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The Growing Power of Women in Business
It used to be that the business landscape was a man’s world. Times are changing! Today, women are wielding more and more power on both sides of the business transaction. First, let’s look at some facts from the consumer side. In family purchases that involve two adults (a woman and a man) women make:
• 94% of the purchase decision on home furnishings
• 92% of the purchase decision on family vacations
• 91% of the purchase decision on home purchases
• 80% of the purchase decision on healthcare
• 60% of the purchase decision on family cars
• 51% of the purchase decision on consumer electronics
It’s clear that in many cases, women are not just influencing the market; they are the market. And perhaps even more surprising is that these statistics have changed very little over the past ten years. In other words, women have been the market for some time now yet many executives have not taken action on this huge opportunity. And while these figures represent US households, the percentages are being exported due to technology driven globalization. Even in countries where you’d expect women to have no voice at all, thanks to computers and smart phones becoming more prevalent worldwide, people everywhere are getting informed and empowered, which ultimately has an effect on culture.
This brings us to the other side of the equation. Who is running and leading the companies that make the products women are buying for themselves and their families? Increasingly, it’s women.
As of January 2013, 21 of the Fortune 500 companies will have women CEOs at the helm. While at first glance 21 may not seem like a lot, it’s an all-time high and when you include the rest of the C-suite (CIOs, CFOs, COOs and more) the numbers clearly show a steady pace of women leading the largest companies in the world.
Even more interesting is that we’re now seeing women lead companies in industries that have been historically male dominated. For example, for the first time ever, IBM chose a woman CEO, Virginia “Ginni” Rometty. Hewlett-Packard, another technology company, named Meg Whitman as their CEO in September 2011. And Yahoos new CEO Marissa Mayer has been driving positive headlines for the struggling company. These are just three examples of global, male-dominated technology companies now run by women.
And this trend isn’t just in the US. Over half the corporate leaders in China are women. India has more women CEOs than the US. And over the past 30 years we’ve seen the number of women leaders in the Middle East, Africa, China, and Europe increase as well.
Now it’s important to note that so far we’ve just been talking about CEO spots at major corporations. Add in the number of female CEOs at small and mid-sized companies, female upper level managers, and female entrepreneurs, and you can see that we’re actually talking about a large number. And these are numbers you wouldn’t have seen twenty years ago. So women are definitely making their mark and exerting their business power.
The New Hard Trends
Some people may say the rise of female leaders is surprising. I say it’s 100% predictable. In my book, Flash Foresight, I make the point that in an uncertain world, you have to ask yourself, “What am I certain about?” Strategy based on uncertainty has high risk; strategy based on certainty has low risk. There are a number of certainties in today’s world that make the rise of women obvious.
• Relationships are number one.
The number one certainty is that the future is all about relationships. Even though we live in a technology-driven world, it’s still a human world and relationships still matter. This is where women shine.
Most people and even scientists and researchers agree that women and men think differently in terms of relationships. Women are more adept at relationship building. If we have too many leaders in an organization who are men, we don’t have a balance and we don’t have the ability to grow relationships with a holistic approach. That’s because men tend to be informers while women tend to be real communicators.
This is important and timely, because we’re shifting from the information age to the communication age. Social media is all about communicating and engaging, and women have the upper hand here. So the shift in business from informing to communicating provides great opportunity for women leadership.
• The big picture matters.
Women are intuitively great “system-thinkers.” In other words, rather than just look at the piece of the puzzle you’re responsible for and executing on that, which men tend to be very good at, women are adept at looking more holistically at the entire puzzle or system and seeing how the various pieces go together.
Obviously, it’s not that men can’t be system-thinkers. But over the years as men were in leadership positions—not just the CEO level, but all lead managers—they focused on “give me the job to do and I’ll focus and get it done.” That’s certainly important, but sometimes that mindset works against you as things become more interconnected.
• Collaboration is key.
Women tend to seek agreement and work at being more collaborative. In fact, women seem to be far better at collaboration than men are. In the past, business was about cooperation, and we cooperated because we had to. Men are great at cooperating. But in this new totally networked and connected world, we need to find and develop new levels of collaboration.
Everyone has heard of “silos” in companies. We have massive silos in all sorts of industries. The key is to break those silos down and get people communicating, collaborating, and working together. No job is just a technical job; every job is also a human job.
• Passion counts.
When women are excited and passionate about a product, a service, a company, or whatever they are doing, they become extremely driven from that emotion. Men, on the other hand, strive to hide their emotions. Having an emotional drive can be very powerful in leading a business, product launches, and any initiative. This is not saying that men can’t be passionate. It’s just that male-dominated groups are one-sided and tend to downplay the positive benefits of emotion and passion as a force to drive innovation and growth.
• Taking risks (carefully) is essential.
Women are now starting to do something that’s been a male trait for a long time: They’re becoming risk takers. Men are hard-wired to be risk takers, and they make decisions fast. Sometimes it’s not always the right decision, but it is a decision. Unfortunately, this often becomes a ready-fire-aim approach. Women, on the other hand, tend to analyze, think things through, weigh all the elements, and then make a decision. Today we’re seeing more women taking bigger risks in shorter amounts of time. Part of this is due to the increased speed that information is available. This combination of thinking first and acting fast is certainly good news, because the old rule of business was the big eat the small; now the fast eat the slow.
A Brighter Future
Granted, some people may say all these elements are generalizations, but there is truth in generalization. So while all these traits may not apply to every woman, if you look at the group as a whole, these things tend to be true.
So the bottom line is that diversity has always been an unbelievably powerful force in any company—not just racial diversity, but male-female diversity too. All diversity gives you better solutions to challenges, allows you to solve problems faster, and enables you to see opportunities better. This is crucial, because over the next five years we’re going to be transforming how we sell, market, educate, train, communicate, collaborate, innovate, and much more. Thanks to today’s rapidly evolving technology, we’re witnessing the biggest game-changing transformation that any of us have ever lived through. And we’re going to need a variety of thinking, diversity, and people working together in a collaborative, communicative way to make a positive and productive transformation possible.
As we look to the future, we’re going to see the number of female business leaders growing even higher because we need the balance. We need the creativity. We need men and women working and leading together in business and in government. So if you’re a man reading this, support the women in your organization to reach new heights. And if you’re a woman reading this, think about your career. Plot it out. Make it happen. We need you!
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DANIEL BURRUS is considered one of the world’s leading technology forecasters and business strategists, and is the founder and CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients understand how technological, social and business forces are converging to create enormous untapped opportunities. He is the author of Flash Foresight.
Inventions with revolutionary potential made by a mysterious aerospace engineer for the U.S. Navy come to light.
- U.S. Navy holds patents for enigmatic inventions by aerospace engineer Dr. Salvatore Pais.
- Pais came up with technology that can "engineer" reality, devising an ultrafast craft, a fusion reactor, and more.
- While mostly theoretical at this point, the inventions could transform energy, space, and military sectors.
The U.S. Navy controls patents for some futuristic and outlandish technologies, some of which, dubbed "the UFO patents," came to light recently. Of particular note are inventions by the somewhat mysterious Dr. Salvatore Cezar Pais, whose tech claims to be able to "engineer reality." His slate of highly-ambitious, borderline sci-fi designs meant for use by the U.S. government range from gravitational wave generators and compact fusion reactors to next-gen hybrid aerospace-underwater crafts with revolutionary propulsion systems, and beyond.
Of course, the existence of patents does not mean these technologies have actually been created, but there is evidence that some demonstrations of operability have been successfully carried out. As investigated and reported by The War Zone, a possible reason why some of the patents may have been taken on by the Navy is that the Chinese military may also be developing similar advanced gadgets.
Among Dr. Pais's patents are designs, approved in 2018, for an aerospace-underwater craft of incredible speed and maneuverability. This cone-shaped vehicle can potentially fly just as well anywhere it may be, whether air, water or space, without leaving any heat signatures. It can achieve this by creating a quantum vacuum around itself with a very dense polarized energy field. This vacuum would allow it to repel any molecule the craft comes in contact with, no matter the medium. Manipulating "quantum field fluctuations in the local vacuum energy state," would help reduce the craft's inertia. The polarized vacuum would dramatically decrease any elemental resistance and lead to "extreme speeds," claims the paper.
