Category Archives: Management & Business

Linked In…not even safe

I searched my Linked In profile today for clues that would give someone the thought that I would possibly be interested in the porn industry, giving massages, meetings for sexual encounters, being hired as a secretary, or connecting with random people that have no bearing on my chosen profession.   I thought that I had perhaps accepted someone as a contact in the past that may have led to one of the above assumptions, however I do a fairly thorough job of scrutinizing people before connecting with anyone, and my search yielded no suspects.  So why or how am I getting requests to connect with people interested in those topics?    I searched my posts next.  Perhaps I had written something suggestive?   No, I didn’t find anything of that nature.    I looked at my picture. Could that be provoking a response?  I’m smiling.   Did that cause it?  Perhaps I should be frowning, but I thought I should look friendly in my LinkedIn picture- but not too friendly.  My picture does show a tiny hint of cleavage at the bottom, but certainly nothing that would look out of place in an office setting. I had cropped my picture so as to not show any cleavage; however that also cut my hair out of the picture, and I like my hair so I went with the uncropped picture.   So what could generate those assumptions about me?   The only answer left is that I am not a man.   I am not a man therefore I must be interested in being a porn star.  I am not a man therefore I must be available for sexual encounters with the self-proclaimed well-endowed suitors that proposition me.  I am not a man therefore I would be willing to serve as a man’s secretary with the promise of no office duties other than massaging his back once in a while, or other tasks as assigned.    I am not a man so therefore I must be interested in connecting with someone who has nothing to do with my industry or interests simply because the requestor presumes I should be honored to connect with such a handsome person.   I expect this treatment at a bar, or even walking down the street.    I don’t appreciate it or welcome it, but I’m under no illusions as to how society runs.   I do however hope that in a job networking site such as LinkedIn; that the majority of connection requests, or email messages that I receive are actually related to work.  Such has not been the case. It has not been the case by far.    As a man you are unlikely to be the recipient of such annoyances, so you cannot appreciate the cumulative effect it has on women.   It doesn’t break us because we are strong, and have been culturally conditioned to deal with it, but it is tiring.  Tiring.  That is the right word.   It is a heavy weight that we have to carry on a daily basis, and a weight it is.   It is a weight you do not have to carry.  But we do.  Every day.  We carry the weight that you as men cumulatively place on us with the words that you think are cute, or witty, but that are nothing more than one more brick placed in the weighted bag that all women must carry.   You fill it up.   And you don’t even realize it.   I wish you could.  I wish someone would look at you and only see a piece of meat to be exploited or used as a sexual object.   Oh great you say, you’d welcome that you smirk.  But you really wouldn’t.  Not over time.  Not every minute of the day.  And I wouldn’t actually wish that on you.  Because I am a human being.  I have feelings.  I have feelings for you and what you feel.   Maybe you should try to have those feelings for me?  Think of how your actions impact me.  As a woman, I think of how my actions impact everyone.  How will it make you feel?  Will it hurt you if I say that?   Will it diminish you?   So I don’t say those things.  It’s not weakness.  It’s respect.  I treat you with respect.   Try returning some of that respect.   Women are people too.    I know all men are not this way.  I’m not stereotyping you all in one group.   I’m simply talking to those of you who do treat women the way I describe.   You don’t have to be less a man to treat women with respect.  It’s not just about opening doors; that alone doesn’t make a gentleman.  What makes a gentleman is a man who will treat a woman as a fellow human being, equal both in the law and in society. So try to think about some of this the next time you leave your home.  Try to catch yourself just once during the day and prevent yourself from placing that brick in some woman’s weighted bag of society’s expectations.   Peace.  God bless

Are We Prepared for a Tidal Wave of New Misogyny?

Are We Prepared for a Tidal Wave of New Misogyny?

by jenni contrisciani

 

In my college physics classes I learned that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.   Hillary Clinton has all but won the Democratic nomination, barring a major development that makes her legally unable to be nominated, and people across the United States are starting to seriously think that a woman may soon be the Commander in Chief of the most powerful country in the world.   It’s not the first of the firsts however; we are now just nearing the end of the administration of the first non-white President in our history.  If we look at the national reaction to Barack Obama serving as commander in chief we can extrapolate that the reaction to Hillary Clinton may be just as forceful.   During Barack Obama’s Presidency, the number of militia and patriot groups went from an average of 150 during the eight years of the Bush administration, to 1,360 in 2012, a 900 percent increase.  (SPLCenter.com)  The number of firearm purchases doubled.   In terms of race relations, blacks are evenly split with 30% saying they have gotten worse, and the same percent saying they have gotten better, however only eight percent of whites felt race relations were better and forty-seven percent said they were worse.   (Racismreview.com)   The rise in militia and patriot groups, gun purchases, and an overall national feeling that race relations have degraded clearly shows a backlash against the first non-white American President.   Given that Hillary Clinton is not only a woman, but a deeply unpopular politician who is polling as one of the most polarizing candidates in political history, and who is running against a demagogue who is backed by a white middle and lower class electorate that is currently suffering clear depression with loss of job and status, and it creates a perfect storm for a backlash.    The rhetoric against President Obama was based on his policies, but clearly had a racial component, and the rabidity against his policy ideas often served as cover for hidden racism.   The same will be used against Clinton.  The language will be about her policy failures, but a large percentage will be based simply on the fact that she is a woman.   I don’t particularly care for Clinton, nor do support her campaign so disclaimer right now that I am not a Hilary apologist.  She certainly has made many mistakes, and is a fundamentally flawed candidate, but the resultant reaction will be against her gender as much as her poor choices, and the effects will not care for the reason, they will simply occur.    She will serve as a manifestation that the definition of being “a man” and the privilege of being “a man” has shifted in America.  Women now comprise the bulk of college students and men are increasingly being relegated to manual labor, with the corresponding drop in income and all the power dynamics that entails in home situations.   If men react to a Hillary Clinton Presidency as forcefully as many whites reacted to President Obama then we are very possibly in for a tough four years.   Hopefully American men will be able to find their inner Angels and not allow Hillary Clinton to release their bottled up reservoir of misogynistic feelings to freely spill forth.   It’s not like it is a box of chocolates for women here already, dealing with wage gaps, sexual harassment, promotion discrimination at work, fearing to walk alone at night, domestic abuse, rape and all the other lovely things that come with being female.   All these things are likely to increase and possibly spike during a Clinton Presidency.  This is not an argument against a female president, but as women we need to be prepared for it.   Hopefully the nation will not follow an equivalent trajectory of the reaction to President Obama. If it does, we’d all better start our self-defense training and be even more aware of our situation and our relationships than ever before.     To the men of America, if Hillary Clinton is elected President, please check your actions and ask yourself, are your feelings truly justified, or are they a reaction to her?    Remember we are your sisters, cousins, friends, and wives.

Fostering Feedback

Do you want honest feedback?  Really?   You should.  What your organization produces is only as good as its participation, and no manager is better than the sum of themselves and their employees.   A manager has to create a culture that fosters honest feedback.  To do this, he or she needs to set the example.   At meetings you need to first ask for feedback.  You may not get it initially as employees will be hesitant to give honest opinions as opposed to being politically correct in the bureaucratic sense of the word.   To encourage honest feedback a manager might say, “Look, I just brainstormed this idea and haven’t thought it through yet.  I need you to tell me if it makes any sense at all or is it total crap?”     You may start with a relatively minor or unimportant idea in order to enable employees to risk giving an honest opinion.   If someone offers an opinion, you can’t reject it.  You can be neutral but don’t shut it down.  Say, “Good, thanks for that idea!  Are there any others?”   You can prod participation by saying, “Hey I can’t do this all on my own, I need your help and input.”    If no one offers anything, ask specific people, and be gracious to any feedback.  You may need to start small and build up trust.   If any ideas are reasonable, start implementing them and crediting the people who offered them.  You need to show in concrete terms that you are receptive to ideas, and people will get credit for their ideas.     Once you have established a culture of feedback, you will be able to put forth ideas and have every member of your team offer an honest opinion.  Right or wrong, if all feedback is treated with respect, you will be able to quickly analyze all sides to an issue or problem.   Imagine putting forth a problem with a proposed solution and asking for feedback.  Within a half hour every member of your team has chimed in and you’ve discovered three angles you never thought about, a completely new idea, and caught a disasterous pitfall that would have killed the project’s success.   As you adjourn, everyone feels like they’ve contributed and they trust you will synthesize the best of the feedback into a revised proposal that will again be run through “the gauntlet” of feedback.     It may not be quick or easy to arrive at a culture that fosters true feedback, but if you do, you will be much stronger than any of your peer managers.   Not only will you be more effective at delivering quality product, but you will be seen as a true leader of people.   Remember true leaders lead, they just don’t manage.

An Excellent Example of a Gender Transition Policy that is Out of this World

At the risk of my consulting business I’ll call out one of the better gender transition policies available for public viewing.    In a similar way to being the first Agency to put a human on the moon, NASA has developed one of the first gender transition policies.   Other Federal agencies and departments are also crafting similar documents.   As they are finalized, they will become public documents without copyright restrictions.   The NASA policy is a 14 page document, and uncharacteristic to government products, it is is concise and to the point, and comprehensive.   If your company needs to adopt a gender transitioning policy you would be well served to download the NASA policy at:    http://odeo.hq.nasa.gov/documents/Gender_Trans_Guide.pdf

Of course, adopting a policy is one step, you would also need to develop an accompanying support structure and at a minimum train your managers to implement the policy.    If you have an employee transitioning or planning to transition, a training class for all employees immediately involved in interacting with the transitioning employee may be advisable.   A proper transition plan can be effective in not only retaining the transitioning employee, preventing harassment/EEO lawsuits, but also to minimize any potential disruptions with other employees and/or address their concerns regarding the situation.

Jenni Contrisciani, MBA

Don’t Flush Your Profits…

Transgender Bathroom Access and the Risk of Lawsuits

Jenni Contrisciani, MBA

According to a UCLA Law School study, there are approximately 700,000 transgender individuals in the United States.     The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that approximately 59% of the US population is employed.    The Human Rights campaign estimates a 14% unemployment rate for transgender workers, approximately double that for the national average.    Assuming an equivalent age distribution of transgender individuals and accounting for increased unemployment means there are roughly 400,000 transgender employees in the United States.     Statistica.com puts the number of Americans currently employed as 122.47 million people, so approximately one out of 306 employees are transgendered.  If you filled the University of Michigan football stadium with workers (115,000) 375 of them would be transgender.    Given rampant underemployment in the transgender community this figure may only be two thirds of this number in professional work place settings, however this still represents 200 people in the University of Michigan stadium example, and 264,000 people nationally.

Recent EEOC and court cases have clearly stated that transgender individuals must have access to the restrooms of the gender in which they identify.  The Federal Government has issued clear directives to its departments and agencies to this effect.    Companies that do not have a transgender restroom policy are at risk of lawsuits by employees, with the accompanying risk of monetary damages.    Companies with identified transgender employees must have clear restroom policies adopted and published.   Given that many transgender individuals are closeted, but may come out at any time and publicly assert they are transgender, means that even companies that do not have identified transgender employees need restroom policies.

The transgender community is well connected through social media, and aware of recent court cases. The “coming out” of celebrities such as Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner and Navy SEAL Christopher/Kristin Beck have raised the likelihood of transgender individuals openly identifying as their true gender and demanding equal rights under Federal EEOC guidelines and court precedent.    Therefore a prudent employer needs to establish a transgender restroom policy.

But what about my other employees, employers will ask?   The women in my company won’t be happy with “men” in their restroom!     If existing experience is any indication, this will be a concern that will need to be addressed in your company.    You may need training to both enact a transgender restroom policy and keep your employees happy.     There are several key points to emphasize.   Just as there are transgender women, who were or are, genetically male, there are also transgender men who are/were genetically female.   Transgender men can appear with beards and well developed musculature.   A transgender man in the women’s room would probably be more disturbing to women than a transgender woman, who dresses as a woman.     Without a transgender restroom policy, forcing employees to use the restroom of their genetic gender may result in masculine transgender men in the women’s room, and transgender women wearing dresses, high heels in the men’s room and applying make-up at the sink.

Second, as with any restroom situation, the company must state that it will police any inappropriate behavior.   While there have been no documented cases of transwomen acting inappropriately in women’s restrooms, the red herring of sexual perversion and inappropriate behavior is often raised.   In addition to reassuring employees that there have been no cases of inappropriate behavior in restrooms documented to date, company policy is still in effect if there ever was.

Third, most modern restrooms contain a sink area and individual stalls.   Aside from shoe size, there really isn’t any way to discern a transgender woman versus a genetic woman in the stall next door, assuming proper sit-down behavior by the transwoman.  Even so, there is privacy in bathroom stalls.  If necessary, stalls can be further privatized to reassure any individual.

Fourth, it should be addressed that transgender people are desperately wanting to blend in with the gender of their choice, so the only interaction a genetic woman  would likely have with a transwoman in the restroom would be if she asked her at the sink how she learned how to do her makeup so well.   Again, there have been no incidences of abnormal behavior in professional settings or the multiple school settings where transgender individuals are allowed to use the restroom of their gender identity.

Of course, change is hard and employees may come with very fixed and predetermined viewpoints.  This is where training can be effective in dispelling many of the myths and misperceptions of transgender individuals.   Not only can you more likely retain a talented transgender employee, but a well stated and public restroom policy may attract talented transgender individuals.

If you do not have a policy in place currently, it would be wise to do so and would demonstrate foresight and fiscal responsibility to do so.

Jenni Contrisciani, MBA

Jennicontrisciani@outlook.com

 

 

 

Why No One is Right in the Global Warming Debate

We’re not going to prevent global warming.  It’s that simple, and we’re just going to have to live with it.   Whether you believe that global warming is man-made or a natural global phenomena; it is happening and we won’t stop it.   There are multiple reasons why it won’t be stopped.  China is outpacing the United States in terms of CO2 production and shows very little inclination to stop.  It simply isn’t in their national interest to do so.   A stable economy means a stable political environment and this means the party in power stays in power.     So China won’t be reducing carbon production for the sake of reducing global warming.   Additionally, there are a plethora of existing industrial countries as well as developing economies that are increasing their carbon production, which means that the U.S. piece of the carbon pie is getting smaller which in turn means that we can’t unilaterally change the global trend toward more carbon production.   Even if the United States significantly reduces its carbon production, the net global effect will still be to increase.   Even if there was political will in the United States to significantly reduce carbon production, there isn’t personal will.     Any appreciable reduction in carbon would mean serious lifestyle changes for Americans that few would be willing to agree to.   So we are in a world of adaptation now, now prevention.    But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be doing something in this country to stop it.  We just need to find ways to reduce carbon that are congruent and consistent with other policy goals.    The argument needs to change from “Is climate change real” to “What can we do that is good for the country that also reduces carbon?”

Even if you don’t believe that global warming is real, there is one fact that is indisputable.  Carbon comes from combustion of energy sources.   Energy sources cost money.  So if you reduce energy use, you save money and you also reduce carbon.    You also reduce your dependence on foreign fuel which results in greater flexibility in public policy and less need to engage in oil based foreign intervention.    Strategies that deal with increasing efficiency from vehicle fuel economy to home furnaces to electrical devices are all win-win scenarios for consumers, global warming activists, business people, and climate change deniers.     Energy saving technology is often new technology, and innovating new technology is something this country is good at.  We should embrace the race toward energy efficiency and use the global warming issue as incentive to produce efficient products that we can sell overseas.   Public policy initiatives such as reducing dependence on coal for energy production should be cast in the light of not cleaner energy, but possibly as keeping the coal in the ground as a strategic energy reserve.   Fights about oil pipelines shouldn’t focus on whether or not to build the pipeline, but how to reduce the need for the oil flowing through it.   We’ve been talking about reducing our dependence on foreign energy ever since the Eisenhower administration before I was even born.  Every President since, has mentioned it in their State of the Union address.  It’s time we developed a national consciousness and a national program akin to the manned Moon missions to actually accomplish what so many Presidents have pontificated upon.

So ask me if climate change is real, I’ll answer truthfully.  I don’t know.  I’m not a climate scientist.  I don’t know the validity of global warming models and don’t have the time to investigate, and even if I did I suspect I’d find contradictory data and results.    What I do know, is that I like my hybrid that gets 48 miles per gallon, and I like not giving the gas station all my money.   I like my 90%+ efficiency furnace.   I like my small but well-appointed condo by a lake.    I like my lightbulbs that will probably outlive me, and I like the thought that members of our military will have even a slightly less need to be deployed overseas and be killed because my country is less dependent on overseas oil.    After Sept 11, I went from a high horsepower sports car to a hybrid car.   Why?  I just wanted to do my part to save energy and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.   And you know what, I don’t feel like my lifestyle has been impacted or my freedom curtailed.   I feel good about doing my part.   We need to change the argument in Washington, the tone in Washington, and get Americans acting together; because if we act together, there is very little that Americans can’t accomplish.

Jennifer Contrisciani, MBA

Transgender Employment and Job Seeking

Transgender Employment and Job Seeking

Transgender people comprise 0.3 % of American adults, or about 700,000 people, according to a 2011 study by the Williams Institute.    Transgender unemployment is  2X the rate of the general population and transgender people are 4X more likely to live in poverty according to the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, (n=6,450.)      The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled that discrimination based on gender identity is sex discrimination, triggering Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  President Obama has also signed Executive Orders protecting federal employee and federal contractor transgender workers.  Some states and localities have passed laws protecting transgender workers.    Despite this, many transgender people struggle to find work.

Aside from the surface issues of presentation, (how you look) there is the issue of legal identification.   Almost all job applications ask for legal name, social security number, and past references.  If you haven’t changed your name yet, you face the ugly requirement of putting your legal name on your application instead of your gender conforming name.   You may also have to check the dreaded M box instead of the F, or vice-versa.    Macy’s, no doubt as a result of the Macy v. Holder decision, has adopted a very trans friendly application that adds a space where you can put down the name you prefer to be called by, in addition to your legal name.   Companies can’t get around the legal name issue for obvious reasons.     Even if you have changed your legal name you have to deal with all of your references knowing you as you former self.    So many transgender people wonder, often with some level of desperation, how they will find gainful employment other than the local street corner.  Below is some advice to help you land a decent job.

LGBT Job Fairs

Hey, if companies have tables at these, they are looking to hire you.  That should give you a great confidence boost.   Even if they are looking for the L or G component, at least you know your odds are better than a blind interview.    Affirmations in Ferndale, MI has a LGBT career fair, and many large cities  host LGBT career fairs.  You may have to travel, but you hook up with some local girls and make a day out of it while you are there.   Getting hired will take some effort; be prepared to put some mileage on your car and be prepared (and willing) to relocate.

LinkedIn

I have to admit, I’ve been a bit disappointed with this one, but it is obligatory that you at least have a good profile there.   Most HR departments will look you up online, and LinkedIn is one of the first places they look, so you need to have some good info on your publicly accessible profile.   You can also search for jobs and network there, and it is good for at least seeing the ebb and flow of local jobs in your area.

Networking

As transgender people enter the workforce we have an obligation to help each other.   Flat out, yes we do.   In the same way that there is an old boy’s network, there needs to be a “former old boy’s network,” (or former girl’s network.)  Affirmative action, regardless of your political views as to the fairness of it, helped African Americans, and employee support groups, both company led, and privately formed definitely helped move more African Americans into the professional workforce.   We need to help each other in the same way, and this includes those closeted individuals who aren’t ready to come out themselves, but can definitely help a sister (or brother) out.

Be That Much Better

You need to be stellar awesome in your communications, interview, and preparation.   The cards will be stacked against you, not only from being one of hundreds of applicants potentially, but realistically because of your transgender status.   You need to be that much better than everyone else.  Proper research on the company you are interviewing with is essential.   Preparation, such as practice interviews, and presentation (dressing) skills are essential.   Record yourself in a practice interview.  You can learn a lot about what the interviewer sees; then work to correct any mistakes and perfect your responses.

Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index

This is a great resource to quickly check up on how LGBT friendly companies are.   Companies are rated on a score of 0 to 100.   The higher the score the more inclusive the company is.   You should also check out the company website and find their diversity and non-discrimination language.   If they have transgender listed, then it is an indication that at least someone in HR is aware of transgender people.

Be Confident

Act like you will be an asset to the company, not that they are doing a favor “to condescend” to hire you.   Be upfront about your status, don’t hide it, but don’t volunteer it unless something is asked.   You may also have to walk the fine line between being a “crusader” and getting hired.   Some questions that you are asked may be illegal, but remember your goal is to get hired.   Grace and gentle education can go a long way.    Finally, always follow up.   Proper manners and etiquette are always appreciated.

Take Acton if You are Wronged

If you are definitely discriminated against you are unlikely to sue as that is very expensive, but you could file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.   You can also inform national and/or local advocacy groups, such as the afore-mentioned Human Rights Campaign, or your local LGBT organization.   At the very least, it will help inform others about how companies treat transgender people.

Hope this helps.

Jenni Contrisciani, MBA

Why Kristin Beck is so Important to the Transgender Community

Why Kristin Beck is so Important to the Transgender Community 

On September 4, CNN aired a program called “Lady Valor” which highlighted the transition of former Navy SEAL Chris Beck, to Kristin Beck, and the transgender world will never be the same again.   Here’s why.    One of the many stigmas attached to male to female transgendered people in the United States has been the perception that only “sissy boys” would want to dress as, or physically become women.     Lady Valor will destroy this perception, as absolutely no one can question the heroic bona fides or “manliness” of Chris Beck.   If a highly decorated Navy SEAL can realize that his biological gender doesn’t match his mental gender; then who can question the fact that some people are simply born transgender?  Who can say that that being transgender belies some horrible deficiency or flaw of character?   How will the “manliness” of someone speaking out against Kristin Beck measure up to what she actually did in thirteen combat deployments in which she was wounded multiple times?   This stigma of being a wimp or “girly” (in its most pejorative term) has contributed to many male to female transgendered people remaining buried in the shadows.   As a societal comment, the stigma against men adopting female attire and mannerisms is a condemnation of how society views women in general: male behavior is laudable, female behavior is not, male behavior is strong, female behavior is “weak.”  Historically, women have had the luxury of adopting male attire and mannerisms for decades and this was seen as becoming assertive and achieving liberation.  What article of male clothing have women not adopted?   Women business executives receive respect, male stay-at-home dads are sources for derision at the local soccer field.    It will be very hard for many people to wrap their world-view around the fact that such a “macho” man would want to wear a dress and paint her nails, and be called Kristin, yet this is the conundrum that people will be forced to consider.    Well then, he must be gay right?   This is the second fall back perception about male to female transgender people.  Wrong again.  Chris Beck was married with kids and Kristin Beck is currently dating a woman.   As any transgender person would tell you; who you want to sleep “with” is sexual preference.  Who you want to go to sleep “as” is gender identity.  The two are mutually exclusive occurrences.     Chris Beck coming out as Kristin Beck will enable many closeted transgender people to emerge from the closet with a degree of respect.  There are many other misconceptions to combat, but at least the “sissy stigma” has been dealt a serious blow.    Chris Beck sacrificed for his country on the battlefield; Kristin Beck is now leading the vanguard for transgender rights and sacrificing in the arena of public opinion.  For as much courage as it took to operate under fire in Afghanistan and Iraq, it takes a different yet possibly stronger courage to defy stereotype and be the person you were meant to be.   It was certainly a “ballsy” move.   The stereotypes of the strong male and weak female ingrained in our society, and our very lexicon will be hard to overcome, but Kristin Beck has virtually and metaphorically arrived via a Blackhawk helicopter in a hot landing zone and something tells me that there will be a lot of transgendered people coming off the helicopter after her.   

On Transgendered People and Genetic Female Feminists….. the battle

imageTransgender people run the gamut just like any other segment of the population.  You will have your butch trans, your ultra-femme trans, your military trans (Kristen Beck), your actress trans (Laverne Cox) and there will be the sporty trans (Fallon Fox.) The point is, to understand the trans population one needs to view it not as a monolithic block, but as a collection of individuals in various points of transition, with different dreams and aspirations.   Is it fair for trans athletes that have undergone a full hormone regimen to compete with genetically born females?  Perhaps.  Is it fair for large powerfully built genetic women to compete with smaller, more petite genetic women?  Probably not.  It’s a question of degree and there is quite a bit of strength and performance variation amongst the genetically born female population.  I’m not sure if any existing trans tennis athlete could take on Serena Williams.   Admittedly there is some call for concern from genetic females on a very narrow sports and regarding transgendered people but overall the things that trans people are fighting for coincides with the general thrust of women’s rights.  After all, genetic women were born female and had no choice as to their gender.  Trans people CHOSE to be female even knowing the issues that face women in society.   What better advocates for women’s rights could there be?    I hope that feminist and trans rights groups are able to not only co-exist but are able to help each other.  

Management: Winning the Battle but Losing the War

I’d like to present a very short case study. Picture an office with an employee run coffee station.   The workers chip in $0.25 a cup to buy coffee, filters, creamer, and filters.   One day the coffee maker breaks down.   No one has coffee in the morning.   A worker takes the initiative to go to a local store, buy a new coffeemaker with their own money (there wasn’t enough money in the coffee fund) returns to the office and gets it up and running.   All the workers are happy they have coffee.   The employee is gone from the office for an hour.   As a manager, do you: A.) publicly chastise the worker for being gone without a leave slip and make them take an hour of vacation, B.) Bring the worker into your office and warn them about being gone from the office without leave, C.) Congratulate them on their initiative and concern for their fellow workers. D.) Not only congratulate them but also offer to chip in for the coffeemaker.

Now as professionals you know where this is going, I wouldn’t be writing the article if this had a happy ending.   In this case, the manager exercised choice A. Company policy is that employees need to arrive and leave at their official start times. They get a half hour for lunch and two fifteen minute breaks.   The employee was chastised in front of six other employees for being gone without a leave slip, made to take an hour of vacation, warned of ramifications for future transgressions, and HR was notified.   Due to these actions, the employee will be unlikely to deviate from their schedule for some time; however what were the side effects?   Employee chatter was uniformly negative toward the manager and supportive of the employee.  Hall conversations centered on a common theme which was to not work past their official stop time on critical projects, (which was the norm), and to religiously observe lunch and break times which were also routinely worked when there was a critical project. During a subsequent all-hands meeting, employees were uniformly silent when asked by the manager to contribute on updates.  She was forced to call on people and prompt them to give updates.   There was a complete lack of enthusiasm or happiness during the meeting.   The manager saved an hour, but probably lost literally days of productivity. Contrast that to Choice C or D.    Had the manager chosen either of those options she would have built up the morale of her employees, and increased their loyalty.    Unfortunately she and her employees will likely suffer days of poor morale, and the company will suffer as a result.   Take an inch, lose a mile.     Managers need to think long term, not short.

What would you have done?

What can be done to improve the manager?