Friday, October 31, 2014

Allies in Business Play Important Roles Furthering LGBT Equality

by Laura Clise
Originally Published: October 31st, 2014

To state the obvious, a gap remains between individual, corporate, and community aspirations regarding progress concerning diversity and inclusion and the persistent -isms and -phobias that still seem to influence our organizations and institutions. While there remains work to be done regarding equality and inclusion on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, physical ability and other classes protected by law, leaders across sectors have acknowledged Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) equality as a critical civil rights issue of our time. Apple CEO Tim Cook came out, sharing that he was motivated in part by the opportunity to support others and the broader movement regarding LGBT inclusion. While it is significant and important that the leader of an iconic company has officially come out, continued progress toward a true culture of inclusion also requires the engagement of the ally community. Allies are active advocates and supporters, and play an important role in combatting systematic and institutionalized discrimination of all kinds, helping to shift and reinforce the culture change necessary to realize material and sustainable progress.

The summer of 2012, I watched as the Chick-fil-a controversy played out across my Twitter feed. Believing LGBT equality to be an important issue for the business community to understand through the lens of corporate sustainability, I turned to leading corporate responsibility influencers, authoring an HBR article on the Business Case for LGBT Equality with Susan McPherson, and thereafter engaging Gwen Migita, Vice President of Sustainability and Corporate Citizenship at Caesars Entertaiment and Steve Lippman, Director of Corporate Citizenship at Microsoft to join Susan as part of the first-ever session on LGBT equality at the 2012 Net Impact Conference. Together, we sparked a fresh conversation about LGBT inclusion that I have since seen resound throughout the community of impact professionals, including leading allies like Neil Hawkins, Tim Mohin, Alice Korngold, Hannah Jones, Andrea Learned and many others raising their voices in support. Susan and I have since gone on to write about the business implications of the 2013 Supreme Court ruling on DOMA and the intersection of LGBT equality and sport.

Since the summer of 2012, I have seen a shift in the dialogue regarding LGBT equality, with sustainability publications and leaders increasingly examining the business implications of how companies align internal diversity policies with external marketing and public policy advocacy. However, despite notable progress and leadership from the business community, the recent Guardian Sustainable Business article, "LGBT diversity: why business is far from a level playing field," points out that when it comes to LGBT inclusion, companies have a long way to go. While marriage remains an important issue for the LGBT community, additional work remains to address this and other remaining barriers to LGBT equality. It is still legal to be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and or gender identity in the majority of U.S. states, and the same holds true regarding discrimination against LGBT individuals and housing. Outside of the U.S., according to a leading LGBT advocacy organization, in 76 countries, being LGBT is a crime, and in ten of those countries, it is legal grounds for life imprisonment or execution. Businesses and business leaders can lend their influence to help shift this reality.

By complementing its annual list of Top 100 LGBT Business Leaders with a list of Top 20 Ally Business Leaders, OUTstanding founder Suki Sandhu stated that, "LGBT people are not the only ones with a responsibility for making workplaces inclusive." Validating Sandhu's acknowledgement, businesses and business leaders have stepped forward in support of LGBT equality, recognizing that combatting homophobia and transphobia is not solely the responsibility of the LGBT community. This journey toward greater and more authentic inclusion is ongoing, because beyond initial and important steps like employee resource groups, non-discrimination policies, and marketing and advertising to the LGBT community, the inclusion toward which we're striving requires a shift in culture.

Inclusion is good for business. Complementing what Susan McPherson and I cited regarding the multiple business drivers for LGBT equality, as expectations regarding brand authenticity continue to resonate across diverse stakeholders, inclusion is becoming an important criterion by which leaders and companies are assessed. As Coca-Cola and McDonalds learned in the lead up to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, there are increased expectations regarding what constitutes authentic support for LGBT equality. Public support for LGBT inclusion continues to increase, and so do calls for companies to align external positions with internal diversity and inclusion policies.

If we are to realize a culture of inclusion and equality, all leaders and members of organizations and communities must stand together. Allyship is critical to culture change because continued progress does not simply depend on more LGBT business leaders coming out, but also on the engagement and support of the majority of people who shape and define culture in and beyond the workplace. In the words of Tim Cook, "We pave the sunlit path toward justice together." Thankful for the openness of LGBT business leaders around the world, I encourage allies to continue to make their voices heard.

Read the original article from Huffington Post here: 

Women More Likely to Graduate College, but Still Earn Less Than Men

by Allie Bidwell
Originally Published: October 31st, 2014

Women today are more likely than men to complete college and attend graduate school, and make up nearly half of the country's total workforce. Yet past gaps in education and experience appear to be contributing to a persistent pay gap between the sexes, a new report shows.

The report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers shows that although women are increasingly becoming more educated and make up a larger portion of the country's workforce, they consistently earn less than men, even when they have similar levels of education.

Women are now more likely than men to earn bachelor's degrees and attend graduate school.

"Women are fast becoming our most educated workers – they are attending school at higher rates, and they are entering a wide range of careers and deepening their work experience," an accompanying fact sheet on the report says.

In the early 1990s, adult women were about as likely as men to earn a bachelor's degree or attend graduate school. But around the middle of the decade, women began to surpass men in college attainment. That increase also can be seen in professional degree programs – women now account for almost half of students in law, medical and business administration graduate programs. During the 1960s, women accounted for about 10 percent of students in those programs.

Now, women in the workforce are more likely to have at least a bachelor's degree than not. They're also making gains in occupations that traditionally have been dominated by men: doctors, lawyers, scientists and professors, to name a few. Today, women in their early 30s are just as likely to be doctors or lawyers as they are to be teachers or secretaries, the report shows.

Women are increasingly employed in professions that used to be dominated by men.

But women still haven't reached a state of parity in the workforce, the report says. Although they're increasingly likely to work in historically male-dominated professions – many of which tend to have higher salaries – women still are overrepresented in lower-paying occupations. Women make up 56 percent of workers in the 20 lowest-paid jobs, and just 29 percent of those in the 20 highest-paid jobs, the report says.

"Reducing barriers to female occupational choice, including gender discrimination, would not only raise women’s earnings, but would also increase overall productivity by better matching worker skills to jobs," the report says. "Recent research has shown that women can help drive innovation and better target female customers and employees."

Women who work full-time still make significantly less on average than men.

While the gender pay gap has narrowed over time, women who work full-time today make 78 percent of what men make, on average. The gap is even greater for women of color: non-Hispanic black women made 64 percent of what men made in 2013, and Hispanic women earned 56 percent of what men earned.

Generational trends still could be contributing to the wage gap, the report says, because past disparities in educational attainment, job choice and experience take time to disappear from the labor force.

Despite similar levels of education, women end up making less than men over time.

Even when men and women have similar levels of education, men end up earning more over time. The graph above shows how men and women with professional degrees begin with similar salaries, but within the first five years of employment, men's wages surpass women's wages. The report suggests that implementing policies such as paid family leave and flexible work schedules can help increase participation and experience over time.

"With women and men increasingly sharing breadwinning and caregiving responsibilities, today’s working families need a modern workplace – one with workplace flexibility, paid leave and quality child and elder care," the report says. "Such policies are beneficial for the economy as they lead to higher labor force participation, greater labor productivity and work engagement, and better allocation of talent across the economy."

Read the original article from U.S. News here: 

Will Government Entice Millennials With Unlimited Vacation Days?

by Brian Heaton
Originally Published: October 31st, 2014

A job offering unlimited vacation days and a stipend to finance an annual break from the daily grind sounds like a pipe dream. But it is in fact a reality for employees at a growing number of private-sector companies.

Netflix, Motley Fool and FullContact are among the employers offering an unlimited time-off perk, according to Richard Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, told Fox that infinite vacation days is appealing to millennials, who generally prefer spending money on experiences rather than purchasing material possessions.

The idea has caught the eye of public-sector CIOs, whose organizations are competing with top tech companies to recruit and retain young IT talent. But experts believe that while unlimited vacation time looks appealing on the surface, it’s likely not feasible in government.

