Archive for the ‘Gender Gaps’ Category

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The Millennials

October 27, 2012

Yesterday, the STRIB Business Section featured Coco as the “office” of the future. The accompanying photo caught its “visual” essence superbly; but only if you stop in for a visit, does one catch the positive vibe! I’ve mentioned in the past how much I admire the concept and rennovated space; in fact, if I was not sitting in my home office (read: free space) only 3-4 blocks away, I’d like to think I’d be composing this from there!

However, I think the article focus conveyed a more important message:…the Millennial workforce and the changes they are bringing to the business world.

I have aired some thoughts on this in my August 30 blog, and again last week, I mentioned an inspiring “breakfast with a Preservationist” meeting led by a panel of the “Under 30s”.

Nevertheless, I think Don Jacobson nailed it in his article featuring Coco and why it is appealing to the Millennials. It is because, these Millennials, like the transitional early Boomers, have a very different view ofthe world in which they find themselves…and are clamouring for change. No one my age can honestly say they cannot relate, so my suggestion is we hang on, listen and learn!!

Ponder on these comments by Jacobson and the message from Thomas Fisher, Dean of UM College of Design to a gathering of commercial building owners :

That highly covered corner office may just be more passe than powerful.

Thanks to profound social and economic changes brought on by the Internet, millennials are reshaping the so-called office. They want to do away with the hierarchiacal layouts of the past and build collaborative spaces where they can rub elbows with clients and colleagues.

Millennials…see privacy as a negative…by 2025, “the office” as we know it will probably be gone.

How they use space flips what we have today: Most of an office will be open, flexible and fluid in its use, with only occasional need for private space.

The transformative power of the the Internet on how young workers will do their jobs, has, if anything, been underestimated.

…millennials preferences for live-work hybrid spaces that combine not only apartments and offices, but also small manufacturing functions….

Yes, this paradigm shift poses challenges and threatens city zoning codes, but we cannot rigidly hold on to the past if we want to succeed as a country in present times.

For the millenials, the office space isn’t necessarily a place to do work, it’s a place to network. It’s a place to be with other people and generate as much creative activity as possible.

The audience was also cautioned that places of work within 15 years will need to be accessible by bicycle and mass transit. Firsher cautioned the audience that “If you’re only accessible by car, you’re going to find people starting to look elsewhere.”

These comments so reinforce what I have been observing and commenting on. My regret? I won’t live long enough to see where this generation ultimately steers our world-and I know that will be a bold new world led by Americans fueled by innovation and collaboration and not restricted by the rules and regs we Boomers have adjusted to…that created the stalled and divisive state in which Americans live today.

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OBAMA and the ELDERLY

September 17, 2012

Voters over 65 represent the age group least supportive of Obama in the upcoming presidential election, rather than following the 20th century Democratic model of the traditional Medicare advantage.  The Press continues to paint this a “paradox”…sometimes with an implied,” what do they know that we don’t know” undertone that speaks loudly of “Father (read: Elders) Knows Best.”

And once again, I say, older voters represented by traditionalists and the first boomers to retire are far too engrained in twentieth century thinking to be the “trusted” resource on this issue.  That is what they learned; that is what they know; that is how they excelled; that is what they expect the world to be going forward.  And therein lays the dilemma.

Changes in the world that began in the 1990s and rapidly accelerated exponentially as we transitioned into the new millennium are challenging all those familiar axioms of our comfortable past.  And change is the least comfortable (and more threatening) the longer one has been vested in something.

So it should be no surprise to press or knowledgeable politicians that this is the case.  It is a natural phenomenon and reaction to change that often destroys the comfort of foresight based on experience.  Experience, although important, will not be what steers us forward safely into the future.  

The Obama administration originally campaigned on hope and change…..I saw that change not as the insignificant- by- comparison personal change but the all-encompassing world changes from the growth in the digital world to collaboration and sharing not brute power, to the rise of radical Islamists, to a new world that replaces the Industrial Century with new challenges, just as the industrial world replaced the agrarian culture of the century before.  In the age of globalization, we needed to change as a country in order to build the second American century – not by brute force, but by emerging new values and skills and ways of leading the transition with thought and understanding, not guns. 

I still believe that this is, indeed, the change needed for the United States to move triumphantly into the future.  But today, I recognize that I was naive to expect that the first explorer of this new world that lies before us, Barack Obama, could facilitate this change painlessly and all by himself.  Columbus may have changed the world of the Americas when he “discovered” us, but it took many more courageous explorers before we amassed the knowledge we have of the earth today!

And, yes, the Obama promises included plans to better the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan and a host of other things…some accomplished, and some not so much.  And so, like many explorers that have gone before him, Obama has been questioned incessantly.  We often ignore he  had a BIG SURPRISE waiting for him that had not been revealed when he developed and delivered that campaign strategy….a dirty little secret from the first decade of the 21st century was about to explode….economic practices run amuck were about to wreck havoc on America and the world, and create the greatest financial crash since 1929! 

So while I understand the hesitancy of that elderly group, my only question is why do I – a member of that demographic – see things differently?!!  Maybe I just wasn’t as vested in our unsustainable future, but more realistically, realized it could not last; maybe I was just too against a war we did not need to be fighting in Iraq; maybe my research in experiences, engagement, the impact of technology on my own little world of meetings and events gave me the “cushion” I needed to anticipate world changes as well; or maybe through that research, I was beginning to see the cracks in what had come before, and simply recognize, from living through it, that there had to be a better way. But deep down, I think I got it because I was open to the thinking of the generations coming after me, found them inspirational, and had already experienced I could learn from them as Obama emerged on the scene….so maybe not being so invested in ME, I was open to the change that he envisioned.

And maybe, understanding the changed playing field he inherited, and the fight to save our country he had not planned he had to take on, I gave him a little slack.  That and the knowledge, that even with 20/20 hindsight, I have yet to see anyone always have all the right answers.  Whatever, I still stand with the man – even if that means I stand against my own generation.

 

 

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THE GENDER GAP

February 8, 2011

Forty years ago, a friend thought I had more to contribute to the world than continuing my traditional female role of “Tina Travel Agent” and instilled a belief in me that I could do more.  He pointed out a few women role models to follow and sent me on my way to make of my life what I could, telling me that “You’ll be judged on what you do, not on what you say.”

And off I went into the corporate world. As most of you know, I was blessed with many an additional mentor along the way as I became a divisional director at the age of 28; a divisional vice president at 39, and left that corporate environment after 20 years – well-armed to start my own business and succeed.  Overall, that journey has been a good one for me, as I took from that world the skills and philosophies I needed to run my own business and continue to indulge successfully in my personal passion for meetings and events and how to use them as tools to help people learn.

There are many reasons for that success, but today, the STRIB recap of Arvonne Fraser’s address at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs which focused on The Gender Gap caught my attention – and made me mad!

It also opened a floodgate of memorable incidents that demonstrate how difficult that pathway has been-because of the times in which I found myself, and the general thinking of men in business at the time.

Early in the 70s as I successfully absorbed new responsibilities, they often came with the caveat that “we need you to do this, but once we are bigger, we will be able to afford to hire a man to take it on and you can move to something like managing the Pretrip department.”

In 1971, I fought to become travel staff at a time when there were only 4 women nationally holding that role.  The excuse, of course, was that clients and vendors were men and to maintain good relations with both, a female would have to react positively to personal advances – and of course, my manager “valued me too much to allow me to be put in that position”.

When a large incentive program I planned demanded I be on site, the President of Travel set out to prove his point.  I arrived at the hotel to be told that rooms were tight and I would have to share mine with the male ground operator (DMC contact in today’s world).  When I did not make a scene, that ploy was abandoned for another; but fortunately I also survived a drink with him and the ground operator and sales director of the hotel – where both half-heartedly staged attempts to “pick me up”.  Little did he know he not only lost the case that evening, but it was a beginning of a deep friendship with both those wonderful Hawaiians that continued for more than 15 years.   

And as important, I became a pioneer along with those original women at E.F. McDonald and Maritz that raised the bar on the performance of travel staff and proved at least to our satisfaction, that women did it better – as still shown today when you look at the ratio of male to female in the world of professional trip directors!

The list of incidents goes on through-out my career, and for the most part, I managed to rise victorious above the thinking of the day.  I tried to live by the mantra, “I did not fail – I just have not succeeded yet”.  But over and over again, I was defeated in the realm of financial equality. I became a product area director with no increase; I became a company director with no increase; and finally, 15 years into my career, when I took a stand and fought to a draw – I became a divisional vice president with a bonus plan but still no salary increase commensurate with new responsibilities. 

Although I co-managed a new division based on a business plan I singularly authored, presented, and fought for through all the levels of approval, I made 39% less than my male partner did.   And sadly, that was less important to me, than the fact that when, together, we made our numbers that first year, the letter congratulating us on becoming “Goalmakers” was sent to him, with a footnote, asking him to pass on the congratulations to Cheryl.

As I look back I am not so much sorry for myself, although I certainly never had my eye on my own financial best interest, but I am sorry that because I did not fight at a time when maybe there was a chance I would have won, I perhaps have done a disservice to those who have come after me.

I am appalled but not surprised that our GOP-led legislators think it is not a problem that women still make 22% less than men – not much of a change in the 26 years since the 1984 Local Government Pay Equity Act was passed and that same year, over in the corporate world, I became a vice president.  To improve that disparity only that small amount so clearly demonstrates the fight is not yet over. 

What’s to be done about it?  I am not sure.  As the world moves forward, that male “quest for power and superiority” through any means is still less important to me than “doing good work”, so perhaps I am not being realistic when I think that the 21st century move away from building empires to building consensus and collaboration  will prove victorious.  I need to think on that further.    Nevertheless, I take my hat off to Arvonne Fraser  for once again bringing this issue to the fore.