Tuesday, September 20, 2005

C200 3rd Annual Business Leadership Index

The Committee of 200 (www.c200.org), in Chicago, released their 2005 survey of “businesswomen’s clout”, showing how women are faring compared to men in 10 categories. It's called The 3rd Annual Business Leadership Index.

Overall, on a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is parity with men, women scored 5.06 measuring such variables as venture capital, gender wage gap, women on corporate boards, women in top corporate positions, number of women-owned businesses, and size of women-owned firms.

Women show progress in only two areas: (1) as keynote speakers and (2) as chair of charities and foundations. Women showed an absolute decline in their access to venture capital compared to a year ago.

I’m not sure that chairing a charity or foundation is a real measure of “business clout”. Nor am I persuaded that women as keynote speakers is a measure of clout rather than corporate unemployment these days. If we’re going to include charity leadership and the often thank-less jobs heading (usually non-profit, low-compensation) foundations, why not include some measures from sports which represent a major selection of the contemporary business economy (i.e., golf, tennis, anything ending in –ball) as well as a major indicator of female inate abilities.

For example, we could include the percentage of women entering and/or finishing the top major marathons at major metropolitan areas. Women tend to be at about 40 to 45% of marathon contenders, so the parity measure would be somewhere around 80 to 90% for a change. This would show us that, if you give women an equal chance and no barriers to entry, they can train and compete.

Or, we could even use marathon records for the top ten women and the top ten men. Again, the woman’s best world record time for a marathon, today, is 2:15:25 compared to the men’s best time of 2:04:55 –- a difference of merely 10 minutes and 30 seconds – giving us a parity ratio of 92%. Now you’re talking.

We could also compare the top tennis winnings for males vs. females and see how the big leagues pay off. First, women have achieved parity with men among the top ten earning positions. Second, their total winnings by gender average about 72% for the women compared to 100% parity for men. But, still not too shabby a performance by the women (2005), especially when you consider that 39% of the men’s earning were taken in by one man, Andre Agassi:

  • Andre Agassi - $26.2 M
  • Maria Sharapova - $18.2 M
  • Roger Federer - $14.0 M
  • Serena Williams - $12.7 M
  • Lleyton Hewitt - $10.3 M
  • Andy Roddick - $9.7 M
  • Rafael Nadal - $7.2 M
  • Venus Williams - $6.5 M
  • Lindsay Davenport - $6.0 M
  • Anna Kournikova - $5.0 M

Source: Forbes.

Maybe we really should start including the share of federal contracts that go to women-owned businesses – 3% compared to the legally mandated 5% (WOW, be still my heart!) authorized by Congress, but totally ignored by the Small Business Administration.

Or maybe we really should include the share of women participating in tax-supported athletic programs at public education institutions across the nation. Wouldn’t it be nice to start tracking that data, nationally? Or do we want to just wait until the Department of Education finishes their job of totally abandoning Title IX support?

What you measure, you manage. What you manage, you tend to achieve. When you neither measure nor manage toward equitable goals, you achieve neither.

Friday, September 16, 2005

How It Is Done

Desi Arnaz did it at DesiLu Productions. Esteemed US judges such as Chief Justice Rehnquist did it with John G. Roberts. Successful leaders throughout history have done it. Women need to learn “how it’s done”.

It goes by different names: cameo roles, clerking, apprenticeship and journeyman roles. It’s work – not a favor. It’s experience – not just training. It’s paid – not charity, not just volunteering. Not just helping, supporting, or being nice.

It happens when those in the know, those with the resources, those with the good fortune to be relatively (or obscenely) successful in what they do ALSO create windows of opportunity where the next generation of talent can try to succeed (or bomb). Yet, in all respects, “how it is done” is through the creation of real world learning experiences. And, even during the learning phases, people of talent deserve to be paid for their work.

I keep seeing TV or movies from the earlier days, and there is the young face of talent trying its wings. Tom Cruise before the dental work. Dennis Hopper in the early years. Candice Bergen in a small part, but big in talent. John G. Roberts in the enthusiasm of youth, writing large opinions.

The role must be real. It cannot be “play” or “make believe”. If the experience is to build for the future, there must also be the potential that one may fall down on one’s face. The part must allow room for the individual to define her or his own source of creativity. It is not enough simply to be reading someone else’s script -– doing the job as someone else did it before. This must be one’s own part to play.

The role must be visible, must have the potential to last as a benchmark defining the stepping stone path of progress toward professional talent.

Finally, women must cease looking to “others” to provide such opportunities for the next generation of female talent. Don’t look to CEOs to do it for us. Nor look at the SBA. Not the bankers. Not the federal contractors. Not the “old boys’ network”.

Who first told justices to hire and train clerks to do parts of their work, to ensure the success of the judicial network? Would clerks learn as much if they only volunteered to help, compared to what they learn with compensation?

Who first told trades professionals to create a support network of ever-increasingly trained and competent skilled workers, to pay them at a differential but respectable wage scale, and enable them to climb the ladder of experience?

Who first told film or music moguls to include cameo roles for small, supporting talent where methods and styles and character could emerge? And, as small as their first roles might be, they were not performed “for free” –- the actors were compensated even during their learning years.

Perhaps because women have been so alone, historically, in the birthing rooms and in their caring roles, they have not learned the value of delegating and collaborating and team-building as well as their male peers. But, these are learnable skills. They are skills that build the base on which future generations can, in turn, place their individual bricks and altogether create great and might pyramids for the future works of art and skill and unique technical achievement.

Perhaps, too, because so many women have worked so long and so hard without compensation, women too readily accept the argument that, if it’s good enough for them, it should be good enough for others.

But, that is not always “how it is done”. Today, women can learn the value of their cameo roles, their apprenticeships, their clerkships, and their journeyperson status. And women can be proud of the part they play in this great evolving, experiential drama.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

We Have Only Just Begun

First, came the announcements and billboards that ABC would air on September 27, 2005 a show entitled Commander in Chief – a series starring Geena Davis as the first female President of the United States.

Then, there were the photos of Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco at the head of her state’s efforts to meet the incredible challenges of another lady, Hurricane Katrina.

Next, there was the announcement by UCLA Anderson School of Management that Dr. Judy Olian had been named to head the business school.

And today, there was the front page headlines in the L.A. Times saying that East German-born Angela Merkel was leading Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in the polls and could become Germany’s 1st female chancellor.

Earlier, Zoe Cruz was named as co-president (ok, so it’s a shared deal, but we’ll work with that) at one of the largest securities firms in the country.

All of this began to give me the impression that we might just be seeing “a tipping point”, to quote Malcolm Gladwell. Perhaps, today, we were beginning to see women take their position along side other leaders of the nation and the world.

But, wait. Watch ALL that is happening around these headlines as women rise to the positions of public prominence. It is the background noise and static that tells us even more than the foreground successes of these –- and many other competent, talented, and successful –- women.

During Katrina, we first saw the inevitable snipes starting when one commentator began his insidious efforts to chip away at Governor Blanco’s credibility and competence as she led her state in its most difficult times. “She was almost in tears,” he derisively commented, as if watching half a million people thrown out of their lives and well-being should have engendered smiles and cheeriness and hopefulness. “Does she have the strength to lead Louisiana in these trying times?” he said, in an immediate attempt to undermine public faith and confidence in the one person who at least led, acted, and was at the helm, working on behalf of her constituency, not her image.

Then the reviews of Commander In Chief, the TV series, began to pan the show even before it came out. Why did they not believe the program would last 13 episodes? Because it talks about issues such as “What would her HUSBAND do?” and “What will her DAUGHTER think?” And how long, after all, does it take to address THOSE really important issues that a female president would have to address? Would HAVE to?

Next, the local press began to include its usual “balancing” ads and articles, depicting uber-feminine, sleeky, and slinky counter-weights to what the editors assume were those other hard, tough, probably bitchy women of achievement. (Why DO they assume that? Do they even KNOW these women?)

Note, too, the rise in the number of photos of soft, beautiful women tenderly caressing cute, little puppies. And, too, observe the increase in articles about beautiful –- no, make that Drop Dead Gorgeous –- TV and movies stars: Angelina Jolie and the Ultra-Youthful Olsen Twins.

Then come the larger than life department store ads that – hard as it is to believe – actually increase the amount of bare legs, cleavage and reminders of “What makes you happy?” Of course, it’s MORE SHOES! Come! Buy at Macy’s. “Find out what DREAMS are made of” in your lingerie-draped bedroom ad.

The media skin flicks seem to literally ooze off the printed, broadcast and billboard pages whenever there’s even a hint of the existence of an achieving woman.

I had heard of this theory many years ago from one of our earlier women’s networking speakers. Her topic title, then, was: “But, What About Her Feet?” She demonstrated how advertising honchos were not satisfied with decades of selling women self-uncertainty about every other square inch of their anatomy and being. These masters of marketing had to create yet one more doubt in the minds of women. Not only might you be inadequate in every other physical, mental, and emotional aspect of your life, women, but you overlooked YOUR FEET! “Don’t Forget To Buy Stuff To Fix Your Feet, Too!!!!”

I keep asking myself why this marketing ploy continues to work. Why cannot women easily accept the ascent of other women to positions of success and prominence and cheer their achievements and arrival at the pinnacle of their careers? Why do women not applaud the achievements of other women with grace, with joy, and with the hopefulness that others -– including themselves -– might follow in their footsteps?

Perhaps it is because women are being conditioned –- still -– to view achieving women as less than the other whole women who are depicted by the advertising industry, the media, and marketing professionals -– all those charlatans who benefit from women’s uncertainty about seeing successful women advance. Look at how it works.

At a recent business networking group, women expressed their fears about taking risks, trying new ventures, and testing untried waters. Ok, that’s reasonable -– all of us hesitate to try new things. But, for these women, the more important message was what they feared.

One said she was afraid because there were so many others with the same idea who could probably do the job better than she.

Another said she feared being seen by other women as not up to the task as they were, as not as competent as they were.

Still another did not want to generate the predictable negative feedback from family and spouse were she to tell them about her business idea. She was sure they would speak ill of it.

As I listened to them describe their ideas and dreams for their business, I had one clear feeling and impression – EXCITEMENT! Each of their “visions” was a real and viable possibility, a true opportunity which -– if refined and massaged and developed with appropriate guidance and experienced input -– carried within it the potential as a successful business concept or venture or at least a personally-satisfying undertaking.

But, each woman in the group had become too accustomed to “turning the mental page” or “clicking to another mental channel” where she would find:

  • Buxom, beautiful babes to whom she was being programmed to compare herself unfavorably –- to encourage her to buy something to make her look more like them

  • Successful Ozmans, Oprahs, and Marthas against which standard she was being negatively compared as “not quite as large as TV-life” –- to encourage her to tune in tomorrow for more messages re-enforcing this same idea that you’re inadequate.

To each of these women in the group -– offline –- you want to say,

“You GO GIRRLLL! You have a great idea! It’s worthy of your efforts. And YOU are worthy of the idea. Just try it. Just start. Just take that first step toward your dream. We’re here, cheering for you to succeed!”

This is what needs to happen -– no more allowing advertisers to take advantage of, or to feast financially upon, female doubts. Toss out the paper and the Macy’s ads that hype to feminine underfed self-esteems. Stomp on it on your way out the door to your artistic venture in the South Pacific Islands.

Turn off the messages from TV-land, selling the Cialis-Viagra-Botox-Nip/Tuck dream world of fixing feminine fantasies for a small fortune. Erase those Tivo programmed mental images demeaning female self-esteem and re-write that web site telling the truth about great women doing great things everywhere you look ITRW (in the REAL world)!

What IS that sound we hear? What IS that growing thunder, that roar? It is the sound of many hands, coming together, to applaud the achievements of today’s women of the world doing marvelous things, great and small. It is the sound, not of one hand clapping, alone, silently in the wilderness, but rather of thousands and millions of hands cheering for the change that women are bringing about today.

We have only just begun.

Friday, September 9, 2005

May You Live in Interesting Times

The September 9, 2005 Los Angeles Times had a brief, 3 inch column on page 2 of the Business Section, reporting the news that UCLA Anderson School of Management just named their new dean. As you read this, try hard to resist the temptation to fall asleep:
    "The UCLA Anderson School of Management said Thursday that it had appointed Pennsylvania State University business school Dean Judy Olian to lead the school.

    As dean of Pennsylvania State's Smeal College of Business since 2000, Olian oversaw the school's undergraduate, MBA and PhD programs, UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale said. She led a fundraising campaign for a $68-million facility for the school that opened this summer.

    "Dr. Olian brings to her new post a commitment to interdisciplinary education, which is a priority at UCLA," Carnesale said.

    A native of Australia, Olian holds degrees in industrial relations from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an undergraduate degree in psychology from Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

    Olian succeeds the current dean, Bruce Willison, on Jan. 1, pending approval by the University of California Board of Regents.

    The Anderson School, founded in 1935, is ranked 11th in U.S. News and World Report magazine's 2006 survey of the top U.S. business schools."

The LA Times editors once again stripped away everything and anything that even hinted that intelligence, competence, or leadership might ever be possessed by a female executive -- academic or otherwise.

At a minimum, one should at least compare the Times’ naked copy with UCLA’s more complete version in the press release, which led with the title, “Distinguished Scholar and Leader Judy Olian Named Dean of UCLA Anderson School of Management”. See their web site for the complete press release: www.anderson.ucla.edu/x9664.xml.

One should also research the substantial and innovative credentials of Dr. Olian -– a simple task which could have been accomplished by nothing less than a little “googling” of her name.

Most noteworthy is the August 2002 citation: Management Education at Risk: Report of the Management Education Task Force to the AACSB [Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business] -- International Board of Directors – a task force that she headed in 2002. See: www.aacsb.edu/publications/metf/METFReportFinal-August02.pdf".

We can also review her many contributions to business news, since she has been a nationally syndicated columnist writing on contemporary business topics and the challenges facing globally competitive, technologically-savvy corporations and knowledge-workers, alike. Again, this is a simple research undertaking that could be accomplished by looking through the article citations at Dean Olian’s Smeal web site at Penn State: www.smeal.psu.edu/news/dean/index.html.

We could hear selections from her talk show, “About Business”, a monthly call-in show hosted by Dr. Judy Olian and aired on the first Tuesday of each month, with audio and video clips available on local Pennsylvania radio and TV station sites as well as on the Penn State site. [No longer available.]

In other words, this is one sharp lady; one savvy educator; and one proficient and prolific communicator. UCLA Anderson School of Management is fortunate and honored to be able to welcome her to Los Angeles, to work with her to bring the best and the brightest to our city and our community.

And maybe one day, not too far into the distant and remote future, if the editors of the L.A. Times work really really hard, apply themselves and do their homework, perhaps some day we actually WILL be able to say that we do have “interesting Times”.