Not only that, if the vacuum-creating technology can be engineered, we'd also be able to "engineer the fabric of our reality at the most fundamental level," states the patent. This would lead to major advancements in aerospace propulsion and generating power. Not to mention other reality-changing outcomes that come to mind.
Among Pais's other patents are inventions that stem from similar thinking, outlining pieces of technology necessary to make his creations come to fruition. His paper presented in 2019, titled "Room Temperature Superconducting System for Use on a Hybrid Aerospace Undersea Craft," proposes a system that can achieve superconductivity at room temperatures. This would become "a highly disruptive technology, capable of a total paradigm change in Science and Technology," conveys Pais.
High frequency gravitational wave generator.
Credit: Dr. Salvatore Pais
Another invention devised by Pais is an electromagnetic field generator that could generate "an impenetrable defensive shield to sea and land as well as space-based military and civilian assets." This shield could protect from threats like anti-ship ballistic missiles, cruise missiles that evade radar, coronal mass ejections, military satellites, and even asteroids.
Dr. Pais's ideas center around the phenomenon he dubbed "The Pais Effect". He referred to it in his writings as the "controlled motion of electrically charged matter (from solid to plasma) via accelerated spin and/or accelerated vibration under rapid (yet smooth) acceleration-deceleration-acceleration transients." In less jargon-heavy terms, Pais claims to have figured out how to spin electromagnetic fields in order to contain a fusion reaction – an accomplishment that would lead to a tremendous change in power consumption and an abundance of energy.
According to his bio in a recently published paper on a new Plasma Compression Fusion Device, which could transform energy production, Dr. Pais is a mechanical and aerospace engineer working at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD), which is headquartered in Patuxent River, Maryland. Holding a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, Pais was a NASA Research Fellow and worked with Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. His current Department of Defense work involves his "advanced knowledge of theory, analysis, and modern experimental and computational methods in aerodynamics, along with an understanding of air-vehicle and missile design, especially in the domain of hypersonic power plant and vehicle design." He also has expert knowledge of electrooptics, emerging quantum technologies (laser power generation in particular), high-energy electromagnetic field generation, and the "breakthrough field of room temperature superconductivity, as related to advanced field propulsion."
Suffice it to say, with such a list of research credentials that would make Nikola Tesla proud, Dr. Pais seems well-positioned to carry out groundbreaking work.
A craft using an inertial mass reduction device.
Credit: Salvatore Pais
The patents won't necessarily lead to these technologies ever seeing the light of day. The research has its share of detractors and nonbelievers among other scientists, who think the amount of energy required for the fields described by Pais and his ideas on electromagnetic propulsions are well beyond the scope of current tech and are nearly impossible. Yet investigators at The War Zone found comments from Navy officials that indicate the inventions are being looked at seriously enough, and some tests are taking place.
If you'd like to read through Pais's patents yourself, check them out here.
Laser Augmented Turbojet Propulsion System
Credit: Dr. Salvatore Pais
A new study suggests that reports of the impending infertility of the human male are greatly exaggerated.
- A new review of a famous study on declining sperm counts finds several flaws.
- The old report makes unfounded assumptions, has faulty data, and tends toward panic.
- The new report does not rule out that sperm counts are going down, only that this could be quite normal.
Several years ago, a meta-analysis of studies on human fertility came out warning us about the declining sperm counts of Western men. It was widely shared, and its findings were featured on the covers of popular magazines. Indeed, its findings were alarming: a nearly 60 percent decline in sperm per milliliter since 1973 with no end in sight. It was only a matter of time, the authors argued, until men were firing blanks, literally.
Well… never mind.
It turns out that the impending demise of humanity was greatly exaggerated. As the predicted infertility wave crashed upon us, there was neither a great rush of men to fertility clinics nor a sudden dearth of new babies. The only discussions about population decline focus on urbanization and the fact that people choose not to have kids rather than not being able to have them.
Now, a new analysis of the 2017 study says that lower sperm counts is nothing to be surprised by. Published in Human Fertility, its authors point to flaws in the original paper's data and interpretation. They suggest a better and smarter reanalysis.
