Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Mathematical Argument For More Women In Leadership

by Solange Charas
Originally Published: September 30th, 2014

In surprising news to old boys’ clubs everywhere, research findings indicate appointing women to company boards and installing them in C-suites has correlated with positive bottom-line performance.

Several studies have shown when boards had at least one woman on them the absolute, and relative share prices--as well as overall financial performance of these organizations--surpassed those of companies who host boardrooms comprised solely of men.

This noteworthy outcome has generated heated debate between two camps: those that believe women are critical to the success of any enterprise, and those that think women are merely coincidental to performance outcomes of these companies, for whom success was already on the docket regardless of a board’s gender makeup.

The debate can be neatly summed up by the old chicken or egg argument: Are organizations performing better because women are on boards and C-suites, or are women being appointed to boards and C-suites of organizations that already are--or are on the cusp of--performing well?

While the research never addresses the chicken-egg conundrum, a logical way to explain this is why a interesting relationship exists. We just have to do some simple math.

Think back to high school when we learned transitive theory in mathematics. The theory asserts if A=B and B=C, then A=C. In our explanation:
  • A = Women
  • B = Successful teams
  • C = Financial performance
First, we need to agree boards and C-suites are teams; not just a collection of executives. According to the Business Dictionary, an executive is a person or group appointed and given the responsibility to manage the affairs of an organization, and has the authority to make decisions within specified boundaries.

It is the collective and coordinated actions of the team of people at the top of the organization that drive corporate performance, either by creating--or diminishing--economic value.

Women Generate Better Teams: A=B

A study published in Harvard Business Review in June 2011 found collective intelligence of work teams rises when more female members are added, and a group’s collective intelligence has more to do with team dynamics than the sum of its members' brainpower.

Better team performance is attributed to the fact women score better on social sensitivity measures. Women tend to be better listeners, are better able to draw others into conversations, and are less likely to dominate groups with their opinions.

In contrast to men’s competitive leadership style, women’s leadership style is task-oriented, focused on mentoring others, and expresses concern about others' needs. These gender-specific behavioral attributes are critical in supplementing the collective skills and abilities of team members to produce desired outcomes.

Better Teams Generate Better Corporate Results: B=C

My own research findings, published in Harvard Business Review in March 2014, quantify the impact of team intelligence (TQ) on corporate financial performance.

My research reflects responses of more than 1,000 board and C-suite executives across all industries with revenues from $1 million to $78 billion, and demonstrates a strong and statistically significant relationship between a top management team’s intelligence and its bottom-line performance. Women have the potential to make teams more effective and enhance corporate performance.

Where board and C-suite TQ was high, organizations outperformed their direct competitors, and where it was low, organizations underperformed their direct competitors. In addition to revealing this strong correlation, my research was able to quantify team intelligence on financial impact from 4% to 20% on bottom-line results.

By quantifying the impact of team intelligence we can prove a direct relationship between teams at the top and bottom-line performance. My findings? Better board and C-suite teams generate better financial performance.

The Logical Conclusion

Now we just apply the transitive theory to these relationships and we can conclude:
  • A=B: If having women on Board and C-suite teams generates more effective teams; and
  • B=C: If more effective teams generate better bottom-line financial performance, then
  • A=C: Having women on Boards and C-suite teams generates better corporate financial performance.
So what can you do to improve the potential of your team to create economic value and outperform your competitors?
  1. Seek Women Directors and C-suite Executives: Adding women to your top management teams has proven benefits.
  2. Recruit Smartly: Women have the potential to make teams more effective and enhance corporate performance, but you still need to do a good job recruiting. Women candidates still have to possess the skills and capabilities of the ideal candidate.
  3. Enhance Team Performance: High-performing teams don’t just happen organically, even with women on the team. They take work and effective leadership. Determine your team’s TQ and if it’s high, great. If it’s low, there’s work to be done to position the team to create economic value. The TQ assessment will highlight where the team is weak, and the appropriate intervention can be introduced.

Obviously, there will be individual exceptions to the broad generalization of gender-specific traits. We all know women who act more male-like, and men who act more female-like in the organization--and that’s okay.

But study after study is finding a relationship between the role of female-style team behaviors, leadership, and company financial performance.

Read the original article from Fast Company here:


Black women’s groups to meet with NFL on lack of diversity in domestic violence panel

by Mary C. Curtis
Originally Published: September 30th, 2014

A meeting has been scheduled Wednesday between the National Football League and representatives of the Black Women’s Roundtable, which had questioned the lack of diversity on a domestic violence advisory panel. Members of the group are scheduled to meet with NFL executives Anna Isaacson and Troy Vincent at the league’s headquarters in New York City, according to Edrea Davis, communications director for the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and the Black Women’s Roundtable. However, the group still wants a meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

“The women will urge the NFL to add black women experts in domestic violence and sexual assault to the NFL’s recently established domestic violence advisory board,” Davis told She the People. “They will also discuss other issues related to diversity and cultural sensitivity, eradicating the culture of violence within the league, and the date of the meeting they requested with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.”

Isaacson, who had been the NFL’s vice president for community relations and philanthropy, was named vice president of social responsibility after a firestorm over the NFL’s handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence incident. Three other women also were tapped last month to help develop new policies on domestic violence and sexual assault. Vincent is executive vice president of football operations.

Black women’s groups want to meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (at right in May 2014 photo) on the league’s plans to deal with domestic violence issues. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)

In a Sept. 16 open letter to Goodell, the roundtable praised the appointment of a panel to advise on the issue, but also told the commissioner, “your lack of inclusion of women of color, especially Black women who are disproportionately impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault; and the fact that over 66% of the NFL players are made up of African Americans is unacceptable.”

At the Oct. 1 meeting, Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO of the national coalition and convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable, is scheduled to be joined by women who represent a wide range of organizations including: Chanelle Hardy, National Urban League; Susan L. Taylor, National CARES Mentoring Movement; Janaye Ingram, National Action Network; Teresa C. Younger, Ms. Foundation for Women; Elsie Scott, Ph.D., Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center, Howard University; and U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.).

“It’s not just Goodell who needs to get it right,” Campbell said last week in a statement. “The owners, coaches, and others in management must take the lead in the quest to eradicate violence in the NFL, other sports and, since so many young people look up to athletes, in the broader community. The NFL needs to step up given their role in society.”

The women say they believe the NFL should commit to funding holistic, family-oriented counseling, training and prevention programs. The Sept. 16 letter had quoted research from the Black Women’s Roundtable 2014 Report, released in March, which found that black women are the most likely group in America to experience domestic violence and are three times more likely to die as a result of domestic violence than white women. “In fact,” it said, “domestic violence is the leading causes of death for Black women between the ages of 15 to 35, yet we are less likely than others to seek help when we are abused.”

At his Sept. 19 news conference, Goodell, when asked about the lack of diversity on the domestic violence advisory panel, said the NFL has had “people of color” working on policy, though he did not go into specifics.

When the letter was delivered to Goodell, Campbell told She the People of the importance of bringing light to the issue of domestic violence, beyond the NFL. “We have this moment. … We have a lot at stake in seeing there has to be a culture shift.”

Read the original article from The Washington Post here:


Flexible workplaces attract quality employees

Originally Published: September 30th, 2014

The ‘f-word’ has been hovering around workplaces for some years.

Flexibility has become the mantra for creating a more diverse and productive workforce that is innovative and more in touch with customers.

Most companies have ventured into workplace redesign, with part-time roles, job sharing and teleworking, but an Australian telco giant has gone all the way.

From March this year all jobs at Telstra are now advertised as flexible and that’s the case for current employees as well.

Indeed, it’s likely to be a world-first and CEO David Thodey says: “We are the first large corporate in Australia to implement such an initiative and it required a leap of faith for some of our leaders.”

Will Irving, group managing director of Telstra Business, is a leader who has embraced the initiative wholeheartedly.

As one of the architects of the company-wide initiative, he’s walking the talk by conducting this interview from the car on the way to the airport after a day of visiting customers and Telstra shops.

Working in transit is not the only flexible move Irving has made.

“I have young kids so I can have dinner with them and work afterwards as I have a video phone that I use from home quite regularly. I can also avoid peak hour traffic, so it works brilliantly.”

Gender diversity was one of the main reasons behind the initiative, coined All Flex Roles.

Telstra was having a hard time retaining women in their late 20s and early 30s who had the potential to join the senior executive ranks.