In an email to Government Technology, Utah CIO Mark VanOrden said flexible work schedules can be a good recruiting tool. He explained that Utah uses incentives such as telecommuting and flexible hours to create a positive working environment for employees.

When it comes to unlimited vacation, however, VanOrden admitted he hadn’t researched it enough to know whether it would be an effective lure for prospective technologists. But he wasn’t confident that more time off would really make a difference.

“I admit that at first glance, I am skeptical,” he said.

Jonathan Reichental, CIO of Palo Alto, Calif., said he felt that while the public sector has its challenges recruiting high-profile technologists, the type of people government wants aren’t driven by more time off. So while adopting an “unlimited” vacation policy might enable agencies to get out in front with a trend the private sector has, it’s not something Reichental would make a priority.

Instead, Reichental said he believes governments should take baby steps, such as improving an archaic and frustrating application process.

“We need smart, motivated people to work in government more than ever and we’re not attracting them, generally,” he said. “But they want awesome challenges, big problems to solve and they want to know they are making a difference and are respected. These are the things that motivate your start players, not extra vacation.”

Not Practical

In addition to motivational factors, a number of everyday hurdles exist for the public sector to effectively offer unlimited vacation days to employees. First and foremost is the fact that people don’t take the vacation they already earn and have.

Dow told Fox that Americans leave approximately 429 million vacation days on the table every year. Reichental wasn’t surprised. He said the problem isn’t that people want to go away for longer stretches of time – it’s that people aren’t stepping away from the office at all, or if they do, only for a day or two.

In addition, Reichental pointed out that if you take a close look at Netflix’s policy, you’ll find a number of conditions in place for an employee to take advantage of increased vacation. A person’s work needs to be completed, the time off can’t conflict with organization priorities and other stipulations.

“The reality is, everyone realizes they can’t be away from a project that long,” Reichental said. “So I think there are practicalities that make [unlimited vacation] not the big thing people think it is.”

Read the original article from Government Tech here: 

Sexism in sport still very real problem

by Xaiver Greenwood
Originally Published: October 31st, 2014

The inherent gender binaries in sport have meant that it has been and remains to this day a public sphere particularly prone to misogyny, both explicit and implicit. The latest in the line of chauvinistic high-profile sporting figures is the Russian Shamil Tarpischev, the president of the Russian Tennis Federation and a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1994. On a TV chat show, he referred to Serena and Venus Williams as “the Williams Brothers”, comments which Serena described as “very insensitive and extremely sexist”. Far from offering a full and frank apology, Tarpischev described his comments as a “joke” before claiming that what he had said had been blown out of proportion. Notwithstanding such side splitting jokes, the silence of the International Tennis Federation – under whose authority he falls – is far more worrying than the lazy and tired stereotyping of one ignorant individual.

The sacking of Richard Keys and Andy Gray aside, there is little sign that sport as a cooperative is taking sexism seriously. Examples abound, but take the tennis commentator John Inverdale, who, during Wimbledon 2013, magnanimously postulated that Marion Bartoli was “never going to much of a looker”; or Richard Scudamore, the CEO of the Premier League, whose incisive wit was illustrated in email exchanges which joked about the irrationality of women with children, and about keeping a female colleague “off your shaft”. Both kept their jobs, and all was forgotten.

To say that sexism is not endemic to sport would be to give it far too fair a hearing. Even to ignore the questions about whether women should be able to compete in F1, or be part of the Tour de France, or participate in a woman’s decathlon (the answer to all three is yes), can anyone, for example, justify the male only membership policy of Muirfield golf club, the 16 times host of The Open? Admittedly, a private society can restrict membership however it likes, but would it be so hard for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews to host the championships elsewhere? The idea that women cannot compete in the same way as men is condescending; the idea that women cannot appreciate sport in the same way as men is completely absurd.

With only 2% of mainstream sports coverage dedicated to women’s sport, the usual cry of “men’s sport is just more interesting” is superficial and not capable of waving away the problem. People aren’t interested enough, quite simply because women’s sport doesn’t get the coverage it deserves. Arguments about the differences in quality between genders hold no water, since even if this is the case in some sports, plenty of people would happily watch Morecambe v Exeter over a premier league match. No one watched Jessica Ennis-Hill crown off her Olympic Heptathlon victory in the 800m, and thought, well she’s a bit slow.

Gender divisions within sport are a real problem with real effects – despite a recent upturn caused by the Olympics, participation rates by women remain far lower than government targets. It is the sporting bodies who fail to react sufficiently to instances of sexism, along with blockheads like Shamil Tarpischev, who only further entrench such divisions.

Read the original article from The Oxford Student here: 

Anti-Muslim bullying on rise after Canada attacks

by Richard Valdmanis
Originally Published: October 30th, 2014

(Reuters) - Reports of anti-Muslim harassment in Canada have risen, Muslim organizations say, after attacks last week in which two soldiers were killed by people authorities say were inspired by the militant group Islamic State.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims said it has seen a tenfold increase in reports of harassment, including racial slurs on public buses, notes left on car windshields and bullying at schools.

"There are some very positive signs that we’ve noticed in the form of calls of support and examples of people resisting bigotry," said Amy Awad, the group’s human rights coordinator. "But there has been a large increase in complaints, too."

She said a normal volume of reports of anti-Muslim incidents nationwide is about five a week. "That has gone up about tenfold, with a real surge in the past few days," she said.

Worries about homegrown extremism have risen in Canada after a gunman shot a soldier and charged into the Parliament building in Ottawa on Oct. 22. Two days earlier, a man rammed two soldiers with his car near Montreal, killing one.

Several Canadian Muslim groups quickly condemned the attacks, which came as Canada sent warplanes to take part in air strikes against Islamic State fighters in Iraq. A handful of high-ranking politicians in Canada have also urged residents not to lash out against Muslims.

Adil Charkaoui, coordinator of the Quebec Collective Against Islamophobia, said his group has received 30 complaints of harassment since last week. It marked the largest number of complaints the group has collected since a failed attempt earlier this year by the province's former government to enact a charter that would ban religious headgear such as Jewish kippas and Muslim hijabs in Quebec's public workforce, he said.

"Since the end of the episode with the Charter of Values we have received very few complaints," said Charkaoui, a Moroccan-born Canadian citizen. "With these tragic events, it has all started again."

Imam Syed Soharwardy, founder of Muslims Against Violence in Calgary, said he has also received a flurry of recent complaints, but said they were minor.

"Yes, there has been a backlash, but the overwhelming majority of Canadians are civilized and tolerant," he said. "We've seen a number of examples of that."

In Cold Lake, Alberta, home to an air base that has deployed warplanes against Islamic State in Iraq, residents last week banded together to clean and repair a mosque that had been vandalized. After scrubbing away the spray-painted words "Go Home," the volunteers taped up a sign saying: "You are home."

This week, an actor was punched in the face by a resident of Hamilton, Ontario, the hometown of the soldier killed in Ottawa, after he loudly harangued a Muslim at a bus stop during a social experiment designed to test Canadian tolerance.

A YouTube video of the experiment has gone viral.

Read the original article from Reuters here:

One job, two lives: LGBT in the American workplace

by Grace Wong
Originally Published: October 30th, 2014

This seemingly innocuous question from a co-worker makes Sam uncomfortable and anxious. He lies or avoids answering the question altogether.

Sam is gay, and in the closet. He has worked at the same place for 27 years, specializing in highway construction, and while he knows that some of his colleagues suspect he is gay, he has never revealed his sexuality at the office.

"I couldn't come out in the '80s because it was openly hostile," he said. "I've thought about coming out. The environment has changed, but my decision hasn't. If I came out, I would be the only one."

Though he knows of other homosexuals in his 4,000-employee work force, he says no one is openly gay.

"It's a problem. I'm somewhat used to it," said the civil engineer, 53, explaining he "filters" what he tells people about his personal life.

"When people ask about who I went on vacation with, I tell them, 'A friend.'"

Safe to come out?

Fear is also what drove Jason, a 25-year-old information technology professional, into the closet. Jason works at a major corporation in one of the 29 states where private companies can legally fire, or not hire, someone because she or he is gay.

