Category Archives: demographics

Women’s Disparity, Dearth in STEM

When I was 10 years old, my father put a microscope/chemistry set under our Christmas tree — not for either of my studious siblings, 538088903-women-in-sciencebut for me, the nutty little gymnastic tumbler who rarely stopped long enough to observe much of anything, let alone how the world worked.

Years later, when I asked him about it, he told me he put that there because he sensed in me the inquisitiveness and intuition of a future scientist, like he had become and his father before him.

I never lived up to his hunch, though I did love math, and I certainly chose an inquisitive career. But I’ve often wondered what stopped me. Was there something in me or my environment that never allowed that chemistry set to become more of a beacon than a toy?

A new study from the University of Washington, Why Are Some STEM Fields More Gender Balanced Than Others? suggests there well may have been, a force that persists to this day, and one that could account for the varied representation — as well as the under-representation — of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.

According to the study’s report, the most powerful factor driving this disparity and dearth is a “masculine culture” that makes many women feel like they don’t belong.

Granted, the masculine force in my case was completely encouraging, but was it the rest of my world around me — the lack of female role models in scientific jobs, the other stuff I was given to play with, the general expectations of what drives women onward and our perceptions of the fields that seem so out of reach?

Lead researcher and author Sapna Cheryan, a UW associate professor of psychology, says maybe so — maybe all that and more:

“Students are basing their educational decisions in large part on their perceptions of a field. And not having early experience with what a field is really like makes it more likely that they will rely on their stereotypes about that field and who is good at it.”

She and her fellow researchers analyzed more than 1,200 papers about women’s under-representation in STEM fields and, from those, identified 10 factors that impact gender differences in students’ interest and participation in STEM. Then they winnowed the list down to the three factors most likely to explain gendered patterns in the STEM fields — a lack of pre-college experience, gender gaps in belief about one’s abilities and that most powerful one, that masculine culture that discourages women from participating.

Cheryan isn’t the only one taking the declining, diverging number of women in STEM careers seriously. On Thursday, Accenture and Girls Who Code released their joint research finding that the share of U.S. women in technology jobs will decline from 24 percent to 22 percent by 2025 — “a new low over the next 10 years, despite so much focus recently on closing the gender gap in tech,” says Accenture’s report. In the same token, it states:

“[I]nterventions to encourage girls to pursue a computer-science education could triple the number of women in computing to 3.9 million, growing their share of technology jobs from 24 percent today to 39 percent in the same time frame.”

I’ll never forget my interview a few years back with Colleen Blake, one of our 2013 HR’s Rising Stars.  At the time, she was the senior director of global people operations for San Jose, Calif.-based Brocade Communication Systems Inc.

A busy mom, but with a rich past in information technology and science, she was also passionate about encouraging women in STEM careers. Her company, in fact, realizing its own deficits in that area, asked her to be its liaison and mentor for women pursuing those fields.

As she recalls, Brocade leaders “had approached me when I returned to work [after her daughter’s birth] and said, ‘Colleen, we have this problem encouraging women in this field.’ To be tapped on the shoulder like that felt like a real sign for me, that I was meant to do this — not just for me, but for my daughter as well.”

It does kind of baffle the mind that, with so much attention to the problem and with crusaders like Blake, we’re getting worse, not better. What this means for you, I can’t pretend to know, though creating better support systems for women in tech does come to mind. Perhaps it’s best to leave you with two cogent quotes from the Accenture release. The first, from Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code:

“Despite unprecedented attention and momentum behind the push for universal computer-science education, the gender gap in computing is getting worse. The message is clear: A one-size-fits-all model won’t work. This report is a rallying cry to invest in programs and curricula designed specifically for girls. We need a new mind-set and willingness to prioritize and focus on our nation’s girls, and we need it now.”

And this, from Julie Sweet, Accenture’s group chief executive for North America:

“Dramatically increasing the number of women in computing is critical to closing the computer-science skills gap facing every business in today’s digital economy. Without action, we risk leaving a large portion of our country’s talent on the sidelines of the high-value computing jobs that are key to U.S. innovation and competitiveness.”

Couldn’t agree more.

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Millennials: Not So Entrepreneurial

Earlier this month I wrote about some surprising research that suggests many millennial workers defy the slacker stereotypes and are apt to be workaholics.

