A MUST READ – High-performing women pay a steep price for success

The Tallest Poppy: High-performing women pay a steep price for success

A MUST read for everyone. The results are unfortunate and don’t even capture the full magnitude of the impact of work on women who are trying to be their best selves. Add a 50% divorce rate, single parenthood, being advised to lean in, health challenges,…I think we all get the point. The #MeToomovement started in response to gender discrimination but what’s worse is that we are sometimes doing this to ourselves – women do not always support and back women – why? Challenging times for us. I will admit I find it frustrating. Imagine if we were all kind and inspired each other. You know that feeling when someone says “you look nice”, “great job”, … perhaps if we gave that to each other regularly imagine how much happier, more buoyant, productive and inspired we would all be. The possibilities are endless. Think about it as you head into your day.

 

 

 

 

It’s Labour Day! Should it be?

For many of us, Labour Day means the end of summer, the return to school and back to disciplined routines. But there is a much deeper history to this day.

The origins can be traced back to the 1870s when labour organizations began demonstrating for worker’s rights. At the time the need to defend and protect workers was greatly required however with over 150 years of economic and employment change and governance under our belts there is a discussion afoot as to the modern day need/relevance for Labour Day.

There is a movement to change Labour Day to Entrepreneur’s Day. The thinking is that Entrepreneurs always have been and always will be the economic catalysts for growth and development and they need to be recognized and celebrated. Proponents of “Entrepreneurs’ Day” however suggest why create another day, why not just rename Labour Day.

Being an entrepreneur I find the conversation interesting and comical.

Interesting because what is true now, was also true in the 1870s – entrepreneurs are the catalyst for business growth and development – pretty much every company was started by someone. Labour Day was created to remind entrepreneurs to be mindful of their workforce – to be respectful. It was created at a time when there was no respect. Workers worked endless hours in pour conditions for pitiful wages. Very thankfully we have come a long way since the 1870s.

Henry Ford was perhaps the greatest example of revolutionizing how labour forces were managed. Upon review of his own organization he established the 40 hour work week so people could rest and renew. He also increased wages and looked at the overall quality of life of his employees. While on the one hand he wanted his own labour force to be able to afford to drive a Ford on the other hand, he also knew that the success of his organization was intrinsically linked to the success of his employees. And his thinking clearly worked – note, the Ford Motor Company is still standing strong today.

I think the initial rational for Labour Day was to make a point to the world that workers deserve and need to be treated respectfully. Unfortunately not all leaders and entrepreneurs were respectful, not all saw the bigger picture like Ford, so something needed to be done – hence Labour Day. Sometimes to create change and to heighten awareness we need to make an aggressive statement. In the 1870s this statement was Labour Day.

Thankfully labour issues have evolved significantly since the 1870s. The present day discussion is very focused on inclusion and diversity. This is a very “labour” based discussion – still relevant and still necessary. So, in my mind Labour Day remains important because it forces us to check in on how labour is managed.

I noted above that I also find the whole discussion on renaming Labour Day comical…I do. Seriously? Do we need yet another day to celebrate or pat people on the back. There are 365 days in the year and many are getting noted for this or that. A couple of weeks ago there was a banana day – are you kidding me? I’m in marketing, I get it – we need a way to break through the noise and gain attention but there is a breaking point. Before I go off on that tangent let me close with this.

Sometimes I think we just need to let things be.

Presently, in North America, Labour Day more than anything marks a return to “discipline”.  Akin to Jan 1, Labour Day is the second key marker in the year for reassessing and setting goals. May 24 switches our brains into summer mode and Labour Day reminds us to ‘get back to work’! Rather ironic.

I don’t think we need to rename Labour Day. I don’t think we need an Entrepreneur’s Day. I think we need to live everyday mindfully and respectfully.

Enjoy your day!

 

 

 

 

 

The Ageism Conversation Continues…

This blog is a follow-up to my recent article in the Globe and Mail on Ageism.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/careers/leadership/article-ageism-is-becoming-a-major-issue-for-corporations/

The response to my article was far greater than I expected and the conversations that ensued locally, globally, across all genders, ages, stages and walks of life was surprising. I typically write about issues that impact me directly and I hope there is a broader circle who can relate and/or find the topic relevant – this one clearly struck a very large and loud chord.

The catalyst for the article was a couple of ageist situations at work that I witnessed first hand. Almost simultaneously, I was in attendance at the annual SXSW conference in Austin where I listened to panels of business experts and professionals discuss the opportunities and challenges that the various “ages” are facing. Comforted (?) I realized I was not alone in noticing the increased conversations around ageism and I was not alone in feeling the mounting tensions between the young and old(er) on the age spectrum.

When I was young I discounted “ageist” remarks pointed in my direction – “you are too young” – because, afterall, I was young, bold and the world was my oyster! As I have gotten older, ageism feels as though it is something that I cannot escape. You can gain years and fix the prejudice at the young end of the spectrum but at the older end – there is no fix. It is what it is. It is beyond our control. The tug of war between those at opposing ends of the spectrum is real however on one end there is somewhat of a natural remedy. As a result, there needs to be acceptance and tolerance – far easier said than done.

Truth is, ageism is a universal prejudice that impacts everyone. However, research has proven that the impact is the greatest for the those over the age of 50. And yet, now that I and many others are in our fifties, we actually feel like we are in our prime. We have acquired degrees of financial comfort, raised our children, seen economic highs and lows and for the most part we have settled into ourselves. While we cannot rest on our laurels we have certainly been there done. All of these life experiences and years of living have unbelievable value.

Upon further exploration, I also uncovered that older folks stick around (stick it out?!) longer. According to study by monster.ca younger workers have higher turnover rates – workers 45-54 stay on the job twice as long as those 25-34.  This certainly raises questions of loyalty, focused expertise, the value of long term relationships. I also wonder if this age tug of war mimics home/familial relationships. We joke about having a work-wife and/or a work husband but perhaps there is also a work-parent and a work child relationship which may not be the best model for success.

I don’t have the answers but I do know the struggle is real and I do know the two ends of the spectrum need each other. I also know, and I can say this with complete credibility,  that the younger end does not fully appreciate the older end of the spectrum. I don’t believe one should unilaterally respect their elders simply because they are “elder” but I do believe that all elders bring some every valuable wisdom from having been there, done that to the party.

I also have to admit that 50 is not the “fifty” it once was, nor is it the new 30. Research has also proven we are more vital now than we have ever been. When I am at work, spending time with family and friends,…living my life,… I am still 25. My mind is spinning with ideas, my energy is boundless, my spirit indomitable and my body ready to climb any mountain. It is not until I look in a mirror, pass a reflective glass or discuss the ages of my children that I realize I am older – physically and mentally. At 52, I am well past my 25 year old self sense. To be clear I don’t have an issue with being 52. In my 52 years I have done a lot – but the thing is I have so much more I want to do and so given my youthful internal persona I am not holding back. And therein lies the issue – “I” am not holding back/stopping. I have LOTS I want to do. However, I am now often the oldest person in the room and it is very interesting at times to see the respect by some and disrespect/discounting of my opinion by others.  While there may be many reasons why disrespect/discounting arises, I have noticed a strong correlation when there are conversations on new technologies, social platforms,… Admittedly, the younger generation has an advantage – they were born with tech in their hands while older generations have adopted the tech and adjusted along the way. But is slower adoption necessarily a fault or weakness or is it an opportunity to evaluate best adoption practices and build the best business models?

Bottomline, the age spectrum is long and all ages along the spectrum have value to add. This conversation is far from over – in fact, its ageless!!!