"There is no protection," said the gay rights activist, conceding that there is some hypocrisy in campaigning for gay rights while concealing his homosexuality.

He refrains from answering his partner's telephone calls or talking about him at the office, he said, even going through the trouble of creating two albums of vacation photos, one with his partner and one that excludes his partner to show people at work.

"You're at-will employment. So they could point blank say I don't want a gay person working under me. I'm going to let you go. I'm not saying that my managers would do that, but you never know."

Such fears appear to be echoed by others in the LGBT community, where according to a recent study by the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy group, 53% of LGBT workers in the country hide their sexual identity at work and 35% feel compelled to lie about their personal lives while at the office.

Another joint study by Deloitte, a consulting and financial services firm, and New York University, found that 83% of lesbian, gay and bisexual workers reported "covering" a part of their sexual identity at work.

"It's really downplaying the parts of ourselves that are either our identity or our experiences," said Christie Smith, managing principal of the Deloitte University Leadership Center for Inclusion and one of the authors of the study. "The LGBT community is the population that is most impacted by this concept of covering, hiding their identity when they come to work. They're completely denying, if you will, their sexual identity in order to conform."

Of course, there are also LGBT individuals who are not out of the closet because they feel their sexuality is private and doesn't need to be discussed at work.

Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly acknowledged Thursday that he is gay, becoming the only CEO of a Fortune 500 company to announce his homosexuality while at the helm of a major company.

"I don't consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I've benefited from the sacrifice of others," Cook wrote in a Bloomberg Businessweek column. "So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it's worth the trade-off with my own privacy."

Cook's announcement triggered Twitter users to make #proudtobegay a trending topic for several hours. Many people used their 140 characters to celebrate the news, and some saw it as an important moment.

"Proud of Tim Cook for using his voice and his influence to help others," tennis legend and openly gay athlete Billie Jean King wrote.

"So proud of tim cook. knowing the apple CEO is gay will comfort and inspire so many young people who are afraid. maybe it already has," tweeted Tech Crunch reporter Jordan Crook.

The news comes a month after President Barack Obama's executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation, which was welcomed by the LGBT community.

The presidential initiative helps to reinforce a changing social and legal landscape where, according to the Human Rights Campaign, 91% of Fortune 500 companies have policies that promote diversity and protect employees against discrimination.

Inclusion good for business

Making policy translate to culture is an evolving challenge, says Todd Sears, a former investment banker who founded Out Leadership, a strategic advising company geared toward helping companies focus on LGBT inclusion.

I may be perceived as a strange 'other.' That's sad and hurtful.
"Brandon," project manager at medical research firm

"We have become so politically correct that a number of senior leaders are afraid to say anything because they don't want to say the wrong thing," Sears said. "But, point in fact, that is the exact wrong thing to do. What I encourage senior leaders to do is say, 'I am learning. Can you help me? I am going to make a mistake; I want you to help me figure out that I should say sexual orientation not sexual preference.'"

Sears says he is encouraged by the strides he sees companies taking.

"I actually think corporate America is faster than the federal government, than any state governments, because corporate America sees the business bottom line impact of this," he said, noting that the LGBT market represents about $800 billion in spending power.

"It's not just the LGBT market; it is the ally market. It's the people who care about LGBT people," said Sears. "There are economic consequences to discrimination, and you see that play out in the marketplace."

Key to increasing inclusion at the office, Sears says, is retaining talent.

"It definitely is a deciding factor where I go next. It definitely weighs in on my decision to stay. I mean, just knowing that you have the security and those protections built in is really important," Jason said. "Regardless of who I am outside of work or who I identify as sexually, I've worked to always prove myself as a valuable employee and member of the team."

Inclusive policies are not enough to persuade Brandon to come out at his job, where he is a project manager for a medical research firm.

"Policy doesn't necessarily create safety," said Brandon, a transgender man.

The 33-year-old leads a team of 10 associates and recently opted to work from home, in part because he found it too stressful to go to an office for fear that he would be outed.

"The main reason is I don't know whether there would be a negative effect," he reasoned. "I can't risk that. It feels too much like a roll of the dice."

'I'm not ashamed of who I am'

Brandon's employment came after an exhaustive nine-month search that included interviews with 20 different companies. In every interview except with his current company he was open about his transition from female to male.

"It's better to not be out," said Brandon, who is convinced that being open about his transgender identity and activism may have turned off potential employers.

Brandon's concern was backed by a 2011 Harvard study that found in some states, there was significant discrimination against openly gay applicants, with gay job applicants approximately 40% less likely to be offered a job interview than their heterosexual counterparts.

Brandon has been with his company for six years, and at this point he's not ready to tell his co-workers that he is transgender. That often leaves him feeling lonely and isolated at work.

"I may be perceived as a strange 'other.' That's sad and hurtful," he said. "It's such a huge risk. If I come out, I can't go back. It's a one-way door."

Still, it's a door that Brandon may soon walk through, as his yearning to become a parent is greater than his fear of being outed.

Brandon, who was born a woman, is considering having a child. A pregnancy would force Brandon out of the closet, as he still routinely meets with his team.

"It's not about shame. I'm not ashamed of who I am. It's more about logistically navigating a world that I know to be untrustworthy, and even with policy in place, it's fickle."

Life decisions like marriage could prompt Jason to come out, too, but until then he hopes that policy at work will change to reflect the growing social culture of acceptance.

"Maybe I'll be the first. We'll see if the time is right and the venue is right. I mean someone has to step up eventually. ... The tides are slowly turning in our favor."

Read the original article from CNN here: 

Extremists causing discrimination toward Muslims

by Christina Madera
Originally Published: October 30th, 2014

A poll done by Newsweek shows 46 percent of Americans say this country allows “too many” Muslim immigrants. The same poll reflect that 41 percent of Americans believe the Muslim culture glorifies suicide.

Acts of terrorism have been making headlines since the late 1970s. Today, the FBI’s top priority is to protect the U.S. from terrorist groups like al-Qaida and ISIS. Recently, ISIS militants killed Baghdad civilians in a suicide bombing, launched attacks on Kurdish forces and killed a British hostage, Alan Henning.

Current news emphasizes the endangerment of the innocent by Muslim terrorists. The terrorists cause the harm. Muslims desire peace.

Over 80 percent of the U.S. follows Christianity with less than 1 percent of the population following Islam. Lack of representation in this country has led to misinterpretations of the Islamic religion. The Quran states,“All mankind is descended from Adam and Eve, an Arab is not better than a non-Arab and a non-Arab is not better than an Arab; a white person is not better than a black person, nor is a black person better than a white person except by piety and good actions.” Most Muslims share American values such as the need to seek equality and justice for all. Muslim extremists or Islamists believe in the merging of the mosque and the state under sharia law. Islam extremists use non-violent approaches to spread ideology and install Islamic supremacy around the globe. On the other hand, Islamic terrorists use violent acts to instill fear and force changes of government in their favor.

A common misconception made about Muslim men is that they are vicious for allowing the stoning of cheating wives and performing public honor killings. The Quran, like other spiritual texts, has a high regard for life and does not promote violence. Practicing Muslims are like practicing Christians; they sin. However, Muslims largely believe in encouraging peace and protection of wives. Muslim extremists believe all women should listen to the needs of the men and continually satisfy them. An extremist might go as far as threatening to divorce their wife because she spoke when she was not addressed. A terrorist could ruthlessly murder a woman for revealing too much skin.

People should not stereotype, but why do they? Anytime you think about international news, the first thing that comes to mind is the Middle East. Westerners do not realize the rate at which non-westerners are slain, mainly because reporters do not highlight this information. In fact, al-Qaida kills eight times more Muslims than non-Muslims. Why aren’t more Americans aware of this? It’s simple. If a Muslim man saves a drowning infant, religion becomes a pointless detail in the story coverage. However, if a man, who happens to be of the Islamic faith, drowns an infant the story becomes another outlet for more Islamic distrust in America.

