lead researcher Samantha Paustian-Underdahl believes this finding stems from society’s changing gender roles and the need for a different leadership style in our globalised workplace – one that is more collaborative, connected, and open. She suggests it is likely that the stereotypical view that associates leadership with masculinity is dissolving slowly over time.

This study, like many others, finds that men tend to rate themselves as significantly more effective than women rate themselves. Another recent study by recruitment company Robert Half found that 24% of people believe women do not progress because they are too modest about their achievements and don't put themselves forward to top roles as readily as men.

In the study, The Confidence Gap, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman found that women tend to apply for a promotion only when they met 100% of the qualifications. Men apply when they met, on average, 50%. This study also found that women are seen as more effective when they held senior-level management positions. The researchers contend that this is due to a “double standard of competence", where some people presume that women leaders have to be extra competent to get into top positions.

When looking for leaders in any profession, skills and experience do matter more than gender. However, in some industries, the pool of talent to draw on is not very diverse. The women I’ve used as examples in this article are leaders in their fields. They have exemplary CVs and are widely admired and respected for their mix of skills and experience. It would be very difficult to argue that any of them have been appointed because of their gender.

In the world of sport, as in the world of business, a high-profile woman in an influential role is still often judged on the basis of her gender. However, we are moving towards a world where everyone is judged on their ability. And this is good news for all of us – not just women.

Read the original article from HR Magazine here: 

Disability Rights are Civil Rights

by Kathy Martinez
Originally Published: July 30th, 2014

President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Earlier this month, we as a nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Just minutes before putting pen to paper on that historic day, President Lyndon B. Johnson went on television to address the nation, articulating the law’s fundamental purpose: to create a better, more inclusive society for all Americans.

“Those who founded our country knew that freedom would be secure only if each generation fought to renew and enlarge its meaning,” he said in his address, going on to acknowledge the many leaders, both black and white, who worked tirelessly to get what he often referred to as “an American bill” onto his desk.

At the time, I was 5 years old and 3,000 miles away in southern California, doing the typical things 5-year-olds do. But, there were others older than me listening who took those words to heart in a way that would have a profound impact on my life. In the 1960s, the unified disability rights movement was just emerging, and its leaders learned a great deal from those who brought the Civil Rights Act to fruition.

Twenty-six years later, those leaders found themselves at the White House looking on as another president signed landmark civil rights legislation renewing and enlarging America’s ideal of equality — the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which was authorized by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990, and closely modeled on the Civil Rights Act.

President Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

That moment I do remember well. By that time, I had become active in the independent living and disability rights movements in California, advocacy work that laid the foundation for my career going forward. Indeed, today, the ADA underpins all we do at the department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.

Earlier this year, the LBJ Presidential Library in Texas held a summit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. In President Obama’s speech at the event, he reflected on this continuing legacy, to both America at large and him personally:

Because of the Civil Rights movement, because of the laws President Johnson signed, new doors of opportunity and education swung open for everybody — not all at once, but they swung open. Not just blacks and whites, but also women and Latinos; and Asians and Native Americans; and gay Americans and Americans with a disability. They swung open for you, and they swung open for me. And that’s why I’m standing here today — because of those efforts, because of that legacy. And that means we’ve got a debt to pay. On multiple levels, I too am where I am today because of that legacy. And as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy, I too am committed to paying it forward — to renewing and enlarging it — for future generations of Americans with disabilities, and all Americans.

Read the original article from The United States Department of Labor here: 

More employees admit they’d leave their jobs for more flexible working

by James Bourne
Originally Published: July 31st, 2014

Research conducted by Unify has found that more than one in three employees surveyed said they would leave their current employer if a job offer with more flexible working conditions came along.

Not surprisingly the report, of more than 900 global respondents across a variety of verticals including health, finance and education, found that generation Y was the most likely to fly the nest. 43% of gen Y employees polled admitted they’d look elsewhere for more flexible working.

This comes amidst a separate piece of research from PwC which prognosticates on the workplace of 2022, concluding that traditional recruitment methods and company structure will soon be ancient history.

The PwC paper, ‘The future of work: A journey to 2022’, finds that companies will be classified into three types; blue, green and orange. ‘Green’ firms “avoid hierarchy and opt for flexible, flat and fluid organisational structures”, while ‘orange’ firms opt in for an employee ‘deal’: more employees enjoying greater flexibility and challenges from working freelance.

“Looser, less tightly regulated clusters of companies are seen to work more effectively than their larger and potentially more unwieldy counterparts,” the researchers add.

It’s a current working trend in lots of fields. As Rin Hamburgh wrote in an opinion piece for the Guardian earlier this week, many freelance journalists are unable to survive purely on writing, instead building up ‘portfolio’ careers from a combination of journalism, sub-editing and media training.

As one human resources manager in South Africa noted in the PwC report, “people’s increasing need for diversified careers, mobility and flexibility” would have the single biggest impact on work in the next 10 years.

In the Unify survey, more than half of all senior managers surveyed said their companies were moving towards more flexible work, and expect change to that effect over the next two years. One in three respondents said they would drive initiatives to make flexible working a reality in their organisations.

Vendors have been driving this sea-change in employee working, from apps that allow you to complete business tasks on mobile to software that enables full desktop functionality from home. Employees evidently are keen on creating a more productive, mobile-friendly workplace, yet this organ is still of the view that there will still be a place for the traditional office. The question is: will employers follow suit?
Read the original article from Apps Tech here: 

Companies With Diverse Boards Take Fewer Reckless Risks

by Jesse Singal
Originally Published: July 31st, 2014

There's recent evidence that diverse groups act in a more intelligent manner than homogeneous ones, and a new study from researchers at Wake Forest, Kent State, and Pepperdine takes that idea a bit further, testing whether diverse corporate boards are less likely to make the sorts of risky decisions that can take down a company (or an economy). In short: yes. And it probably has to do with the awkwardness and initial lack of cohesiveness that diversity can bring with it.