Says Irving: “We were losing women as a proportion of our workforce faster than we were losing men – that has changed quite markedly in the last nine to 12 months.”

Over the past three quarters the company has seen female applicants increase from 21 per cent to 23 per cent, and women accepting job offers increase from 23.4 per cent to 32.5 per cent.

Telstra’s female executive team representation has also increased slightly from 25.4 per cent to 25.9 per cent.

“Typically in the executive ranks where the age group is mid-40s we are yet to see an impact, but it’s a group that turns over relatively slowly so this initiative has yet to have a big impact there,” says Irving.

A pilot program conducted last year in the company’s customer and sales service department saw female applicants increase by 15 per cent and female acceptances rise by 35 per cent.

While women are a major focus, the fact that a huge proportion of Baby Boomers are due to retire in the next few years has also drawn Telstra’s attention.

“The net number of people joining the workforce is declining quite rapidly compared to what it used to be 30 or 40 years ago," says Irving.

"So unless you can keep workers whose children are young, or workers who need to balance community or sporting commitments, you will lose the best people.”

He adds that this initiative seeks to embrace all workers, such as those with care duties for elderly parents or Gen Ys who just prefer a more informal working arrangement.

It’s not only about employee preferences. All Flex Roles has a part to play in helping the workers to gain a better understanding of their customers.

Telstra’s workforce, particularly back in the days when it was known as Telecom, was largely male and engineering-based.

Part-time work was undertaken by women, the traditional care-givers, says Irving.

CEO David Thodey is championing flexible working to
boost gender and social diversity in the company.

“With that traditional way of working you get a very monochromatic view of the world and it’s very easy to think of your customers in the same way," says Irving.

"Now our level of understanding of our customers, courtesy of having people working for us with a whole bunch of different lifestyles and priorities, gives us a much richer view of the customer experience. It also helps us to develop better products because we are aware of the customer experience at a number of points in time.”

While notions of flexible workforces are not new, Telstra has taken its time to get to this point because the company feels that advancement in technology means the time is ripe for a totally flexible workforce – no small undertaking in an organisation of around 40,000 people.

Sheer staff numbers mean the idea of what’s deemed ‘flexibility’ needs to be, well, flexible and dependent on the job at hand.

“In some cases it can be about the scheduling of the work, when shifts are rostered on and off, but in essence the reason for wanting to work flexibly became irrelevant," says Irving.

"The key focus was on having that conversation at the very beginning about how and when the work gets done. For a lot of people, it’s planned flexibility, rather about having the urge to do something at short notice."

Then there’s the question of mutual trust. While Irving says staff are, in the main, tertiary-educated knowledge workers with high levels of responsibility, Telstra also has the technological means to map interactions staff have with customers.

“We have systems now to measure the work we do with customers at an individual level that we couldn’t have previously. The days when we need to be peering at everybody to see if they were doing their work and not slacking off is long gone, and that should be the case for any organisation.”

Did you know?

Employees place a high value on workplace culture and work-life balance, irrespective of age.

A 2013 study by PwC, the University of Southern California and London Business School found that a significant number of people – Gen Y and non-Gen Y alike – were willing to forgo pay and career progression for more flexible work hours.

Read the original article from In The Black here:


Academic Conference Taking Place at Concordia to Examine LGBT Rights in Canada and Abroad

by Michael Wrobel
Originally Published: September 30th, 2014

With same-sex marriage now legal in 17 countries but homosexual acts criminalized in 78 others, we’re at a critical moment in terms of LGBTQ rights globally.

With that in mind, the Trudeau Foundation and the Centre Jacques Cartier will hold a two-day conference at Concordia University titled “Imagining the Future of LGBTQ Human Rights” on Oct. 6 and 7.

Over 25 academics from Canada, the United States, Europe and Mozambique, as well as a former member of the European Parliament and chair of its Intergroup for Gay and Lesbian Rights, will be panelists at the conference, which is open to the public.

“At this juncture, with an awareness that you can’t just focus on the Canadian context, the idea was to sort of look openly, look globally, look to the future and see where this justice struggle is going,” said McGill law professor Robert Leckey, who is a member of the conference’s scientific committee.

Marriage Equality, Parental Rights

One of the panel discussions will tackle the subjects of marriage equality, parental rights, and what’s next for the LGBT rights movement once same-sex marriage is legalized, which Canada’s federal government did nationwide in 2005.

According to Leckey, who is a panelist for the discussion, marriage equality has benefited LGBT individuals who wanted their same-sex relationships to be recognized or wanted to obtain immigration status for a partner from a different country.

“Arguably, it helped a lot of reasonably open-minded, well-intended straight people to think through the validity of same-sex relationships,” he added.

But a number of scholars question whether the efforts of LGBT activists were misplaced in focusing so much on marriage equality.

A common argument is that the institution of marriage is “intrinsically heteronormative” as it is too deeply tied to the division of labour between husbands and wives, and too closely linked to “the public-private boundary by which family and intimacy is relegated to the private sphere,” Leckey said.

He added that reminding those who have benefitted from marriage equality to “see themselves as part of a broader coalition that includes trans people” has been a challenge.

“[Same-sex marriage] has led some people to think that the work has been done,” Leckey explained.

And while same-sex marriage and adoption by LGBT individuals may be legal across the country, the laws surrounding surrogacy in Quebec continue to be a source of inequality, added Marie-France Bureau, a law professor at the Université de Sherbrooke, who will chair the discussion.

Commercial surrogacy, when a woman is paid to be a surrogate, is prohibited in Canada, but voluntary surrogacy—when a surrogate is not compensated but may be reimbursed for expenses incurred due to the pregnancy—is legal.

But surrogacy contracts cannot be enforced in Quebec courts due to provisions in the province’s civil code. Bureau said the law’s supporters argue it prevents the “commercialization of the body” and protects the best interests of the child.

The province’s laws effectively leave adoption as the only way for gay men to become parents, limiting their access to parenthood given that “there aren’t a lot of kids up for adoption in liberal democracies such as Quebec,” according to Bureau.
“[Same-sex marriage] has led some people to think that the work has been done.”
—McGill law professor Robert Leckey
The Criminalization of LGBTQ Communities

Another panel discussion during the conference will look at the impacts of criminal law on LGBT communities.

Laws against sodomy and gross indecency continue to criminalize homosexual acts and incarcerate LGBT people around the globe. Meanwhile, in Canada, the law prohibiting HIV non-disclosure disproportionately targets gay men because of the relative prevalence of HIV in the gay community.

If someone knows they have HIV and doesn’t disclose it to a sexual partner before engaging in sexual activities, the act is considered sexual assault under the law, said lawyer and writer Kyle Kirkup, who will be participating in the panel.

He said criminalizing HIV non-disclosure misses the mark because HIV/AIDS should be considered a public health issue and everyone should be involved in fighting its spread.

“If you speak to public health experts, they’re not supportive of criminalizing [HIV non-disclosure] because there’s a worry that people won’t get tested as regularly and then there’s also a worry about [the fact that] once folks go into prison, the rates of transmission in prison increase significantly,” he said.

The only instance “where someone living with HIV does not have a duty to disclose is if there’s a condom that is worn during the encounter and the person has a low viral count,” according to Kirkup, who cited a 2012 Supreme Court decision on the matter.

The panel discussion will also explore the ongoing debate over how to deal with trans individuals in the correctional system.

The issue made national headlines in February, when Avery Edison, a transgender woman from the United Kingdom, wound up in a men’s correctional facility after being detained by border officials at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. She was prevented from entering the country because she had previously overstayed a student visa.

Following public outcry, Edison was transferred to a women’s facility.

Kirkup says people should be allowed to “self-identify” for legal purposes.
Trans Rights

One of conference’s panel discussions is dedicated to trans rights.

One of its panelists, Gabrielle Bouchard of Concordia’s Centre for Gender Advocacy, says much still needs to be done to protect the rights of trans people, adding that it’s a mistake to think that equality has been achieved for all LGBT individuals.

“Trans identities are still either pathologized or not recognized unless people go through requirements that would not be asked of anybody else in society, such as sterilization,” she said, referring to the fact that individuals wishing to change their gender marker in Quebec must undergo surgery that modifies their sexual organs.

A bill now before the Canadian Senate seeks to add “gender identity” to the prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act, an addition that could help to protect the rights of trans individuals, Bouchard noted. Parliament amended the act to formally ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in 1996.