Counting tiny things is difficult
The original 2017 report analyzed 185 studies on 43,000 men and their reproductive health. Its findings were clear: "a significant decline in sperm counts… between 1973 and 2011, driven by a 50-60 percent decline among men unselected by fertility from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand."
However, the new analysis points out flaws in the data. As many as a third of the men in the studies were of unknown age, an important factor in reproductive health. In 45 percent of cases, the year of the sample collection was unknown- a big detail to miss in a study measuring change over time. The quality controls and conditions for sample collection and analysis vary widely from study to study, which likely influenced the measured sperm counts in the samples.
Another study from 2013 also points out that the methods for determining sperm count were only standardized in the 1980s, which occurred after some of the data points were collected for the original study. It is entirely possible that the early studies gave inaccurately high sperm counts.
This is not to say that the 2017 paper is entirely useless; it had a much more rigorous methodology than previous studies on the subject, which also claimed to identify a decline in sperm counts. However, the original study had more problems.
Garbage in, garbage out
Predictable as always, the media went crazy. Discussions of the decline of masculinity took off, both in mainstream and less-than-reputable forums; concerns about the imagined feminizing traits of soy products continued to increase; and the authors of the original study were called upon to discuss the findings themselves in a number of articles.
However, as this new review points out, some of the findings of that meta-analysis are debatable at best. For example, the 2017 report suggests that "declining mean [sperm count] implies that an increasing proportion of men have sperm counts below any given threshold for sub-fertility or infertility," despite little empirical evidence that this is the case.
The WHO offers a large range for what it considers to be a healthy sperm count, from 15 to 250 million sperm per milliliter. The benefits to fertility above a count of 40 million are seen as minimal, and the original study found a mean sperm concentration of 47 million sperm per milliliter.
Healthy sperm, healthy man?
The claim that sperm count is evidence of larger health problems is also scrutinized in this new article. While it is true that many major health problems can impact reproductive health, there is little evidence that it is the "canary in the coal mine" for overall well-being. A number of studies suggest that any relation between lifestyle choices and this part of reproductive health is limited at best.
Lastly, ideas that environmental factors could be at play have been debunked since 2017. While the original paper considered the idea that pollutants, especially from plastics, could be at fault, it is now known that this kind of pollution is worse in the parts of the world that the original paper observed higher sperm counts in (i.e., non-Western nations).
There never was a male fertility crisis
The authors of the new review do not deny that some measurements are showing lower sperm counts, but they do question the claim that this is catastrophic or part of a larger pathological issue. They propose a new interpretation of the data. Dubbed the "Sperm Count Biovariability hypothesis," it is summarized as:
"Sperm count varies within a wide range, much of which can be considered non-pathological and species-typical. Above a critical threshold, more is not necessarily an indicator of better health or higher probability of fertility relative to less. Sperm count varies across bodies, ecologies, and time periods. Knowledge about the relationship between individual and population sperm count and life-historical and ecological factors is critical to interpreting trends in average sperm counts and their relationships to human health and fertility."
Still, the authors note that lower sperm counts "could decline due to negative environmental exposures, or that this may carry implications for men's health and fertility."
However, they disagree that the decline in absolute sperm count is necessarily a bad sign for men's health and fertility. We aren't at civilization ending catastrophe just yet.
A year of disruptions to work has contributed to mass burnout.
- Junior members of the workforce, including Generation Z, are facing digital burnout.
- 41 percent of workers globally are thinking about handing in their notice, according to a new Microsoft survey.
- A hybrid blend of in-person and remote work could help maintain a sense of balance – but bosses need to do more.
More than half of 18 to 25 year-olds in the workforce are considering quitting their job. And they're not the only ones.
In a report called The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work – Are We Ready?, Microsoft found that as well as 54% of Generation Z workers, 41% of the entire global workforce could be considering handing in their resignation.
Similarly, a UK and Ireland survey found that 38% of employees were planning to leave their jobs in the next six months to a year, while a US survey reported that 42% of employees would quit if their company didn't offer remote working options long term.
New work trends
Based on surveys with over 30,000 workers in 31 countries, the Microsoft report – which is the latest in the company's annual Work Trend Index series – pulled in data from applications including Teams, Outlook and Office 365, to gauge productivity and activity levels. It highlighted seven major trends, which show the world of work has been profoundly reshaped by the pandemic:
- Flexible work is here to stay
- Leaders are out of touch with employees and need a wake-up call
- High productivity is masking an exhausted workforce
- Gen Z is at risk and will need to be re-energized
- Shrinking networks are endangering innovation
- Authenticity will spur productivity and wellbeing
- Talent is everywhere in a hybrid world
"Over the past year, no area has undergone more rapid transformation than the way we work," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says in the report. "Employee expectations are changing, and we will need to define productivity much more broadly – inclusive of collaboration, learning and wellbeing to drive career advancement for every worker, including frontline and knowledge workers, as well as for new graduates and those who are in the workforce today. All this needs to be done with flexibility in, when, where and how people work."
Organizations have become more siloed
While the report highlights the opportunities created by increased flexible and remote working patterns, it warns that some people are experiencing digital exhaustion and that remote working could foster siloed thinking. With the shift to remote working, much of the spontaneous sharing of ideas that can take place within a workplace was lost. In its place are scheduled calls, regular catch-ups and virtual hangouts. The loss of in-person interaction means individual team members are more likely to only interact with their closest coworkers.
"At the onset of the pandemic, our analysis shows interactions with our close networks at work increased while interactions with our distant network diminished," the report says. "This suggests that as we shifted into lockdown, we clung to our immediate teams for support and let our broader network fall to the wayside. Simply put, companies became more siloed than they were pre-pandemic."
Burnout or drop out
One of the other consequences of the shift to remote and the reliance on tech-based communications has been the phenomenon of digital burnout. And for those who have most recently joined the workforce, this has been a significant challenge.
The excitement of joining a new employer, maybe even securing a job for the first time, usually comes with meeting lots of new people, becoming familiar with a new environment and adapting to new situations. But for many, the pandemic turned that into a daily routine of working from home while isolated from co-workers.
"Our findings have shown that for Gen Z and people just starting in their careers, this has been a very disruptive time," says LinkedIn Senior Editor-at-Large, George Anders, quoted in the report. "It's very hard to find their footing since they're not experiencing the in-person onboarding, networking and training that they would have expected in a normal year."
But it is perhaps the data around quitting that is one of the starkest indications that change is now the new normal. Being able to work remotely has opened up new possibilities for many workers, the report found. If you no longer need to be physically present in an office, your employer could, theoretically, be located anywhere. Perhaps that's why the research found that "41% of employees are considering leaving their current employer this year".
In addition to that, 46% of the people surveyed for the Microsoft report said they might relocate their home because of the flexibility of remote working.
A hybrid future
In looking for ways to navigate their way through all this change, employers should hold fast to one word, the report says – hybrid. An inflexible, location-centred approach to work is likely to encourage those 41% of people to leave and find somewhere more to their tastes. Those who are thinking of going to live somewhere else, while maintaining their current job, might also find themselves thinking of quitting if their plans are scuppered.
But remote working is not a panacea for all workforce ills. "We can no longer rely solely on offices to collaborate, connect, and build social capital. But physical space will still be important," the report says. "We're social animals and we want to get together, bounce ideas off one another, and experience the energy of in-person events. Moving forward, office space needs to bridge the physical and digital worlds to meet the unique needs of every team – and even specific roles."
Bosses must meet challenges head on
Although the majority of business leaders have indicated they will incorporate elements of the hybrid working model, the report also found many are out of touch with workforce concerns more widely.
For, while many workers say they are struggling (Gen Z – 60%; new starters – 64%), and 54% of the general workforce feels overworked, business leaders are having a much better experience. Some 61% said they were 'thriving', which is in stark contrast to employees who are further down the chain of command.
Jared Spataro, corporate vice president at Microsoft 365, writes in the report: "Those impromptu encounters at the office help keep leaders honest. With remote work, there are fewer chances to ask employees, 'Hey, how are you?' and then pick up on important cues as they respond. But the data is clear: our people are struggling. And we need to find new ways to help them."
Buildings don't have to be permanent — modular construction can make them modifiable and relocatable.