Friday, June 24, 2011

Republicans Work to Stop Same Sex Marriage Vote in New York

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 20:  People walk past a Ma...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeEvery day for the past two months I have received calls from the National Organization for Marriage Equality. Not one call a day. Not two calls a day. Most days I have received three or more calls. If I’m not home when the phone rings, the robo-caller leaves a pleasant message letting me know that he will call back later.

I don’t want him to call back later. This is all a guise to stop same-sex marriage from being legalized in New York.

The caller doesn't ask what my opinions are on the issue. It only asks:

Are you registered to vote in New York? If I answer “yes”, the next question is:

Do you support the statement that marriage should be solely between a man and a woman?

The first time I heard the question I was caught off guard. “What kind of a ridiculous question is that?” I yelled at the automated voice on the phone. Didn't they say they were the organization for marriage equality?

Robo-caller calmly replied, “If you don’t respond with a yes or no I cannot record your response.”

Over the weeks, I tried various responses including, “Absolutely not!” “You've got to be kidding," and “Please take me off your calling list.”

They keep calling. Apparently there is no do-not-call registry for political calls.

I tried answering “No” to the “Are you registered to vote in New York” question, hoping that that would trigger them to take me off their list. Their automated program doesn’t seem to be that smart.

I couldn’t bring myself to answer “Yes” to the “Do you support” question, but I understand that if you do respond “Yes” robo-caller advises to contact your state senator.

So I took his advice, and sent off an e-mail to my state senator urging him to support the same-sex marriage bill. (I also urged him to institute a do-not-call registry for political calls.)

Nearly a week after the state senators were slated to go home, they are continuing to debate whether the bill should come up for a vote. Republican leaders in the Senate are working hard to keep the vote from happening.

Isn't this the twenty-first century?

Update Saturday June 25th:
Late last night the NY State Senate passed the same sex marriage bill. Hopefully the harassing calls will stop.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happy 100th Birthday IBM!

A pile of inflatable balloons.Image via WikipediaToday, IBM celebrates its birthday. Born on June 16th, 1911, IBM is now 100 years old. One might expect that at the ripe old age of 100 the company would be creaking along with brittle bones, weak knees, a bad heart, and finding it hard to get up in the morning. But no, the century-old technology giant is bigger than ever, and not just surviving, but thriving!

In addition to announcing its 100th birthday, IBM has also announced that they have surpassed $100 billion in annual sales. Now I’m quite sure they haven’t counted to the penny, but even when you factor in the fact that most mainframe servers sell at over a million dollars, that’s an awful lot of technology and services that the company is moving.

It’s hard not to be impressed with a giant that has held its ground and stayed ahead, fending off attacks over the years by Hitachi, Microsoft, HP, SUN (does anyone even remember them?), and others. IBM would say the reason for their success is technology leadership; it’s hard to disagree when you consider that IBM has topped the patent list for the past 18 years, and the recent success of Watson on Jeopardy gives us just a hint of what’s to come.

But when we consider IBM’s full 100 years, the word I would choose to describe IBM’s success is persistence. They never gave up. When the chips were down (pun intended) they re-grouped, developed new strategies, strengthened customer relationships, and persisted.

Of all the news coverage on this event today, my favorite is this AP release from Endicott, printed here at the Wall Street Journal. Enjoy!

Happy 100th Birthday IBM!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Think We’ve Cracked the Code on Gender Salary Equality in the Workplace? Think Again…

Kathy Korman Frey
I really want to believe that men and women graduating from college with equivalent skills are entering the workforce on a level playing field. I really want to believe that it’s the choices we make as women that are affecting our salary inequity in the long run. I really want to believe, but a study by Edwin W. Koc published in the NACE Journal in April 2011 tells me otherwise.

The study compared starting salaries for men and women undergraduates and found a whopping 17% difference. The average annual salary for men with bachelor’s degrees was $44,159, while women started at just $36,451, 82% of what their male colleagues averaged. The data can’t be explained away by saying women pick different careers; Koc looked at the differences by field, and in every instance the men outpaced the women – except engineering where women had a slight salary edge over the men.

Coming out of the starting gate with this disadvantage will have a significant long-term impact to the total earning power of women, since most financial rewards and increases are based on current salary. Consider that it will take women ten years at a 2% annual increase to catch up to the salary their male peers started at, with women averaging $44,429 after ten years, while (with the same 2% annual increase) the men will be averaging $53,824.

So what’s a woman to do?

Kathy Korman Frey, Founder of The Hot Mommas Project and Entrepreneur in Residence at The George Washington School of Business, offers these tips:

1. Ask. Frey says, “Believe it or not, asking is a form of negotiation, and there's no harm in doing it. Did you know women don’t ask? We’re not so great at marketing ourselves and there are studies to substantiate this. Men initiate negotiations 2 to 3 times more often than women do.”

2. Know your value, and quantify it.
“Create a value spreadsheet— not only what you need to live off of, but create a spreadsheet of what you bring to the table, and then add the actual measurable value in dollars. This enables you to walk in with confidence in an interview, asking for something you deserve, and if someone doesn’t give that to you go elsewhere.”

3) Mentors are a must. Frey suggests that everyone needs many mentors. “The Hot Mommas Project unpublished research shows that five is the magic number. People with five or more mentors demonstrate higher drive, have increased perceptions of success, and ascend higher.”

To learn more visit The Hot Mommas Project, the world’s largest women’s case study library providing scalable online mentorship for women and girls.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Insider Trading, Not Just for Men Anymore

Stanford University 1979Image via WikipediaWhile it’s still true that men dominate inside the boardroom, today I want to focus on what happens outside of the boardroom.

Until recently, the world of insider trading has been almost solely a playground for men. Powerful men. Men who, despite their wealth and success, just can’t seem to be happy with what they have.

Women’s names weren’t often associated with insider trading until the infamous Martha Stewart ordeal. I should note that Stewart was convicted only of lying to investigators, and served just five months in jail.

And more recently, there was one female figure that stood out in the Galleon Insider trading scandal. Danielle Chiesi made a name for herself by building close personal (allegedly intimate) relationships with powerful men, in exchange for company secrets, which she then passed on to Raj Rajaratnam, the leader of what is being called the largest insider trader ring ever. Rajartanam, recently convicted, awaits sentencing. Chiesi pled guilty (and is also awaiting sentencing), but arguably she played only a supporting role.

Enter Winifred Jiau, a 43-year native of Taiwan, now an American citizen living in California. We know little about her. She has a master’s degree from Stanford University in statistics. She lives with her dog. She has worked as a consultant, a contractor for Nvidia (one of the companies she is accused of giving tips on), and launched a small start-up. She appears to be exceedingly average (for a Stanford grad), except that she is accused of sharing company secrets, for which she allegedly received $200,000.

Jiau’s trial started this week in Manhattan.

Unlike the women who came before her, Jiau appears to be at the center of this trading ring, causing some to call her the “expert networker” and putting her in the same class as Rajaratnam.

I can’t help but wonder what Jiau’s motivation was to enter the male dominated field of insider trading. Until recently it seems that women haven’t been invited to play, or are they simply not interested in playing. Could Jiau have been driven by a desire for acceptance, equality, or power? Could a lack of acceptance in the boardroom have caused her to seek acceptance outside of the boardroom?

What do you think?