In America, Muslims experience stereotype in various forms. Some cases of discrimination against Muslim Americans include inequity in the workforce or being denied a job, being heavily searched at airports, or even being harassed by strangers who see a hijab as an emblem of hate. There are many organizations in the U.S. such as Jihad Watch and the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) that promote Islamophobia; prejudice against Islamic doctrine or Muslims.

I have witnessed these prejudices first hand. A co-worker of mine had a customer refuse to talk to her, even though she was the only employee at customer service, simply because she was Muslim. Another friend of mine was forced by her father to break up with her boyfriend because he was Muslim. What is next; separate drinking fountains? How is this any better than discrimination against African-Americans before the Civil Rights Movement? Muslims are being generalized into this one erroneous identity, which is leading to division in the Islamic community.

There are different kinds of Muslims. To practicing Muslims, extremist views are senseless and do not reflect their beliefs and values. Non-extremist Muslims do not even want to be associated with their merciless extreme counterparts. According to the Pluralism Project at Harvard University, mosques across the country are holding open houses and inviting non-Muslims to learn about Islamic beliefs and values. According to the same organization, Muslim student groups are holding “Islam Awareness Weeks” on their college campuses where they are reassuring Muslims denounce militant Jihad and Islamic fundamentalism. Muslims are constantly having to battle negative stereotypes, which can be frustrating and infuriating.

Terrorist acts harm everybody: Muslims and Non-Muslims. Negative stereotypes against the Muslim religion also hurt people. Don’t be an ill informed citizen.

Read the original article from The Oswegonian here: 

5 Ways To Make Workplace Flexibility The New Way Of Working

by Jeanne Meister
Originally Published: October 30th, 2014

The market intelligence firm IDC estimates that the worldwide mobile worker population will increase from just over 1 billion in 2010 to more than 1.3 billion by 2015.

But even as study after study confirms that employees from all four generations of today’s workers are working remotely and increasingly want (and even require) their prospective employers to offer workplace flexibility, some companies – like Yahoo, Best Buy, and now Reddit – are equating workplace productivity with face time in the office.

When Marissa Mayer banned telecommuting at Yahoo, we began again a debate of the benefits and pitfalls of virtual working. Soon after Yahoo banned virtual working, Best Buy followed suit, ending its own influential flexible work program, which was known as the ROWE (Results-Only Work Environment) in favor of a much more conservative approach.

And now, even the forward-thinking tech company Reddit has ordered its remote workers to relocate to San Francisco, or else say goodbye to their jobs.

These companies demonstrate an understandable fear that geographically diverse workforces will face disadvantages. Employees may work less effectively, they reason, without the synchronous real-life moments that help power collaboration and innovation.

However, they need only look to companies like Corning Incorporated, which has harnessed Yammer as a tool for real time collaboration and innovation, for a model in how to use enterprise collaboration tools to bring remote workers “together.”

But, more importantly, these companies are missing a second point: In an age when finding and retaining top talent is among the strongest predictors of a company’s success, workplace flexibility must be viewed as a necessary tool to increase employee satisfaction and productivity, rather than a perk that may or may not be bestowed. As both Aetna and American Express have documented, workplace flexibility programs that are treated as part of a company’s strategy can generate cost savings, talented worker pools, increased efficiency, and more satisfied employees.

The hiring marketplace has become extremely competitive in recent years, and truly skilled college graduates now can have the pick of the litter when it comes time for them to choose new employers. According to Cisco’s soon to be released Cisco 2014 Connected World Technology Report, more than 60% of workers report that their current or future job searches will not be limited to their hometown, or even their home country. That means the fight for talent is now a global one – and workplace flexibility remains key in determining the best-in-breed employers.

As Cisco uncovered in its 2014 Connected World Technology Report, workers value flexibility over almost anything else. Those surveyed indicated that flexibility was the second most important factor, after salary, they would consider when evaluating a job offer. 66% of American millennials said they felt an organization that adopts a flexible, mobile, and remote work model has a competitive advantage over one that requires employees to be in the office from 9am to 5pm every weekday.

My own research supports these metrics. For my recent book The 2020 Workplace, I interviewed many workers in the Millennial generation – a group that will be 75% of the global workforce by 2025 – and they said they expect work and life to completely blend together in today’s 24/7 world. There is no distinction between “work,” and “life,” both seamlessly blur together.

So what are five practices your organization can take advantage of in thinking about workplace flexibility as strategy for impacting your business?

1) Consider flexibility a strategic imperative:
Workplace flexibility is a strategic lever not an employee perk. Both American Express AXP +0.45% and Aetna AET +1.07% Insurance have become leaders in making workplace flexibility a strategic issue resulting in business results.  As I wrote in a previous Forbes column, the American Express EXPR +0.88% Blue Work program has delivered not only improved worker productivity but also saved between $10- $15 million annually in real estate costs. Aetna Insurance, has 47 % of its workforce working remotely and because of this, the company has shed 2.7 million square feet of office space and reaped $78 million in savings.

2) Offer training for both virtual workers and virtual managers: Companies that are seeing business impact in workplace flexibility have designed policies and training to prepare virtual employees and virtual managers for how to work in this new world of workAmerican Express realizes the job of creating the workspace for tomorrow requires a robust set of policies, trainings and, communications governed by a cross functional team. Key areas covered in the American Express virtual work training include: training on using new technology tools, tips and tricks on being a mobile worker and how to lead a virtual team in a mobile work environment.

3) Conduct On-going Research: American Express regularly conduct research each year on the needs and priorities of each department and position to ensure key roles are designated according to HUB, CLUB, ROAM, and HOME categories. This type of oversight is crucial to making sure that flexible work policies remain productive and don’t become an abused privilege.

4) Craft Robust Communication: Creating a flexible workspace policy is just the beginning. Working remotely for many managers is a change of pace, and they need to thoroughly understand the policy in order to do their own job efficiently. According to Future Workplace’s Multiple Generations @ Work Survey, less than half of all workers (44%) are aware of workplace flexibility/telecommuting policies offered by their company.

5) Measure Results: One of the key benefits is employee retention.  Aetna has documented that working remotely is a retention tool, with annual voluntary turnover for those Aetna employees who work at home in the 2 to 3 per cent range, as compared to company-wide turnover that is about 8 per cent.

Read the original article from Forbes here: 

Your Workers Want Work Flexibility But Companies Benefit Most

by Sara Sutton Fell
Originally Published: October 30th, 2014

For most companies, flexible work options are still a perk rather than standard operating procedure. Forward-thinking business owners (hello, entrepreneurs!) understand, however, that trends are clearly moving towards embracing flexible work as a way of doing business, rather than doing business the same old way.

FlexJobs recently conducted a survey of over 1,500 job seekers looking for more flexible work options to learn why working from home, having a flexible schedule, or freelancing are such attractive options, and what they mean for companies. The results of this survey show that people from all ages, careers, and life stages consider flexible work options a priority. Smart companies will understand that in order to both compete for and keep top talent in the years ahead, they’ll need to ramp up their flex work programs.

Main reasons employees want flexible work

When asked why they want flexible work options, the clear number one reason was work-life balance (74 percent). Health and exercise and family reasons came in second (52 percent each). Close runners-up included time savings and reduced commute stress (47 percent) and cost savings (43 percent). Other interesting reasons included the conditions of their local job market, and more time to travel.

Why working from home is so popular

When it comes down to it, people want to work from home because commuting to work, and the office environment, sap their productivity at home and at work. Respondents were asked, “Where do you go when you really need to get something done for work?” 54 percent report that home, not the office, is their location of choice to undertake important job-related assignments. Additionally, 18 percent said they would choose the office, but only outside standard hours. Only 19 percent said they would go to the office during regular working hours to get important work done.

Think about that--the workspace most employers require people to report to every day actually hinders employees’ ability to do their job. Hybrid arrangements, such a 50-50 split between working from home and working in the office, allow employees to collaborate face-to-face with coworkers in the office, while also choosing alternative locations for independent work where focus is crucial.

