Etikettarkiv: Brussels

Equal pay, ICT industry, men, women and profiling

The so called gaffe by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and his statements about women, pay, and the pay gap and some of the opinion pieces penned as a result made me wonder. I frankly don’t think that Mr Nadella thinks that women should be paid less than men, but I do believe that he (unfortunately) might be on the correct side of history when he says that women often can be more uncomfortable in asking in any job related situation than most men.

John Fortt has penned a good opinion piece about the situation where I think he is on to something. In the piece Mr Fortt asks if meritocracies can be biased and he gives #Netflix as an example, from personal experience I can only answer that “Yes” and that includes Netflix.

But the basic issue that needs to change isn’t so much the payment practises as such, they are only the result of the basic flaws and symptoms on the sickness – that unless you as an employee is recognisable by the high-tech recruiter you will not even get hired so forget about getting the pay you deserve.

In my business and city, all one have to do is to take a look around and you start singing the old James Brown song “This is a man’s world” but without adding the following praise to women. There are so many organisations representing the [ICT] industry that only have men hired, or only men at the senior levels, it is frightening. Saying the industry is a bit of a lad is an understatement of the century. So, based on the fact that we women doesn’t even count enough to get hired, why do we even bother about the payment scales? I am not saying it isn’t important and that they need to be adjusted, but if we as women doesn’t even count in the work force? So sorry, people, let’s start with the basics and see to that we as women count, get hired and that our competencies count as much as a men’s so we get hired, then we can deal with the payment scales.

Annonser

Dearth of Women in Juncker’s Commission – But Stop Moping Its Competence Not Gender That Counts

In the wake of President Juncker’s announcement of the members of the new European Commission the overall comments seems to be ”Not enough women.” And yes, 9 women out of 28 is far cry from 50-50. And being a woman with certain aspirations myself; I do find it abysmally bad that the Member States can’t do better on the area of gender balance on senior top positions. But there is one question I don’t seem to find and that is Why? I have yet to see one person officially asking why this skewed situation the case.

Could it be that the national senior posts are filled with only men? (An incredibly sad state in itself should this be the case.) Maybe the Member States didn’t look hard enough? Could it be that the women asked actually weren’t all that interested? We simply don’t know. What we see is a bad result but nothing about the process leading up to this result.

What we do know however, that we are many competent women that are out there that are not considered because it does seem to be that W2M that are then norm.

But what ire immensely in this whole debate is the general approach that it is only gender that counts, and because we are women our competencies are interchangeable. Well, here’s a surprise for you – we are NOT! Just as little, actually are men, but no one seems to think that is the case.

So, yes let’s keep our eyes on the ball – a gender balanced society, but let’s not go overboard on the way getting there.

How Netflix almost ruined EU Net neutrality

Now when the debate sparked by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings’ blog post on net neutrality “Internet Tolls And The Case For Strong Net Neutrality“ has died down and the European Parliament have voted in favour of Net Neutrality and against specialised services, I’d like to take the opportunity to vent my grief a bit. What I say in the header is a tall order, I know. But it is not far off.

First of all, as you might know, when I discuss companies or persons in my blog I don’t mention them by name. This is for several reasons, first of all there is an element of the Golden rule, second the industry is rather small and I hope to continue work in it, and, in the case of Netflix, I don’t want to come across as a disgruntled almost employee. Although, I remain rather unimpressed by Netflix’ EU hiring practises. Further, I think that Netflix doesn’t take their responsibility when it comes to making it simple to be legal on-line seriously. Nor do they go far enough in their actions. This time I felt it was warranted to mention names simply because anything else would have complicated the text beyond means.

But I digress.

In my everyday job I work as Policy advisor to a Member of the European Parliament concentrating on issues like net neutrality, e-commerce, telecommunications, cloud computing to mention a few. This is why I can speak with some certainty of this process since I was involved behind the scenes. And yes, I am a staunch defender of Net neutrality.

I am not going to go into the debate at heart here. The point I hopefully will make is to highlight a view that I often see from US-based companies with EU branches; there is seemingly little or no insight that points of view put forward in the US might affect EU legislation. They also join forces with their EU corporate counterparts in not entirely realising that the European Parliament actually is a parliament with powers and influence.

In his post Mr Hastings made a case for net neutrality and against specialised services, but instead of business, he based his argument on fees for traffic. In his text Mr Hastings state that if telecommunications companies get their way we might not see a new Skype or indeed Netflix again because the fees charged would stop any new ideas from being implemented. Had he stuck to this argument I don’t think there had been any debate; no one wants to be accused of stifling competition, hamper value creation and stop new business from happening.

”Net neutrality (also network neutrality or Internet neutrality) is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication.” The term was coined by Columbia media law professor Tim Wu.

But in any case, the impact this ill-timed post had across the Atlantic, where a vote on Net neutrality and Specialised services was taking place, was that it gave the telecommunications companies in Europe wind under their wings and they started to lobby for their point of view; that there is no such a thing as a free lunch, and users must pay for bandwidth. Nothing of which is questionable; but it isn’t the question at hand. Rather the real issue is freedom of doing business. Weaker Net neutrality would make it more difficult to run any business on-line. If the vote had gone a different way Mr Hastings could have had to seriously review his expansion plans for the EU. Is that really what he wanted? This attitude towards the European Parliament is something I frequently see amongst companies, EU & US alike. It is getting better in EU companies, but many US companies whose activities’ spans both sides for the Atlantic seems blissfully unaware of that the European Parliament actually produce legislation that have impact on their business. And if they consider it, they seem to think it is some toy Parliament and when you want to lobby it you just send employees with little or no leverage with the C-suite. Or a VP is coming and is expecting the Parliamentary calendar will change to accommodate them.

Is there really no-one within Netflix that has any view on legislative developments outside the US? Because, the state of net neutrality in the EU will affect Netflix business. Is there no-one that could have advised Mr Hastings to hold off the post to a better time? That maybe a better way to push net neutrality is to speak about preserving, maybe even augmenting, freedom to do business? And is there no one that can enlighten him about the importance of the European Parliament? It governs over 500 million citizens which makes it one of the biggest parliaments in the world. 80% of national EU legislation emanates from the European Parliament. OK, someone say; this post was published on Netflix USA Canada blog and was not at all aimed at EU. This is correct and true, but even if all business is local, corporate standpoints for international corporates rarely are. And if someone high-profiled like Mr Hastings speaks on a relative controversial issue this will have repercussions far beyond what one had identified from the beginning.

The Telecoms Single Market proposal (the proposal that was voted on) will now be reviewed by the Council of the European Union. The Council representatives are expected to adopt a final position on the Telecoms regulation later in 2014. Personally, I hope that the Council maintain the safeguards to protect net neutrality and prohibit network discrimination in Europe. This includes ensuring that this principle can be effectively enforced. Achieving this has not been easy, and in case Netflix wonders, the battle isn’t won. In in the meantime, in the relative vacuum that will be during the election period, we are certainly not helped by blog posts of the likes of Mr Hastings.

Regulating Public Affairs. Why?

Found this recording while browsing, it’s PR Moment’s Ben Smith speaking to PRCA’s Francis Ingham on what the recent UK lobbying bill means for public affairs professionals. “What the lobbying act means for public affairs professionals” http://www.prmoment.com/blog/what-the-lobbying-act-means-for-public-affairs-professionals.aspx

There is the same on-going debate in Brussels. I think it’s a debate that is here to stay for as long as there will be politicians there will be lobbyists. But I wonder is it lobbyists and their activities that needs to be regulated? Yes certainly, I can see that there is a need for greater and better transparency regarding whom meets with whom. But if it is true as they say that almost 80% of lobbyists won’t be affected by this bill I wonder: what’s the use? Maybe it isn’t the lobbyists that are the problem but more an administrative question that must be dealt with, purely administratively, by the different parliaments? And why not? If I as a citizen wants to visit my parliament, or indeed any parliament, I must register one way or another. So why not the lobbyists? This, recurring, question would be solved if parliaments enforced the same rules for lobbyists as for citizens.

No debate necessary – the United States of Europe is the future. Or is DIY regulation possible?

Working in the EU bubble has its moments. And almost all of them unexpected. Yesterday, for instance, during a dinner I was labelled as right-wing extremist. I have been called a lot, but this was a new and refreshing take on my political views.

The reason for this labelling exercise was that I was at a networking dinner, there are a lot of those in Brussels (Disclosure – I paid for the €30 dinner myself ) and the person sitting to my right and I started to talk and soon the subject became federalism and the EU. Personally I feel that we have enough of federalism in the EU, that we should stop (or temporarily halt) the integration and give ourselves time to debate what the future EU should look like and how we want to achieve it. Akin the debate that has started in the UK. Or at least will start if David Cameron isn’t only paying lip service to the more sceptical members of his electorate.

The person nearly choked on his tongue, initially he was convinced that I was joking but when it became clear that I wasn’t and that moreover I am not the only one thinking this, he reverted to paternalism telling me ”That surely I must understand that…” and ”Of course you realise that it is clear…” To which I answered ”No” to most of it. Or if such was the argument ”Then I think the processes should come to a halt.”

What worries me in this context is that this guy isn’t alone in his paternalistic arrogance, quite on the contrary. This is the prevalent approach amongst the large majority of the Commission employees I’ve met. It’s like they say ”This is the way it will be. Now stop yapping.” Every time we get a piece of legislation it gets worse, more and more national decision powers are transferred to the Commission, to non-elected faceless civil servants that has forgotten the ”servant” part of their designation. Every piece of legislation must always contain a paragraph which explains why the subsidiary principle can’t be used in this instance – normally along the lines that it is better to coordinate on EU level than not. And even if I cringe when doing so I realise that it is often correct.

But there is a way out: voluntary industry co-operation. Much has been done already in various industries, much is being done but so much more can be done. In my world – in fact it should be done. Every time I meet with a lobby organisation and/or industry representative I strongly encourage them to take back the message that ”Do it yourself. Step up to the challenge and auto regulate. Don’t sit around waiting for the Commission to act.” It is the (almost) the only way we can avoid meddlesome EU regulations in every aspect of our lives while ensuring that our nation states remains nation states.

I, for one, believe this is the way forward.

5 points to better Public Affairs

As discussed in earlier posts I’m “at the receiving end” of several Public Affairs campaigns and efforts, and I am often mystified by them. After all it isn’t that complicated and a lot can be achieved by using simple common sense. With 2013 drawing closer here are 5 points for better Public Affairs:

  1. Put yourself in the receivers shoes
    Sounds very simple but it doesn’t seem to be done. But if you ask yourself how you’d like to be contacted and lobbied if you were the lobyee many small mistakes would be avoided.
  2. Keep in touch with us even if there isn’t an issue
    Odd as it sounds, ”just keeping in touch” isn’t such a bad idea. So, if you have other meetings in the Parliament just drop by and say hello. Even if we keep your name and issues on file, there is always something you can speak about and we will remember you easier next time there is an issue. Same thing if you have some information or background you feel would be beneficial for us in our work.
  3. Do what you say you’ll do
    I have noticed an increasing trend of emails and letters in which we are contacted by eager lobbyists saying they will contact us to book a meeting. One group is so eager they have faxed us, sent a letter and mailed – all three with the same message. But they still haven’t booked a meeting. In what book have you read that this is the way forward? Let me tell you, it isn’t. If you want to book a meeting, book a meeting. That simple. And if you want to know about how to navigate in Brussels, go no further than to “Activist Guide to the Brussels Maze”. Activist or not it will provide you with all the information you need. And the advice are valid outside the Brussels bubble. It’s quick, simple and cheerful.
  4. Plan ahead and check the Parliament calendar
    You’d be surprised how many times we get contacted by people who want to book a meeting in Brussels on dates when the Parliament either is in session in Strasbourg or just plain closed. Even more interesting is that they then get annoyed with us when we come back and propose a time when we are present. In particular if you are travelling some distance to meet with the MEPs one would think a simple look in the calendar would be prudent before buying your tickets. To simplify your task for next year – here is a link to the Parliament calendar and the various committees you can find here Committees’ calendar.
  5. Take some time and develop a good subject line
    I don’t want to brag but on a normal day we receive hundreds of emails. If you want your email to be read, which is very likely the case, I propose you start with developing a good subject line. In particular if this is the first time you contact an MEPs office. Or even, maybe, call ahead. But sending emails with subjects like READ NOW, To A Commissioner or Protest will almost certainly mean your mail ends up being thrown away without being read. And that isn’t really how you hope to influence European politics, is it?