Pay and What is Right

I’ve been trying to figure out how to write this post. Can’t quite find the rights words or even the right way to start. I’m no great writer, but usually I can find the right words. So, I’ll just do this.

It is unacceptable that women are being paid less than men for the same jobs. 

I understand that there are huge complexities is doing large studies and benchmark because of differences in jobs, tenure, backgrounds, etc. but at the simplest level, all employers and leaders, should and must be making active efforts to normalize and level the playing field.  A story in the Guardian earlier this year says:

Sucheta Nadkarni, professor and director of the Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre at Cambridge Judge business school, says that – despite flaws – the figures do indicate men are paid more than women on average. She said: “Whether it is because women are getting paid less for the work that they are doing or because women are not getting equal opportunities to get into positions where the pay level is high – it doesn’t matter what the reason is, but there is a gender pay gap and in most cases it’s an issue of equality and justice. In both cases it’s an issue of an imbalance of some sort.”

Gender pay gap: what we learned and how to fix it

I see three reasons why all of us must work to fix these problems.

First, it is just the right thing to do. I shouldn’t have to explain this one. 

Second, we need all the best people we can find in our workforce and in leadership positions. Any organization that wants to succeed or prosper or even exist, needs the best people it can find on its workforce. Any practice or policy that ‘slights’ or ‘devalues’ one group over another is not doing all it can to succeed. Why would anyone want part of their workforce to feel slighted? Don’t we want to attract the best people possible in all our positions? This applies to race, religion, etc. too.

Finally, the third reason, which is gender specific, is that I do believe we need more women in leadership positions. We need their viewpoints and life experiences informing and driving decisions being made in government, corporations and nonprofits.  Related, I wonder if the #metoo movement would be different or even necessary if there were far more women in leadership positions everywhere. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is famous for her remark that ‘There will be enough women on the Supreme Court when there are nine’ which is funny but the principle is valid. I’d be fine with nine women on the supreme court but we would then likely miss the male viewpoint on some key issues.

A recent survey reported that 52% of Americans would feel “very comfortable” with a female president to which I reply why isn’t that 95% or 98% or 100%? 

It is time for men to speak up and address matters that are holding women back from advancement, leadership or equal pay.

Broken

I find myself moving more and more towards the perspective that aspects of capitalism are broken. Pushing stock prices up no matter what the cost, the huge gap in compensation between the highest and lowest paid workers in an organization, the slanting of financial laws towards the rich, and the increasing fraction of our economy that is based on businesses that make nothing (Financial, Legal, etc.).

Three books that are worth a read about how this happens on a day-to-day basis in corporations and how people are quickly or slowly corrupted, or how their decisions slip down a very dark path.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by Carreyrou is the latest about the fall of Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes which is in the current news. I saw her speak once at a conference to a small group of IT CIOs. She was being interviewed by Meg Whitman who was running HP at the time. I’m not quite done with this book, but I can already highly recommend it. It is absolutely captivating in how morally bankrupt some people can be.

Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue by Holiday which is the story of Gawker and its business model and the work done to take it down.

And no such list would be complete without The Smartest Guys in the Room by McLean and Elkind about Enron and how that model worked. I lived through part of that story where the company I worked and friends in California lived through rolling power outages one summer that Enron employees were causing to happen.

I don’t know the answers (or probably some of the right questions) here. It just seems that aspects of our model and way of doing things are breaking down. Broken.

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The Workplace and Simplification

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A friend shared a great TEDx Talk with me recently about the workplace and simplification and about asking the right questions.

I quit my job as CIO over a year for several reasons that I won’t go into here. Since then, I’ve thought about lessons learned and perhaps, things I might have done differently at different times in the role.

I think this talk gets to the heart of it. An organization must prioritize simplification, removing bureaucracy, be nimble and fast and create a culture where asking and answering hard questions is the way things are done. Seems like more could have been done on this front.

I really did love the people I worked with there and recently had a chance to see some of my colleagues for a visit. It was a great time.