Folks. I am about a week behind on recognizing International Women’s Day, but wanted to speak about it today.
There is always an element of folks out there who cry that we are dividing each other more by recognizing every different group of people, but I disagree.
At this point we have roughly 7 billion people in the world and they are each unique. That’s pretty cool if you ask me and I find that recognizing the differences that make us unique can be a unifier.
One reason I want to address this holiday is because I have been personally affected in a profound way by strong female leaders, both in life and work.
These women were mothers, wives, bosses, employees and, in some cases, warriors. I call that out because throughout history there was not always the option for women to follow their own path — it was chosen for them.
I am the father of two beautiful girls, they are identical twins and they light up my life. My wife and I are blessed (and challenged) by them daily. In June I get to experience it again with the addition of our third girl.
If I am being completely transparent, I was never a feminist. I didn’t think men were the superior sex, but I didn’t think the status quo was an issue either. While having girls has helped to change my thinking, the journey began many years ago.
I served five years as a United States Marine and enjoyed the opportunity to be a part of something greater. Now, the Marine Corps has around 200,000 active Marines and about 7% who are female. It’s a male dominated world where recent news has uncovered that misogyny is alive and well unfortunately. I don’t bring this up to shame the institution but to call out the opportunity for improvement.
Within this environment though I had the pleasure to serve under a female Marine officer by the name of Meredith Brown. At the time she was a Major and retired as a Lt. Col.
She was a no-nonsense person who expected results and demanded excellence. I recall how I used to write reports for her and she would pull out a red pen and begin striking things out. As she did that though, she took the time to show why the corrections needed to be made and expected that I wouldn’t repeat the errors.
Now you may be thinking, this lady sounds rough! I will tell you though, she knew what she was doing. I was a young man who needed guidance and she also saw something in me that perhaps I didn’t see myself. As a Marine she was tough but also fair to a fault. She was the first strong woman in my professional career and I valued our time greatly. We still speak to this day and she continues to give sound advice.
How does this fit into culture? Because as a society we have determined that sex, color, background, race or other factors that could be discriminated against are not how we should be judged.
We have deemed actions to be our judgment. Does this always happen? Absolutely not, but we strive for it.
If I had been an older man in a different Marine Corps, I would have never had the opportunity for a female Marine to lead me. I would have operated in a bubble and be unable to see another point of view without great difficulty.
So next time we have a day that celebrates a unique quality about a specific group of people I suggest we take the time to embrace it.
See something from a different perspective, walk in another person’s shoes, so to speak, and learn.
A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read allIf the Shoe Fits posts here.
Most of the tech/business/news-consuming world has been hearing about Uber’s latest, but doubtfully its last, scandal.
Uber showcases a culture where anything goes: sexual harassment; managerial threats, including physical violence.
A culture based on the overweening arrogance and MAP of CEO Travis Kalanick and fully supported by his top management and a subservient/ineffective/actively resistant HR.
So Kalanick did what all CEOs (and politicians) do when someone shines a light in their rat hole — he announced an internal investigation led by external, high profile lawyers and made promises at an all-hands meeting.
“What I can promise you is that I will get better every day.I can tell you that I am authentically and fully dedicated to getting to the bottom of this.”
This from the guy who two short years ago called his company “Boob-er” in GQ, because it was a chick magnet.
There’s an old joke that you should never trust anyone who says “trust me.”
The same can be said about the person who proclaims their authenticity.
Whether you were alive in 1984 or not, you’ve probably seen Apple’s Super bowl ad. It’s reshown almost every year and has been consistently voted the top-rated Super Bowl ad ever made, which is saying a lot.
When the ad was made women were on an upward trend and were respected members of the tech community — unlike now.
Watching the ad again last week I got to wondering.
If that ad were made today would the person throwing the hammer be a woman?
Or would it be the proverbial “twenty-something guy in a hoodie?”
Today is (or should be) the first day of the rest of your life speaking out and actively working for the world in which you want to live. To do everything you can to quell the rise of hate and change the direction of your world.
If you care it’s time to act — not wait for the other guy to do it.
I’m sure that some of my readers are happy with its direction and will be very unhappy with this post. They may even unsubscribe (it’s happened in the past), but that is their right and I respect that.
But hopefully the rest of you will heed this call to action, take time to read the links and time to think about the world you want — not just for yourself, but for you current/future kids and their kids, etc.
The hate being shown to this wave of refugees echoes the hate shown to past waves, but this time it’s far more hysterical and fraught.
As for the argument that the Muslim ban fights terrorism, what really are the odds that you might die in a terrorist attack in the US, especially compared to all the other ways to die? Take a look at the hard data.
Yes, ISIS is real, but terrorism on our soil is an excellent cover for one of the truly ugly underlying reasons today’s refugees are so violently rejected — they are black.
So I landed in India with my daughter on Saturday and saw the news about immigration changes in the USA. I don’t think American citizens of Indian descent are banned from re-entering the USA yet, but let me know if anything changes as I got another 5 days here and things appear to be changing quickly. For the time being, I believe my type of brown person is still considered ok so that’s a relief. But definitely let me know if that changes. Thanks.
From Trump to Tea Party you are seeing the second coming of WASP thinking.
If this isn’t who you are then you need to speak out.
A group of nearly 60 employees at major tech companies have signed a pledge refusing to help build a Muslim registry. The pledge states that signatories will advocate within their companies to minimize collection and retention of data that could enable ethnic or religious targeting under the Trump administration, to fight any unethical or illegal misuse of data, and to resign from their positions rather than comply.
Not luminaries, but people like you.
As of 10:30 pm Pacific Wednesday there were 1215 signatures.
The full text is at the pledge link (above) as are the instructions on how you can sign. There are also links if you want to be a more active participant or just want more information.
Why should you do it?
The words of Martin Niemöller, a prominent Protestant pastor and rabid anti-Nazi, who spent seven years in a concentration camp explain it best.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Actively or passively; loudly or quietly you need to speak out over the next two years.
And in two years it will be up to you to help take back Congress.
A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read allIf the Shoe Fits posts here
If generating revenue is high on your list of important stuff, then knowing your market should be right up there, too.
Actually, the knowing needs to come first.
There is no way a 20-something, white male from an even slightly privileged background knows, let alone understands, the needs/preferences/desires of a Gen Xer, Boomer or older, let alone those of a different gender, race or economic status.
The bank has already undergone unconscious bias training globally, which involves exercises including splitting into groups and assessing the merits of four different résumés, only to return to find they belonged to the same candidate — just with different names and genders attached. (…) with female names, for example, the groups were more likely to question the candidates’ credentials.
First, they claim to prohibit this kind of ugly targeting.
Facebook says its policies prohibit advertisers from using the targeting options for discrimination, harassment, disparagement or predatory advertising practices.
They claim that advertisers won’t misuse these options.
“We take a strong stand against advertisers misusing our platform: Our policies prohibit using our targeting options to discriminate, and they require compliance with the law,” said Steve Satterfield, privacy and public policy manager at Facebook. “We take prompt enforcement action when we determine that ads violate our policies.”
But their worst excuse is the old A/B test.
Satterfield said it’s important for advertisers to have the ability to both include and exclude groups as they test how their marketing performs.
Hence my question.
Is Facebook really so naïve they actually believe that the so-called “affinity choices” won’t be abused or, in the name of profit, do they just not care?
“When we designed the platform, three white guys, there were a lot of things we didn’t think about,” Chesky said to an audience at the conference. “There are racists in the world and we need to have zero tolerance.”
There’s no question that people of color, especially African Americans, have more trouble booking on Airbnb.
As of 2014 Hispanic’s spent $1.3 trillion, people of African decent $1.1 trillion, Asians $770 billion and Native Americans $100 billion.
That’s a whole lot of buying power.
There’s also no question that Airbnb has been slow to recognize/admit to the problem — as has the rest of tech.
In a serious effort to change, Chesky has hired former Attorney General Eric Holder to “craft a world-class anti-discrimination policy.”
“This process isn’t close to being over, but we want to be as transparent as possible along the way because I know we’ve failed on that front previously. I want us to be smart and innovative and to create new tools to prevent discrimination and bias that can be shared across the industry.”
Which makes it likely Chesky is serious, since guys like Holder don’t come cheap — nor are they easy to shut up or buy off if the company isn’t serious.
Hopefully it will help.
But it will more likely be a cold day in hell before anyone or anything changes racist MAP.
Facebook really stuck its foot deep in the doo doo pile when it claimed its racial diversity numbers, which are even worse than its gender diversity stats, are the result of a lack of qualified candidates.
In a post shared widely on social media, the computer science student and iOS developer took Facebook and its Silicon Valley peers to task for focusing on whether potential employees are a “culture fit” — an ambiguous gauge often used to defend discrimination.
But that, of course, depends on what is meant by culture.
Culture is a reflection of the founder’s/company’s actual values — values equaling stuff such as how customers are treated and whether politics will rule over merit.
Culture is not a function of perks — or it shouldn’t be.
“I’m not interested in ping-pong, beer, or whatever other gimmick used to attract new grads. The fact that I don’t like those things shouldn’t mean I’m not a ‘culture fit’. I don’t want to work in tech to fool around, I want to create amazing things and learn from other smart people. That is the culture fit you should be looking for.”
You wouldn’t necessarily expect tech, with its penchant for data-based decisions, to cherry-pick the stats, but Facebook is an amalgamate of human beings and their biases, so it’s not that surprising.