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JUMP up and be counted

It was no great surprise to hear the 2012 McKinsey report Women Matter1 say that women are still under-represented at board and leadership levels. This slow-but-steady progress isn’t for want of trying. In fact, the report notes there are more learning and development initiatives aimed specifically at women than ever before.

This increased investment is a result of a clearer-than-ever business case for the advancement of women. It’s vital to solving complex business challenges and increasingly important that company leadership reflects its customer base. The McKinsey report also highlights the link between the leadership behaviours that women tend to adopt more frequently than men, such as collaborative decision making and their approach to problem solving.

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Apparently, women will hug anything

Earlier this month Shane Snow, Tech journalist and co-founder of @Contently, opened up a can of worms with his article “Hug vs. Handshake”. When he, a “married dude”, runs into a male acquaintance both in and outside the workplace, a handshake is an acceptable and preferable greeting for both men. But “with females, I feel like I’m trapped between two walls of a deep-space garbage compactor. On the first meeting, we shake hands. Easy. But the next time we cross paths? Is a handshake now too formal (especially if we got along well in the first meeting)? Will a hug be awkward?”

Jessica Roy, a reporter for Betabeat and the New York Observer, offers a different angle on this conundrum:

The problem with shaking hands, of course, is that you might fracture our brittle bones with your manly monster shake. But the problem with hugging is that you might accidentally touch our delicate lady areas. What’s a dude to do?

And Tim Sackett, a journalist at Ragan.com, summarises the whole debate in his (literally) bold words:

Women will hug anything.

What are we talking about here? Our desks? Coffee machines? A lion at the nearest zoo?!

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Love is All You Need?

Imagine a world where homosexuality is both natural and normal and heterosexuality is perceived and treated as a sinful aberration.

The award winning short film Love Is All You Need? powerfully depicts this world where “gay” is “straight” and “straight” is “gay” and a sexual relationship between a man and a woman is a cultural, social and religious taboo.

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Raise Your Hand

“Raise your hand!” It’s what we all have to do in order to grow our careers, gain new opportunities, and take on different experiences. Sometimes opportunities come to us without us doing anything, but most of the time, opportunities come across our plate because in someway or another, we raised our hands. We may have had a conversation about what we wanted to do with a mentor, or taken a class that seemed interesting, or directly said, ‘hey, I’m interested.’ Regardless, if we don’t raise our hands then we certainly won’t ever get selected for a new project, new job, or any new opportunities for growth. Read More »

Thermometer or Thermostat? MLK Jr’s Letter from Birmingham Jail

Recreation_of_Martin_Luther_King's_Cell

 “…when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people;

…when you go forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.”

This month marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Martin Luther King Jr was a civil rights leader who transformed the conversation on race in the United States. He wrote this letter after being arrested while leading marches and sit-ins to protest racism and racial segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. Eight fellow clergymen of Alabama wrote an open letter asking him to cease his leadership of the demonstrations and to pursue justice through the courts. I was drawn to re-read the full text of the letter after reading Dr. Eric L. Motley’s essay, “On the 50th Anniversary, the Living Legacy of “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Motley writes:

its ideas transcend the turbulent times in which it was written. Civil rights historian Diane McWhorter notes that the original conflict “was between not good and evil, but good and normal.” The brute racism that strikes us today as mass social insanity Read More »

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