The week@work: 100 greatest business minds, inequality & activism@work

Have you noticed how little time we have to catch our breath between ‘breaking news’ stories? We seem to be suffering from group attention span disorder. This week@work the focus is on narratives with a thread longer than 140 characters; important stories that dim when the next shiny object distracts: leadership, inequality and activism@work.

Forbes Magazine is celebrating 100 years in publication with essays by the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds. “To celebrate Forbes’ centennial, we amassed an A-to-Z encyclopedia of ideas from 100 entrepreneurs, visionaries and prophets of capitalism—the greatest ever collection of business essayists and greatest ever portrait portfolio in business history.”

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Here’s a sample of thoughts shared by global leaders:
Georgio Armani: “I always try to maintain a sense of reality and ensure that I surround myself with the right people, who understand the times in which we live. In this line of work, my team is crucial. I’m the one who decides, but I like having lots of other people with whom I can discuss ideas, as this helps with the creative process. In the world of fashion, five years is already a hundred, so going forward, the challenge will be to capture the attention of a public that is increasingly stimulated by countless offers and new forms of communication.”

Lee Shau Kee: “There’s a Chinese saying: “Explore what’s best in the others and follow.” Among my friends, I always learn the best from them.”

Jacqueline Novogratz: “In our connected era, word spreads. People know when you are being true to your values. Don’t worry about reputation but about character. You build character by practicing empathy, practicing moral courage, practicing determination. Those traits are like muscles. When you are known for that, you don’t have to worry about guarding your reputation — others will do it for you.”

What’s the common thread here? Common sense.

Patricia Cohen reports on the historical trend toward income inequality this week@work, ‘Why the Pain Persists Even as Incomes Rise’. “The disconnect between positive statistics and people’s day-to-day lives is one of the great economic and social puzzles of recent years.

“…the forces undermining the middle class may reach back farther than many economists have thought. The latest evidence comes from a group of researchers at universities and the Social Security Administration who have been tracking the earnings of hundreds of millions of individuals over their careers.”

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In the late 1960s “instead of increasing, lifetime earnings for men made an about-face and began to decline. They have been dropping pretty much ever since. The result was that a 25-year-old man who entered the work force in 1967 and worked for the next three decades earned as much as $250,000 more, after taking inflation into account, than a man who had the same type of career but was 15 years younger…since the 1950s, three-quarters of working Americans have seen no change in lifetime income.”

Negotiating issues of gender and race form another aspect of inequality@work.

The ongoing argument around gender discrimination in Silicon Valley continued with the publication of Ellen Pao‘s book ‘Reset’ and Nellie Bowles‘ article ‘As Inequality Roils Tech World, A Group Wants More Say: Men”.

 

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Jessi Hempel examined Ms. Pao’s career exploring ‘The Pao Effect is What Happens After Lean In’. “Pao’s story is, in part, her own attempt to discern just where reality diverged from her expectations. With clear-eyed hindsight, Pao reflects on her earliest career choices—where to apply to college and whether to go to law school, where to work and when to leave a job. She pauses to examine the things her college counselor told her, and the early sexism she encountered at Harvard Business School. “Honestly, I just thought there were a few men who were really immature, with lousy senses of humor, and I avoided them,” she writes of that time.”

Ellen Pao’s story is a cautionary tale for the intrepid women who ‘lean in’ to a career in tech.

Nellie Bowles’ ‘must read’ provides an up-to-the-minute update on the tech workplace. “a fringe element of men who say women are ruining the tech world…While many in the tech industry had previously dismissed the fringe men’s rights arguments, some investors, executives and engineers are now listening. Though studies and surveys show there is no denying the travails women face in the male-dominated industry, some said that the line for what counted as harassment had become too easy to cross and that the push for gender parity was too extreme a goal.”

The week@work ended with a demonstration of workplace activism reported by Nancy Armour, ‘In protests, NFL comes together for one of its most powerful days’.

170924164325-23-nfl-kneeling-0924-exlarge-169.jpg“The NFL had one of its finest moments before the games even began Sunday, coming together from every corner – players, coaches, owners and league office – in forceful rebuke of the latest torrent of hate from President Donald Trump. Whether black, white or brown, on bended knee or with locked arms, the NFL’s rare show of unity was both a dignified condemnation of the wrongs we still must right and a reminder that, for all of our differences, America remains our common ground.”

Where in the group of Fortune100 greatest business minds do we find the answer to the ongoing challenge of inequality@work?

John Paul Dejoria, founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems and co-founder of Patron Tequila shared his philosophy. “It’s a basic thing that goes back to the law to do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Treat and pay your staff exactly the way you’d want to be treated if you were in their place…In all the businesses we’re involved in it’s the exact same way. If you love your people and let them know you’re giving back, not just hoarding all the money for yourself, they want to join in.”

 

Photo credit: Staten Island homes – Tom Maguire/Newsday July 7,1965, Green Bay Packers/Dylan Buell/CNN September 24, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

The week@work – U.S. unemployment at nine year low, Rosberg and Schultz exit roles on top, and “mother nature needs her daughters”

If you weren’t paying attention, you would have thought the major story this week@work was about the 800 folks who will retain positions at Carrier, a division of United Technologies. You might have missed the news that U.S. unemployment reached a nine year low @4.6%, adding 178,000 jobs in November.

In ‘departures’, newly crowned Formula One champion, Nico Rosberg announced his retirement and Starbuck chief, Howard Schultz, will be stepping down from his position next year.  Seventy-six women scientists have embarked on an expedition to Antarctica to focus on climate change and women who work in the sciences.

Ana Swanson reported on the U.S. unemployment news for The Washington Post, Wonkblog.

“Data released on Friday showed a sharp drop in the unemployment rate from 4.9 percent the previous month, driven partly by the creation of new jobs and partly by people retiring and otherwise leaving the labor force.

A broader measure of unemployment, the U-6 rate, which includes those who have given up looking for work and part-time workers who would like to have full-time jobs, fell to 9.3 percent, the lowest reading since April 2008. The figure still remains elevated from average levels in the 2000s.”

Paul Weaver covered the announcement of F1 champion, Nico Rosberg’s decision to retire from racing five days after capturing the title for The Guardian.

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“Nico Rosberg has stunned Formula One by announcing his retirement, just five days after the 31-year-old became the sport’s world champion…

He said he had “climbed my mountain”. Now he is going out at the peak.

Rosberg said he first started thinking about retiring when he won the Japanese Grand Prix in early October and realised the title was within his grasp. “From the moment when the destiny of the title was in my own hands, the big pressure started and I began to think about ending my racing career if I became world champion,” he wrote in a post on his Facebook page announcing his departure.”

At the other end of the career spectrum, the visionary leader of Starbucks, Howard Schultz announced he will be stepping away from his leadership position at the company he joined in 1982. Andrew Ross Sorkin reported on the change at the top for The New York Times.

“I wanted to build the company my father never got to work for,” he said.

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At an all-hands employee meeting at the company’s headquarters on Thursday, Mr. Schultz was greeted with tears and a standing ovation. “For me, perhaps there are other things that are part of my destiny,” he told them.”

Mr. Schultz said he intends for Starbucks to “maintain our moral courage.” And he defended efforts like the company’s “Race Together” campaign to spur a conversation about race relations, saying that it “was not a failure. I’d do it again.” He said such campaigns are deeply embedded in the company’s brand of “challenging the status quo about the role of a public company.” He is excited by the question, “Since we have stores in every community in America, how can we use our scale for good?”

How do folks successfully transition from one phase of their work life to the next?

Adam Bryant‘s ‘Corner Office’ interview with Nyansa chief executive, Abe Ankumah provides a hint.

“Be a lifelong student. That doesn’t mean go enroll in a bunch of classes all the time. It’s a mind-set. It means continuing to push yourself to learn rather than saying, “I’ve got this degree in this, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

The other thing is not to become too comfortable in a role. Chances are that if you’re comfortable, you’re not learning, you’re not pushing the envelope and you’re probably going to get stagnated.”

The last story this week@work is an example of pushing the envelope, for the greater good.

On Thursday I received a tweet from BBC Australia about an expedition of women scientists traveling to Antarctica. The tag line of their sponsor, ‘Homeward Bound’, is “mother nature needs her daughters”.

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From the BBC  Australia story – “They call Ushuaia, a cold and windy port city in Argentina, the end of the world.

It’s from here that the largest ever all-female expedition to Antarctica will depart, with more than 70 women with backgrounds in science set to spend 20 days at sea.

The voyage is part of the Homeward Bound initiative, an Australian programme aimed at increasing the representation of women in top science jobs across the globe.

“We’re missing half the voice at the leadership table,” says Dr Jessica Melbourne-Thomas, who along with entrepreneur and management expert Fabian Dattner, came up with the idea.

The pair met during a leadership development course run by Dattner, and their frustration at the challenges faced by women in science quickly became a bold idea.

Two years later, the first of what is hoped to be several voyages is about to depart.”

We talk a lot about ‘dream jobs’ and whether ‘finding your passion’ is attainable. For those of you skeptics out there, I close with the closing paragraphs of Fabian Dattner‘s blog post, co-founder of Homeward Bound, who as I write is on her journey south.

“So, right now as I work with a group of leaders in my day job, my mind wanders effortlessly to what lies ahead – now only a few sleeps away – and I am finally lost for words, carried forward – as with all the people involved – on a deeply felt sense of rightness: right purpose, right time, right people, right outcome.

I know what ‘flow’ means now; I know what purpose, autonomy and freedom mean. I know what it means to lead and be led. And I know in my bones what is possible for humans, when leaders act on behalf of the greater good.

Stay with us on this journey. It’s for all of us.”  @HomewardBound16

 

Photo credits: Antarctica expedition – Homeward Bound, Kevin Johnson/Howard Schultz -Starbucks Newsroom

Why has it been so hard to shatter the glass ceiling?

Forbes Magazine’s most powerful woman, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was caught in conversation with President Obama yesterday at the G7 Summit. She was not, as the media suggested, auditioning for the lead role in the Sound of Music.

The G7 leaders are dealing with serious economic and political issues that will eventually trickle down to effect us all. But the media focus was on a photograph and a caricature that diminished the accomplishments of the German leader.

The Washington Post headlined “A remarkable photo of President Obama and Angela Merkel” and continued:

“The backdrop to the 41st G7 Summit held in Germany is breathtaking, with its green trees and towering mountains. It makes for great image of German Chancellor Angela Merkel talking and gesturing with a seated President Obama.

It’s made all the better with Merkel’s shruggie pose ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, which also just so happens to look like that one scene from “The Sound of Music.”

Really? Is this journalism? Here is a woman whose leadership skills have kept the European Union together, maintained a dialog with the Russian president in a difficult political climate and has transformed her country since her election in 2005.

And, American journalists covering the summit have likened the German Chancellor to a singing nun.

Bryce Covert, writing in The New York Times on Friday, chronicled “our problem with powerful women”. She described Hillary Clinton being “optimistic about the path of progress toward gender equality. She called the presidency the “highest, hardest glass ceiling.” But she also said that it had “about 18 million cracks in it, and the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time.”

In reality, Ms. Covert’s research shows, “Too few women make it into corporate leadership.”

“Progress is not inevitable, though, nor is it fixed. The country has a complicated relationship with powerful women: They have to keep proving themselves over and over again, being twice as good, and dragging one woman through the process doesn’t make it easier for those who follow.

Individual women might hope that their struggles blaze trails for everyone else. Mrs. Clinton must feel optimistic about her chances to win the presidency a second time around. But the reality is that the country hasn’t gotten used to women in charge. A crack in the glass ceiling in one place could very well just reinforce it for everyone else.”

Maybe it was Angela Merkel’s crack in the glass ceiling that has made it so hard for Mrs. Clinton. I might also suggest to the female journalists who enthusiastically broadcast ‘the sound of music photo’ on air last night, you’re not helping. You’re like the Safelight Auto Glass repair guy, making sure you seal up all those cracks and fortify glass ceiling.

Take another look at the photo. I think Chancellor Merkel is asking President Obama, “What’s wrong with you people? What is your problem with powerful women leaders?”