The original bill sponsored by NDP MP Randall Garrison also sought to include gender expression, but it was amended in order to receive enough support from Conservative MPs to be passed. Bouchard said removing the term “gender expression” means some individuals may still face discrimination.

“Let’s face it, people are not facing transphobia and homophobia based on their sexual orientation or their gender identity most of the time, but rather because of their gender expression. If you’re not seen as masculine enough or […] feminine enough [for your gender], then you’re called a gay or lesbian or a dyke or derogatory words,” she said.

Read the original article from The Link Newspaper here:


Why not WeForShe?

by Kai Ariac
Originally Published: September 29th, 2014

The HeForShe campaign was launched on September 20 as a global solidarity movement for gender equality. Developed by UN Women, the United Nation’s entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women, HeForShe encourages men and boys to speak out and take action against inequalities faced by women and girls – the ultimate goal being to mobilize “one billion men by July 2015.” In essence, the campaign is a global call to marshal men as untapped potential for the feminist cause. While it has received widespread media attention and praise on social media, the campaign is riddled with problems.

Since HeForShe fails to link raising awareness to quantifiable action, it will likely turn out be a hollow campaign that breeds “slacktivism.” Neither will it reorder the status quo. To note its plus sides though, it does bring into focus the critical point that gender equality is not an issue that only concerns women, but a human rights issue that affects us all. This shouldn’t be up for debate – there is overwhelming evidence that when women are empowered, the whole of humanity benefits. As Harry Potter actor turned HeForShe advocate said on Twitter, “Gender equality liberates not only women but also men from prescribed social roles and gender stereotypes.”

The economic benefits of gender equality are also significant. A series of reports by major banks in the past few years concluded that closing the gap between male and female employment rates would add significantly to the GDP of several Western countries, and even more so to the economies of the countries of the Middle East and North Africa. The implications of female empowerment for global development from the figures presented in the findings alone are astounding.
There is a need for a campaign like HeForShe, but how does the campaign actually plan to engage men and boys to take action?
However, despite the overwhelming evidence of the social and economic benefits to female empowerment, the oppression of women persists globally. The media continue to sexualize and objectify women on a massive scale, and rape culture remains ever-present. Just last school year, the Montreal Gazette revealed that in April 2012, three Redmen football team players were charged with the confinement and sexual assault of a Concordia student, yet they faced no punitive measures and were allowed to play for the remainder of the sports season.

The facts point to men as the ones perpetuating rape culture and domestic violence – one in six women have experienced an attempted or completed rape, compared to one in 33 men. This is why the goals of the HeForShe campaign matter. Men and boys must view themselves as responsible and capable agents of change who hold the potential to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women; this includes their responsibility as a social group to combat the economic inequalities and domestic violence faced by women.

There is a need for a campaign like HeForShe, but how does the campaign actually plan to engage men and boys to take action? It hopes to spark action by raising awareness; spreading the message at least gets the word out that gender equality is everyone’s responsibility. The hope is that through the campaign, the process of changing stereotypes and cultural symbols surrounding gender, identity, and rights will leap forward.

The campaign relies heavily on social media to disseminate its message. It urges men and boys to show their solidarity for HeForShe by posting a photo with #HeForShe, submitting “impact stories” about their experiences with empowered women, or participating in webinars, Google hangouts, and ‘tweetathons’ organized by UN Women National Committees around the world. Metrics from such online participation will largely assess whether the campaign succeeds in reaching its goal of mobilizing one billion men by July 2015.
A consequence of the campaign choosing a simple and marketable idea – engaging ‘he’ for ‘she’ – is that this campaign viciously reinforces the unrealistic male/female gender binary. A campaign titled ‘WeForShe’ would be more inclusive to all genders and sexes.
However, problems plague the campaign – it excludes those who are a part of the LGBTQ communities. For example, someone whose gender presentation does not align with the gender binary may not know how to engage with HeForShe, since they might not identify completely as ‘he’ or ‘she.’ A consequence of the campaign choosing a simple and marketable idea – engaging ‘he’ for ‘she’ – is that this campaign viciously reinforces the unrealistic male/female gender binary. A campaign titled ‘WeForShe’ would be more inclusive to all genders and sexes.

On top of this, when HeForShe engages with the mass media through celebrity endorsement, it is both patronizing to its audience and actually enforces the stereotypes it seeks to change – those of an unattainably ‘perfect’ masculinity and femininity.

Even the language of ‘he’ for ‘she’ implies that women are unable to release themselves from the shackles of their male oppressors, and that men are the custodians of female empowerment. HeForShe suggests that women can only be seen as human when they are framed in relation to men, and that it is up to the ‘he’ to release the helpless ‘she.’ This campaign is asking for permission from men for female empowerment as well as asking them to be partners in this endeavour. What’s problematic is that this doesn’t address the asymmetrical power relationship between men and women. A prisoner asking for partnership with their jailer is rarely going to have their request accepted – there is little guarantee that women asking men to help fight gender equality is going to create change.
Change will come not by women asking the permission and partnership of men, but by all citizens of the world beginning to view gender as a dynamic and complicated spectrum of difference.
Also, with much of the HeForShe campaign focused online, the likelihood of it having any impact is remote. Will HeForShe actually change the behaviour of men engaging in normalized and endemic domestic abuse? Unless UN Women plans to set up working groups for men that aim to change attitudes firsthand, the answer is almost certainly no.The campaign’s emphasis on social media is a bone of contention too. There is a high chance of HeForShe becoming an exercise in ‘slacktivism,’ as men around the world will post, share, and ‘like’ the campaign without taking real action. Online campaigning makes it too easy for men to show their support without being held accountable. If HeForShe is to positively transform the status of women, it should launch concrete programs, such as youth education workshops on how to identify and report sexual abuse.

Gender inequality is connected to the deeply entrenched patriarchy that we live in – and this will take centuries to change. Change will come not by women asking the permission and partnership of men, but by all citizens of the world beginning to view gender as a dynamic and complicated spectrum of difference, on which all individuals are to be treated as equals by everyone.

Notwithstanding the exclusion of those who identify with LGBTQ communities, the HeForShe campaign will garner attention worldwide about the responsibility men have in advancing women’s rights. Yet, if this awareness is not translated into concrete, measurable, and accountable action for men, something for which this campaign provides little opportunity, the HeForShe movement will fail to change the status quo.

Read the original article from The McGill Daily here:


It's 2014: Isn't It About Time We Fix Gender Bias in Studies?

by Kaitlin Menza
Originally Published: September 29th, 2014

We talk about gender inequality in terms of salary, leadership, opportunity, and more—but what about in scientific research? It turns out that clinical trials often use single-sex groups (of men) to cut down on variability between subjects. But that means that the effects of new drugs and treatments might not be tested on women, or at least not on enough women.

Luckily, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has decided to do something about it. They announced last week that they have invested $10.1 million in grants to 82 scientists to explore the effects of gender in clinical studies. The investment encourages researchers to study more females in both human and animal trials and it reinforces the importance of eliminating gender bias in clinical studies. "By making strategic investments that incorporate sex into existing funded studies, we are paving the way for researchers to better understand when sex matters in their research," said James M. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the NIH Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives in a recent press release.

How did this disparity happen in the first place? According to Janine Austin Clayton, M.D., NIH Associate Director of Research on Women's Health, there is actually some reasoning behind it. "One big reason is because female animals, like women, have a hormonal cycle, called the estrus cycle," she says. "For a long time, scientists thought that including females introduced a high level of variability in experiments, and would make experiments too difficult, and so they just used male animals. We know more now."

But while there are some diseases that only happen to men (like prostate cancer) or women (like ovarian cancer), almost all afflictions can benefit from both genders being studied. Furthermore, it's kind of scary to not have more women counted, especially when you consider that many of the conditions being studied are more common in women or present with different symptoms in women.

"Diagnoses for anxiety and depression are more than twice as common in women than in men, but fewer than forty-five percent of animal studies into these disorders used females," says Clayton. "Women have more strokes than men, with poorer functional outcomes, but only thirty-eight percent of animal studies into strokes used females."

Hopefully, this new investment will lead to more comprehensive research that will benefit both men and women equally. "When I was in medical school, I was always taught about the effect that treatments would have in a 70 kg man," says Clayton. "But I'm not a 70 kg man. How does this treatment work in me?" Fortunately, it's finally time to find out.

