The week@work – April 20 – 26 CEO pay, women@work & a yellow hairdryer

This week the conversation continued about Gravity Payments CEO’s decision to cut his salary and raise the minimum wage of his employees. Women@work were the topic of a viral gender equality spoof and Meryl Streep announced plans for a screenwriting lab for women over 40. And for those of you budding entrepreneurs comes the story of Dry Bar and those yellow hairdryers.

Dan Price, the CEO of Gravity Payments announced in mid April that he would be ‘sharing the wealth’ with his employees. His plan is to raise the minimum salary for all his employees to $70K within the next three years. Business professors and cable TV pundits criticized his idea, suggesting he was crazy, going so far as to cite research that happy workers are not necessarily productive workers.

This is what you get for being innovative. How will you know unless you try it?

Conceding on MSNBC that he might be crazy, “he dismissed the back-seat business advice as misguided. Proudly calling himself a capitalist, Mr. Price…argued that the new salary structure would benefit his firm in the long run even as it would help, more broadly, to highlight the corrosive effects of income inequality in American society.”

He is building a corporate culture founded on values of fairness that he believes will benefit his company in the long run.

At the Tribeca Film Festival actor Meryl Streep announced plans to fund a screenwriting lab for women over 40.

As reported in Variety, “The retreat will be run by New York Women in Film and Television and IRIS, a collective of women filmmakers.  

“Called the Writers Lab, the screenplay development program aims to increase opportunities for female screenwriters over the age of 40. This year the initiative will accept submissions May 1-June 1, with eight winning scribes named Aug. 1.

Among the mentors to participate in the Lab’s inaugural year are writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood (“Beyond the Lights”), producer Caroline Kaplan (“Boyhood”), and writers Kirsten Smith (“Legally Blonde”) and Jessica Bendinger (“Bring It On”).

Citing current statistics, Forbes Magazine reported : “As of 2014, women constituted only 17% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 250 (domestic) grossing films. Shockingly, this is the same percentage of women working in these roles in 1998. The needle hasn’t moved.”

Which leads us to ‘Its Only Fair That Men Should Have It All’ a video spoof of gender inequality. The video, created by Patricia Noonan, Nadia Quinn, and Emily Tarver used an all-female cast and crew of 70 to comment on a serious topic, with humor in words and music.

The last story of the week is a profile in The New York Times of the Drybar founder, Alli Webb.

“In just five years, Ms. Webb’s business has grown to a $50 million-a-year enterprise. (That was in 2014; the company says it is on track to generate $70 million in revenue in 2015.) This was not what she imagined growing up in South Florida. Back then, a young Ms. Webb (nee Landau), was forced to contend daily with her hair, which was wavy, and in humid Florida, very frizzy.”

What is Drybar? A visit to the website defines the product:

“Drybar is a brand new “blow dry bar” concept created around a very simple idea:
No cuts. No color. Just blowouts for only $40. You see, we believe that everyone (even us pros) prefers having someone else blow out their hair. Why? It just looks better! We also believe there has to be a better option than paying $60+ at a traditional salon, or going to a less-than-desirable discount chain. But there’s not. So, we decided to make one.”

Here is a simple business idea that originated with a basic beauty need and a woman who created a market for a product we didn’t know we needed until it arrived.

From the NY Times story: “Drybar now has 3,000 employees. There is a line of styling products, hot tools and brushes, sold in the Drybar shops and at Sephora. The company has about 50 investors, many of whom began as clients, like the actress Rose McGowan, and Alexander von Furstenberg, who got in touch about investing after he picked up his teenage daughter from a Drybar shop where she was getting a blowout. “I was like, wow, this place is so well run, just the execution, you know, everything,” Mr. von Furstenberg said.”

Most days you have to create your own success. Mr. Price of Gravity Payments is redefining employee compensation. Meryl Streep is recognizing the value of storytellers over 40. The creators of #makeitfair are reminding employers of the equal contribution of all workers. And Alli Webb has built her business based on 10 core values and a bright yellow hairdryer.

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