All this closeness is stressing people out

According to the survey, the number one reason people think they would be more productive working from home is the reduction of office politics (61 percent). Fewer interruptions from colleagues was close behind (59 percent), as was fewer general distractions (56 percent). Yes, teams are a vital part of any successful company. But the trend towards more in-person collaboration by removing cubicle walls and corralling people into open workspaces doesn’t necessarily create a more effective team.

Companies benefit from flexible work

According to survey respondents, here are just a few of the clear benefits flexible work options offer companies:

Cost savings: In addition to real estate savings with full-time remote workers, 20 percent of survey respondents would take a 10 percent pay cut for flexible work options. Twenty-two percent would be willing to forgo health benefits. 18 percent would be willing to work more hours.

Increased productivity: The survey results showing that employees leave the office to get important work done and that they need fewer interruptions from colleagues supports this.

Better recruiting and retention: A huge majority (82 percent) of professionals said they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options. Thirtynine percent have turned down a promotion, have not taken or have quit a job because of a lack of flexible work options.

What flexible work means for companies

Does anyone at your company ever work from phones, tablets, or laptops when they’re away from the office? Of course they do--we all do. As more people do it, especially in leadership positions, an expectation is set that this is the norm. Proactive companies will take time to harness this momentum, crafting it into a formalized program that maximizes the benefits for the company and staff.

As you consider what flexible working could mean for your company, remember that occasional telecommuting, semi-flexible work hours, and alternative schedules are all options that can be molded to fit both the company’s and the employees’ needs. Flexible work isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. Smart companies will figure out their own customized flexible work policies now because in a few short years, work flexibility will be the rule rather than the exception.

Read the original article from Entrepreneur here: 

Tim Cook Comes Out, But Corporate Diversity Has a Long Way to Go

by Jeremy Quittner
Originally Published: October 30th, 2014

When Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, the largest publically traded company in the world, came out as gay on Thursday, it sent a pretty powerful message to business owners around the globe: Openness and inclusion of diversity are key drivers of innovation and productivity.

And for any startup, or small business, that wants the best from its workforce, you'd do well to follow Cook's lead. Corporate policies that allow employees to be open about who they are also allow those employees to do a better job, make stronger connections with their co-workers, and lets them connect more effectively in networks that are critical to your business.

"[Tim Cook's announcement] has the potential to bring added visibility to the issue of non-discrimination, and of welcoming people into the workplace to do the job they are hired to do," says Justin Nelson, executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

This Is Diversity?

Still, while many companies pay lip service to the idea of diversity, few actually make it a cornerstone value. Even Silicon Valley tech companies, which consistently rank in the top of diversity rankings for their treatment of LGBT employees, have their own problems with difference--namely that they tend to be overwhelmingly white and male. Cook's announcement is certainly groundbreaking, but inclusion of all minorities in U.S. workplaces, still has a long way to go.

In Cook's article from Business Week, he writes:
I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky.

You need look no further than Exxon Mobil to see what Cook means. Apple and Exxon Mobil frequently jockey for position of the top slot for the largest public companies globally--though Exxon with a market cap of $400 billion is currently playing second fiddle, and in more ways than one. Exxon ranks at the bottom of Fortune 1,000 companies, because it does not include LGBT people in its corporate diversity policy, among other things.

That's important because LGBT workers, including those working for Exxon, can be fired in about 30 states for their sexual orientation and expression. (Even though, ironically, they may now marry in many of the same states, thanks to a Supreme Court decision from 2012 allowing same sex marriage on a federal level.)

And elsewhere throughout the world where Apple does a thriving business, draconian laws exist that criminalize homosexuality and sexual expression. In Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, for example you can be executed for being gay. Russia forbids public discussion of homosexuality with a threat of imprisonment.

A Policy of Openness

So, for entrepreneurs like Thomas Sanchez, co-founder and chief executive of social media marketing and strategy company Social Driver, Cook's announcement is groundbreaking in a multitude of ways.

Sanchez founded the 35- employee Social Driver, based in Washington, D.C., with his husband Anthony Shop. Both left Missouri, one of the states where you can fired for being gay, to start their current enterprise about four years ago.

"I knew people in Missouri who would go to Iowa, where same-sex marriage is legal, to get married, and then not tell people at work, because they were afraid," Sanchez says.

As an openly gay executive and owner of a startup, Sanchez says he can create an environment in his own company where diversity is appreciated and encouraged. Just as important, he says he can also network with other gay business owners, which helps create new business opportunities for his company and others. (There are about 1.4 million gay-owned businesses in the U.S., according to the NGLCC.)

"You do a better job when you can be out," Sanchez says. "And as a CEO, I don't want my employees worrying about [revealing] their personal lives at work."

Or, as Cook says in more soaring language: "We pave the sunlit path toward justice together, brick by brick. This is my brick."

That brick belongs to all of us.
Read the original article from Inc. here: 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tim Cook's Coming Out Gives The LGBT Community Confidence And Support

by Ewan Spence
Originally Published: October 30th, 2014

Writing in Businessweek, Apple's Tim Cook has publicly come out. While he has been open in his personal life, this is the first public acknowledgement from the 53-year-old executive. “While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”

The statement touches on Cook’s reasons for keeping his personal life private up until now, but also details his thoughts on why this is an important step for him to take. “So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.”

Monty Moncrieff is CEO of London Friend, an organization that offers counselling and support around issues such as same-sex relationships, sexual and gender identity and promoting personal growth and self-confidence. I asked how important is Cook’s announcement in helping someone come to terms with their own sexuality?

“It’s great to see Tim Cook talk so positively about his sexual orientation. Although for some lesbian, gay & bisexual people this is a private matter for many of us it’s such an integral part of our identity and it’s important for us to feel at ease in the workplace

“Even very casual conversations about what you did at the weekend or about partners can be uncomfortable for gay people who aren’t out. We know that people feel they can reach their full potential at work when they’re relaxed and open about who they are.”

As Cook points out, the attitudes of America are slowly changing, but there are many laws (such as civil union) that are discriminatory. Moncrieff highlighted how important Cook’s personal and public position will be in the workplace.

“For many years LGB people lacked legal protections at work on grounds of sexual orientation. We’ve made great progress here in the UK, but the picture is not so positive elsewhere around the world.

“Cook talks of his hope that even just one person might feel better about their own sexual identity as a result of his coming out, but being such a high-profile CEO on a global scale I think his actions today will have a much wider impact on LGB people feeling more confident to be themselves at work, and for their employers to make them feel more supported.”

Cook’s essay builds on “I’m proud to be gay” and shows how his orientation has shaped him and given him the strength and belief to live his life on his terms. As a personal step, this announcement is one of the largest of Tim Cook’s life. I have no doubt that it will also be a moment that impacts on many individuals around the world who will be able to see that their orientation is a gift to be celebrated.

Read the original article from Forbes here: 

William Hague: The situation for LGBT people ‘is worsening’ in many countries

by Joseph Patrick McCormick
Originally Published: October 30th, 2014

PinkNews Exclusive

In his first major speech on LGBT rights, the former Foreign Secretary William Hague, has warned that the situation for gay people abroad “is worsening” in many countries.

Speaking at the annual PinkNews Awards in Speaker’s House, Mr Hague, the First Secretary of State and Leader of the House of Commons spoke of his time in the Foreign Office, and the importance of the “abolition of draconian laws that restrict the lives of LGBT people in other countries”.

He said such laws “subject innocent people to imprisonment, violence and stigmatisation.”

“While we’re making progress in Britain and elsewhere because the situation in other countries is not only difficult it is worsening as you know. It is completely incompatible with international human rights laws to make illegal consenting same-sex relations and to deny rights to people on the basis of their sexuality.

“It’s a very important part of this work to change attitudes. The United Kingdom does great work to promote that internationally as I saw in the four years that I was Foreign Secretary, until a few months ago, and it is work that I intensified as Foreign Secretary.”

Currently, 77 countries, and 80 jurisdictions criminalise homosexuality. Five still have the death penalty for those convicted under such laws.