Read the original article from Women's Health here:


Struggle Against LGBT Rights Shows Immorality, Just Not The Way They Think

by Brian Stone
Originally Published: September 29th, 2014

In the struggle against LGBT rights, many have tried to make love an evil and ruthlessness a good. In the middle, between the ideologues, are a mass of people who in the last twenty years have come around to the light and realized that perhaps love is just love.

Despite that, there is a much darker aspect to the hatred spat towards the LGBT community. The reason anti-LGBT hatred is so bad isn't just because homophobia is a form of bigotry (duh) or even because anti-LGBT discrimination denies our humanity.

The most disturbing aspect about the struggle against LGBT rights, about groups like the Family Research Council, American Family Association or the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, is that many of the people who run these organizations have meaningful and enduring friendships with people in our community.

It's one kind of thing to point at monsters like Neo Nazi groups, the Klu Klux Klan or the Topeka, Ka.-based Westboro Baptist Church and say, "They are evil." Of course they are, but that's too easy. Anyone can point at a photo of Hitler and say, "He was evil." What about all the people who helped him get there? What about the Germans who never made up their mind to be good or evil and just looked the other way?

We have to remember that a large cross-section of the American public, albeit not a majority, separate their own positive feelings towards gay people from the moral and political choices they make in life. Many of these people have gay relatives, gay friends, gay co-workers and even harbor positive stereotypes about gay people. Yet, when they walk into their voting booth, or when they pray to god, they view our love as a form of sin and are unable to make the most obvious of moral conclusions -- that being gay is not a choice and that we were meant to be this way.

The scientific and spiritual proof is out there.

Time after time, people who harbor anti-gay religious beliefs state that they have difficulty reconciling the "words of the bible" or some other religious text, versus the spirit of love and acceptance in their faith and their own communion with god. On a more basic level, these people refuse to look at the ignorance of the past as ignorance and aspire to a higher morality.

Scientifically, there is no proof to say that being gay is a choice, or that there is anything wrong with being gay other than the way LGBT people are treated. Despite all of this evidence, many choose to hold on to their ignorant views in what is, at this point, a painfully obvious conclusion.

In other words, almost half of America has learned how to split their soul. They can love gay people, or love some part of gay people, but are unable to make the next jump and take moral action on our behalf. We have to ask ourselves: Are the right-wingers good Christians, or just good Germans?

When large groups of people suspend their own moral decision making, when they split their spirituality and their vote from the proof before their own eyes, it's definitely a sign of a growing immorality. Yet, the immorality is not coming from us -- it's from those who have been faced with a clear choice between right and wrong and, for whatever reason, still choose the darker road toward bigotry and self indulgence.

Read the original article from Huffington Post here:


The Business of Coming Out at Work

by Christine Bader
Originally Published: September 29th, 2014

The Glass Closet: Why Coming Out Is Good Business 

by John Browne, Harper Business, 2014

In The Glass Closet, former BP CEO John Browne reflects deeply on the toll that concealing his sexuality took on his life and career. His painfully honest and compelling account puts other CEO memoirs—including his own dutiful but dry first book, Beyond Business: An Inspirational Memoir from a Visionary Leader (Orion, 2010)—to shame.

Compare, for example, Browne’s descriptions of May 1, 2007, the day that he resigned from BP after a U.K. court gave the Daily Mail permission to publish allegations of impropriety by a former boyfriend.

In Beyond Business, Browne recounts his final departure from BP’s London headquarters through the press scrum and into his car, with the sole expression of emotion the epitome of British understatement: “It was intrusive and unpleasant.”
Here’s the same moment in The Glass Closet:

It felt as though all the air had been sucked out of the vehicle.
Driving away from the corporation that I helped to build felt like dying. For decades, I dissembled and fenced off a large portion of my life to prevent all of this from happening. I had ducked and weaved and been evasive for as long as I could. But on that day, almost inevitably, my two worlds collided. In the fallout, I lost the job that had structured my entire life.
After all those years of worry and dread, I could not help but think that my fears were finally justified. At that moment, I was convinced that I had been right all along.

That said, Browne, whose outspoken leadership on climate change and human rights inspired me to join BP, where I worked for nine years, won me over with his personal story but not his central argument. His book says that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) employees should come out openly at work.

The problem is that the stories he tells of damage done to the careers of people who have come out are all too persuasive. Allan Gilmour lost the contest for the top job at Ford after 34 years with the company. Some suggested that his sexuality played a role in his being passed over. Vandy Beth Glenn was immediately fired from the Georgia General Assembly after sharing her intentions to transition from male to female.

I was thoroughly convinced by Browne’s discussion of, as he put it, “the consequences of being inauthentic.” Browne weaves stories from other LGBT executives into his own to show how closeted staff have to keep their colleagues and business partners at a distance, making it impossible to build trust and explore the full potential of their professional selves.

But then come the horror stories, which illustrate a reality that Browne acknowledges: “I cannot say with certainty that someone’s career will not be unaffected if they disclose their sexual orientation. I wish I could tell gay people that they will be fine, but the evidence collected here suggests that there remain some risks.”

Browne recounts one young woman telling him that his traumatic resignation from BP convinced her to remain in the closet at her oil and gas company, to which he responds: “This is the wrong lesson to draw from my experiences. The double life I led should not be seen as a workable blueprint for a business career. It should be viewed as a cautionary tale.” But who is Browne to say that the conclusion anyone else derives for his or her own life is the wrong one?

“The double life I led should not be seen as a workable blueprint for a business career.”

Read the original article from Strategy + Business here:


4 New Groundbreaking Laws That Protect LGBT People In California

by Zack Ford
Originally Published: September 29th, 2014

California continues to be in on the forefront of advancing equality for LGBT people, and Gov. Jerry Brown (D) recently signed four new pieces of legislation into law creating some specific protections that don’t currently exist in any other state.

“Gay Panic” and “Trans Panic” Defenses Are Now Illegal

“Panic” has long been used as a legal defense to justify violence against LGBT people. It entails defendants claiming that they were surprised to learn — usually once already in a private space — that an individual had a sexual orientation or gender identity different from what they expected. This knowledge somehow triggered in them a violent response against the LGBT individual, and this “heat of the moment” justification could reduce a charge from murder to manslaughter. California has now prohibited such legal defenses.

California previously had a policy of instructing jurors not to be influenced by the sexual orientation or gender identity of either the plaintiff or the defendant. The American Bar Association voted last year to urge other states to adopt that policy or to go further and ban the defense outright. California is the first in the nation to do so.

Transgender Identities Will Be Respected After Death

Officials responsible for completing death certificates will now be responsible for ensuring that one’s certificate matches one’s gender expression. This can be done by either ensuring the death certificate matches the individual’s other legal documents or that it reflects any medical procedures related to gender transition.

Unfortunately, this law was necessary. When activist Christopher Lee passed away in 2012, the coroner identified him as “female” on his death certificate. An amendment to that death certificate was eventually produced, but it was stapled to the original, which remains part of Lee’s legal documentation.

Condoms Can No Longer Justify Sex Worker Arrests

California has become the first state to protect individuals from being arrested on sex worker charges simply for carrying condoms. It unfortunately doesn’t go so far as to totally ban condoms as evidence, but it does require a court to explicitly state that condoms are relevant to a particular case before they can be used as evidence of prostitution.

Police across the country have arrested women for carrying condoms, and this targeting often disproportionately impacts transgender women. Impacted by discrimination and poverty, 43 percent of trans people have turned to the sex industry for financial support at some point in their lives. As a result, transgender women — particularly transgender women of color — are vulnerable to police profiling as sex workers. The ongoing case of Monica Jones, an Arizona woman convicted of “manifestation of prostitution” simple for “walking while trans,” epitomizes this vulnerability.

Health Professionals Will Be Trained To Care For LGBT Patients

Another new law in California ensures that health professionals are provided information about how best to care for patients who may identify as LGBT or intersex.

According to the law, doctors, nurses, and other health care providers will be expected to meet cultural competency standards that include “understanding and applying cultural and ethnic data to the process of clinical care, including, as appropriate, information pertinent to the appropriate treatment of, and provision of care to, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex communities.”

This law will help correct the inequities LGBT patients experience when they do not have affirming providers. The hope is that this will allow patients to feel more comfortable being open about their identities and thus be able to provide the specific kind of care they deserve.

Read the original article from Think Progress here:


The Silent Reason You're Not Hearing More From American Muslims

by Saqib Rahim
Originally Published: September 29th, 2014

The weekend before last, my parents and a few old friends met for after-dinner tea.

This is their tradition, something they've done innumerable times since moving to the U.S. from Bangladesh in the '70s and '80s. And as usual, the conversation ranged freely from the hilarious to the serious.

So the topic arrived at their religion, Islam, and its relationship to the so-called "Islamic State".

Déjà vu, they said. Here, again, was a sinister group prowling the Middle East. As usual, it had seized the mantle of Islam for its PR. And as usual, the response from American Muslims was effectively a cavernous silence.

They lamented this repeating state of affairs. But the evening wound down, and they parted ways. No one in the broader American public would ever hear what they said.

That, in my view, is the silent reason American Muslims have yet to make themselves truly heard in America.

No one hears the quiet, immigrant folks who have hustled in this country for decades, who love it and call it their home, but who shrink from the light of public affairs -- and always have.

I wish it were otherwise. The buildup to this new war against IS has brought a burst of anti-Muslim sentiment. It started in the deep annals of the Internet -- hardly a bastion of enlightenment -- but quickly expanded into the mass media and has even seeped into my personal circles.

In August, there was the savage murder of James Foley. As anyone who saw the images knows, it was chilling, medieval, not of this era.It never crossed my mind that anyone would hold Muslims, like my parents or myself, accountable. Then I saw this, retweeted by an otherwise respectable writer:

Oklahoma State Rep. John Bennett chose to be more blunt, saying in a recent presentation about Islam, "Is there a difference between moderate and radical Islam? I say no."

A South Carolina Republican voter, asked for his top national-policy concerns, named Muslims: "They're all over the country right now, they're infiltrating." He wants the U.S. to turn Muslims away at the border.

These are fringe voices, not representative of the American mainstream. What concerns me, however, is how publicly these sentiments are being aired.

Prejudice is often whispered, with a sense of shame; there are certain slurs, today, for instance, that no one would be caught saying. But if people are OK being associated with broad condemnations of Muslim-Americans, then relations are in a grim state indeed.

Not that it's a surprise. Americans are exhausted from over a decade of war in the Middle East. We're sick of the gruesome headlines in Nigeria, Syria, Israel, and other hotspots. But some think they see a common thread: Muslims.

In this golden age of misinformation about all things, Islam included, it's essential to say something to that -- to occupy the narrative space that Al Qaeda, IS, and others have occupied for too long.

So where is the Muslim-American pushback?

My guess: it's in a no-man's land, between my parents' generation and mine.

More than 60 percent of Muslim-American adults were born abroad, according to a 2011 survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Muslims, like many other groups that have come to America, are in their immigrant infancy. They have yet to grow the deep roots -- in politics, in the media, in neighborhoods -- that would demystify them to the wider American culture.

Take my dad, who left Bangladesh in the late '70s to pursue an engineering career in the US. Dad loves a spirited political debate, preferably in the living room, with friends, over tea. He also treasures his faith, although he'd prefer to practice it quietly, in a side room.

You see what I'm driving at. This is not someone who, seeing Muslims' good names tarnished on TV, would scramble to call a radio station or write a letter to the editor. (It doesn't help, I'm sure, that he's conscious of his accent, or that he's a Ph.D. engineer who can be clumsy with words. Sorry, Dad.)

It's one example. But it's typical of the adults I grew up around. Muslims, to me, are people who mow their lawns and pay their bills, quietly shaking their heads at the impersonators ruining their good name the world around. They're not the people running a PTA meeting or taking the lectern at City Hall.

Fortunately, there are signs of change. Muslim groups are getting active in American civics, in the hopes of crafting a new narrative.

There are the immigrants' kids -- people like myself and my peer group -- who have degrees and careers and will enter the political arena at some point. We grew up here. Many of us aren't "by the book" Muslims compared to our parents. But we know, respect, and revere our rights.

What are we up against? Islamophobia, coming as it does in these occasional flares, seems to me a small part of it. It is disheartening, especially considered against America's grim history of prejudice toward Jews, the Irish, Japanese, and African-Americans, for a partial list. But I doubt it can last. Americans' unshakable sense of equality will shine through.

The bigger challenge, to my mind, falls to my generation. Will we speak up and participate in a way that our parents never could? If so, American Islam's roots will deepen. We won't be seen as some foreign conspiracy, but as the contributing members of society we are.

What if we stay in our living rooms, hoping to ride out the occasional fear-wave? This, I submit, is asking for déjà vu. When our countrymen ask who we are, we'll have no reply.

Others will. That means our story will be written, but not by us.

Read the original article from Huffington Post here:


Monday, September 29, 2014

Colleges are doing diversity all wrong

Originally Published: September 28th, 2014

Tomiko Brown-Nagin is the Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law and a Professor of History at Harvard University, where she is the co-director of the Program in Law and History. Her 2011 book, Courage to Dissent: Atlanta and the Long History of the Civil Rights Movement (Oxford), won the Bancroft Prize in US History.

Sometimes, vague can be misleading-and harmful. For years, colleges have identified disadvantaged students based primarily on "diversity" and "need." But those categories are broad and unspecific, and can be gamed by sophisticated applicants and parents.The result? Schools aren't helping the students that really need it. And higher education is now perpetuating — rather than alleviating — inequality. We can reverse this pattern by learning from our education history and shifting the focus of that aid effort to first-generation college students.

Students from affluent backgrounds graduate from college at six times the rate of children from low-income households

The key here is this: colleges need to get more specific about who they want to help, and why. Universities' commitment to "diversity" is important, but it's a poor substitute for a policy of equal access for the disadvantaged because "diverse" students and disadvantaged students are not necessarily one and the same. Several studies have shown that beneficiaries of diversity-based admissions policies typically hail from the most well-educated and economically successful segments of "diverse" communities. That's why a diversity strategy will not help universities reclaim their mission of fostering socio-economic mobility.

Focusing on first-generation college students, on the other hand, just might. These are the students whose parents never attained a bachelor's degree from a U.S. college, and they're a much better proxy group for those who are truly at a disadvantage in education. First-generation students typically attend secondary schools with fewer academic and financial resources. Yet we don't have to look hard to find examples of students who demonstrate strong academic potential and have the discipline and perseverance to achieve long-term success. Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO; Kathleen McCartney, President of Smith College; Colin Powell, former Secretary of State; and Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Supreme Court Justice — all first-generation college students — are just a few examples of tremendous academic potential of these students.

So, how do we unlock all that potential? It's easy to propose an outreach strategy to first-generation students, but harder to implement one. The 250 or so oversubscribed institutions that admit a fraction of thousands of applicants too often crowd out the smart but poorer students. High-ability students born to poor, uneducated parents have the most to gain from higher education and the most to lose as a result of current inequities. We need to remove some of the roadblocks in the present system, especially at selective institutions of higher learning.

Here's one such roadblock: many universities — an overwhelming majority, in fact-practice "need-sensitive" admissions and don't accept academically able but poor students, at least in part because they cannot pay. And then there's merit-based financial aid, which also gives wealthier students an edge: schools often use it to climb the infamous U.S News & World Report rankings, as Stephen Burd reports in a recent paper. No one is arguing that merit doesn't matter, but we need to scrutinize merit aid awards more closely. The metrics most colleges use to define "merit" favor affluent students, whose schools have the resources to support standardized testing prep, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes and exams. And it's not just colleges that are contributing to this problem: Even lower-income students who receive the maximum Pell award may be left with a significant financial burden because the government isn't holding colleges accountable for rising costs. Too many students face an untenable choice: financing their college educations with costly student loans or forego higher education altogether.

The best way to address the social and economic inequality embedded in higher education policy is to tackle it at its roots

The cumulative impact of these roadblocks is clear. Students from affluent backgrounds graduate from college at six times the rate of children from low-income households. For lower-income students, merely going to college is an achievement. Fewer than 30 percent enroll in a four-year college. Of those poorer students who do matriculate, fewer than half graduate. The most damning statistics concern high-achieving students from low-income households. Even when students from low-income households outscore higher-income peers, they graduate from college at a lower rate. This data belies the notion, once extolled by universal schooling proponent, Horace Mann, that our institutions of higher education are "great equalizers."

To make good on the past, we need to discuss how data sometimes drives - and misidentifies - our priorities. The Department of Education mandates that colleges report a massive amount of information about their students, including test scores, graduation rates, average net price paid per student, and demographic information such as race and sex. But it neglects to ask colleges about their students' first-generation status-sending schools the message that this status isn't a government priority (an impression compounded by the fact no comprehensive database indicates how many such students are admitted to institutions that receive federal funds).

Even if the government were asking for data about first-generation status, universities aren't likely to happily fork it over. In response to inquiries I made in connection with a forthcoming research paper on first-generation students' access to higher education, administrators at numerous selective universities claimed to have no idea whether their students hail from Ph.Ds. or from high school drop outs. The data that I did manage to collect indicates that first-generation students constitute a fraction of the student bodies at selective colleges and universities. In 2011, for instance, only five percent of matriculating freshmen at the University of Michigan, and in 2013 just nine percent of matriculating freshman at the University of Virginia-both taxpayer-supported universities that enroll thousands of students-were first-generation college students.

The best way to address the social and economic inequality embedded in higher education policy is to tackle it at its roots. Admissions officials can start by practicing need-blind admissions, asking students whether their parents graduated from a four-year college, and consciously seeking to admit academically competitive first-generation students during the admissions process. Colleges should provide adequate financial support for low-income first-generation college students and the federal government must replace costly loans with grants for a greater number of needy students. The government can also look to its past for precedent to craft a legislative solution. Both the 1944 Servicemen's Readjustment Act ("GI Bill") and 1965 Higher Education Act (part of The Great Society) offer models for providing educational benefits and access to those who are most in need.

The inclusion of greater numbers of students from the bottom rungs of society in higher education need not be a zero sum game. This isn't about displacing wealthier students. It's about enriching the student body, and making college better for everyone with the potential to attend.

Read the original article from Vox here:


The LGBT-Friendly Countries That Put USA To Shame—Some May Surprise You

by Morgan Ryland
Originally Published: September 29th, 2014

The USA is making progress when it comes to LGBT rights and equality, but the fact remains that nearly 50% of Americans still think gay relationships are “sinful.” It’s worth noting that in another poll, those same 50% percent were among the worst dressers with the ugliest homes.

It’s not surprising that many other countries put the U.S. to shame when it comes to equality and LGBT human rights. But what is surprising is that the world’s most LGBT- friendly country is Spain…a country that’s 88% Catholic! Literally 93% of Spaniards considered homosexuality either “morally acceptable” or a “non-issue,” and they’ve had legal gay marriage since 2005. This wave of acceptance ran across the Atlantic Ocean to Argentina and Brazil, who became the first predominately Catholic countries in notoriously machismo Latin America to approve same-sex marriage. When last we checked, there have been no apocalyptic plagues.

In 2000, The Netherlands was the first country to legalize gay marriage in the world! It’s also home to Amsterdam and it’s the world’s largest exporter of beer, which officially makes it the coolest country ever. Likewise, the Caribbean Netherlands are among the most progressive and most LGBT- friendly islands in the Caribbean. Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao have become popular spots for gay destination weddings.

Meanwhile, how about South Africa? Africa isn’t exactly known for its LGBT-friendliness, however, South Africa’s post-apartheid constitution was the first in the world to make discrimination, based on sexual orientation, illegal. Plus, it was the fifth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage…. are you listening Uganda?!!

And let’s not forget about Canada, eh? Our neighbors to the North amended their human rights law back in 1996 essentially banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation nation wide. (The U.S. is still working on that.) Then in 2005 they passed gay marriage legislation without residency requirements, so same-sex American couples could run their rainbow flags across the border and get hitched.

Prague in the Czech Republic is quickly becoming Europe’s new gay capitol. For Czech people, being gay is a complete non-issue. They simply don’t care about sexual preference, perhaps in part because 90% of Czech people have no religion and they aren’t wearing their judgy-pants held up by a bible-belt.

While same-sex marriage is not yet legal in Germany, the country is the first in Europe to draft a law allowing for parents of children born without “clear gender-determining physical characteristics” to choose neither male nor female on the birth certificate, but option “X.” This option hopes to greatly benefit intersex children who now have the right to choose their gender for themselves as they grow up instead of their parents being forced to make an impossible decision for them at birth. Brilliant, Germany.

In the grand scheme of things, the older countries of the world tend to be wiser and more progressive, and we’re still the immature teenagers of the group with acne and raging hormones.

Read the original article from Pop Dust here:


Nearly One-Third of Board Nominees Are Women

by Iris Dorbian
Originally Published: September 29th, 2014

There may still be a dearth of female CEOs (Marissa Meyer and Mary Barra notwithstanding) but there’s one area in business where women have been gaining in numbers— board nominees at large U.S. firms.

According to a report by the Institutional Shareholder Services, the percentage of women tapped for possible board posts has doubled since 2008. Entitled “Gender Diversity on Boards: a Review of Global Trends,” the report finds that in 2014 almost 30% of new board nominees for S&P 500 companies have been women. This number is a 15% increase from 2008.

The data also shows that for Russell 3000 companies this year, women constitute 22% of all new board nominees. In an article on this study, Fortune notes that this figure “doubles those companies’ 2008 tally of 11%.”

However, the news isn’t unanimously promising. The publication notes that “the number of sitting directors who are women has not increased at such a rapid rate as the number of nominees, however.”

Generally, women make up 18.7% of the boards at S&P 500 companies, which is up from 16.3% in 2011. But the increase in women among the board nominees does signal a commitment to improving gender diversity, says the study’s author Edward Kamonjoh.

Companies in the household goods and personal products sectors had the highest number of women among its board members between 2008 to now, “with women averaging 33% of the overall directors in that industry over that period.”

Food, beverage and tobacco followed with women making up 21.2% of sitting board members on average during that roughly six-year period. At the bottom was the energy industry, which had on average a 10.9% female board presence from a six-year period.

The study looked at 4,100 companies in 25 markets.

Read the original article from CFO here:


Numbers prove glass ceiling still exists

by Lee Prokaska
Originally Published: September 29th, 2014

Canadian women have come a long way in the past few decades. Women account for roughly half of the workforce and, in many families, their income is of vital importance to the financial viability of the family unit.

We know, however, that women are chronically under-represented at high income levels. Of Canada's top 100 CEOs, for example, 3 per cent are female. As recently as 2012, women accounted for only 17 per cent of corporate officers and 13 per cent of directors at Canada's top 500 private and public sector companies.

So it's no surprise that a local study — the Women and Diversity EXCLerator Project — finds women under-represented in more than 2,500 top jobs in eight out of nine sectors across Hamilton and Halton. In volunteer boards and executives, women hold 51 per cent of the top jobs. Women are least represented in the corporate sector at 17.8 per cent.

This is a stark, evidence-based picture of the circumstances of women at the high end of our economy. Clearly there are impediments to women breaking the glass ceiling, assuming they even get close to it. The question now is how to remove barriers for women entering the workforce and moving ahead. 
Read the original article from The Hamilton Spectator here:

Why aren’t Canadian corporate boards getting any less male, or white?

by Rebecca Walberg
Originally Published: September 29th, 2014

Diversity among the directors of corporations has a range of benefits, from a documented correlation with better financial outcomes to the harder-to-measure positive effects of a range of role models and mentors at the top of an organization. Yet Canada’s boards are not only falling short of representing women and minorities in proportion to the population, they are also well behind most European countries and the U.S. when it comes to board composition. Amid widespread agreement that this is a problem, there is much debate about the solution.

“Most of the conversation in Canada about diversity is specifically focused on gender, with some attention paid secondarily to ethnicity,” says Christopher Chen, national director of management consultancy Hay Group. “Some of the organizations we’ve studied refuse to define diversity in that way. They view diversity as being of thoughts, opinions and background. For the most part, though, it’s gender.”

A growing body of research and literature develops a broader definition of the concept, including culture, generation and nation of origin, although far fewer statistics exist about these aspects, compared with gender and ethnicity. The ultimate goal of diversity, according to Parag Tandon, a consultant who advises both business and non-profit boards about recruitment, is inclusion.

“Diversity is skin-deep,” Mr. Tandon says. “It’s about acknowledging and accepting differences, and that’s fantastic. But it’s the first step. Inclusion means integrating individuals with all kinds of differences into the day-to-day activities of a business or a non-profit, especially at the highest levels.”

Ethnic diversity of boards is similarly out of line with the broader population. Currently 20% of Canadians are members of visible minorities, and the figure is approaching 50% in Toronto and Vancouver. On boards of directors, though, they hold 3.4% of seats, a number that’s been shrinking in recent years; in the US, people of colour, as American demographers describe them, hold 13.2% of Fortune 500 board seats. In both countries, women who are also minorities are particularly underrepresented according to HR analysts, although exact numbers aren’t available.

A recent Hay Group study on corporate governance shows that 80% of Canadian boards have at least one woman among their directors; in the U.S., the comparable number is 90%. However, more than half of Canadian companies have boards of which men make up more than 75%, and a significant number of boards that report including women or visible minorities do so on the strength of a single director, while the median number of directors per board is between 10 and 12. The financial, non-profit and public sectors are at the higher end of the Canadian spectrum, while mining and energy are at the lower end, but overall, women make up 11% of all directors of major corporations, a number that has been relatively stable for a decade. In the U.S. and U.K., women hold 17% of these positions, and their share is steadily increasing.

“We ask companies in our survey what they look for,” says Mr. Chen, “and overwhelmingly the most important criterion is industry experience. The second biggest criterion is financial expertise. Most of the people I see around the table at boards are former CEOs, CFOs or COOs.”

This trend is part of the problem with achieving board diversity, which the Hay Group study portrays largely as a recruiting problem. Managers in mining are overwhelmingly men, and since it’s from their ranks that top executives and later directors are drawn, new board members are much more likely to be men. The sectors that have greater board diversity also tend to have more representative employees and managers at all levels, making it easier for recruiting committees to find women and visible minorities with the experience they seek.

There is more to achieving board diversity than having more women in the industry to consider for directorships, though. One reason that banking in particular does comparatively well, Mr. Chen points out, is a willingness to look for directors with experience and talent from other sectors.

“Banking doesn’t feel constrained to draw their qualified directors only from the banking world. On their boards you’ll see people from law, the energy sector, many different industries. So the question for a sector like mining is, is there a comfort level for bringing in people who aren’t industry specialists, but who are spectacularly qualified to do the work of being a director? And so far, they’re not there yet,” Mr. Chen says. “I don’t know how to solve that problem.”

The Ontario Securities Commission is in the process of implementing a disclosure policy called “comply or explain” designed to increase board diversity without mandating formal quotas. Under these policies, companies traded in Ontario are required either to state both their diversity policy and their progress towards meeting diversity goals in annual reports, or to explain why they are omitting this information. Although only binding in Ontario, Mr. Chen expects that this will set a de facto national standard and change practices throughout the country.

This lines up with best practices among boards that already have more representative directors, according to Pamela Jeffery, founder of the Canadian Board Diversity Council and the Women’s Executive Network.

“There is a strong correlation between a board having a written diversity policy, and having greater than average board diversity,” Ms. Jeffery says. “Among FP 500 corporations, 33% of finance and banking companies have written policies, and at the other end of the spectrum for board diversity, among mining and manufacturing companies, only 16% have a written policy.”

Comply or explain regulations are therefore important for making a lasting change, she argues. The combination of comply or explain regulation, pressure from shareholders, increasing awareness of the business case for diversity and new emphasis on the issue, as demonstrated by the inclusion of corporate governance in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, mean that numbers should start to shift soon.

“Labour [and Status of Women] Minister [Kellie] Leitch made it very clear that she wants to see board representation at 30% by 2019,” Ms. Jeffery says, “but that means increasing at a much faster rate than we’ve seen in Canada.”
Read the original article from Financial Post here:

Gay Marriage Support Is Declining: Is LGBT Overreach To Blame?

by Aric Mitchell
Originally Published: September 28th, 2014

Gay marriage support has largely been on the increase in recent years, but a new Pew Research Center survey conducted this month indicates that the numbers are now on the decline.

Pew, which is not affiliated with religion in any way as one commenter mistakenly suggested in our own Tara Dodrill’s original report, interviewed 2,002 individuals earlier this month, and found a five percentage point drop to 49 percent when it comes to those who support gay marriage.

During the same period of time, there was an increase in the number of people who were opposed, from 39 percent to 41 percent. The margin of error on the survey was plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

“Since we’ve seen this upward trend for so long, we’re cautious because it’s too early to say what this means for long-term trends,” said Jessica Martinez, a researcher in Pew’s Religion and Public Life Project, speaking to ABC News. “As we continue to ask this question in other surveys, we’ll keep an eye on where this moves.”

Some are now suggesting that LGBT overreach may be to blame, pointing to cases like that of Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop. Phillips was opposed to gay marriage due to his religious objections, but was told he could not refuse to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple getting married.

The case caused outrage when it first broke in June.

“We’ll see what happens,” Phillips told Fox News after refusing to make the cake anyway. “I’m not giving up my faith. Too many people have died for this faith to give it up that easily.”

The ACLU and other supporters of gay marriage had accused Phillips of “refusing to serve” the gay couple and discriminating against them, though Phillips and his supporters retorted that it’s not discrimination in the sense that Phillips has no issue serving gay customers, only making cakes that celebrate something that he didn’t believe in from a religious standpoint.

While Colorado courts sided with the plaintiffs in the Masterpiece Cakeshop story, the victory could be a short-lived one if LGBT overreach is what motivated the sudden decline in support reported by Pew.

It would also indicate gay marriage support is not exactly synonymous with support for the LGBT community as a whole. In other words, some supporters may be looking at gay marriage as a human rights issue — a “I don’t agree with you, but I agree with your right to be you” sort of statement.

What do you think, readers? Is public opinion definitely starting to turn against gay marriage, and if so, is LGBT overreach to blame? Sound off in the comments section.

Read the original article from The Inquisitr here:

The Gender-Pay Gap: It’s Real, and Yes, It’s Sexism

by Monica Potts
Originally Published: September 27th, 2014

One big but little appreciated reason for our rampant inequality: Half the workforce is routinely treated with grotesque unfairness.

Last week, Emma Watson, the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador better known as Hermione from Harry Potter, delivered a speech to the delegates gathered in New York championing feminism and pledging to end gender inequality. Big task! Her campaign will tackle, among other things, the fact that women are paid so much less than men, even in countries like the United States and the U.K., where we are allegedly no longer discriminated against. (As if to illustrate the rampant sexism that still exists, hackers threatened to release nude photos of her after her speech.)

In tackling this issue, Watson is, whether she knows it or not, also implicitly taking on a broader issue. While most people never make this connection, it’s a fact that gender inequality is a big driver of income inequality. Women are paid less than men overall—78 cents to their male counterparts’ dollar according to a survey this year, which is a whole penny more than it was for the past decade!—and mothers are paid even less. Black women and Latinas are heavily discriminated against in the workplace, making only 64 and 56 cents for every dollar, respectively, paid to white men. Black and Latina mothers bring home more than half of their families’ income, and female-headed houses are the most likely to be poor. If we made an effort to pay women more fairly, we’d go a long way toward raising the wages of most of America’s low-income families.

If you asked conservatives in this country, however, they would claim no such inequality exists. It’s one of the reasons the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would close some of the legal loopholes allowing companies to pay their female employees less, is still stuck in the Senate. Republicans blocked it, for the second time, from coming up to a vote earlier this month. Every single Republican who showed up to vote, including the party’s three women, voted against.

The top Republican in the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, denigrated the bill as a political stunt. Rather than seeking an actual solution to discrimination against women, Democrats, he said, were merely trying to woo female voters this November: “They plan to devote almost all the remaining time between now and November to what Democrats like to call ‘messaging bills. These are bills designed intentionally to fail so that Democrats can make campaign ads about them failing.” If McConnell really thinks that, then why not foil their scheme by voting yes?

Conservatives have spent the last several years trying to convince people that the gender-pay gap is made up, or just a result of the life choices women make. Christina Hoff Sommers, a conservative commentator, likes to trot out the fact that men tend to tend toward higher-paying jobs like those in engineering, while women are more likely to end up in education or childcare. That ignores, however, how girls are discriminated against in math education, and the fact that stereotypes persist about what kinds of jobs are appropriate for girls to aspire to.

Another study gender-pay-gap truthers bring up is one that found that young women in some cities are actually paid more than men. This study, however, doesn’t control for education, and places like New York City and Los Angeles draw women who have gone to college and have high proportions of uneducated young men to compare them to. Worse, this still isn’t true for young women who have children, and most women become mothers at some point in their lives. Do women choose to be mothers? Sure. But men also choose to be fathers, and their paychecks aren’t docked for it.

That’s only the beginning. Women are cheated in business negotiations, are less likely to ask for and get raises, are given raises and promotions less often even when they do ask for them, and those who are in manager positions are often judged more harshly than their male counterparts.

Republicans would rather talk about the “breakdown” of the family than the fact that women aren’t treated fairly in the workplace. Here’s the logic: the fact that female-headed households are more likely to be poor means that marriage is the solution for poverty. Here’s the problem: Who are women going to marry?

Set aside for a moment that that logic is specious in the first place. The economic woes of the Great Recession have led to fewer marriages. According to another study that came out last week, from Pew, women want their male partners to have a steady job. Because the recent crisis hit men pretty hard, women are finding fewer mates.

This is especially true in low-income communities, where I’ve spent a lot of time reporting. Not long ago, men without college educations could get a pretty decent, well-paying job that provided a ladder into the middle class. Those have eroded. Yet because gender stereotypes persist, men who are going without work aren’t doing any more to pitch in at home, leaving women to do all the work. No wonder fewer of them are getting and staying married!

With women being blocked in these ways from advancing in their careers, no wonder inequality persists. Half the population isn’t making what it should be making. Ensuring women’s fair pay would help families at every income level, but it could also go a long way toward lifting families at the bottom. That’s what Republicans don’t want to do, and that’s why they keep blocking the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Which is why it’s important that Emma Watson has come out as a feminist. After all, a woman who spent her early years playing Hermione might know a thing or two about the feminist work still to be done: In the Harry Potter books she did all the hard work, and her superstar male sidekick went and stole all the credit.

Read the original article from The Daily Beast here:


How to Make Flextime Work for You and Your Business

by Jeanne Pinder
Originally Published: September 28th, 2014

The business case for work flexibility has never been stronger. According to a recent study, from the Families and Work Institute, 63 percent of employees in 2012 work from home some of the time, as opposed to 34 percent in 2005; meanwhile, 77 percent of employees have flexibility in their start times in 2012, up from 68 percent in 2005.

As a manager, you’re likely to encounter an increasing number of requests for flexible or non-traditional work schedules, which include telecommuting (working remotely); a shortened work week (four days’ work for four days’ pay); a compressed workweek (four longer days for fulltime pay); flextime (changing on-duty or on-site hours); or jobshare (two people sharing one job).

Your team leads are likely to want clarification when their team members ask for flexible hours. Should you grant them all, reject them, or respond on a case-by-case basis? Here are four points you need to consider.

Have a policy

The worst thing you can do is to have no official guidelines, and leave it to your individual managers and team leads to improvise. Inconsistent decisions can have an adverse effect on morale when one team gets to work from home while others are required to come in to the office.

Having a policy, however lightweight, can allow you and your team to manage the process. “Many of us work virtually and flexibly,” says Marcia Ellis, president of Allegiant Growth Partners in Fairfield, Conn., a leadership development company. “To have a plan and a process for flexible work means it can be managed on the company’s terms. If you don’t have a process, you’re all over the place.” Sometimes the need for a policy comes up only when there’s a stress point and people are upset – and decision-making is impaired.

Marissa Mayer at Yahoo caused a big stir last year by telling employees working remotely that they would be required to work in the office. Some critics accused her of being anti-family, but others – including Yahoo insiders – said that the company’s work-from-home policy was lax and led to frequent abuses. A thoughtful policy would preclude such problems.

Need some more concrete details? Consider the examples from Columbia University and the University of Chicago. And keep in mind that if the employee is asking for a special schedule based on Families and Medical Leave Act reasons, you are legally bound to grant it.

Who should—and should not—have flextime?

You might want to give consideration to those who actually ask for it. But don’t base your decision on the employee’s reasons for wanting flex time: You don’t want to decide that Anna’s reason is better than Bob’s reason; any good human resources person (or lawyer) will tell you that this can work against you. Make the decision based on the work—and the work alone.

Tell your team leads to have the employee write a proposal with a description of what their workday looks like now…and what it will look like with flexibility.

If she’s asking for a four-day workweek with four days’ pay, her goals should be adjusted accordingly. If he needs you to buy a new laptop to do the job, have him explain that too. Having proposals in writing clarifies expectations, should there be any questions down the road.

Not every role is well suited for flexibility: A programmer can often work from home, but a group that maintains hardware obviously must have team members on-site. That doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible about start and end times, though—if one kind of flexibility doesn’t work, another might be an agreeable compromise.

Test it out

Flex time can be thought of as a productivity tool: According to the University of Chicago, flexible schedules result in increased productivity, as well as reduced absenteeism and turnover.

Before agreeing to a permanent change, make a flexible arrangement temporary at first, and build in a three-month reassessment. Establish a clear way to measure performance so it can be unambiguously evaluated—did their performance increase or drop off? Did the rest of their team benefit or suffer?

Make sure your flex-timer is connected with Skype, Asana, QuickBase, Trello, Google Hangouts, and other time- and place-shifting productivity tools. That way, she can attend meetings along with the rest of the team.

Good managers manage by performance goals, not whose buttocks are in the chair.

But as the manager, it’s up to you to assess the results.

Invest in flexibility

All of the above will help you establish ground rules for flexible work arrangements and keep your work force happy while avoiding loss of productivity. But to really do flexibility well, consider investing in it.

For example, rather than relying on Skype, invest in a proper videoconferencing solution that works equally well between offices and team members working from home. If you have programmers on staff, provide effective remote access to your network that lets them work without jumping through hoops without compromising on your security.

These measures will make working remotely more productive and mitigate the drawbacks of employees being physically out of the building. But they won’t happen unless you dedicate some time and resources to enable them. Lucky for you, you’re in a position to do so.

Read the original article from Business 2 Community here:

Two Simple Things HHS Can Do to Improve Health of LGBT People

by Sean Cahill, Ph.D.
Originally Published: September 26th, 2014

In the last five years, the federal government has taken significant steps toward recognizing and addressing health disparities that affect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. These include increasing data collection about sexual orientation and gender identity; establishing new nondiscrimination provisions that cover sexual orientation and gender identity; and increasing research and prevention services targeting LGBT health.

But there are two more things that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services can do that will make an even bigger impact on closing the gap in healthcare disparities that exist among LGBT people and the general population: designate LGBT people as a medically underserved population (MUP) and as a Health Professional Shortage Area population (HPSA).

If HHS makes these designations, community health centers and other safety net providers will get access to desperately needed federal funding to reach out to LGBT people and provide them with culturally competent and affirming preventive care.

Currently, the LGBT population experiences health disparities that are significant both from a clinical and a public health perspective. Lesbians are more likely than heterosexual and bisexual women to be overweight and obese, which increases their risk for cardiovascular disease, lipid abnormalities, glucose intolerance, and morbidity related to inactivity. While lesbians and bisexual women experience cervical cancer at the same rate as heterosexual women, they are much less likely to get routine Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer. As a group, LGBT people are 1.5 to 2.5 times more likely than other Americans to smoke. Gay and bisexual men and transgender women experience high rates of HIV and sexually transmitted infections, as well as high rates of violence victimization, minority stress, and mental health burden.

LGBT people experience barriers to accessing primary care. These barriers include a lack of providers trained to address the specific health care needs of LGBT people; low rates of health insurance coverage for same-sex couples and LGBT individuals, especially Black transgender people; and a lack of access to culturally appropriate health care, including preventive services such as mammography and other cancer screenings. Most importantly, LGBT people report widespread discrimination in health care. A recent national survey by Lambda Legal found that more than half of LGB respondents and 70% of transgender respondents report experiencing discrimination. A survey of 452 Massachusetts transgender residents that the Fenway Institute and the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition published this summer found that one in four transgender people did not seek routine health care, and one in five did not seek emergency care, due to prior experiences of discrimination in a health care setting.

All of this should qualify the LGBT population as both medically underserved and one for which there is a shortage of providers. Indeed, the Negotiated Rule Making Committee―which was convened under the Affordable Care Act in order to update methodologies to make MUP and HPSA designations--recommended overwhelmingly in October, 2011 that the Secretary of Health and Human Services designate LGBT people as an MUP and HPSA population group.

This fall, HHS Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell is considering making additional MUP and HPSA designations. A policy brief published last month by The Fenway Institute, the Center for American Progress, the Human Rights Campaign, and GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality urged HHS to make these designations. Implementation of the recommendations made in 2011 by the Negotiated Rule Making Committee will dramatically increase access to culturally and clinically competent health care for LGBT people, and could play a critical role in addressing persistent disparities in health care access and outcomes.

Read the original article from Huffington Post here: