The week@work – a historic moment in Philadelphia, a ‘profile in courage’, the culture @Fox & @Bridgewater Associates & an adventure ends

It was a week of firsts: a solar powered aircraft completed the first circumnavigation of the globe and the Democratic National Convention nominated the first woman as a candidate of a major party for U.S. president. The corporate culture of Fox News and hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates continued to be scrutinized. And one man, took the stage in Philadelphia for seven minutes, proving we can all make a difference.

On Thursday evening Hillary Clinton, former U.S. Senator from New York and former Secretary of State, accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party as their candidate for President of the United States.

“And so, my friends, it is with humility, determination, and boundless confidence in America’s promise that I accept your nomination for president of the United States.”

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For 50.8% of the American people, a career milestone was achieved; ninety-six years after the ratification of the 19th amendment granting the right of suffrage to women.

University of New Hampshire professor of history and author, Ellen Fitzpatrick reflected on the moment and it’s ironies. When a woman finally checks all the ‘pay your dues’ boxes, in any career field, doubts about their motivation and abilities linger.

“One of the most powerful ironies in a political season full of perversities is a paradox that now defines Hillary Clinton’s campaign: The first female presidential candidate to overcome the obstacles that sank every single woman before her now confronts criticism for overcoming those very same difficulties.

Time and again, Americans have deemed men worthy of the White House if they could succeed on the national political stage, raise sufficient money, rally the support of party leaders, appeal to voters and point to domestic and foreign policy experience. That these assets are suddenly negatives, at the very moment that a woman finally achieved them, is curious, to say the least.”

Curious, but not surprising.

On Saturday The Los Angeles Times responded to readers who took exception to coverage of the historic moment with a front page photo of former President Bill Clinton.

“Like other newspapers, The Times illustrated its main story Wednesday on Hillary Clinton’s historic nomination for president with a photo — of her husband.

Of course, Bill Clinton is no ordinary spouse of a candidate (and neither was Hillary Clinton when her husband was president). Still, many readers detected a whiff of sexism in The Times’ decision to feature a large photo of the former president basking the adulation of the Democratic National Convention crowd when it was the former secretary of State who received her party’s nomination for president.”

Like other newspapers? Apparently imitation is the new competitive advantage.

Three reader comments were included; my favorite from Janet Kinosian of Santa Ana – “I’m sure the Suffragettes would not have been surprised, though I am.”

One of the most memorable moments of the convention in Philadelphia occurred when the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq four months after arriving in 2004, stepped to the podium.

Annabelle Timsit chronicled ‘Seven Minutes That Shook the Convention’ for Politico Magazine.

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“He walked onto the convention stage Thursday night with his wife beside him, the Constitution to guide him and the pride of a father who knows he has a story to tell.

“Tonight,” said Khizr M. Khan, “we are honored to stand here as the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, and as patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country.”

That was the beginning of a 7-minute speech that became an instant sensation—eloquent, emotional and notably original, coming as it did at the end of four days of highly processed political cliche. Khan, a 66-year-old immigration lawyer from Charlottesville, told the story of his son’s death in combat in Iraq, but he turned that elegy into a viral rebuke of Donald Trump: “You have sacrificed nothing!”

In 1957, before his presidential candidacy, President John F. Kennedy wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning book, ‘Profiles in Courage’.

“In the preface to ‘Profiles in Courage’, Senator Kennedy discusses the “problems of political courage in the face of constituent pressures, and the light shed on those problems by the lives of past statesmen.’’ He describes the three types of pressure faced by senators as pressure to be liked, pressure to be re-elected, and pressure of the constituency and interest groups…the book is about his admiration of the courage shown by elected leaders in the face of adverse factions like their electorates, popular opinion and political action committees that pull these elected men in different directions.”

Khizr M. Khan is not an elected official, but he is a citizen. And on Thursday evening his remarks filled a leadership void, demonstrating courage “in the face of adverse factions and popular opinion” – a contemporary ‘profile in courage’.

Each week The New York Times publishes the ‘Traffic Report’, a list of the most-read business articles on nytimes.com for the previous week. Three of the top four stories this week centered on corporate cultures that enabled sexual harassment of employees at Fox News and Bridgewater Associates.

Jim Rutenberg, Emily Steel and John Koblin covered the number one story, ‘At Fox News, Kisses, Innuendo, Propositions and Fears of Reprisal’.

“The investigation by Fox News’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, focused narrowly on Mr. Ailes. But in interviews with The New York Times, current and former employees described instances of harassment and intimidation that went beyond Mr. Ailes and suggested a broader problem in the workplace.

The Times spoke with about a dozen women who said they had experienced some form of sexual harassment or intimidation at Fox News or the Fox Business Network, and half a dozen more who said they had witnessed it. Two of them cited Mr. Ailes and the rest cited other supervisors. With the exception of Ms. Bakhtiar, they all spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing embarrassment and fear of retribution. Most continue to work in television and worry that speaking out could damage their careers.

They told of strikingly similar experiences at Fox News. Several said that inappropriate comments about a woman’s appearance and sex life were frequent. Managers tried to set up their employees on dates with superiors.”

And while a spokesperson for the parent company 21st Century Fox detailed the corporate sexual harassment policy and reporting procedures, Michael Grynbaum and Emily Steel noted ‘A Stony Silence at Fox News After Ailes’s Departure’.

“The Fox News skybox here turns into a hive of activity as the network’s star anchors analyze the Democratic National Convention for millions of viewers.

When the cameras blink off, however, the banter has been replaced by something rarely heard in the television news business: silence.

Megyn Kelly and her co-hosts, including Bret Baier and Brit Hume, have not been speaking during commercial breaks, according to two people with direct knowledge of the anchors’ interactions, who described the on-set atmosphere at Fox News as icy. During ads, the hosts are often absorbed with their smartphones.

…employees say there is a continuing split inside the network, with one camp of old-guard Fox News loyalists — some of whom owe their careers to Mr. Ailes — upset at his ouster. Some are resentful toward Ms. Kelly for cooperating with lawyers brought in by the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, to investigate Mr. Ailes’s behavior.” 

Alexandra Stevenson and Matthew Goldstein reported on the culture at the hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates – ‘At World’s Largest Hedge Fund, Sex, Fear and Video Surveillance’.

“Hedge funds tend to be a highly secretive bunch, yet even within their universe Bridgewater stands out. The allegations, as well as interviews with seven former employees or people who have done work for the firm and a filing by the National Labor Relations Board, open a window into the inner workings of a $154 billion company that, despite its mammoth size, remains obscure. The firm is governed by “Principles” — more than 200 of them — set out in a little white book of Mr. Dalio’s musings on life and business that some on Wall Street have likened to a religious text.

In his complaint, Christopher Tarui, a 34-year-old adviser to large institutional investors in Bridgewater, contends that his male supervisor sexually harassed him for about a year by propositioning him for sex and talking about sex during work trips.”

Sexual Harassment remains a significant workplace issue. The popularity of articles covering high profile incidents reflect the reality of workers looking for guidance beyond mandatory training sessions, trying to navigate the workplace to achieve success based on merit.

For the last story, a question, what is the definition of adventure? The pilots of the Solar Impulse 2 told CNBC “that having both elating moments and setbacks made the solar-powered flight the “definition of adventure.”

Samantha Masunaga reported for The Los Angeles Times on the journey’s end of Solar Impule 2. On Monday, pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg guided their craft into the airport where their experimental flight began.

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“After 16 months and a 17-leg journey, a solar-powered plane finally completed its around-the-world flight attempt Monday evening when it touched down in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The plane, called Solar Impulse 2, landed at Al Bateen Executive Airport a few minutes after 5 p.m. Pacific time, marking the first around-the-world solar flight.

Inside the plane, pilot Bertrand Piccard shouted, “We made it.”

In a week@work of firsts, I echo the sentiment. We made it.

 

Photo Credit – Solar Impulse 2: Jean Revillard / REZO/Solar Impulse

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