Mr Hague told the audience: “So the defence on LGBT rights must be part of our foreign policy and at the core of our work on human rights. And our work includes lobbying other countries about individuals laws and cases when we travel overseas as Ministers such as in the situation in Uganda which was a focus during my time in FCO.”

Continuing, he said: “One of my last acts as FCO was to write to the Commonwealth Secretary General urging him to use his position to urge member states to live up to their responsibilities to promote the rights of LGBT citizens, it is shocking that homosexuality is illegal in so many Commonwealth member states and it must be part of our relations with them to persuade them to do better.”

Joking that he got into “a lot of trouble” in 1997 when he said in an Independent on Sunday interview that he would not oppose same-sex marriage, he continued: “I want to congratulate PinkNews and your supporters across the country, and all of your commitment on these issues.”

After his speech, Mr Hague presented the PinkNews Award for Peer of the Year to Lord Fowler, who works tirelessly against HIV and AIDS in the developing world.

Read the original article from Pink News here: 

Female-, Minority-Run Startups Have Tougher Fundraising Road, Study Says

by Timothy Hay
Originally Published: October 30th, 2014

Female and ethnic-minority entrepreneurs are significantly less likely to raise venture capital or private equity funding than their white, male counterparts, a new study from Pepperdine University’s Graziado School of Business and Management said.

The study, which looks at extensive fundraising data from the years 1995 through 2009, found that businesses that are minority-, female- or foreign-owned are 21.7%, 2.6% and 8.8% less likely to raise private equity funding, respectively, than their white counterparts.

The numbers are even more stark when it comes to venture capital, the study found. Minority-, female- and foreign-owned companies are 22.2%, 18.7% and 17.9% less likely to successfully raise a venture round than companies run by American-born white males.

The study adds fuel to a long-running conversation about diversity, or lack thereof, in the technology world. Many tech companies rely on private equity, especially its smaller subset of venture capital, which tends to focus on startups.

Pepperdine’s report does not place blame for the disparities on overt racism or sexism, but rather implies that investors are simply biased toward the familiar.

The demographics of the venture capital industry tilt strongly toward men, the majority Caucasian. A 2011 survey by the National Venture Capital Association and Dow Jones VentureSource found that 89% of investors were men and 11% were women. The NVCA and several venture firms are reportedly working on proposals to increase diversity at investment firms.

The new report was led by two of Pepperdine’s associate professors of finance, Dr. John K. Paglia and Dr. Maretno Agus Harjoto.

The study merges several large datasets, and examines single funding rounds for “single-entity business establishments.”

Pepperdine researchers turned to the Institute for Exceptional Growth Companies, also known as the NETS database, to examine employment data on 44 million businesses during the timeframe of 1990 to 2009, the study said.

The data was combined with private equity and venture capital transaction information from the Pitchbook database, and with financial data from Dun & Bradstreet spanning 1995 through 2009.

With an enormous set of data, researchers then created categories for businesses that were able to grow through outside investment and those that grew organically. Other categories looked at the gender and race of business owners.

“We find consistent evidence that minority (non-Caucasian), women and foreign business owners’ establishments are significantly less likely to receive PE or VC financing,” the study said.

Pepperdine researchers also looked at the positive effect that a single outside funding round can have on a business, and found that the benefits of a private equity round usually materialize after about a year, and persist for about three years.

A venture round has a more immediate impact on a business in terms of net sales and employment growth rates, the study found, but the effect of a venture round tends to dissipate after two years.

Read the original article from Wall Street Journal here: 

Fed’s Yellen Says Diversity Would Improve Economics Profession

by Christopher Condon
Originally Published: October 30th, 2014

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said attracting more women and minorities to the study of economics could make the profession better prepared to deal with future threats and crises.

“When economics is tested by future challenges, I hope that our profession will be able to say that we have done all we could to attract the best people and the best ideas,” Yellen said today in the text of remarks prepared for delivery at a conference on diversity in the economics profession in Washington.

Yellen didn’t comment on monetary policy or the economy. The Federal Open Market Committee yesterday brushed aside recent turmoil in financial markets and concerns over low inflation as it halted bond purchases and drew attention to gains in the U.S. labor market.

In her remarks on diversity, Yellen cited her own experience at the Fed, saying she was one of “relatively few women economists” there when she joined the board staff in 1977.

“Since then, there have been significant gains in diversity at the Board and throughout the System,” she said.

She said the Fed, which employs more than 700 Ph.D.s on the staffs of the board and the system’s 12 regional banks, “is committed to achieving further progress, and to better understanding the challenges to improving diversity throughout the economics profession.”

Read the original article from Bloomberg Business Week here: 

Neurodiversity: A New Talent Opportunity

by Brenna Sniderman
Originally Published: October 30th, 2014

Diversity is crucial to driving business growth and encouraging innovative thinking. Multiple and varied voices, perspectives and experiences can help generate new ideas about products and practices. Forbes Insights examined the link between diversity and corporate innovation multiple times; the title of “Global Diversity and Inclusion: Fostering Innovation Through a Diverse Workforce” says it all. In that study, senior executives overwhelmingly agreed that a diverse and inclusive workforce brings the different perspectives that a company needs to power its innovation strategy – and more than three quarters planned to focus more on leveraging diversity for innovation and other business goals in the coming three years as part of their growth strategies.

But sometimes it’s important to go back for an update. And when we conducted this study three years ago, we missed a very important – and rapidly emerging — area: neurodiversity.

Neurodiversity – the idea that diverse neurological conditions, specifically autism, are simply a natural human variation and neurological differences should be recognized and respected as a normal facet of diversity — is not yet a common idea. Indeed, when Forbes Insights conducted that research about fostering corporate innovation through diversity just three years ago, we didn’t even think to include it as a parameter. It may be among the hardest types of diversity to ensure: it’s often impossible to tell, at first glance, if someone is not neurotypical.

It’s been well documented that the numbers are staggering. The CDC estimates that one in 68 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

As the numbers climb, today’s children become tomorrow’s adults – and many may be poised to enter the workforce, bringing with them incredible skills and talents, just as with their neurotypical (i.e., non-autistic) peers. They also bring with them unique –and sometimes counterintuitive — thought processes and perspectives, which can lead to innovative approaches to strategic business issues. But how can organizations effectively harness their talents to drive innovation and growth?

This question becomes particularly salient now, as earlier diagnosis and more evolved interventions mean outcomes may be improving for some. “Over the last 10-15 years, in the U.S. specifically, there’s a lot more access to treatment, and many are seeking it at an earlier age,” says Jill Mullin, a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA), a specialist in applied behavior analysis (ABA), the scientifically validated treatment/therapy commonly used with individuals on the autism spectrum. “At the same time, ABA therapy is evolving and improving all the time. This means there are more kids being treated and receiving support to help them manage their symptoms and develop their strengths, who may be able to excel in many areas and go on to seek employment.”

In addition to improved and earlier treatments, a number of other factors may contribute: most specifically, a steep increase in integration into mainstream classrooms. According to the U.S. Department of Education, about 39% of ASD students spent at least 80% of their day in a mainstream classroom in 2011, up from 36% in 2008 and just 18% in 2000. As high-functioning children are increasingly placed in mainstream classes to learn – and develop relationships with – their neurotypical peers, many children are gaining experience working alongside those who think differently. And as neurodiverse individuals gain experience in mainstream settings throughout their childhoods, they’re becoming better positioned than ever before to contribute in the workplace.

Many on the spectrum already work — quite effectively and productively – at high-level careers. And some companies have already recognized the value, skills and talents those on the spectrum can bring at the corporate level. SAP and Freddie Mac have launched programs focused specifically on recruiting talent on the autism spectrum. Through its global autism recruitment drive launched in 2013, SAP aims to build its ASD employees to 1% of its workforce, testing software for anomalies and bugs. In this way, the company is seeking to harness many common ASD characteristics such as strong attention to detail.

And this is a great start. But what are some ways companies in general can follow the precepts of neurodiversity to promote growth – even if they are not specifically reaching out to talent in the autism population? In other words, how can company culture change to hire and leverage different thinkers as a matter of course, as opposed to a singular, concerted effort to identify those with a diagnosis? Companies often talk about talent diversity in terms of gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, but not in the neurological sense – but this can, and should, change. Neurodiversity may be the last “frontier” of talent management, but in many ways the biggest challenge.

“I see many individuals that are very, very intelligent, and strong in particular areas,” says Jill Mullin. “They may have some social differences, but at the same time they have very specific strengths that could be the crux for many areas of growth and innovation.”

Read the original article from Forbes here: 

Women In Aerospace: Challenges And Opportunities

by Bonnie Marcus
Originally Published: October 29th, 2014

There has been much discussion and attention paid recently to women and STEM careers. Rather than continue this conversation in general terms, I thought it would be helpful to take a look at specific STEM industries in which women are underrepresented to highlight some of the opportunities for women and as well as the challenges. Aerospace is the first industry I’m exploring relative to these issues.

Susan Chodakewitz, President of Tetra Tech, believes that the opportunities for women in the aerospace industry are limitless from both a technical and management/executive perspective.

I asked Susan about the current representation of women in aerospace.

Susan Chodakewitz: I think it’s important to note that, to start, the percentage of women in aerospace has definitely held steady for over 20 years. Second, if you talk about aerospace at the highest level – the high-water mark that I can see is, 25 percent in the field are women. But when you drill down further, the numbers drop off significantly. For example, it looks like, in 2012, only about 10 percent of aerospace engineers and computer network architects were women. Only 16 percent of the aircraft, spacecraft, and manufacturing subgroup within aerospace are women. So, the more technical you get, the numbers drop significantly below that 25 percent.

Marcus: Of the 25% that are women, what type of jobs do they have?

Chodakewitz: Most of the 25% is in the non-technical and non-executive roles; in supportive functions such as administrative, program management and finance.

When you say the opportunities for women in aerospace are limitless, are you speaking overall or in technical areas?

Chodakewitz: Well, I am talking about overall, including the technical areas. A couple of things need to happen to realize that the opportunities. Because, clearly, women have to want to move into this field; they want to have to stay in the field. And we have to dam up the leaky pipeline. But, when you think about the projected growth of jobs in STEM, the US economy and the government and corporate leaders are going to have to expand the universe of pipeline to fill these jobs. STEM jobs are likely to grow about 17 percent between 2008 and 2018. Non-STEM jobs will grow less than 10 percent in this same timeline. All managers, all companies, all entities are going to have to do something different – to ensure that, they’ve got the quality and numbers of employees – to fill this increasing need. And, to me, women, who are almost 50 percent of the workforce, across the board – but, so underrepresented in aerospace – have to represent a good part of that answer.

Why do you think more women aren’t attracted to this industry?

Chodakewitz: Part of it is that it’s a niche area; niche from a technical perspective – not necessarily, from a revenue perspective. I also think women are somewhat uncertain or a bit trepidatious about moving into a field where, there aren’t role models – and where, there is a history at least, of stereotypes and gender bias – that have not supported women’s advancement. So, I think A: its increasing awareness. And B: making sure that people and women feel comfortable through role models and early exposure. And then, also, it’s that self-fulfilling prophecy: The more women break in, stay in, and continue to get promoted, the more women will follow suit. So, it is a complex puzzle in the sense that, a lot of things have to change to make it as attractive as, perhaps, other areas. But nonetheless, I think the economic need is going to be there to drive this.

Marcus: You mentioned the leaky pipeline. This is has been recognized as a contributing factor to the lack of women in all STEM industries. How significant is this in aerospace?

To a large degree, the aerospace industry has a leaky pipeline throughout the entire life cycle – which makes it much more difficult to plug. There’s no question that there’s a leaky pipeline in the sense that, women who enter the industry leave. But, the early part of the life cycle is also part of the problem. It starts with high school girls who start pursuing a scientific field and the number of candidates and graduates who actually show an interest in high school or junior high school who continue to pursue it in high school. Who majors in it in college and who sticks with that major, and then, go on to graduate work. There are so many spots of the leaky pipeline there. So, you don’t only lose potential candidates – but then, you lose them once you even attract them into the industry. So, it’s this “double whammy,” so to speak.

Marcus: Why do you think women leave the industry?

Chodakewitz: Fundamentally, I think, the aerospace business is a meritocracy – and that, there’s nothing endemic or systemic to the aerospace industry that’s unfavorable to women. This is an industry that looks for and rewards competency for either gender. But, I think, there is a certain amount of frustration or hesitation or concern among women – as they continue to advance – for several reasons. One is just the relative lack of women in the field. There’s a lot of high-level statistical metadata that shows that guys like to work with things. Women like to work with people. And so, it’s the culture of aerospace industries – because they’re heavily male-dominated, it’s just not a culture that some women would like. I think, there’s also still, a certain amount of gender bias in these kinds of industries that have just traditionally been male-dominated. There’s a series of soft factors I think might dissuade women or make women concerned or frustrated for advancing. And then there’s the whole political side of this. In general, a lot of technical experts don’t want to have to think about the political side of things. So, that’s a further delineation: Do people try to advance through the management track? Or, do they just set stay on the technical track?

Marcus: You started out by saying it’s a meritocracy but it seems that when you look under the covers there is hidden gender bias and cultural issues that work against women in this field.

Chodakewitz: You’re right. Those kinds of cultural issues, those gender biases – will erode over time – which, I think, will help this be an industry of huge potential upside for women. But there’s no question in my mind that, the next generation of women are still going to have to both excel – from a technical perspective – and, be willing to deal with the somewhat amorphous overt and covert biases – that will impact and impede their potential advancement.

Marcus: What do you see as the opportunities for women to excel in this field?

Chodakewitz: I believe that, the days of one scientist, or one engineer, or one mathematician – operating in a lab by him or herself – is, probably gone. There’s always going to be those incredibly brilliant individuals – who just, on their own, make some discovery – or turn the world upside-down – by a new understanding. But, in general, I think that, engineering and aerospace is no different than the rest of the marketplace – which requires team interaction. And really, a collective approach to research or development or engineering. And that collaboration, I think, is wonderfully oriented to women – who can bring both the technical and the interpersonal side to the lab.

Marcus: How can women leverage these collaborative qualities to be successful in aerospace?

Chodakewitz: First, I think, they could leverage this by recognizing that it’s an attribute – to begin with. For a lot of women – technical or not technical – that collaborative approach and demeanor is, viewed as just a given – as opposed to being an important attribute. So one, I think they have to recognize it’s special. Two, they really have to be able to talk with potential universities, grad programs, employers – and talk through, what the new marketplace looks like. How funding and grants are given. How work in the for-profit sector is being done. And, really, position themselves as someone who can be that translator – someone who can help take things to the next level, ensure there’s progress; ensure that they don’t forget what the original question is.

Marcus: How can women leverage these skills to advance to leadership positions?

Chodakewitz: This industry is going to need more and more people to meet the requirements in the future. I think when women have an opportunity to prove their roles – in, actually, delivering results – whether it’s in the lab or, whatever it might be – that, you can easily see a path forward. That person becomes a team lead. And then, a program manager. And then, through the management rank. And that individual then would take with her the credibility of, having been successful – in the environment that, the people she’s overseeing are now working in.

In theory at least – to a certain extent, that’s why women do have huge potential opportunities in this industry. Because, as many of the current technical workforce members – mostly male – don’t want to make that crossover from subject matter expert – to manager, or leader – then, in theory, those positions are open. And, women who do possess the desire and the skills to do both – could fill that gap.

Read the original article from Forbes here: 

Women in Tech: We Are More Than Just Beauty Companies

by Scarlett Sieber
Originally Published: October 29th, 2014

The debate about women in tech and diversity is everywhere. Anyone who is an avid tech and startup reader can't go a day without reading at least one article on the issue. While it is great that these issues are being brought to light, there is a lingering perception that women's strengths as entrepreneurs lie in very specific fields -- fields like fashion, fitness, cooking, etc. Recently, the Financial Times came out with a piece about women winning VC backing that I am sure was well intentioned, but continues to reinforce the stereotype of women predominately starting "girly companies," stating, "(money is starting to go to) women's beauty and fashion, areas where many new female founders have chosen to focus." While it is true that historically women have had success in these areas, I find it frustrating that given the breadth of areas woman are having an impact, if you are a woman entrepreneur, the spotlight has a relatively narrow focus.

With women starting 1200 new businesses on a daily basis the world needs to realize that women are doing a lot more. They are running high tech companies, media companies, and security companies. They are creating apps that will revolutionize the social game. These women are taking the startup tech scene by storm and need to recognized. I have listed a handful of these game changers below:

Natalia Burina -- (San Francisco) Natalia comes from an impressive run in the corporate world where she was a product manager for companies like eBay, Microsoft and Samsung. She already has one successful exit with a company she co-founded called Flockish, an group conversation app, bought by StubHub!,Currently Natalia is the co-founder and CEO at Parable, a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your most meaningful thoughts with everyone. With the Parable app, users can have conversations about parables crafted with distinct personal aesthetics.

Tifini Kamara -- (Detroit) Days after Detroit declared bankruptcy, Tifini was frustrated with how the media reported from outside of the city. She decided to create a platform that gave a voice to real Detroiters called Never Say Die, now operating as an alternative news magazine. NSD is available online 6/year covering topics important to millenials based in metro-Detroit in the form of video, photography and infographics. The premier issue features creative women such as Frannie Shepherd-Bates who teaches Shakespeare to female inmates and 11-year-old Asia Newson, named Detroit's youngest entrepreneur, who pitched Dan Gilbert her candle making business on the street.

Emily Cole -- (New York) Originally from Philadelphia, Emily moved to London to pursue her Masters in psychology. She ended up spending 11 years there teaching and getting her Phd before relocating to NYC in 2013 where she founded Admittedly with her cofounder Jess Brondo, a free platform that helps students to not only find their ideal college based on their personality, but also to provide them with the tools and resources they need to understand and manage the college application process. Admittedly is currently working with Big Brother Big Sister, the Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship and the NYC DOE.

Keyun Ruan -- (Ireland) For starters, Keyun coined the term 'Cloud Forensics'. She was co-founder, chairperson and chief research officer of New York based cloud security start-up XENSIX Inc., pioneering solutions for cloud forensics. She has worked as the Technical Lead at the National Institute of Science and Technology and has served as Senior Scientist and Chief Scientist of a leading Irish information management company. She is a registered expert at RANE Network an independent risk expert network founded by former MD of Goldman Sachs, David N. Lawrence. She is currently working on a stealth mode start-up on risk analytics, cross-mapping knowledge domains from medicine, finance and cyber, supported by RANE.

I urge everyone to think about women in tech differently and realize the true potential that is half of the world's population. Do you know other rock star women entrepreneurs who are breaking boundaries? Please include them in the comment section.

Read the original article from Huffington Post here: 

Ebola Brings Another Fear: Xenophobia

by Josh Sanburn
Originally Published: October 29th, 2014

A father's claim that his two boys were beaten and called "Ebola" raises concern among Africans

The father says the bullying began soon after his two sons arrived at their New York City school from Senegal almost one month ago. They were called “Ebola” by other students, taunted about possibly being contagious and excluded from playing ball. Ousmane Drame says the baiting finally erupted into a physical fight on Oct. 24 when 11-year-old Amadou and his 13-year-old brother Pape were pummeled by classmates on the playground of Intermediate School 318 in the Bronx.

“It’s not just them,” Drame said at a press conference. “All the African children suffer this.”

The brothers’ experience is an extreme example of the backlash felt by some Africans in the U.S. since the Ebola virus arrived from West Africa. Many others tell of facing subtler, but no less hurtful, forms of discrimination at work, in school and as they commute as fear of the little-known but often deadly disease has spread among the public.

In Staten Island, the largest Liberian community outside of Africa, one woman says she was forced to take temporary, unpaid leave from her job because of her nationality. Liberians in Minnesota have been told to leave work after sneezing or coughing. In New Jersey, two elementary school students from Rwanda were kept out of school after other parents pressured school officials. At Navarro College, a public community college in Texas, officials mailed letters rejecting international applicants from African countries, even ones from countries without confirmed Ebola cases. (The school has since apologized for sending out “incorrect information.”)

“This is a larger problem,” says Charles Cooper, president of the New York City–based African Advisory Council, an advocacy group. “People are on the train and they sneeze and hear, ‘I hope you don’t have Ebola. I hope you don’t give me Ebola.’ Xenophobia is growing around this, but many people are afraid to come out publicly.”

The spread of previously unknown, contagious diseases in the U.S. has often led to these sorts of overreactions. For Ebola, those fears appear driven by the circumstances of the virus — its high mortality rate, its gruesome symptoms, its origins on a continent often misunderstood by Americans — even though the odds of contracting it in the U.S. remain exceedingly low. A recent poll from the Harvard School of Public Health found that more than half of adults worry there will be a large Ebola outbreak inside in the U.S. over the next year, while over a third are worried that they or a family member will be infected.

While fears erupted around people diagnosed with polio in the 1940s and SARS in the 2000s, public-health experts point to the start of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s as the last time Americans attached a similar stigma to people even loosely associated with the virus. At the time, many Americans refused to be near those suspected of having HIV, unaware of how it was actually transmitted.

“A lot of what I’m seeing today was present at the very beginning of the AIDS epidemic,” says Robert Fullilove, a Columbia University professor of sociomedical sciences, who has been researching HIV since the mid-1980s. “It’s this tendency to separate between two different groups, when somebody’s ‘otherness’ is associated with a deadly disease. It’s like déjà vu all over again.”

That toxic brew of fear and misinformation led to discrimination against gays — the disease was unfairly yet colloquially known as the “gay plague” for its disproportionate toll among homosexual men — and people from Haiti, which was the first country in the western hemisphere with confirmed cases of HIV.

“Haiti itself became stigmatized,” says Dr. Joia Mukherjee, a Harvard Medical School associate professor. “The same thing is happening now with Liberians, and indeed all of Africa.”

In both cases, the driving forces are the same: a general lack of understanding about the disease, how it is transmitted and where it’s been concentrated.

“The average American doesn’t even recognize how big Africa is,” Fullilove says of the Ebola stereotypes.

The bullying allegedly faced by the Drame brothers is a case in point. The vast majority of Ebola cases are in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Senegal had only one confirmed case and is now considered free of the disease by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Countering such misinformation has been central to the messaging strategy of the CDC and government officials. It’s no coincidence that President Obama hugged Nina Pham after the Dallas nurse was declared free of the virus. And the image offensive may be paying off. According to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, the people least worried about catching the disease or a larger U.S. outbreak were the ones who knew the most about how Ebola is transmitted.

Read the original article from TIME here: 

Fighting Unconcious Bias at Google

by Judith Williams
Originally Published: October 29th, 2014

This spring, when we shared Google’s employee diversity report, we knew that the company was miles from where it should be — but being transparent about the problem was a vital part of the solution.

We also know that transparency isn’t enough, and that bringing more women to technology will take work on the inside to make their experience more positive. Much of the bias in the workplace is unconscious, so to fight it we focused on subtle and unintended discrimination in decision-making. More than 26,000 Googlers have participated in workshops about unconscious bias, and it has created a culture where employees are comfortable with — and held accountable for — calling out prejudice, both blatant and subtle.

Teaching about all forms of discrimination and implementing lessons into workplace decisions can mediate prejudice, both blatant and subtle.

Our human resources team routinely tests our hiring, promotion, performance management and compensation programs for fairness. Building this into decisions about who gets hired, promoted or even called into meetings helps to mediate pernicious bias. We also evaluate the results of employee and manager surveys for evidence of bias. When we see disparities arise, we stage interventions.

But zero-tolerance policies and progressive programs can only go so far – we need to bring more women and minorities into our companies to activate real change. To make that happen, we need more than just great benefits and work arrangements. We need to ensure that the day-to-day employee experience — the conversations and subtler interactions — enables individuals from all backgrounds to thrive.

Read the original article from The New York Times here: