Tag Archives: Womenomics

Include More Women in Key Positions, Pay Them Equally – The Solution Right In Front Of Our Noses

We hear ideas.  We think, “I/we should really do that.”  And then, we revert to the norm.

Over and over again.

In order to actually change, maybe somebody needs to “force” the change on us.

This is the problem underlying many other problems.  I thought of this again when I read Can Women Save Davos? Quotas Aren’t Just Political Correctness by Jesse Ellison on The Daily Beast.

Here’s the problem.  Women are not making enough headway.  There are not enough women at/near the top.  There is still great income disparity between men and women.  And, all of the evidence points to this reality as a problem with many ripple effects.  Or, to put it differently, if women were given much more access, more actual seats at the table, then the economy in the United States and throughout the world would get in better shape more quickly.  In other words, fewer women in positions that matter results in serious negative consequences.

And this is what I think – most people are now convinced that this should change – but we simply, too easily, too readily, automatically, revert to the norm.

To the article:  last year, only 17% of participants at the Davos World Economic Forum were women.  This year, the organizers have mandated that each sponsor include at least one woman in their delegation (each delegation numbers 5).

In 2010, just 12 of the global Fortune 500 companies were run by women; one in 10 board members on Europe’s top listed companies were female; and in the U.S., women held just 16.8 percent of the 535 seats in Congress.

These figures are particularly disturbing given that gender parity is not just good for business, it’s good for everyone. In its annual survey on global gender equity, the World Economic Forum itself said closing the employment gender gap could increase U.S. GDP by as much as 9 percent. In the developing world, the Center for Work-Life Policy estimates that utilizing women could push per capita income up 14 percent by 2020, and 20 percent by 2030. “Study after study,” says Christina Tchen, White House director of public engagement, “shows that increasing education levels and prosperity of women and girls has been able to contribute to social stability and economic progress.”

The top-down approach may not be popular, but it works. Norway famously embraced quotas in 2002 and began requiring that 40 percent of all board members at state-owned and publicly listed companies be women. The measure sparked massive public debate, and success was by no means immediate, but now it’s considered such a success that in 2008, Spain introduced a similar recommendation, and both France and Britain are discussing following suit. Implementing these requirements, rather than letting them happen over time, makes for a difficult transition, even after the debates die down. But the trickle-down effect could be tremendous.

Companies that have both men and women in leadership positions have a higher return on their investments, and recent research from the London Business School suggests that productivity levels go up when men and women work in tandem—in part because gender parity counters the idea of groupthink, or the frequency of like-minded groups to defend ideas that may be ill-conceived. A McKinsey survey recently determined that more than 70 percent of companies that made efforts to empower female employees in emerging markets either experienced or expected to experience increased profits as a direct result of those efforts.

This reminds me of some of the findings cited in Womenomics by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman (I presented my synopsis of this book to a Women’s Business Group earlier this week):

A study in France found that companies with more women in management positions did better during 2008 – had higher profits – that those with fewer women.  “Feminization of management seems to protect against financial crisis…  In conditions of high uncertainty, financial markets value companies that take fewer risks and are more stable.”  (Michel Ferrary, Professor of management at the CERAM Business School in France).

Women deliver profits, often in big numbers, and we are worth hanging on to…  By every measure of profitability – equity, revenue, and assets – Pepperdine’s study found that companies with the best records for promoting women outperform the competition

Companies with women in top leadership positions have “stronger relationships with customers and shareholders and a more diverse and profitable business.”  (University of California at Davis study).

Davos has decided to mandate the inclusion of women.  This quota system may be objectionable to some, but the evidence seems to be clear – more women in positions of influence, with access to real power; more income equality; can lead to more success, better profits, a stronger economy.

And, by the way, it is the right thing to do.


Councilwoman Creates New Rules – no permission required!

Cheryl offers:  Not only is Angela Hunt the youngest person, elected at age 33, to serve on the Dallas City Council, she’s also the first to have a baby while in office.  What’s even more interesting is what she plans to do next. In today’s DMN, she says “I’ll be bringing her (she had a girl) to City Hall.” Whoa! And it’s better still later in the article when she says she plans to work from home a couple days a week. Who did she ask if this was OK? No one as best I can tell and I applaud her for taking charge, being a trailblazer for women who serve later, and for being the kind of leader and role model we need today.  I don’t know if she’s read Womenomics: write your own rules for success by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay, but she certainly gets the concepts from the book. As they convey in their book, “Instead of feeling guilty, as we imagine our female predecessors might think about our choices to scale back the work hours, or what our ethnic community or even family might think, we need to understand that most of those people would be awed by what we’ve already accomplished, which is that we’ve earned the ability to decide. And in fact, exercising this ability will help build a world our successors will be thankful for. “No kidding! Angela Hunt has been and is continuing to create new precedents. I suspect the women who follow in that path will be forever grateful for offering them choices they might never have imagined.

Sometimes a “C-” is not “Good Enough”

Admiral Rickover asks: "Why not the best?"

Why Not The Best?
“In your life was there ever a time in which you did less than the best?” If the answer was “yes,” the follow up question was:  “Why not the best?” – asked by Admiral Hyman George Rickover (Admiral Rickover would ask this of all Naval Cadets, and the story was oft re-told by Jimmy Carter).

Good enough is good enough
“When good enough gets the job done, go for it.  It’s way better than wasting resources (And, remember, you can usually turn good enough into great later”).
Fried and Hansson, ReWork

Think “good enough.”  By “good enough” we mean absolutely, definitely, not our very best, not perfect.  We are actively encouraging you to perform occasionally below standard…  Men are better at saying, “OK, this is good enough in my eyes.”
Claire Shipman and Katty Kay, Womenomics

Six Sigma
Six Sigma seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects (errors).

“Zero Defects”
Zero Defects” is Step 7 of “Philip Crosby’s 14 Step Quality Improvement Process”


Good enough is good enough – until it is not.  Then good enough is a disaster.

I’ve thought about this a lot over the last few days.  The thoughts were prompted by a couple of news items, with some numbers buried within the stories that have deeply bothered me, and a whole lot of other folks.

Greenspan argues that a "C-" is "good enough" ("I was right 70 percent of the time.")

Consider these numbers:

Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, said Wednesday of his two-decade career in government: “I was right 70 percent of the time, but I was wrong 30 percent of the time. And there were an awful lot of mistakes in 21 years.” (read about this here).

“86 percent of mines are safe.” (I heard this stated in an NPR interview by a spokesman defending mine safety – I don’t have a link).

The list is pretty long that describes business decisions, practices, “quality control” issues, where good enough is not good enough.  The airplane safety was not good enough when the President of Poland and a plane load of others died in a crash that, at first reports, may have been caused by an unsafe airplane and pilot error.

Alan Greenspan was clearly not practicing the right levels of “good” when he was only right 70 percent of the time.  In fact, when Greenspan said it, here was the response by the committee chair:

That prompted Phil Angelides, the commission’s chairman, to say Thursday that he would consider himself a success if he was right just 51 percent of the time. “I don’t aspire to reach what Mr. Greenspan thinks he has reached,” he said, in a sardonic tone.

And a mine safety figure of 86 percent mines deemed safe is clearly not good enough – just ask the families of the twenty-nine dead miners, as they labored for a company with an abysmal safety record and an attitude that clearly placed profits over human safety and even human life.

One of the true business and society and life challenges is this one:  when is “good enough good enough” vs. when is “my best” critical?

I agree with the “good enough” movement – except when I don’t.  I don’t mind a “good enough” free pen in a conference center.  I don’t mind receiving a text message with a spelling error.  But I would like the very best airline safety, if you don’t mind.  And when Alan Greenspan argues that his 70 percent right was good enough (that is a “C-” in most grading systems), I think it is time to dust off Admiral Rickover’s question.

“You deserve a break today!” – the longing of a time-famished nation

“You deserve a break today!”

The jury is in.  We are all stressed out, needing a break, longing for a good, old fashioned vacation – although an actual vacation would drive us all crazy (but that’s another post for another time).

Slate.com, just about my favorite daily read, has a terrific article about the surprising drop in drive-through sales at fast food restaurants:  We’re Thru — Has the American romance with the drive-through gone sour? by Tom Vanderbilt.

In the midst of the article is this great paragraph:
The drive-through was the spiritual successor, of course, of the drive-in restaurant, which still haunts our imagination with its carhops on roller skates, rock music coming through tinny speakers, and root-beer-laden trays attached to the window. But that was car culture 1.0: We were still trying to achieve some marriage of driving convenience and the desire to interact in public. The drive-through, on the other hand, is an adjunct of the growing American commute. People are now too time-starved even to leave their cars, much less sit around and listen to Bill Haley.  (Commuter culture is taking hold around the globe, too: As a Burger King exec told the Wall Street Journal, speaking on the emergence of drive-throughs—ventanillas—in Latin America, “everybody becomes more of a drive-through, hurry-up-and-eat-on-the-run kind of culture.”)

Here’s the line: People are now too time-starved even to leave their cars, much less sit around and listen to Bill Haley.

We really are that time-starved.  It reminds me of this quote included in Womenomics:
“We are very much a time-famished nation.  People want more control over their time.” (Kathleen Christensen, the Sloan Foundation).

I don’t have any new or brilliant solutions, I’m just passing along the problem – we are all a little time-starved/time-famished, and we really could use a break today.


(a personal note to those who look for my posts in this blog.  My wife and I are moving to a new house this week, and I am teaching a heavy “Wintermester” Schedule.  So, it may be a few days before I get back to the regular posting schedule that I have been following.  Thanks especially to Bob Morris, who is always on this blog with new and important and useful posts.

Women at the Top in Business… is Good Business – a Short Post

The post with the most views on our blog in the last couple of days has been Bob’s excerpt from the NY Times with Linda Hudson, part of the leadership team at BAE.

Here are a couple of observations from Womenomics by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay:

A study in France found that companies with more women in management positions did better during 2008 – had higher profits – that those with fewer women.  “Feminization of management seems to protect against financial crisis…  In conditions of high uncertainty, financial markets value companies that take fewer risks and are more stable.”  (Michel Ferrary, Professor of management at the CERAM Business School in France).
Women deliver profits, often in big numbers, and we are worth hanging on to…  By every measure of profitability – equity, revenue, and assets – Pepperdine’s study found that companies with the best records for promoting women outperform the competition.

In other words, women in business, at the top of the leadership team in business, may be… good business.  And now comes this announcment, from the Huffington Post this morning:  Naissance Capital: New Fund Invests In Companies With Female Managers, Anticipates High Returns.  (Note:  all of the links within these paragraphs are worth a look).  Here’s an excerpt:

More than a year after overleveraging and mismanaged risk provoked a financial crisis that sent the global economy on a perilous downward spiral, analysts are still wrangling over its causes and implications.
But one recurring point of
debate is whether a higher proportion of women in senior management positions could have forestalled the crisis. In other words, if women had run the banks, would they have taken on as much risk? Or, if women were better represented in jobs associated with risk taking, would the economy be healthier?
One investment firm is betting on it.
Naissance Capital, a niche money management firm based in Switzerland, is set to launch its Women’s Leadership Fund early next year. The Fund will only invest in companies where women are represented on boards and in management, and will take an “activist stance” against companies in which women are underrepresented.
Their claim hinges on recent research, including reports issued by the consulting firm McKinsey and the research group Catalyst, demonstrating a correlation between female management and enhanced company performance. The
McKinsey study held that “companies with a higher proportion of women in their top management have better financial performance” (although it didn’t arrive at a causal conclusion). Also, two researchers at UC Davis found that men tend to trade more “excessively.” In their study, men traded stocks 45 percent more than women, reducing “men’s net returns by 2.65 percentage points a year as opposed to 1.72 percentage points for women.”

I think having women at the top in business may turn out to be good business practice.

Book Synopses for Sale – Step Right Up

Randy and Karl hard at work preparing for the next First Friday Book Synopsis

Randy and Karl hard at work preparing for the next First Friday Book Synopsis

Every now and then, I think I should share just what Karl and I do here at and through the First Friday Book Synopsis.  We read books and tell you the key concepts contained in the books.

Think about the possibilities. A book comes out – a good book with good ideas, something you can use and put to work in your own business (or personal) endeavors.  You think “I should read this book.”  And maybe you should.  But the reality is that there are about 786 books you “should” read – and more coming every week.  (Yes, I picked that number out of thin air – the actual number you, and I, should read is much…higher.  There is so much to know, so much to learn).

Here are your options:

1.  Read all of the books that you “should” read. You could probably do this – if you quit sleeping, eating, working, relating.  (Roger Ebert recently wrote of a world-class tinkerer, a man who “didn’t sleep.” If only…)

2.  Get somebody else to read them for you – and give you enough of what’s in the books that you have useful ideas to put to use. That’s what Karl and I do.  We read books for you, and share what we discover and learn.

But, we are not really in the book summary business.  There are too many books.  We could hire an army of readers and presenters to read all of those books.  But we’re not in that business. Instead, we are in the “these are the books we like” business.  We pick and choose – to be precise, we choose 24 books a year (with an occasional extra).  And if you look back over the last 11+years, we’ve done pretty well.  The big best-sellers are all on our list.  And a few rare finds are on the list, also.

But we don’t compete with the companies which provide summaries of nearly all of the business books.  We’re just two guys – two guys who love to read books, and we like to share what we find in them that is useful and valuable.  And we’ve done it for so long that I think we have gotten pretty good at finding and extracting and sharing the most crucial ideas and the best transferable concepts from the good business books.

In other words, other services have a larger selection of titles.  But I think what we offer is unique:  a synopsis, with audio + handout, that provides the key content, in something akin to an “encounter” with the book.  I admit that this is my take, my experience — I don’t just read a book, I encounter a book.  And these encounters are what I try to share in my presentations.

3.  There is a third option – you can just ignore the books. This is an ok option – one we all follow all the time.  I ignore most of the good books out there.  I don’t read the books; I don’t even read reviews of the books; frequently, I never even hear of the books.    There are so many, what other choice do I have?  But – if you will take Karl and me up on our offer, you can at least learn a little more about a few more valuable books.

We provide our synopses to a live audience monthly in Dallas at the Park City Club.  (See the home page of this web site for all the details – it is the First Friday of every month – except for an occasional second Friday thrown in due to holiday conflicts).  Here are video excerpts of my recent presentation of Womenomics by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay (thanks, Doug Caldwell, for the video).

Each synopsis includes a handout with two pages of quotes directly from the book, and then an outline of the key content.  It is ok to read by itself, but it is designed to be used with the verbal presentations, and listening and reading at the same time will definitely give you more of what we offer.

And so we record our presentations, and put our audio recordings and handouts up on our companion web site for people to purchase.  (15minutebusinessbooks.com).  Give it a click.

We’ve got books by Malcom Gladwell, Jim Collins, Gail Collins, Ram Charan, Thomas Friedman …  so many others — the list is long.  Our synopses will help you learn some really valuable stuff.

So  — book synopses for sale – step right up.