ThinkstockPhotos-485914233Here’s another surprise: It turns out that millennials are shaping up to be less entrepreneurial than previous generations, too. That defies not only the general preconception about this generation, but the millennial self-image as well.

Add these findings together and we may be getting a glimpse of the future: Millennial workers, if treated right, may turn out to be more industrious and loyal to their employers than anyone imagined.

The entrepreneurship data came early this year in a study by the Small Business Administration that didn’t get as much attention as it deserved. Credit goes to the Economic Innovation Group and EY for highlighting the data in September along with results of their own survey of millennial workers. (Hat tip also to the Washington Post’s Wonkblog for reporting this first.)

millennial-entrepreneursSBA economist Daniel Wilmoth’s study, published in February, used Census data to look at self-employment rates by age for three generations: millennials (born after 1981), Gen-Xers (1963-1981) and baby boomers (1944-1962). In short, he found that self-employment rates declined for each succeeding generation (see graphic above) .

“At age 30, less than 4 percent of millennials reported self-employment in their primary job in the previous year, compared with 5.4 percent for Generation X and 6.7 percent for baby boomers,” Wilmoth writes.

Of course, self-employment isn’t quite the same as entrepreneurship. And each generation grew up in different economies, with different technology. And we don’t know what may happen as that generation ages. But I think this research provides persuasive — and surprising — insight into millennial workers.

Those of us who  — ahem — happen to be in an older generation may not be the only ones surprised. Millennials might be as well. The Economic Innovation Group survey found that 55 percent of millennials surveyed believe their generation is more entrepreneurial than those that came before.

And 62 percent said they’ve considered starting their own business. But 42 percent said they can’t afford to take that step.

Little wonder: It’s well known that millennials have higher student-debt loads that previous generations did at comparable ages, and that their entry into the job market often was hampered by the Great Recession.

So it’s not unreasonable for employers to be optimistic about millennial workers. They may not turn out to be the job-hopping, disengaged, self-centered population some have imagined. If nothing else, this number from the Economic Innovation Group survey should be encouraging: 88 percent of millennials agreed that “hard work is an important factor to get ahead in life.”






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Being a Black Professional Woman

I’m probably wrong going into this: posting something about what it’s like to be a black woman in corporate America when I’m white.

523400310-black-professional-womanI probably don’t get extra points for being a member of a mixed-race family
either. In today’s
hypersensitive, hyper-volatile,
racially divisive
environment, I tend to shy away from my biracial nephew’s political Facebook posts and stick to our shared summer-vacation pictures, and our beautifully diverse family updates. What right have I to even “Like” something I can’t possibly know?

But I decided to post this release anyway, about a documentary airing this coming Wednesday in Oakland, Calif., Head Not The Tail Productions’ Invisible Women: Being a Black Woman in Corporate America. Not because I’m vying for any points, but because what happens to black women in or pursuing corporate careers should be something we all take seriously. And dealing with it should be all our jobs as well.

The disappointment, discrimination and rejection described by the many women in the documentary (the link above includes another link to a short teaser trailer worth watching) is often subtle, say diversity experts, as is corporate unconscious bias, which we’ve reported on on our website and here on HRE Daily.

“In conducting the research, we found the corporate practice of discrimination to be a common harsh reality faced by countless women of color,” says Melody Shere’a, HNTT Productions’ founder and CEO, and director of the film. As her release states,

“The playing field isn’t level and well-qualified black women are too frequently denied the opportunity to explore similar career-growth opportunities as their white and other female counterparts. The facts and details you will learn from this documentary will surprise you.”

Granted, most of you are nowhere near Oakland, Calif., but I imagine a call to Shere’a at the number provided in her release would prove fruitful in getting your hands on the film. It’s worth a try. You can’t improve diversity in your corporate culture if you don’t fully understand all forms of discrimination and how they’re being perceived by those on the receiving end.

For that reason, I encourage you to give this a read as well, a professional black woman’s response to a white friend of hers asking for a better understanding of white privilege. Like the documentary, this piece by Lori Lakin Hutcherson, founder and editor-in-chief of Good Black News, centers on the subtleties she has had to contend with throughout her career — including her education at Harvard University. As she details for her friend:

“When I got accepted to Harvard — as a fellow AP student, you were witness to what an academic beast I was in high school, yes? — three separate times I encountered white strangers as I prepped for my maiden trip to Cambridge that rankle to this day.