For the study, the researchers analyzed a bunch of data pertaining to more than 2,000 companies' boards' diversity (not just ethnic diversity, but also age, gender, areas of expertise, and other categories), as well as how they ranked with regard to some established measures of corporate risk-taking over a 13-year span. They found that the more diverse a company's board was, the less likely it was to engage in risky behaviors, the more likely it was to issue dividends, and the larger those dividends were likely to be.

Why? Basically, the researchers think, because diverse groups have a bit more social friction, and this friction can be good if you're trying to throw up roadblocks between a board and hasty, ill-conceived decisions. "Compared to diverse boards, homogeneous boards form consensus more easily and quickly, and thus are more likely to experience diffusion of responsibility, reach the 'let's try it' mentality, and exhibit risk taking behavior," they write. Diverse boards, on the other hand, "face greater challenges in communicating and accepting one shared decision."

This, combined with previous research showing that "diversity can lead to increased group creativity and information sharing," can help explain these results. When it's naturally assumed that everyone's on the same page, it's easier to make thoughtless, risky decisions.

Read the original article from Science of Us here: 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

U.S. losing tech talent to Canada

by Sara Ashley O'Brien
Originally Published: July 30th, 2014

The land of the free isn't catering to talented techies quite like our neighbors to the north. So many entrepreneurs have given up on navigating the complicated U.S. immigration system and are heading to Canada to launch their startups.

For Madhuri Eunni -- originally from Hyderabad, India -- Canada offered her the ability to finally launch her own company, which she wasn't able to do in the U.S.

"I didn't anticipate I would have to leave because of such circumstances," said Eunni, who has a master's degree in electrical and computer engineering.

She spent nearly a decade in the tech industry, working at Sprint (S) and startup MiCOM Labs, neither of which was able to sponsor her for a green card. Even if she had applied for an EB2 green card (for professionals with advanced degrees), the wait for an Indian citizen can be as long as five years due to backlog.

So in September 2013, Eunni moved to Toronto and launched SKE Labs Inc., a startup that's still in development but will ultimately make kitchen and home products for connected living.

"It was disappointing that we had to uproot ourselves, [but] starting a business was something I wanted to do," said Eunni. "It's not as big as the Bay Area, but it's a growing market."

The most common way for immigrants to work in the U.S. is to obtain an H-1B visa (of which there are only 65,000 annually). The H-1B mandates employer sponsorship, so self-employed startup founders are pretty much out of luck.

"The U.S. has adopted a restrictive approach toward visas," explained Isabelle Marcus, founder of Columbus Consulting Group. "It's quite detrimental to U.S. businesses looking to hire young, talented people with skills that are needed in the U.S."

Advocates of immigration reform have pushed a startup visa, which would allow founders like Eunni to legally stay in the U.S. The Senate passed a version last year, but it stalled in the House.

Canada, however, has been courting entrepreneurs and paving a way for citizenship through a startup visa program that launched in April 2013.

The Canadian startup visa doesn't require employer sponsorship. Applicants need a minimum investment of $75,000 from a select Canadian angel investor or $200,000 from a select Canadian venture capital fund. (There are also a few additional requirements like language proficiency.) It grants a path to residency -- after three years, entrepreneurs can apply for citizenship.

There are 2,750 available annually. Its first two applicants -- Ukrainian entrepreneurs -- were accepted earlier this month.

Meanwhile, U.S. regulations make it incredibly difficult for entrepreneurs to stay in the country, which is costing the U.S. revenue and jobs. According to a recent study by the Partnership for a New American Economy, H-1B denials in 2007 and 2008 resulted in a loss of 231,224 tech jobs, translating into $3 billion in lost earnings for those would-be workers.

With no startup visa, strict quotas and regulations around H-1Bs, innovative entrepreneurs are migrating elsewhere.

Eunni was able to become a permanent Canadian resident because of her advanced degree and years of experience. She said the process was "super simple" -- she was approved within a year.

Entrepreneurs Jonathan Moyal and Vincent Jaouen moved to Montreal for the same reason.

While Moyal is a New Yorker, Jaouen is a French citizen.

The two worked together on Lucky Ant, a crowdfunding platform that was sold in December 2013, and had plans to launch an adventure sports booking platform called Dowza.

One hurdle? Getting Jaouen a visa.

They worked with Marcus to put together a dossier but kept hitting roadblocks. Because Dowza was in its very early stages, they doubted their chances of success -- and realized that even if Jaouen were to apply, he still had to be selected through the lottery.

"We looked at London, Tel Aviv, Hong Kong, Sydney as options where both of us would go," said Moyal.

Ultimately, Moyal and Jaouen decided on Montreal. This allows Moyal to split his time between the two cities, maintaining his network of contacts in New York. Moreover, as the company grows, the two anticipate hiring more tech talent from France. This way, they won't have to revisit the visa issue with each hire.

"We would much rather have stayed in New York, but it just wasn't possible," said Moyal.

Read the original article from CNN here: 

There’s a gender gap in bullying — watch it widen as kids grow up

by Steven Rich
Originally Published: July 29th, 2014

Every other year, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is required to collect data on “key education and civil rights issues in our nation’s public schools.” A few years ago, the survey grew to include reports of bullying and harassment.

An analysis of the 2011-2012 school year data show that disparities between bullying and harassment on the basis of sex increase between boys and girls as they progress through school. While girls at every level are harassed on the basis of their sex at a higher rate than boys, the disparities increase with age.

“Harassment or bullying on the basis of sex is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, such as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature,” according to a Department of Education definition. “Harassment or bullying on the basis of sex also includes gender-based, nonsexual harassing conduct, such as harassment based on gender stereotyping. This conduct can be carried out by school employees, other students, and non-employee third parties. Both male and female students can be victims of sexual harassment, and the harasser and the victim can be of the same sex.”

As you can see by the graphic above, middle school is where the most reports of bullying or harassment are made for both genders. However, in a traditional high school (grades 9-12), reports of harassment are as much as 56 percent higher for girls than their male counterparts, up from 34 percent in middle school (grades 6-8) and 20 percent in elementary school (grades 1-5).

The data is self-reported and likely understates the problem. Since the bullying and harassment question is new to the survey, the Office for Civil Rights reports that it’s hard for some schools to provide accurate data.

For example, of the nearly 3,900 public schools in Florida, there were only 606 incidents in the data. Vermont, which has 295 public schools, reported 709 incidents over the same year.

There’s also the issue of under-reporting among students. Many students never come forward to report being bullied for fear that it may make things worse.

The next collection, which took place this last school year, will likely be out in two years and will hopefully refine results as schools get used to the reporting requirements.

Read the original article from The Washington Post here: 

10 sexist scenarios that women face at work – and men don’t

by Laura Bates
Originally Published: July 30th, 2014

These common scenarios reported to the Everyday Sexism project are painfully familiar to working women

Each of these situations has been reported again and again to the Everyday Sexism Project. For most men, they will be difficult to imagine. For many women, they are painfully familiar.

1 Being mistaken for the secretary

“Although I’ve been a senior figure in client meetings, when all other attendees are men it’s regularly expected that I’m the one to take notes and distribute drinks.”

“I am head of the fundraising department in the charity I work for. Every time I go to a meeting with the man in my department, he is greeted first, his hand is shaken first, and the conversation is directed towards him. Once, I was asked if I was there to take notes even after I had been introduced as the manager.”

2 Being mistaken for the tea lady

“International visitors from company’s head office came for a meeting at which I, the only female in management, had to report. I walked in with my report and they asked for coffee, white with two sugars.”

3 Being called a “good girl”

“Being told I’m a ‘good girl’ when offering ideas to senior management. Have to resist the urge to bark. A raised eyebrow and ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that’ worked with one. The other just repeated it … I did call one of them a good boy once, but not in a meeting. He seemed to get my point but said that they ‘didn’t mean anything by it’.”

4 Being accused of menstruation when voicing a firm opinion

“My colleague had to chase up someone in another department for not meeting a deadline for paperwork to be submitted. When she went to speak with him about it his response was: ‘Is it your time of the month?’ This is in a huge listed company. She’s a lawyer.”

5 Being asked if ‘a man is available instead’

“Working in a law office, I’ve had plenty of people on the phone demand to speak to a man instead of me.”

“People asking if another vicar is available for wedding/funeral: ‘Nothing personal but we’d prefer a man.’”

6 Having an idea ignored only to be repeated by a male colleague five minutes later to interest and applause

“A female friend of mine in an office meeting proposed a logical, simple solution to a recurring issue. Blank stares from the group and a ‘We’ve never done it that way’ from the senior (female) manager. A male colleague then makes the exact same suggestion and the room nods enthusiastically and congratulates him on the idea.”

“I attended a meeting last week where a question was posed. I knew the answer and told everybody: ‘The answer is yes, there is going to be a group assigned to do this.’ The chair of the meeting (a man) ignored my comment completely and said to everyone: ‘I think the answer is probably yes, the board promised to work on this topic so I guess they will assign a committee.’ I shared a look with the only woman in the room, sighed and repeated: ‘Actually yes, I KNOW there is a committee assigned to this task.’ I wished this was the first time that this happened … it is not.”

7 Being asked about childcare plans

“During my interview for my current position I was asked if I planned on having any more children and what my childcare arrangements are. Each time the question was preceded with: ‘I’m probably not supposed to ask this but …’ Too blinking right you’re not supposed to ask it! Would you have asked it if I were a male candidate?”

8 Being considered a ‘maternity risk’

“I had an interview for an office job for a small company when I was in my early 20s. The senior partner who owned the company told me they wouldn’t hire me because I would probably get pregnant and go on maternity leave, and that if I repeated what he’d said he’d deny it.”

9 Being accused of ‘baby brain’

“I was told on my first day back [from maternity leave]: ‘You’ll never be the same for us now you have baby brain.’”

“I recently came back from maternity leave to my overseas posting, to meet the new boss for the first time. In our first meeting, he explained that I would no longer be in charge of the unit I had been setting up for a year due to my ‘special circumstances’… He also stated that while I was nursing it will be difficult for me to focus on my job, so he was being generous by giving me less responsibility, and downgrading my position.”

10 Avoiding wandering hands

“I was 22, just graduated from university and working a three-month trial period at a very small company – just me and the boss (married, with kids my age). One day I was busy with filing, and the boss came up behind me, wrapped his arms around me and stuck his tongue on my ear. I shoved him away and told him not to do that again. Ended up being fired a week later because I wouldn’t have an affair with him.”

If these scenarios sound shocking to the male reader, try running them by some of the women you know – you might be surprised to find how common they are. For many women, this piece will read less like an article and more like a bingo card – how many did you cross off?

Read the original article from The Raw Story here: 

An 'Ether Of Sexism' Doesn't Explain Gender Disparities In Science And Tech

by Isaac Cohen
Originally Published: July 30th, 2014

This summer, the largest Silicon Valley corporations released their workforce demographic data. The response wasn’t surprising. Despite a plethora of Asian employees, the entire technology industry was roundly excoriated for its stunning deficiency in diversity. Critics’ principal complaint: too many “white males,” too few women.

The most relentlessly cited statistic was that women make up only 16% of the tech workforce. At first glance, this looks pretty lame. But once you catch your breath, you realize that most of these jobs require a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Women only earn 18% of such degrees awarded to United States residents. Not such a bad effort, then, by Google and company. Still, that didn’t stop the public shaming. Earnest apologies were issued, and calls were made for reform.

Who’s to blame?

Who deserves the brunt of our collective outrage over these lopsided ratios? More importantly, who should be charged with fixing them?

One highly controversial theory — the one that got Larry Summers in deep trouble — argues that there are male advantages in math-related cognitive ability, especially at the so-called “right tail” end of the bell curve. But it’s not necessary to hit that third rail, because even the most capable women shy away from engineering and computer science.

To my knowledge — I’m biased — no school enrolls more fiercely intelligent women than Yale. Yet even there, women are only 18% of computer science majors. The figures are similar at other high-flying schools that admit the best and the brightest women. Not unexpectedly, the prevailing narrative at Yale is that these numbers reflect some kind of glaring injustice. But what exactly is Yale doing wrong?

Did anyone stop them?

Some commentators have suggested that women face a culture of sexism in the hard sciences. Since the numbers are similar in all of academia, these allegations are often aimed at the entire ivory tower. At Yale, for example, women make up only 24% of the tenured faculty, with the numbers higher in the humanities (30%) and social sciences (25%) and lower in the physical (11%) and biological (19%) sciences. Pointing the finger at sexism to explain these variations seems both plausible and appealing, but is it warranted?

Not really. In fact, despite the mainstream media’s insistence that sexism is rife, there exists very little evidence of pervasive bias. Studies occasionally pop up that point to overt or subtle bias in academic hiring or funding, but they are debunked as often as they are trumpeted. And the discrimination that social scientists claim to demonstrate is rarely strong enough to explain observed disparities.

Still, the data must be carefully examined with an open mind. Yale researchers recently asked science faculty at American universities to evaluate fictitious resumes for a lab management position. They found that these professors were slightly less likely to offer mentoring or a job to female applicants for a laboratory management position. And both male and female professors consistently rated otherwise identical applicants named Jennifer as slightly less competent than those named John.

Does this mean that academic science is an evil patriarchy? Not necessarily. The study’s response rate (30%) and sample size (n = 127) were both fairly low. That doesn’t invalidate the results, but it is important to reproduce the study with a larger sample, especially in the social sciences. Even then, the results wouldn’t be incontrovertible proof of systemic bias. What occurs in artificial experiments doesn’t necessarily reflect the reality of hiring. Employers in the real world typically have a greater and more varied quantity of information, and decisions in academia are usually made by committee. Such practices help to stem unconscious prejudices.

Finally, here’s a question: do men and women in these types of jobs on average actually perform identically and show equal commitment to the job, holding their credentials constant? If not — and that’s a big if — it might be that those doing the hiring are just unconsciously playing the odds, or engaging in what is termed “statistical” or “rational” discrimination. One less controversial example of this kind of “rational” bias is that auto insurance companies tend to charge men higher rates, because they are more likely, on average, to drive recklessly. Of course, this answer won’t make us feel any better if we think that candidates should be judged individually. But in a world of imperfect information where average gender differences are not unknown, it would at least explain why male and female professors were equally likely to be subtly biased against women. Ultimately, though, whether rational bias is at work is an empirical question.

Let’s assume, however, that this study’s methodology was flawless and that the observed bias was irrational and not based on any real pattern of statistical differences. Its measured effect was still rather small, on the order of 10%. That’s not an atypical result. Indeed, despite a veritable cottage industry that strives to demonstrate discrimination in various settings, the magnitude of the bias that some researchers claim to measure is routinely quite modest. In the case of women in the hard sciences, the results of studies like these are far too weak to explain observed gaps. Could this discrimination “on the margin” explain the cavernous gender gap in the physical sciences at Yale and similar high-flying places? Almost certainly not.

What matters is the relative contribution of discrimination against women, if it exists, compared to the contribution of other causes, such as choices, tastes, interests, preferences, ambitions, and life plans. This point relates to the all-important question of effect size: many factors could be at play, but some could have a much bigger influence. Unfortunately, we would never know that because social scientists often slight the issue of relative magnitudes, and the popular press seems unwilling to press the question. The next time you read an editorial piece that cites social science, remember three words: effect size matters.

So what explains the gap?

Novice researchers often enter behavioral psychology convinced of the blank slate thesis. They believe that little boys and girls are born tabula rasa. Parents, teachers, and society then proceed to mold children’s interests, talents, and temperaments towards the dominant gender stereotypes.

Tenured faculty members have a word for blank slate proponents: “childless.”

That joke is funny because, despite the suffocating aura of political correctness that pervades today’s public discourse on gender and group differences generally, many people — including academics — still retain a glimmer of common sense. Even the most stalwart defender of the progressive order will admit, after a few drinks, that the pure “social construct” theory of gender is an idea so implausible that only intellectuals could believe it. But she won’t dare say so in public. On this subject the mainstream media — that shallow forum of modern thought — has deeply dug in its heels. Non-physical or behavioral differences between the sexes have become the mokita of our era; they are the “truth we all know but agree not to talk about.”

Well, thanks to the media, we might not even actually know about the research that reveals such differences. The problem today is no longer just “lies, lies, and damned statistics.” Instead, the crucial sins are those of omission. Certain types of findings are routinely ignored, slighted, or repressed. Social science that points to discrimination is shouted from the rooftops, but research that casts doubt on such sources or identifies other causes is hastily shoved under the rug.

What about disparate preferences?

One longstanding study carried out at John Hopkins by Camilla Benbow and David Lubinski suggests that gender differences in interests, tastes, lifestyle preferences, and goals are a significant driver of skewed gender ratios in STEM fields. Benbow and Lubinski followed the 20-year educational and career outcomes of nearly 3,000 girls and boys who were identified in their early teens as profoundly gifted in mathematical reasoning ability, and thus most prepared and encouraged to study STEM subjects. What they found is revealing.

Participants of both sexes mostly viewed themselves as “successful in their chosen professions,” and men and women didn’t vary significantly in satisfaction with their careers, even when career as a homemaker was included. When the participants ranked their lifestyle and work preferences, there were no sex differences in the importance of “continuing to develop my intellectual interests,” “continuing to develop my skills/talents,” “having leisure time to enjoy avocational interests,” or “having time to socialize,” among others.

Yet some gender disparities stood out. Men placed greater importance than women on “being successful in my line of work,” “inventing or creating something that will have an impact,” and “having lots of money.” Women stressed “having strong friendships,” “living close to parents and relatives,” and “having children.” Overall, men appeared to emphasize career success while women sought balance. The sexes were similar in self-esteem and other self-concept indicators. Most importantly, men and women, on average, entered different fields and professions, and they varied in how they chose to allocate their time.

More recent evidence confirms that men and women of formidable talent don’t make the same educational choices. Last year, women were still seriously underrepresented among those enrolled in Harvard and MIT online courses, including computer science (19%), circuits and electronics (9%), and elements of structures, a physics course with a side of linear programming (5%). Women who do take these courses get the same grades, and they actually have higher completion rates than their male counterparts. But on average, even in the privacy of their own homes and without the pressures and publicity of the classroom, they don’t seem as eager to develop these skills.

Another striking study suggesting that men and women may not have identical tastes and interests is rarely, if ever, discussed in the media. Researchers looking at the distribution of childcare in families of assistant professors with small children found that most of the study subjects believed that husbands and wives should share childcare equally. Yet even the men with such beliefs still did much less childcare relative to their spouses than female professors.

One reason for the prevailing discrepancy may have been that women simply like childcare more than men do. Female professors reported that they enjoyed childcare much more than male professors. The gender gap in enjoyment of childrearing was not associated with gender role attitudes or leave-taking. Rather, it seemed to reflect genuine differences in how professionally committed men and women felt about the day-to-day experience of taking care of kids.

Some people may find these results discomfiting. Resistors are tempted to set up a straw man: “Are you saying you want women to be 1950s housewives again?” But that’s not what these data imply. It helps to remember, as Steven Pinker has written, that “equity feminism is a moral doctrine about equal treatment that makes no commitments regarding open empirical issues in psychology or biology.” This sort of common sense feminism, which stresses equality of choice over equality of outcome, tends to get lost in the breast-beating over diversity.

The rise of ether politics

In an effort to account for observed gender disparities in a “gender neutral” way, diversity hawks resort to the fanciful notion that we literally swim through an “ether” of sexism. I call this the “ether politics” of gender. The phrase is disconcertingly apt. I asked one of my friends on the Left to explain it, and she actually made swimming motions with her arms. Is this the best we can do?

According to “ether” sexism, parents, teachers, and our entire culture create — often unknowingly — a noxious miasma that contributes to a systematic and early barrage of gendered, subliminal messages. This effectively discourages women from doing anything that doesn’t fit with hoary notions of femininity. Does an invisible, ineffable fog of oppression truly engulf modern American women? The evidence is increasingly strained and far-fetched.

For one thing, the “ether” theory isn’t completely impervious to evidence. We can test for coercive socialization, or at least try to. In 1991, one meta-analysis of 172 studies found virtually no disparity in how parents mold the social behavior or abilities of boys and girls. There was no evidence overall of “parents making any consistent difference” by gender in the areas of “encouragement of achievement,” “restrictiveness,” “disciplinary strictness,” “warmth,” and “encouragement of dependence.” In fact, four studies found that in many Western countries, parents as a whole encouraged achievement more in girls than in boys. That pattern fits with women’s growing edge in academic rank and college completion.

For some sex-stereotypical behaviors, such as playing with dolls or trucks, parents (and especially dads) show a mild tendency to shape children’s behaviors in conventional ways. But, as the authors point out, this observation could reflect a parental response to children’s pre-existing play preferences, which show up quite early. None of the studies rule out that possibility. All in all, there were no signs of an oppressive or restrictive fog. Differences in parental socialization of boys and girls were non-existent at best and modest at worst.

Twenty-three years after that study, here is the reality: the mainstream media, the powers that be in higher education, and — most importantly — the parents and families of college-bound women are all but begging them to study the hard sciences. We live in an age of aggressive parental pampering and cheerleading. Many of the women at schools like Yale come from liberal, relatively elite families who would love to see their daughters enter fields like math, computer science, engineering, and physics. So the notion that today’s cultural message is that women “can’t do science and math” just doesn’t fit with the prevailing zeitgeist.

What families encourage institutions like Yale reinforce. Academia is a blinding beacon of modern liberalism, and when it comes to an all-consuming progressive ethos, it really is true that, as we say: “There’s no place like Yale.” The advanced introductory computer science course at Yale, CS 201, is taught by two brilliant female professors, and the department’s latest hire is a woman. Legions of math-savvy women enroll at Yale every year. The doors to computer science courses are wide open. The notion that women face large discriminatory barriers in the sciences at Yale and schools like it just looks, to an ordinary undergraduate like me, simply preposterous. The courses are there — I’m in them. The professors are busy, but they’re eager to help. The opportunities are endless, and they are there for the taking. Despite these realities, the consensus is that Yale and its students should all be ashamed. It’s hard to see why.

Are the hard sciences institutionally sexist?

Another aspect of the “ether” account of male-dominated STEM ratios rests on the assertion that academic science and the tech industry are “institutionally sexist.” The idea is that these sectors are made up mostly of men and that both endeavors exemplify and reward what are traditionally thought of as “male values”: competitiveness, aggressive risk-taking, staunch meritocracy, obsessive focus, and a relative lack of work-life balance. Feminists argue that these attributes make the hard sciences unwelcoming and unattractive to women.

The belief that those traits that make for success in science and technology are inherently “masculine,” rather than simply human, is far from universally shared, and it is belied by generations of distinguished female scientists. Yet it’s worth asking to what extent we could drain the scientific enterprise of its so-called “masculine” elements and still maintain its quality, rigor, creativity, and output. As long as long hours, hard work, and zealous dedication pay scientific dividends — and they do — men and women who are pushing the hardest will likely achieve the most and rise to the top. Thus, real achievement in science will probably always require intense focus and drive.

Do we even know how to design a system in which that’s not the case? Many institutions and companies are attempting to make some changes, but ultimately no one really knows how to eliminate all the elements that purportedly keep women away. And where is the guarantee that, if we somehow manage to make science more “feminine” — which will almost certainly be a costly, meddlesome, and uncertain process — women will flock to the field in greater numbers? Reality may well disappoint, and the ratios may not approach anything like the exalted ideal of 50-50.

In any event, the tech sector is famously innovative and keenly interested in finding good workers and keeping them happy. Rather than imposing heavy-handed solutions backed by special interest groups and bureaucrats, why not let these industries find the best way forward for themselves?

Nonetheless, there is no getting around the fact that, as Benbow and Lubinski suggest, ultra-capable, math-savvy women have a different profile of interests, on average, than their male counterparts, at least for now. For every woman who chooses law or medicine, one fewer will enter computer science. There will always be many brilliant women in hard science fields, but that doesn’t mean that the ratios will ever be balanced.

And why should we want them to be? For all the talk of empowerment, it is odd that so many still doubt women’s capacity to choose their own careers. It’s worth noting that many of the women who complain about the dearth of women in science don’t themselves enter these fields. It’s “science for thee, but not for me.” Does it occur to them that their personal choices do nothing to increase the number of female scientists? And would those critics admit to making their own life decisions under duress?

Above all, the eternal quest for diversity threatens to distract us from the core mission of the scientific enterprise: to acquire knowledge, to explain nature, to discover physical truths, and to innovate and invent. When the brakes on a Chevrolet Volt fail, what surely won’t matter is whether their design team looked like America. The adamant declarations of some feminist critics notwithstanding, science does not need more women. Science needs more scientists.

Read the original article from Forbes here: 

If we want true gender equality, Commander Sarah West must be treated the same as any man

by Jane Merrick
Originally Published: July 30th, 2014

After Commander Sarah West became the first woman in history to take charge of a Royal Navy warship two years ago, she insisted that, because there were already a number of servicewomen in challenging roles, she was “not reinventing the wheel”.

However much she did not want her appointment to be newsworthy, it was – just as it would be if a woman was to take charge of a political party, the Bank of England or the BBC. When the appointment was made, some wondered how Cdr West would cope on a boat with all those men. Could a woman hold authority over 185 sailors and crew under challenging, isolating conditions and in a service renowned for its rough masculinity?

Now it seems any doubters over Cdr West’s ability to command a warship have their answer. The 41-year-old has been sent home after, it is alleged, having an affair with her third in command, married fellow officer Lt Cdr Richard Gray. If Cdr West was a man in a relationship with a female subordinate, it may still have made the news (sex scandals on warships arouse a certain level of interest) but would certainly not have stirred the same level of interest. And with our fixation on this story, the question continues to hang in the air: should women be put in charge of boats full of men?

In an interview earlier this year, Cdr West, who is separated from her husband, a former Royal Navy pilot, said there were drawbacks to her job: “Years at sea probably explains why I’m single. But every person in the military makes sacrifices.” You would think sailing around the Atlantic on HMS Portland for months on end, looking for enemy submarines and running humanitarian missions, would be challenging to the needs and desires of anyone – man or woman. We are told that relationships happen in the Royal Navy all the time, and are permitted as long as they don’t harm “operational effectiveness”. Relationships with subordinates are banned under the Armed Forces Code of Social Conduct if they compromise this operational effectiveness. Both Cdr West and Lt Cdr Gray, are being investigated for breaching that code.

It is possible to condemn this alleged adulterous affair – and worry about what it means for Britain’s naval defences. It is possible to feel sympathy for Lt Cdr Gray’s wife, who married him less than a year ago and wrote about it in Perfect Wedding magazine – a particularly heart-rending and poignant aspect of this saga. It is possible to condemn a person in a position of authority, no matter which gender they are, for embarking on a relationship with a more junior person. This man and woman may have been very close together in rank, but whenever a boss sleeps with an employee there is the potential for power to turn into abuse, humiliation and recrimination.

But despite this, it is also possible to see this as a blow in the fight for equality. When women are appointed or elected to top positions, we should cheer it as a landmark for all women, as well as a great personal achievement for the individual. When that woman makes a mistake, we should treat her in the exact same way we would a man in her position. If we want real gender equality, women must not be given concessions for wrongdoing. That’s the price of equality.

Cdr West’s background – she went to a comprehensive school in Grimsby – is not the typical CV of an officer in the Armed Forces. Her achievement in commanding HMS Portland is all the more remarkable, then. It would be a shame for her to lose her rank and post over this alleged affair, though – if we want no special treatment – then it must be left to the Royal Navy to decide.

What would be really “reinventing the wheel” would be for the entire Armed Forces not to be out of bounds to women – in both the most senior ranks and on the front line.

In one of his last announcements as Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond said he wanted women to be able to fight in combat roles alongside men, something more far-reaching than the alleged cabin exploits of a skipper and her third in command.

Air Vice-Marshal Elaine West (no relation), currently the highest-ranking female British military officer, says we are close to a woman being appointed to the most senior job in the forces of all, the Chief of the Defence Staff. It is only when more women are in charge across the Armed Forces that we can stop obsessing about the alleged affair of Cdr West.

Read the original article from The Independent here: 

Twitter's real diversity problem isn't in Silicon Valley offices. It's ... on Twitter

by Jess Zimmerman
Originally Published: July 30th, 2014

When so many people who build our technology are white brogrammers, does their culture matter as much as their products?

‘We have a very clear set of goals,’ Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said in a post-earnings report interview with CNBC on Tuesday. ‘And they’re all based on core characteristics.’ Photograph: Iain Masterton / Alamy

Whenever a new workplace “diversity” report surfaces from Silicon Valley – like the new one demonstrating that Twitter is even whiter and maler than you imagined – we are treated to a flurry of well-deserved hand-wringing about what this means for the tech industry. Why aren’t women and minorities getting hired? Are they not leaning far enough in? Are employers leaning too far out? Is the problem even at the hiring level, or is it way far back down the pipeline? What, in short, does this mean for the handful of people who work in tech?

These are important questions, but also ... screw those guys. About 4m people in the US work in the tech sector, according to the Pew Research Center – that’s not even 1% of the population. Meanwhile, 87% of Americans are users of the internet. So why does it feel like we spend 87% of our time talking about how to improve the prospects of women and minorities in science, tech, engineering and math – and 1% talking about what the overwhelming white-dude power bloc in Silicon Valley means for the users of all that technology?

Like half the Twitter-using population – men and women use Twitter at similar rates – but only 10% of Twitter’s technical team and 21% of its leadership, I am a female Twitter user. And judging from my experience as a woman on Twitter, the diversity stats aren’t just a problem because of what they mean for the industry itself. They’re a problem because white men unconsciously build products for white men – products that subtly discourage anyone else from using them.

This year’s #YesAllWomen hashtag made it clear, even to people who’d managed not to notice yet, that Twitter has become a strong platform for feminists to gather, organize and make our voices heard – and, for the same reasons, a roiling cesspool of harassment. In the wake of the Isla Vista killings, where a young man named Elliot Rodger killed six people and injured 13 for explicitly misogynistic reasons, #YesAllWomen encouraged women to talk about the environment of relentless sexual threats that women often experience but men rarely hear about. Women participating in the hashtag felt a powerful sense of global support and community when we spoke out on about our experiences – and we faced a wall of threats, insults, and ugliness from people who prefer that women maintain the silent status quo.

During #YesAllWomen this dynamic was unmistakable, but really, it’s standard; women on Twitter are subject to verbal violence and threats at almost any time. Non-white users get threats, too, in addition to racist hate speech and extended, targeted harassment campaigns. Many women and people of color make their accounts private, take the time to block individual users at a heavy rate and still find that dedicated trolls seem to view harassing others as the best feature of Twitter, rather than a bug.

Yet in late 2013, Twitter briefly changed the “block” function so that, instead of preventing abusive users from interacting with you, it simply spared you from seeing their tweets. Abusers could then read their targets’ timelines while logged in, retweet their words and even follow them – negating much of the work users had undertaken to prevent those harassers from accessing their accounts. Twitter reverted new block rules by the end of a single day, but that change required a tsunami of negative feedback. By the same token, it took rape threats and bomb threats against female politicians and journalists (in a totally different incident) – plus a 120,000-signature online petition – to get Twitter to make it possible to report a harassing tweet or account with the push of a button.

If more than a nominal number of Twitter’s leaders and engineers had been members of groups that experience harassment, it wouldn’t be such a struggle for users to get the company to make the service safer. One function of white privilege and male privilege is that these things often slip your mind, because they can.

There are even strong economic reasons for Twitter to have the in-house capacity to address the needs of non-white, non-male users. “Black Twitter”, for instance, is a robust and thriving online subculture, and it’s become a demographic powerful enough that Twitter should be working hard to find out which, if any, specific needs and preferences black users have for their experience with the service. As a white person I can’t predict exactly what would make black users’ experience better, but the point is, neither can Twitter. Still, it should try – 40% of black internet users between 18 and 29 use the service. Yet with barely any black employees – only 2% of its leadership! Only 1% of the technical staff! – Twitter can’t really anticipate the needs of an enthusiastic, devoted chunk of its user base.

Listen, I could be here all day waving my hands about features that Twitter’s underrepresented populations might like, but I’m not going to do that. (OK, one more: it’s usually tremendously difficult to properly credit the originator of a viral hashtag – which are often created by black Twitter users in general and by activist populations in particular – because Twitter searches are so damned difficult.) That’s not my job; I don’t have the authority to establish best practices or make changes.

But it is the job of the overwhelmingly white male workforce at Twitter – and every other tech company whose users come from all races and genders but whose leaders and engineers look like a float at the Pasty Man Pride Parade. The problem is, when so many of the people who build my tech are members of the dominant culture, I don’t trust them to have my best interests at heart.

Read the original article from The Guardian here: 

Improving Diversity Recruiting is More Than Just Recruiting

by Kim Wipf
Originally Published: July 30th, 2014

A diverse workforce increases teamwork, productivity, efficiency, revenue and the overall wellness of a business. Focused recruiting is instrumental to achieving a diverse workforce, and is more successful if the company has an overall diversity and inclusion philosophy, as well as a focus on diversity retention. Without an overall diversity philosophy, recruitment might increase the number of diverse hires only to see the overall percentage of diversity in the workforce just remain stable – or worse – decrease.

Successful diversity recruiting includes various sourcing strategies, employee network groups, targeted diverse college programs, alumni, fraternity and sorority networks, and diversity retention and leadership programs. It is important to be able to measure the results of diversity programs to ensure success.

Diversity Sourcing Strategies

Diversity sourcing strategies leverage specifically selected job boards, diversity-focused industry associations and social media (e.g. LinkedIn groups, Facebook, talent communities, etc.). Sourcing strategies around diversity also differentiate the company’s employee value proposition and help businesses understand why different diverse employees should want to join your organization. Important diversity considerations include:

Strong diverse candidates have a multitude of options, and recruiters need to be able to make a custom recommendation about the company to potential hires.

Employee Network Groups

Companies who have employee network groups (ENG) that focus on different diverse populations are advertising to candidates that they value diversity, and supporting their existing diverse candidate populations. Recruitment team members should meet with the ENGs on a regular basis to gain knowledge on new sourcing opportunities, and to advertise the employee referral program. ENG members can be instrumental in the recruiting effort if they are alumni of a diverse college, sit on a board, or work on a diverse community group and are willing to speak on behalf of the company.

Targeted Diverse College Programs

If your company has a college program, does it include Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or other schools with large diverse populations? Competition at HBCs can be fierce, and many companies are finding success at regional schools with strong diverse populations. Identifying a handful of professors who can refer top students and sell your company to prospective candidates can be an invaluable sourcing strategy. On-site campus hiring events, leveraging your diverse employees can be a great way to connect with students and ensure that your company is top-of-mind when graduates begin looking for a job.

Alumni, Fraternity, and Sorority Networks

Historically diverse fraternities and sororities have alumni networks all across the country. Identify who in your employee base may be a member and encourage them to act as a company ambassador. Identify diverse high-potential employees and strong leaders who can leverage their campus alumni networks to identify candidates. Work with existing employees and recruiting team members to create gold-standard hiring experiences for candidates identified through such networks to help cement your company brand and encourage more applications.

Diversity Retention and Leadership Programs

Diversity hiring is always made easier when the company has a low diversity attrition rate and strong diversity leadership programs. Provide all potential candidates with recruitment collateral that speaks to diversity inclusion and leadership programs, as a commitment to diversity is not only important to diverse candidates, but matters to many potential employees. Also advertise if your company has a diverse mentoring program, leadership opportunities, and other diversity programs that will help promote your company brand.

Measure Your Results

Recruitment should always be able to measure its results. When tracking diversity recruiting, take into account specific diversity recruiting programs as well as overall employee diversity. It is important to look at the diversity attrition rate, including the percentage of diverse regrettable loss, and percentage of diverse hires, as well as the percentage of diverse employees against the total employee base and a comparison of the diverse company population against the local community diverse population. Companies should also pay attention to the diversity of their recruiting team, and ensure strong representation among the recruiters as well as the main body of the company.

Diversity is a benefit for any organization. Using a comprehensive diversity philosophy and recruiting plan, a company can bring in diverse candidates, while the overall strategy will allow those individuals to feel valued, flourish in their careers, and positively impact the company’s goals.

Read the original article from The Right Thinking here: 

Percentage of Women and Millennials in Leadership Roles Directly Tied to Organization's Overall Business Success

Originally Published: July 30th, 2014

New Global Research From DDI and The Conference Board Reveals No Significant Difference Between Men and Women in Leadership Skills or Abilities -- Except in the Area of Confidence Where Women Lag Behind Men

PITTSBURGH, PA--(Marketwired - July 30, 2014) - Encouraging leader gender and age diversity has many benefits for an organization, including the injection of more varied perspectives and greater range of thought, decision-making and problem solving. But, for the first time, new research from DDI and The Conference Board, titled The Global Leadership Forecast (GLF) 2014 | 2015, Ready-Now Leaders: Meeting Tomorrow's Business Challenges, directly connects a critical difference between the top and bottom corporate financial performers and that is companies with higher percentages of women in leadership roles perform better. The research also connects the percentage of Millennials in leadership roles with impacting overall business success.

The report -- the seventh since DDI began this research in 1999 -- consists of responses from an unparalleled participant pool of 13,124 global leaders and 1,528 human resource executives within 2,031 participating organizations. Forty-eight countries and 32 major industries are represented, as well as multinationals and local corporations. Eighteen significant findings are detailed in the report.

The remarkable sample size of the Global Leadership Forecast enabled DDI and The Conference Board to dissect findings across a wide range of leadership topics, looking not only at the present but comparing results of past surveys. "The findings clearly indicate that of the participating organizations, those in the top 20 percent of financial performance* have 37 percent of their leaders as women and 12 percent of their leaders are high-potential women," said Evan Sinar, Ph.D., DDI Chief Scientist, Center for Analytics and Behavioral Research (CABER) Director and study co-author. "Organizations in the bottom 20 percent count only 19 percent of their leaders as women, and 8 percent of their leaders as high-potential women."

Competency vs Confidence

The report showed no differences in self-evaluated leadership competencies by gender. This matches DDI's actual assessment center data of over 10,000 leaders that show when it comes to skills and behaviors, men and women are equally competent. The report did call out a difference between men and women in the area of confidence. Even though competency is equal, men tend to say they are more effective leaders overall than do women. Women are less likely to rate themselves as highly-effective leaders when compared to their male peers and to have completed international assignments, led across geographies or countries or led teams spread out geographically. "These development gaps are critical and not addressing these opportunities for women has a significant impact for these leaders," said Rebecca Ray, Ph.D., The Conference Board, Executive Vice President, Knowledge Organization, Human Capital Practice Lead and study co-author. "The research indicates that leaders who had more access to global and visible leadership experiences were more likely to advance within their organization."


The study also shows that an organization's pace of growth is directly related to the percentage of Millennials in leadership roles. Aggressive growth companies, such as those in high-tech industries claim a higher proportion of Millennials in leadership positions (30 percent) than organizations with cautious growth (25 percent) or no to low growth (21 percent). Companies that were more financially successful were also more likely to have a higher percentage of Millennial leaders.

Of all the generational groups, Millennial leaders report being less engaged and more likely to leave in the next 12 months. The research also reveals that Millennials receive a higher percentage of promotions which can be attributed to lower management entry points. Surprisingly, their preferences for using other methods of development such as formal workshops, training courses, online learning and developmental assignments mirrored those of other generations. Not surprisingly, Millennials tend to use social learning and mobile development for leadership skill improvement more than other generations. Learning from others using newly-available methods happens more frequently for this generation.

Leader Quality Predicts Financial Performance

The research incorporates a "learn from the past" approach by looking at historical data across organizations that participated in the 2011 Forecast. Compelling links were identified when comparing talent management and leadership development practices with financial performance.

Organizations with high leader quality were six times more likely to be among the top 20 financial performers for all organizations and positive leader experiences further magnified the link between leader quality and financial impact. Organizations with both high levels of leadership quality and engagement and retention, were nine times more likely to outperform their peers, intricately connecting talent management and leadership development practices with financial success.

"To improve business outcomes, bolster current development programs so that all leaders, including women and Millennials, can improve their skills," said Sinar. "Development opportunities build confidence. Provide opportunities for stretch assignments, ensure formal practices are in place to facilitate those opportunities and fully-commit your support to mentoring programs to develop and prepare new leaders."

*Financial performance is defined as a composite of profitability, earnings per share, 5-year rate of return to investors and stockholder equity, for publicly-traded companies where these data were available.

Read the original article from Market Wired here: