Category Archives: Uncategorized

Nordic Gender Inequality

I am Swedish, and when I say I’m Swedish, eyes and faces lit up – Ah, the Homeland of The Equals. Where fathers stay at home with their children for months and no one thinks twice about it. Where instead of he or she, a gender neutral word has been introduced in the language. Where women detectives roam the streets (a step up from the polar bears), and where we all live in perfect homes furnished by Scandinavian designers.

Ah, the wonders of the country that takes over the world one four letter acronym at a time…

But then there is the truth. And the truth is seldom beautiful. The truth is that when it comes to gender equality in the workplace Sweden is a failed state. And there are numbers to prove it. In his excellent book ”The Nordic Gender Equality Paradox”  Dr. Nima Sanandaji clearly shows how the Nordic well fare states hold women back, rather than the opposite. Proportionally, Nordic countries tops only Cyprus when it comes to women amongst directors and chief executives. And they fall well behind more conservative neighbours like the Baltic. In fact in EU27 best in class in Bulgaria with almost 48%.

So what would any well-meaning government do to change this? Introduce new legislation. What else? But it is a legislation that a minority supports and I have yet to meet one woman that supports positive discrimination against us. Why should we support measures that promotes inequality and makes no difference when it comes to our accomplishments? No one seems to be able to answer these questions, because seemingly no one seems to ask it.  Besides no one has shown me WHY it is of importance to achieve this gender balance. It can be said that business have developed rather splendid these past 200 years without women on board, so why change a winning formula? Yes, I am convinced that balanced compositions are better and more effective than unbalanced. And I think it’s bad for branding when I see boards 100% male. But nowhere have I found support for my belief that balanced is better than not. And before we start setting unwanted legislation in place, how about some evidence?

Make no mistake, I’d love to sit on a board. But I want to be on that board because I bring valuable expertise to it. Not because of my combination of XY chromosomes. If that is the only reason it is degrading, unequal and arrogant.

EU launches partnership for €1.8 billion

EU launches partnership for €1.8 billion investment against cyber threats. http://www.cyberrescue.co.uk/library/response#eujuly16 http://ow.ly/i/kZLSc

Google’s Tribulations – Déjà-vu all over again…

By now it hasn’t escaped many that Google’s UK boss Matt Brittin didn’t know his own pay when asked in the cross party hearing about Google’s UK tax polices. While it must be a nice problem to have, that’s not my gripe. Nor am I discussing the tax deal whether it was fair or not. But I wonder about why Google seemingly doesn’t seem to see the PR snafu in this story. If I headed up a company and a senior company representative floundered like this at a question and was called “evil” on camera I’d definitely consider that as something of a [minor] PR disaster.

The whole thing reminds me painfully about the SOPA hearings, the same thing there – the IT industry at large sent one lawyer that like the Lone Rider faced a committee of hostile Senators and even more hostile pro-SOPA representatives. And if companies like Google hadn’t shut the Internet down for a day, SOPA would have been introduced there and then.

I so surprised every time I see this happening. One of the biggest companies in the world and they behave worse than a start-up managed by a 20-year old from Mother’s walk-in closet. It’s like Google don’t care about their reputation. Or does Google think that their reputation is so good that they are impossible to harm? Or that because they of their size and market position have nothing to worry about? I find their arrogance amazing. And what more I find their attitude to me as a customer demeaning. Look at the situation – Prime time TV and one of the main star actors doesn’t know his lines. One can argue that Mr Brittins salary wasn’t the subject of the hearing, but he should have been prepared. I feel a little bit insulted on behalf of my métier, weren’t we (and I speak about PR and Communications practitioners) involved in the preparations? Or did Google didn’t feel it was necessary?Where we involved, but not listened to? Did Goole think that this was purely a fiscal question? And that once the deal with the UK government was closed, that was it? No repercussions? No questions asked? And what more, why seemingly no preparations, foresight or strategy from Google’s side?

As said, Google’s tribulations and floundering – déjà-vu all over again…

Perception is all…

Am sitting at home and in general feeling like the weather here in Zurich today i.e. grey and dreary. At least yesterday it was a thunderstorm where at least one has the impression of something happening not just muddles along. I have lost my voice, which soon will pass, I look for a new position which a process hopefully soon is accomplished, I’m nursing a herniated disk – but life has that quality that you CAN lift yourself in the shoestrings, pick yourself up and start again…

So in times like these I do like I always do, muse about the little things around me and isn’t it interesting how perception is all? I mean we are aware that it’s the case but somehow it doesn’t strike home all the time. I just pressed two oranges, I know that I will get the same amount of fibres, vitamins and juice by eating them but somehow they taste better as juice. Molten butter on toast tastes far better than molten butter on un-toasted bread. Molten cheese tastes far better as fondue (after all I live in Switzerland) or as cheese chips than molten cheese that has been left out on the kitchen counter. How come? And then there is the matter of semantics, my favourite – as those of you who knows me privately will know – is umbrella, it can just as easy be a parasol can’t it? At least in Northern Europe, we’d much more prefer to use a parasol because it’s connotations than an umbrella. Right?

But what makes it so difficult to change these perceptions? Sometimes when I go on about the umbrella/parasol twist the person in front of me stares at me as if I was Chewbacca’s country cousin just landed from a Galaxy far far away. Is it because change is difficult? Is it because turning our old truths upside up or down is hard to manage? Is it because someone shedding new lights on something we thought we knew how to makes us feel uncertain?

The Disenfranchisement That Isn’t

They are disenfranchised

we’ve heard it more and more in various political analysis always in relation to the so-called grievance parties and their voters, think UKIP, Front National, Sweden Democrats, Vlaams Belang, and even if they are not parties – Trump and to a certain extend Sanders (although for his voters it’s more “quaint but unrealistic”). It’s an argument which has been repeated with higher and higher voices and more and more intensely. You know, like we all do when we are trying to convince ourselves that something we doubt are really the gospel.

I started with looking up what disenfranchised means, and Merriam Webster defines it as

to deprive of a franchise, of a legal right, or of some privilege or immunity; especially :  to deprive of the right to vote

in other words, in the original meaning it is a conscious act of someone that puts another person in the position of disenfranchisement. But in the criticism I have read is has come to mean a group of people that seemingly have removed themselves from [mainstream] society.

However, my question is – have they? In the latest Edelman Trust Barometer their results show an increasing trust divide towards businesses and governments. Neither, it is felt by the large majority, deliver. Personally, when it comes to politics I agree. More and more I have the sense that [national] politics is kindergarten for overpaid party players that has been elected, not so much based on competence, but because they turned up and that doesn’t dare to take real responsibility. The difference is that since I belong to the informed public, as defined by Edelman, aged 24 – 64; college educated; in top 25% income per age group in each country; report significant media consumption and engagement in business news; my criticism is more likely to be seen as well-informed and to the point while someone not from this group saying the same will be considered as disenfranchised.

Again, I ask, are the voters that vote on these “grievance parties” disenfranchised? Maybe they have looked at their society and see a reality where their worries are not listened to, where they have increasing difficulties in finding jobs that makes ends meet, where ghettos are on the rise, where jobs are moved elsewhere and where politicians, whom frankly often should know better, seems to be locked in endless wars of power instead of doing what they where elected to do – deliver a society of [relative] inclusion. Based on this maybe, just think the thought, these so-called disenfranchised voters have made their analysis and decided to protest almost the only way we can protest in a democratic society – by casting our ballots.

But what happens when they turn up, and don’t forget, grievance parties often get their voters to turn up and vote in a much higher extent than traditional parties, and decide to exercise what at the same time is their citizen right and obligation? They are reproached for voting on the wrong party. If that was me treated like that, I’d be raving mad in white linen. And not only that, I’d be even more convinced that I am right.

So, my advice, to the mainstream parties, should they care and bother – if you want to bridge the widening gulf of distrust meet the grieved electorate and show, with measurable actions and without retreating into populism I mean e.g. globalism is here to stay; that you take their world view seriously and continuously and not just when it’s that time in the election cycle.

When ignorance reigns what do you as an employee do?

Having just joined a new European Parliamentary party I am in the middle of setting up the office which include staffing. Admittedly the situation is delicate because there are in essence two almost parallel organisations: one in Brussels and one in the home country. The Brussels based organisation is rather autonomous in relation to the “home” organisation.

Problem is the home boys want to get involved in, in particular, the staffing process which is very unfortunate since they have little or no insight nor knowledge how the European Parliament works and/or functions. As a result they are recruiting staff that will not be a support to the Member of European Parliament. Home boys have based their needs analysis on the experience they have gained from the national parliament (in Sweden.) Competencies that has little or no bearing on the European Parliament.

So, being a loyal employee I have proposed another set-up that will bring the support in Brussels that we need to do our job. However, it is a bit badly timed since there are imminent changes in the political group to which we belong so this in its turn means that the positions that are currently staffed are by no means certain that they will remain ”ours.” Or in other words we can loose a couple of positions which already have been, maybe not confirmed so at least in the wind. I have received no answer from the home boys, although today I got an inkling of what they thought when I got an email with a wording along the lines “if you just answered my question instead of always obstructing.” To this already rather dynamic situation we can also add the fact that none of the positions currently being staffed are confirmed.Then of course is the fact that the EP has a fairly heavy vetting process, so it is by no means guaranteed that the candidates identified by the home boys actually will be confirmed.

Yes, I understand there are party consideration that needs to be taken into account but in my eyes it is equally important is ensuring having the competencies around that will help you shine. And what party considerations would suffer if you took a minute and asked about the state of play?

So yes, I have piped up. Frankly I think the voters deserve and can expect to get a working organisation. Arrogant?

Or to quote a bigger spirit: “Never be a spectator to unfairness or stupidity. The grave will supply plenty of time for silence.” dixit Christopher Hitchens

Languages are a funny thing

Thing? Possibly the wrong noun, but I hope my trusted readers get what I mean.

In my life, where I at any given day interact in three languages and work in an environment where I hear 25, having some insights into the denomination of languages are something I take for granted. But when will one learn never to take anything for granted?

Today I applied for a job at a company that describes itself the following way:

Kronos is the global leader in delivering workforce management solutions in the cloud. Tens of thousands of organizations in more than 100 countries — including more than half of the Fortune 1000® — use Kronos to control labor costs, minimize compliance risk, and improve workforce productivity. Learn more about Kronos’  industry-specific time and attendance, scheduling, absence management, HR and payroll, hiring, and labor analytics applications at www.kronos.com

Kronos: Workforce Innovation That Works™.

Kronos is a privately held company and was founded in 1977. Headquartered in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, Kronos employs more than 3,500 people worldwide.

So it is fair to say this company claims to have a certain international outlook. Well, at least this is what you think because in the ad, for an International Communication Manager, one of the requirements were: Fluency in a language other than English is a benefit (European or Chinese)

European?

Or is their take on the debate on a federal Europe?