The first was the white doctor giving me a physical … .:

Me: ‘I need to send an immunization report to my college so I can matriculate.’

Doctor: ‘Where are you going?’

Me: ‘Harvard.’

Doctor: ‘You mean the one in Massachusetts?’

The second was in a store, looking for supplies I needed from Harvard’s suggested ‘what to bring with you’ list:

Store employee: ‘Where are you going?’

Me: ‘Harvard.’

Store employee: ‘You mean the one in Massachusetts?’

The third was at UPS, shipping off boxes of said ‘what to bring’ to Harvard. I was in line behind a white boy mailing boxes to Princeton and in front of a white woman sending her child’s boxes to wherever:

Woman, to the boy: ‘What college are you going to?’

Boy: ‘Princeton.’

Woman: ‘Congratulations!’

Woman, to me: ‘Where are you sending your boxes?’

Me: ‘Harvard.’

Woman: ‘You mean the one in Massachusetts?’

I think: ‘No … the one downtown next to the liquor store.’ …

The point here is, if no one has ever questioned your intellectual capabilities or attendance at an elite institution based solely on your skin color, this is white privilege [or bias, as some might say].”

A later example comes from Hutcherson’s work as a film and television writer/producer:

“While writing on a television show in my 30s, my new white male boss — who had only known me for a few days — had, unbeknownst to me, told another writer on staff he thought I was conceited, didn’t know as much as I thought I did, and didn’t have the talent I thought I had.  And what exactly had happened in those few days?  I disagreed with a pitch where he suggested our lead female character carelessly leave a pot holder on the stove and burn down her apartment. This character being a professional caterer.

“When what he said about me was revealed months later — by then he’d come to respect and rely on me — he apologized for prejudging me because I was black and female. I told him — not unkindly, but with a head shake and a smile — that he was ignorant for doing so and clearly had a lot to learn. It was a good talk because he was remorseful and open. [The subhead of her piece, by the way, is “Nobody is mad at you for being white.”]

“But the point here is, if you’ve never been on the receiving end of a boss’ prejudiced, uninformed ‘how dare she question my ideas’ badmouthing based solely on his ego and your race, you have white privilege.”

If ever there was a compelling treatise on what goes on between the races inside our buildings of business as opposed to the far-more-combustible streets below, especially over the past year, this is it.

Hutcherson’s last example, especially, should give us all pause: Perhaps the only way to shore up the divides, even at their most subtle, is to start — whether we’re the CEO, the head of HR or a direct supervisor — by admitting that certain behaviors or patterns of communication that are allowed to exist in business today are just wrong. Then start the conversation.

And then the training, if necessary.

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3M Displaces Google Among Millennials

220px-3M_wordmark.svgThe maker of the Post-it Note has displaced the world’s best-known technology company atop the list of organizations that millennials most want to work for. 3M, which in addition to the aforementioned product makes Scotch tape, packaging products, laminating systems and a whole host of other things you can actually touch or hold in your hand, has displaced Google for the No. 1 place in this year’s 2016 Millennial Career Survey, conducted by the National Society of High School Scholars. Google was the top choice in the 2015 survey.

3M CEO Inge Thulin was so delighted when he heard the news that he walked over to CHRO Marlene McGrath’s office and gave her a hug, he told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “This is a big, big statement,” Thulin told the paper. “This is incredible. It’s fantastic. When you look at Google and Apple and the others, we left them in the dust.”

Google didn’t do so shabbily, actually: It ranks No. 2 on this year’s list, followed by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at No. 3, Walt Disney Co. at No. 4 and “local hospitals” at fifth place. The FBI, Buzzfeed, Apple, Amazon and the Central Intelligence Agency also made the top 10.

The NSHSS defines “millennial” rather generously as people ages 15 to 32; other definitions of millennials identify them as people who were ages 18 to 34 in 2015 while those born after are called Generation Z.

3M appeals to young people because of its sustainability projects and its three-to-12-month leadership development program, Thulin told the Star Tribune. Its commitment to diversity is another big attractor for millennials, he said. Indeed, research has confirmed that young people are very interested in leadership development, as well as diversity, and that they’ll look for the exit signs if they find the development opportunities at their current employer lacking.

The NHSS survey results are based on responses from a big and diverse group: 13,000 high schoolers, college students and young professionals ages 15 to 32, 48 percent of whom are African-American, Hispanic or Asian, 23 percent first-generation college students and 39 percent multilingual.

“Currently, the top career interests of this group are STEM, business and arts, and entertainment and media,” says NHSS president James W. Lewis. “Millennials hope to find in the workplace fair treatment, corporate social responsibility and strong company benefits, which include flexible work schedules.”

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Helping Older Workers Find the Work they Want

OK, this baby boomer officially feels old now. I was just informed by Paul Magnus — vice president of workforce development for Akron, 474168522 -- older workerOhio-based Mature Services — that “mature” actually refers to 40 and older.

I was asking him to elaborate on his organization’s 26th Annual Mature Workers’ Job & Career Fair, coming up on Tuesday, April 12, at the Akron Fairlawn Hilton, designed “to help the 40-and-older population find employment,” as its release states.

Shocked as I was by that clause, Magnus pointed out that the oldest of the “Gen Xers [those born from the early 1960s to the early 1980s] started turning 52 in February 2016.” (Stop the world, I want to get off!)

But whether they’re 40 or 52 or on up into baby-boomer territory, he says, “we advocate for all older workers” and the extensive experience, skills and work ethic they bring to the workplace.

If you consider baby boomers alone, he adds, they possess the “highest level of intelligence and institutional knowledge, highest motivation factor and highest skill set of any demographic that has come through the workforce to date.”

Though many are staying in the full-time workforce out of necessity, a growing share are just heading into retirement age and are trying to “reinvent their lives,” be it through a mentor or tutor role or a part-time consultant’s role, says Magnus, whose agency helps those people achieve their desired situations as well.

In all work situations, says Don Zirkle, Mature Services’ training and placement supervisor, “[o]lder workers bring to the job commitment, experience and the ability to work as part of a team.” Older workers, he adds, have “adapted to technology as well.”

“These are traits that all employers are looking for in a new hire,” Zirkle says.

Unfortunately, far too many employers are still disregarding senior job candidates, especially those who have been long-term unemployed — a problem we’ve certainly written about on this site and on

“Many older workers have gotten trapped in that long-term-unemployment racket,” Magnus says. “We’re seeing that individuals who are not working aren’t getting the calls back. The longer they’re unemployed, the longer they’ll remain unemployed.”

Also on the unfortunate side, many baby boomers, when they started working, “didn’t necessarily need a degree for all the positions that were open to them,” he says. “Now, students are coming out of college with certificates and degrees for those same jobs,” and older workers trying to compete find themselves way behind the eight ball.

Through numerous programs run by his organization, including the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Senior Community Service Employment Program, which most other states also run, seniors are getting pointers and guidance in educational opportunities, job-hunting and skills training, and even tips on best ways to use social media, which many — surprisingly — aren’t that well-versed in, he says.

Times have changed, he adds, and seniors need to change with them.

I asked Magnus to describe the challenges and changes he’s seen in his 31 years with Mature Services.

The biggest difference he’s noticed over time, he said, is that everyone now has a different idea about what retirement means, from semi-corporate retirement to at-home part-time consultancies, and his agency is there to adjust to the changes, and guide and advocate for all older workers in his corner of the world — i.e., the Akron and surrounding areas.

“I remember starting this job when I was 28 years old,” Magnus says. “I remember walking up to a senior group of men and asking them if they would be interested in the recruiting help my agency had to offer, and they just laughed at me and said, ‘Why would I want to work when I’m retired?’ ” So at least that’s changed.

Second to that, he says, is that a growing number of employers are starting to see the value older workers, in any capacity, can bring to the workforce.

Though many still “do get bogged down in the older-worker perceptions that aren’t based on reality [like they can’t perform or produce like they once could, or they simply don’t want to be there], many others aren’t getting that hung up on age anymore.”

So there’s some progress at least.

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Why Young Women Really Leave Their Jobs

If you’re thinking that the talented young women departing your organization are going home to start families, you might want to think again.

In compiling its special report, What Executives Need to Know About Millennial Women, the International Consortium for Executive Development Research recently interviewed executives and “rising female stars” between the ages of 22 and 35 at a group of seven organizations including BlackRock, eBay and HubSpot, according to ICEDR, which supplemented these interviews with surveys of talent leaders and millennials from a handful of other companies.

In doing so, ICEDR study authors Lauren Noël and Christie Hunter Arscott found the majority of business leaders they interviewed were laboring under the impression that most millennial women leave their companies around age 30 in an effort to better balance work lives with family demands, or because they are about to start a family.

The millennial women taking part in the study, however, told a different story.

Indeed, 65 percent of young female respondents said that finding another job with better pay was the top reason why they quit their last job. A lack of learning and development opportunities was cited by 62 percent of millennial-age women, while 56 percent pointed to a dearth of “interesting and meaningful” work, and another 56 percent walked away because of what they saw as an imbalance between the effort they expended and the compensation they received.

This isn’t to say that twenty- and thirty-something women don’t value work/life balance, though, as 54 percent of women polled indicated they would soon be starting a family and would like to spend more time with them.

If the execs taking part in this study were taken aback to find their responses didn’t quite jibe with those of their young female stars, they weren’t the only ones.

“When considering the main reasons why women around age 30 leave organizations, one might expect the primary influences to be motherhood or difficulty integrating work and life,” the authors write in the report.

“Surprisingly, young women identified finding a higher paying job, a lack of learning and development, and a shortage of interesting and meaningful work as the primary reasons why they may leave.”

Unexpectedly, the authors also found female participants in their 20s offering similar responses.

“There is a popular perception that millennials’ desires will change over time. Interestingly, our survey revealed that women in their 20s largely do not leave organizations for different reasons than women in their 30s,” the authors write, noting that four of the five top reasons for leaving were identical across the two age groups.

Noël and Hunter Arscott—both millennials—offer some “key actions” employers can take to help attract, engage and retain female employees in this age group.

For example, they urge leaders to provide extra support to women during key transitional phases in their professional lives, “including university to first job and changing roles. Start early and pursue targeted interventions at critical career and life junctions.”

Employers must also understand that millennial womens’ input has “broader talent implications” throughout the organization, say Noël and Hunter Arscott.

“By implementing strategies and programs informed by the needs of millennial women, leaders will simultaneously be addressing what matters most to broader talent pools.”

Ultimately, “motherhood is not the primary reason women around 30 are leaving organizations,” they write. “Focus on what matters most: pay women fairly, challenge them with learning and development opportunities, and provide them with meaningful work.”

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What Happens When Robots Get All the Jobs?

Fans of the show South Park know the episode where the angry townspeople chant “Dem robots took our jobs! Took err jerbs!” But regardless of whether you call it a job or a jerb, the anxiety over losing one’s livelihood someday to automation of one sort or another is very real. Nearly half of today’s U.S. workers are at risk of losing their jobs to a robot or software within the next 20 years, according to a 2013 study by researchers at the University of Oxford. It’s not just truck drivers and factory workers who are at risk: About one-third of 1,700 managers fear being replaced by “intelligent machines,” finds an Accenture  study titled Managers and Machines, Unite!

Robot typing on keyboard
Journalists could certainly be replaced by robots …

Pundits say, not to fear: The rise of the robots will lead to other jobs opening up in areas we haven’t even thought of today. But what if they’re wrong? Automation could well lead to massive numbers of people with no employment opportunities, with societal upheaval sure to follow. Avoiding scenarios like that may require “universal basic income,” writes New York Times technology columnist Farhad Manjoo.

With UBI, people would receive a check from the government each month to cover their basic living expenses. The theory is that “machine intelligence will produce so much economic surplus that we could collectively afford to liberate much of humanity from both labor and suffering,” writes Manjoo.

It’s not just Bernie Sanders supporters who may find this appealing: The idea has support among some conservative economists as well, he notes.  Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley tech incubator, plans to spend “tens of millions” of dollars on research examining what life might be like under U.B.I. What would people do — would they become more entrepreneurial, would they goof off, pursue meaningful activities? How would it affect people if their ability to sustain themselves was no longer tied to having a job?

Albert Wenger, a venture capitalist and a proponent of U.B.I., told Manjoo that U.B.I. could usher in the possibility of people accomplishing even greater things than we can currently imagine today.:

I think it’s a bad use of a human to spend 20 years of their life driving a truck back and forth across the United States. That’s not what we aspire to do as humans — it’s a bad use of a human brain — and automation and basic income is a development that will free us to do lots of incredible things that are more aligned with what it means to be human.


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Capturing the Gen Z Zeitgeist

By the time any new generation enters the workforce, employers and experts have already twisted themselves into knots trying to figure out what makes these young workers tick, and what makes them happy.

Perhaps no cohort has been dissected more thoroughly than millennials, a group that many estimates predict will comprise as much as 75 percent of the workforce by the year 2025.

For example, we’ve heard (ad nauseam) about Gen Y workers’ nomadic tendencies, their preference to converse via email, IM, text message or just about any means other than face-to-face communication, and the underdeveloped people skills they possess as a result of this reliance on technology.

Naturally, such broad characterizations can’t be applied to every employee in a given generation, but, for better or worse, these are some of the common perceptions surrounding millennial-age workers.

And it’s those perceptions that make some of the data found in a new Institute for Corporate Productivity white paper focusing on Generation Z—defined by i4cp as those born between 1995 and 2012—all the more interesting.

(Click here for more background on the white paper, which is available for download to i4cp members.)

It’s easy—especially for a cynical, closing-in-fast-on-middle-age Gen Xer like me—to assume that each successive generation of workers will have a lesser sense of loyalty to their employers, or will become that much more dependent on technology at the expense of actual, personal interaction, for example.

But, judging from the input i4cp gathered from a focus group of 600 high school seniors, making such assumptions about Gen Z would be way off the mark.

For instance, 60 percent of the aforementioned students said they would like to stay with one company for more than 10 years, with another 31 percent saying they’d like to stick with the same organization for 20-plus years.

Or, consider that eight in 10 of these youngsters indicated that they prefer in-person communication (!), and 37 percent said they believe technology has a negative impact on people skills.

These same respondents seem to suggest an independent streak runs through Gen Z as well, with half saying they would prefer to have their own private work area as opposed to an “open concept” office or shared workspace. In fact—and I’m not sure how or why this very specific scenario was presented to participants—35 percent of the high school seniors surveyed said they would sooner share socks than an office space.

Organizational leaders such as those in HR are “at a critical crossroads” with respect to the multiple generations that make up their workforces, including Generation Z, the white paper notes.

Indeed, employers are already faced with trying to capture the knowledge of the millions of baby boomers creeping up on retirement age, and grooming Gen X- and Gen Y-age workers to fill the leadership void that will be created when those boomers leave, as the paper points out.

In addition, “employers are still grappling with millennials’ perceived sense of entitlement and knowing that they still always have one foot out the door,” according to the white paper authors. “Reacting to these gaps will be paramount to the success of businesses large and small.”

Organizations cannot shift into “reactive mode,” the authors continue, “lest a whole new set of gaps will develop and perhaps push them to the breaking point. But the reality is that Gen Z is already showing up, and leaders need to decide if they want to be prepared to welcome them (and [whether] they want to be ahead of the curve or not).”

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Taking Paternity Leave is Still a Challenge

Came across this LinkedIn post the other day by Jake Anderson about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recently 487328649 -- father and childannounced few-months’-paternity leave for his daughter.

Anderson, co-founder of FertilityIQ, lays out pretty thoroughly why so few new dads (fewer than 50 percent) actually take the time Zuckerberg is taking, even when they’re encouraged to by their employers:

“Despite the ‘entrepreneur-as-rockstar’ boom, nearly every working dad (and mom) I know is still middle management. Whether you work at Publix, Pinterest or PGE, being middle management means essentially the same thing: You have just enough responsibility to have direct reports who can bungle something critical. But not quite enough responsibility to ensure you won’t get edged out, undermined, displaced or overlooked. You’re vulnerable, and probably a tad paranoid.

“Nearly 50 percent of dads on paternity leave checked email once per day and cite workplace pressure and stigma for cutting leave short. When asked what is the ‘ideal’ time for them to be gone, most men answered two weeks. Weirdly enough, that’s [often] the same duration their employers thought.”

We’ve certainly written about men’s reluctance to take the kind of new-father leave they probably should, and companies’ reluctance to offer it, both here on HRE Daily and on our HRE website — as well as the problems new moms have in making maternity and work … well, work.

What’s different is Anderson’s characterization of his own demographic group and what might really lie behind this reluctance:

“Amidst the silent apprehension, paternity leave should feel like a godsend. For a generation committed to data and proof, there are reams of studies that demonstrate taking paternity leave creates equality in the home and healthier relationships between father and child. Reading on, and between, the lines of Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement, he buys into the notion paternity leave helps address concerns that haunt so many men of our generation.

“But nearly 50 percent of dads who have the option to use generous paternity leave (let’s call it four-plus weeks), still don’t take all of it. What’s even weirder is that when dads were asked if they should get longer paternity leave, a healthy majority answered ‘no.’ Where I came from, people don’t just turn down paid leave lightly, so you better believe something else is up.”

Anderson doesn’t pretend to know exactly what that phenomenon is that’s “up.” But he does take a stab at it: Men are either suffering from a fear of missing out at work or a fear of wading through too many nitty-grittys of new parenthood, what he calls a “fear of being included (in diapers).” Or both, which he thinks is probably the case.

What he does provide employers and HR is a four-point plan of action that is most definitely worth thinking about:

  1. Closely track which men are likely to reach which levels of role and salary in three years and compare the cohorts of men who took leave and their comparables who did not.
  2. Each year, publicly, and honestly, reveal the data by department.
  3. In departments where a consistent disparity exists, force every new father to take six weeks paid leave, until either the negative cultural bias is washed out or the best practice of leave becomes commonplace.
  4. In departments where no meaningful disparity exists, allow new fathers to make their own decisions.

Without a doubt, parental leave is becoming an increasingly important and serious consideration for employers that want to keep their best people around and happy. Consider this announcement a week ago today introducing a new consultancy for employers devoted to nothing but parental leave.

(Here’s the official website of the new group, the Center for Parental Leave Leadership — partnering, impressively, with the likes of the Working Parent Support Coalition, Working Mother Media, Cornell University, the Families and Work Institute and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Clearly, more than just this group sees a need for more help on the employer front.)

Where we all go from here in this ongoing social experiment called working parenthood, let’s not only all take it dead seriously (“past the press-release stage [and onto] harder measures,” as Anderson writes); let’s make sure we’re all in it together, moms and dads.

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Accenture Boards the Gender-Equality Bandwagon

450744473 -- women business leaderAnother big company has thrown its hat into the gender-equality ring, this time with a very personal message to all of us from the company’s CEO.

In announcing his organization’s new commitment to grow the percentage of women it hires to at least 40 percent by 2017, Accenture Chairman and CEO Pierre Nanterme admits such a “commitment to inclusion and diversity starts at the top, and we empower all of our people — including our more than 130,000 women — to lead.”

In this video, Nanterme, makes the campaign highly personal by sharing his pride and feelings about his daughter, and her life and future.

Not only is Accenture making progress toward its hiring goal (in fiscal year 2015, ending Aug. 31, about 39 percent of the company’s more-than-100,000 new hires were women), it’s also stepping up processes to identify potential pay discrepancies, according to its public announcement about the initiative, “looking carefully at specific roles in each country [and being] proactive at all stages of an individual’s career.”

Gender equality has also been a key concern at Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker Intel. My latest post on that company’s efforts to build its ranks of minorities and women show some significant successes in the campaign since it was first announced in January by Chief Executive Officer Brian Krzanich.

Earlier, in May of 2014, Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior vice president of people operations, went public with his company’s diversity numbers in an effort not just to tout the transparency, but to fix the problems, as Editor David Shadovitz blogged about at the time.

As Nanterme says in the video as well as the company’s announcement, promoting and growing diversity is good for his business as well as the world his 15-year-old daughter will soon inherit.

“We create an environment where our people can be successful, both professionally and personally,” he says in the latter. “Quite simply, our diversity makes Accenture stronger, smarter and more innovative.”

I’m confident the same sentiment exists at Google and Intel, and probably at many organizations soon to follow in all three companies’ footsteps.

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