Must American Businesses Be Uncivilized?
Kathleen Kelley Reardon is Professor Emerita of Management at University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.
She earned her Ph.D. summa cum laude and with distinction at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst after receiving her BA degree with honors from University of Connecticut at Storrs. Kathleen is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi and Mortar Board.
Her primary areas of scholarly interest have been leadership communication, persuasion, politics in the workplace, negotiation and interpersonal communication. Public Opinion Quarterly described her first book, Persuasion in Practice, as a landmark contribution to the field.
Kathleen has taught negotiation, leadership and politics in the MBA, Executive MBA, and International MBA. For 15 years, she served on the USC Preventive Medicine faculty, developing interventions aimed at changing health habits among high-risk populations. She also served as associate director with Warren Bennis of the USC Leadership Institute.
She has authored 10 books and numerous articles, including three for The Harvard Business Review. Her 2001 book The Secret Handshake: Mastering the Politics of the Business Inner Circle (Currency, Doubleday) became an Amazon.com nonfiction and business best seller. It was followed by The Skilled Negotiator (Jossey-Bass, 2004), It’s All Politics: Winning in a World Where Hard Work and Talent Aren’t Enough (Currency, Doubleday, 2005), Childhood Denied: Ending the Nightmare of Child Abuse and Neglect (Sage, 2008), and Comebacks at Work: Using Conversation to Master Confrontation (Harper Business, 2010).
Her first novel, Shadow Campus, is an inside look at the politics of academia, a mystery-thriller and a love story. Forbes described it as a “masterful debut.” The sequel is underway for publication in 2015.
Kathleen was awarded the 2013 Humanitarian Award by the University of Connecticut Alumni Association based on her contributions to underserved groups, especially in originating and working to develop college prep academies for foster teens (www.firststar.org).
Kathleen is a signature blogger at Huffington Post (since 2005) and also blogs at her website (www.kathleenkelleyreardon.com).
At the White House Summit on Working Families, President Obama made this distinction:
“Family leave, childcare, flexibility and a decent wage aren't frills. They're basic needs. They shouldn't be bonuses -- they should be the bottom line.”
Despite research indicating that flexibility increases worker satisfaction and leads to more productivity, companies in the U.S. are largely dragging their feet when it comes to treating employees with dignity and respect.
Some states are getting on board. California, Rhode Island and New Jersey allow workers paid family leave. Connecticut requires paid sick days; so does New York City. And 13 states have taken their own steps to raise the minimum wage.
So what’s the hold up, America? Why is the United States the only developed country on earth that doesn’t have paid maternity leave? How did we find ourselves on par with Oman and Papua New Guinea?
One reason is how we reason with people who could change this. The term “family friendly” puts them to sleep. It contains two words that together many senior executives consider feminine and soft – the antithesis of what they view as true leadership.
Words matter both connotatively and denotatively. To influence the hard-hearted or misguided, you need to know and use their language. Unfortunately, “family friendly” goes against the grain for those who associate the term with soppiness and a lack of task focus typically perpetuated by whiners. What we need is a term that doesn’t give these people the heebie-jeebies.
How about “civilized?” After all, that’s what we’re talking about here, isn’t it? What company doesn’t want to be civilized? Moreover, the term doesn’t carry the baggage of “family friendly.” To boot, it’s more accurate because it isn’t just families who benefit from civilized workplaces, but every individual and companies as well.
Women and men who believe in equal pay for equal work have grappled for decades with the negative connotations of the term “feminist,” often used as an insult and a weapon of derision, along with such perverted derivations as “feminazis.” We don’t need to dispose of the word, but, like all words, one needs to know when they serve their purpose – and when they detract from it.
Let’s start talking more about civilized organizations. Let’s see how much backward-thinking businesses like being considered run by “ignorant, uncouth, knuckle-dragging standpatists.”
Let’s see if we can’t get a little more recognition of leadership as a humane, gutsy endeavor (and not just the all-too-common bean-counter brand of “gutsy”), that in the end will bring greater rewards for those leaders who are forward-thinking enough to see it as such.
New research identifies an unexpected source for some of earth's water.
- A lot of Earth's water is asteroidal in origin, but some of it may come from dissolved solar nebula gas.
- Our planet hides majority of its water inside: two oceans in the mantle and 4–5 in the core.
- New reason to suspect that water is abundant throughout the universe.
Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
- America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
- Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
- Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
SpaceX plans to launch about 12,000 internet-providing satellites into orbit over the next six years.
- SpaceX plans to launch 1,600 satellites over the next few years, and to complete its full network over the next six.
- Blanketing the globe with wireless internet-providing satellites could have big implications for financial institutions and people in rural areas.
- Some are concerned about the proliferation of space debris in Earth's orbit.
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