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A study by professors from Harvard, Boston University and Florida State University concluded that the problem with work is longer and longer hours, and that family-friendly policies can have unintended results that especially hurt women’s careers.

“The Problem with Work is Overwork” – Toll on families and gender equalityhttp://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/31/upshot/the-24-7-work-cultures-toll-on-families-and-gender-equality.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0&abt=0002&abg=1

In-depth interviews with employees of a prominent global consulting firm that had asked the researchers to recommend what they could do to decrease the number of women who quit and increase the number who were promoted found that men were at least as likely as women to say the long hours interfered with their family lives. And the men quit at the same rate as women. But men and women dealt with the long hours pressure in different ways.

To quote the New York Times article about the study, “The researchers said that when they told the consulting firm they had diagnosed a bigger problem than a lack of family-friendly policies for women — that long hours were taking a toll on both men and women — the firm rejected that conclusion. The firm’s representatives said the goal was to focus only on policies for women, and that men were largely immune to these issues.”

Clearly that firm (and many others) do not want to address the culture of overwork.

Perhaps if we as a society help the men by rejecting and abandoning the stereotypes and expectations about men’s commitment and roles regarding work and family, it will also substantially benefit women and gender equality.

Please share your thoughts.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com


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            For years one of the primary ways to call attention to a diversity issue and to build strength for a specific “minority” group has been to create an “affinity group.” The group would aim to build networks, confidence, and educate both members and other stakeholders outside the group. I believe that once a certain level of awareness is created, the separateness approach stands in the way of, or slows, progress in achieving desired goals. We can achieve much more progress collapsing the gaps reinforced by silos and forming alliances and coalitions to expand true opportunity and equity together

Let’s take serious efforts to break down the silo walls and ally generations, gender, race/ethnicity, LGBTQ, differently-abled and other identified affinities. That doesn’t mean getting rid of affinity groups entirely, as they still serve useful purposes. I would prefer to see them as collaborators that can plan to ease themselves out of existence as the need declines.

Some corporations have seen the light, particularly around gender.

Here are examples of specific actions toward gender inclusion:

  • A consultancy, White Men As Full Diversity Partners LLC, coaches men to shift mindsets and behaviors to achieve a more inclusive work culture. Catalyst’s initiative gets men to recognize the influence of unconscious bias on the workplace and has used this group for their programs.
  • National Association of Female Executives (NAFE) included men for the first time at its meeting in December 2014, and men pledged to urge male colleagues to champion women. First actions were around mentoring. Historically men have feared being criticized or stigmatized for helping women get ahead. And even some women resent the help as making them look inferior.
  • At Cardinal Health, significant numbers of men have been attending the women’s networking group. The sales manager hopes his active recruitment of internal women for promotions will lead to more sales.
  • Rockwell Automation Inc. has developed “change inclusion teams mostly run by white men aimed toward accelerating retention and advancement of women and minorities. These have changed the nature of company socializing events for employees at the company or conferences.
  • American Express has instituted a mandatory one-time course for one division’s senior management on how men’s and women’s brains work differently and affect decision-making about going for promotions. Women now get more ongoing support both in seeking and after promotions.
  • A Dell male VP now tries to be conscious of how scheduling affects opportunities and has joined the women’s network, encouraging male colleagues to do so also.

These are good steps toward more gender equality. We need to see breaking down the silos between other diverse affinity groups as well. Generational collaboration is a great place to start since different generational attitudes inform and influence attitudes about other aspects of diversity and inclusion and individuals’ worldviews. Generations are the universal affinity.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com





In the month of Love (Valentines Day) and Leadership (Presidents Day), I am making a pitch for breaking down silos and creating a coalition on inclusion and true opportunity.

A primary reason dealing with intergenerational challenges at work is so crucial is that not only do they directly affect bottom line revenues, but also they intersect with other diversity factors such as gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation (and much more) that organizations already admit have an impact on their market position, workforce hiring, retention and productivity. 

The big data folks and the politicians know this is true, and realize it is complex. And they are better at crunching the numbers and exhorting than marshalling coalitions to work constructively and productively for change.

I will continue my writing and speaking about breaking down the affinity silos and creating coalitions for inclusion and changing workplace structures in the future. I welcome anyone who is interested to come on board with me (pwhaserot@pdcounsel.com). We can achieve much more progress together.

Stay tuned, send your thoughts and comment here.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com




Data is exploding 2 myths about Gen YMillennials and work.

One is that they all (OK, a large % of them) want to be entrepreneurs, that is, have their own business. The actual numbers reported (by Lindsay Gellman in the Wall Street Journal, 1/14/15) find otherwise.

The proportion of young adults (under age 30) owning a business in the U.S. was 3.6% in 2014. This has fallen from 10.6 in1989 and 6/3% in 2010 according to Federal Reserve data. It can partially be explained by the recent poor economy and difficulty in getting both funding and work experience, but not all of it. Both the risk adversity of the generation and lack of education focusing on entrepreneurism in high school and earlier probably contribute to this outcome, so some programs are starting to be offered in some high schools in the U.S.

The myth is that members of the Gen Y generation aren’t interested in climbing the corporate ladder in established companies and desire doing “meaningful work” rather than scale the hierarchy.

A survey of over 7,800 workers born in 1983 or more recently in developed and emerging markets countries by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd. found that only about 25% felt that their current employer makes full use of their skills. Is the employer just missing out? Or are the employees overestimating their capabilities or misjudging the needs of the business or the market?  Clearly there is a disconnect that has to be diagnosed and addressed.

Interestingly, nearly 65% of respondents in Colombia and Indonesia aspire to the corner office compared with only 38% overall in the developed countries surveyed. Does the environment in poorer countries motivate higher aspirations? Are employees in more developed countries more complacent, or do they want a less demanding lifestyle than the C-Suite offers? Or do they simply want the employers to change?

There is also a gender gap. While 59% of young men aspire to lead their company, only 47% of women in the surveyed countries do. True to the meaningful work mantra, 60% of young workers seek to work for employers with a sense of purpose. The most desirable industries for this group in their 20s and early 30s are technology, media and communications, while they were attracted to life-science companies for those companies’ sense of purpose.

There is also a gender gap. While 59% of young men aspire to lead their company, only 47% of women in the surveyed countries do. True to the meaningful work mantra, 60% of young workers seek to work for employers with a sense of purpose. The most desirable industries for this group in their 20s and early 30s are technology, media and communications, while they were attracted to life-science companies for those companies’ sense of purpose.

The survey findings raise many questions and provide much to contemplate. Please share your thoughts.

 Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com



A panel of senior (in status) Boomer and Gen X law firm partners and corporate counsel imparted, with both wisdom and humor how they mastered their career trajectories at the Women in Law Empowerment Forum’s (WILEF East) March 19, 2014 program. The women, in several cases, described how their careers evolved in surprising ways, sometimes the opposite of what they thought they wanted until they gave it a shot.

Here is a collection of sound bites (not necessarily in their exact words) from the discussion that I found both appealing and valuable for the lawyers in the audience and even beyond the legal profession/industry.

  • Opportunity favors the prepared.
  • Listen for your boss’ priorities.
  • Have your boss’ back so he/she can trust you.
  • Propose solutions; don’t just do the rote thing with an assignment.
  • Be your authentic self and try to assure that everyone perceives you the same way.
  • Never say “never.”
  • Don’t consider what you at first perceive as failures to be failures.
  • Don’t cover up mistakes. Own up to them and immediately suggest a solution.
  • Show you are constantly thinking beyond what is required.
  • Never confess (especially to a man) what you don’t know. Go find it out.
  • Always look for both mentors and for opportunities to mentor others.
  • Wisdom only comes from an accumulation of experiences.

 On the theme of POWER:

  • People give up power by thinking they don’t have any
  • Men define power as control. Women define power as influence.
  • Assert yourself from the beginning when you negotiate compensation.
  • People perceive power from symbols
  • Project a sense of self-respect to be perceived as powerful.
  • Power is when people more experienced than you respond and do work for you.
  • Act confident and you will attain power.

Which ones resonate with you, whether you are a lawyer or not, a woman or not? Share your thoughts in comments here.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot            www.pdcounsel.com


Observation: Women outnumber men in college and earning graduate degrees. It’s men who drop out and seem to be the ones who start mega-successful companies. It’s not just the obvious (like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs – later-half Baby Boomers). Gen Xers and Gen Y/Millennials too.

Is this a gender thing? Do we just hear less about the young female entrepreneurs? Do they, more than the men, think they need MBAs, etc. to succeed? To give them confidence to take risks?  Or is it purely individualistic? Is this changing? Will more Boomer women be successful entrepreneurs in encore careers?

Phyllis Weiss Haserot     www.pdcounsel.com


The articles keep piling on: Just this week the New York Times Sunday Styles section (August 12, 2012) big feature on the changing attitudes about stay-at-home dads; and sports pages in many newspapers and electronic media on professional athletes’ fatherly devotion (e.g., Eli Manning, elite quarterback, said he thinks he’s an “elite dad”). I wrote about this trend in sports several years ago, and I’m delighted to see young fathers in other occupations not only expanding their parenting roles, but also speaking publicly about it.

My big questions are:

1-    How much have attitudes in the workplace (not the sports arena) changed toward part-time worker/dads and stay-at-home dads?

2-    Will elimination of stigmas regarding work/life flexibility for men accelerate acceptance and new flexibility for everyone and help women in the workplace as well?

3-    Are the more open attitudes a generational thing, more prevalent with Gen X and Gen Y/Millennials?

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com



At my recent presentation a Boomer member of the multi-generational audience expressed frustration (as they often do) that the Gen Y/Millennials don’t act properly in the workplace. Well, most of Gen Yers were educated and brought up in times of much looser standards of behavior than the older generations (Traditionalists and Boomers) were and many were not taught the typical expectations of workplace behavior. In college they could dress pretty much as they pleased, schedules were flexible, and advance clearances and permissions were not commonly required. So that’s what they are accustomed to.

By way of illustrating the differences, the special New York Times Education Life section (July 22, 2012) ran excerpts (courtesy of Catherine M. Allchin) from a Dorm Women’s Handbook from the early 1960s and a Resident Hall Contract from 2012. To quote from the 1961 Women’s Handbook:

Dorm Hours: Freshman are to be tucked into bed by 11p.m., and counselors will count noses at this time – upperclass noses too.

Permissions: To go home, sign out with the housemother and pay her for a 2-cent postcard. She will send it to your parents to let them know you are on your way.

Social Standards:  To improve in poise and social ease, students should observe and practice good manners – for example, by standing when an older person enters the room or approaches to speak.

Personal Appearance: Shorts may not be worn on campus except to and from PE classes, and then only when covered by a long coat.

The rules and expectations were clear back then.

Jump to the 2012 Residence Hall Contract by way of contrast. It deals with weapons and alcohol possession and use, personal safety, fire safety and the Gender Equity Hall. “Residents can choose to room with a student of any gender or gender identity. Restrooms in this hall are gender neutral.”

Whether you laugh at the extraordinary differences or yearn for some of the prior standards (as some parents might), what exists now has shaped a lot of young people. Employers are left with the responsibility and task of clearly articulating expectations from day one to set the standards they want to see. Neglecting attention to this early will enable undesirable habits of demeanor, schedules and boundaries to take hold, which will make them difficult to undo. Like it or not, understanding of where the behavior originated and communicating expectations in orientation training is necessary.

Please share your thoughts here.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot     www.pdcounsel.com



BAD NEWS ON WOMEN’S NETWORKS and generations and gender diversity

The Wall Street Journal reported on a Simmons School of Management survey of 166 female professionals, all of whom had women’s support groups at their workplace. The news was quite disheartening in terms of the overall attitude toward the groups, participation and results.

But first the good news: what worked. The women who said they were actively involved in the women’s networks and thought they were very effective described these characteristics of the groups: They met frequently, had financial support from the company – and they were open to both men and women.

Now the bad news. 29% of the women responding were not involved in any workplace women’s network. Most said they didn’t have the time. Other reasons given were they didn’t share the network’s goals or they didn’t see the value or they weren’t eligible. Another 16% beyond those 29% were a member of a network at their organization but rarely got involved. And of those belonging, more than 75% found their networks only somewhat or not at all effective in meeting the group’s goals. Goals most often included networking, retention and promotion of women and professional development.

What are we to conclude? Perhaps the formation of many women’s networks is still a matter of lip service on the part of senior management, or at least believed to be by many women. Maybe they are getting mixed messages: "We’ll let you form women’s networks, but you’ll be rewarded by other uses of your time." And if the more senior women are not committed to regularly attend, younger women may take their lead from them or feel the value is much reduced without the mentoring possibilities from more experienced professionals.

Going back to the networks that were effective, the reasons are no surprise. For women’s networks to be taken seriously in a still male-dominated culture as far as clout is concerned, there has to be solid and visible support from management, and that includes financial support as well as praising and otherwise recognizing the active members of the networks and their accomplishments. Frequent meetings are needed to establish bonds and trust and build confidence among members.

And, I think, very important (as I have said for many years), men must be part of the process. They need to be welcomed to help and sponsor the women as well as to learn from them. Attending some of the meetings will enable them to better understand how diversity strengthens the organization and what the obstacles are. Gender separation is not a long-term solution. And generationally there are different views on gender separation. To generalize, the Gen Y/Millennials and youngest Gen Xers don’t recognize the gender differences as much as the older generations and have different expectations about how they will be treated.

I hope to see women adjust their approach and attitudes toward women’s networks and get real buy-in from male colleagues so they can be more effective in reaching stated goals and the day when they will no longer be considered necessary because the goals have been achieved.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com


LEADERSHIP TRANSITIONS: How to Use the Intersection of Generations and Gender to Raise the Return for Everyone

Lately I find myself engaged in conversations, mostly raised by Boomers and the older half of Gen Xers about what might be called the intersection of gender and generations issues. Several women expressed the strong belief that women have actually made little or no progress in attaining leadership and management positions in the last 10 years except when it’s their own businesses.

At least a few women who talked with me believe that as a society we have adopted the habits of politically correct speech, and that has swept true attitudes under the rug and made it seem like women have reached a greater degree of equality in the corporate environment and media treatment than they actually have. They believe that we as a society have actually regressed. The other “symptom” is that having made some visible strides, men act as if the gap problem is solved, and there is less talk leading to action than there used to be 

On the other hand, my inbox continues to be filled with e-newsletters and updates from politically active groups, industry professional organizations and media watchdogs that persistently and energetically keep these issues in the forefront. Perhaps we are not getting the same mail and attending the same meetings?

Yes, I think we still have a long way to go. And I think the best strategy for achieving more success for everyone is to sincerely and substantively involve men in the solutions. Down with lip service. So here is one of the best opportunities to take advantage of the intersection with generational attitudes. The younger generations are not only accepting but also demanding all kinds of diversity. They see gender as less of an issue than their older colleagues do. 

Here are my reasons for optimism. (Yes, I am a born optimist, but one that doesn’t like being disappointed.) I emphasize that these are general patterns, not absolutes, and we need to recognize individual situation and avoid stereotypes.

  • Gen Y makes smaller gender distinctions as to relationships, capabilities, ambitions, leadership and tenure than older generations do.
  • Collaborative styles, which are comfortable for many women, are favored by the younger generations. Collaboration is necessary for solving ever more complex problems.
  • With more women making purchasing decisions on the client side, more women and other diverse professionals will be designated to lead client teams and business development opportunities. Economic factors are strong attitude influencers.
  • Younger men are about as focused on family (dual-centric) as women are and desirous of restructuring the workplace so it works better for people.
  • Women are gradually learning the importance of rainmaking to their careers, the importance of getting sponsors, not just mentors, helping each other and learning to be more confident in negotiations.
  • While unconscious bias is still common, a desire for rejuvenating professionalism among all generations (as revealed in the findings of the Practice Development Counsel survey soon to be released) will gradually shrink the gap in leadership and increase opportunities for women. Professionalism will increasingly trump gender biases.
  • There is a growing awareness of the value of gender neutrality in producing organizational success.
  • Everyone gets older – we can’t stop it – so more people with gender bias will be transitioning out of the workplace.

This is not occurring, and probably will not happen, fast enough to please women and accelerate the success of many businesses. But I believe it will happen faster if we take the focus off difference and involve stakeholders of all generations and genders in achieving common goals of productivity, client retention, succession planning and professional excellence.

This is a controversial subject, and we need to give it the attention it deserves. I urge you to send your comments, provocative or not.  Let’s keep a lively dialogue going.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com 

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