The change up
Feast your eyes on ‘Marcia Zuckerberg’, ‘Billie Gates’, and ‘Carla Slim’.
They are the gender-bending female doppelgängers of— you guessed it—Mark Z., Bill Gates, and Carlos Slim.
Ad Campaign Gone Wild
Featured on the latest Forbes Brazil issue of “The World’s Richest Women,” the prints created by artist Ogilvy Brazil provocatively compares the wealth of imagined female billionaires with their real world male counterparts.
The purpose, we are told, is to highlight what the top billionaires’ club would look like through the lens of equal pay.
This may sound like an innovative way to raise awareness, as many on social media suggested by tweeting it. But the ads are not only bizarrely cheeky; they distract our focus from the issues that matter.
What was the editor thinking?
That’s probably easy to answer. Sales.
Gender-gap is an easy green light for editors. Publish it, and you seize a progressive agenda. Add a provocative title and you’ll be trending in no time, the sweet spot for digital success.
Pay gap has been covered expansively— from medicine, tech, education, to conference speakers. Even College degrees that exacerbate gender based pay gap received spotlight.
Eventually editors hunt for new angles. Brainstorming ensues. Sometimes the upshot is investigative pieces that become journalistic gold standards.
Then there is the realm of the nutty provocateur. Forbes’s eerie print campaign is an excellent example of this.
What’s so groundbreaking?
The new Forbes Billionaire list has a “record” number of women, apparently. That is a good thing, we are told.
What they don’t tell you is that it is only a “record” because historically women participation has been so marginalized.
Of the 2043 world billionaires, only 227 are women. Some record!
56 self-made women billionaires made the list, 25 per cent of all female billionaires. Fifteen are complete newcomers, and all but one are from Asia. That’s progress of sorts.
However, the picture as a whole still speaks of an unmistakable gender gap. Consider figures from developing countries, where the number of billionaires is exploding. Since 2010, India has added a billionaire every 33 days! Yet, most of them are men. Of the 101 Indian billionaires listed by the 2017 Forbes list, only four are women. Just one, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, is self-made.
Feminism cannot unite billionaires with gender pay-gap campaign.
The Forbes ad campaign conveniently conflates two incompatible issues.
First, wealth gap is NOT pay gap, since billionaires do not have a fixed salary. Sure, the billionaires’ list underscores that amongst the top .1 per cent, men still create lion’s portion of the world’s wealth. Here is one example: the richest male self-made billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffet together have more wealth than all 56 self-made female billionaires put together!
Nevertheless, factors causing gender wealth gap are not the ones that are also exacerbating gender pay-gap.
Secondly, those women who voice their support for equal pay are fighting against wealth concentration in the hands of a few—men or women. Gender cannot override the conflicting interests between a billionaire heiress and a lunch lady.
And here’s another point of contention that is often overlooked.
A big hindrance to eliminating gender pay gap is the difficulty of raising wages.
Last month when American Airlines announced pay increases for their flight attendants, the company shares immediately fell 8 per cent. Wal-Mart suffered a similar fate last year, after announcing higher wages for their employees.
“There’s always this tension between what companies would want for the long term and what Wall Street wants for the short term,” said John Cotton, MBA professor at Marquette University.
In other words, a female billionaire (just like her male counterparts) worried about her short-term stock value is by definition against equal pay for the overworked flight hostess and the Wal-Mart bagging lady.
Not just wrong, but in bad taste
In an era of rapid wealth concentration in the hands of a few, the pitfalls of inequality are plain to see. The gender pay gap infuriates by numbers alone. To toil under it is numbingly humiliating. Working mothers, especially single mothers, are acutely aware of this.
That is why so many of them strongly relate to Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, or with Jennifer Lawrence’s Lenny article “Why do I Make Less than my Male Co-stars?”
Gender bending Mark to Marcia, or putting blush on Bill Gate’s face doesn’t highlight that problem in any new meaningful way, nor does it offer solutions. To the contrary, Forbes’s ad makes light of a historical injustice for the sake of catchy PR tactic.
Journalistically speaking, that is not praiseworthy.
Can we combat grind culture and injustice with a nap?
(OPINION EDITORIALS) A global pandemic and a climate of racial injustice may require fresh thinking and a new approach from what grind culture has taught us.
Information is delivered to us at warp speed with access to television, radio, and the internet (and more specifically, social media). We are inundated with messages. Oftentimes they’re personalized by something that a friend or family shared. Other times we manage them for work, school, or just keeping up with news. Many entrepreneurs already wear many hats and burn the midnight oil.
During this global pandemic, COVID-19, we have also seen a rise in awareness and attention to social injustice and systemic racism. This is not a new concept, as we all know. But it did feel like the attention was advanced exponentially by the murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day 2020. Many people and entrepreneurs felt called to action (or at least experienced self-reflection). And yet they were working at all hours to evolve their businesses to survive. All of this happening simultaneously may have felt like a struggle while they tried to figure out exactly they can do.
There are some incredible thought leaders – and with limited time, it can be as simple as checking them out on Instagram. These public figures give ideas around what to be aware of and how to make sure you are leveling up your awareness.
Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, Director of the Center for Antiracist Research – he has been studying anti-racism and has several books and interviews that help give language to what has been happening in our country for centuries. His content also delves into why and how white people have believed they are more than people of color. Here is a great interview he did with Brené Brown on her Unlocking Us podcast.
Tamika Mallory – American activist and one of the leading organizers of the 2017 Women’s March. She has been fighting for justice to be brought upon the officers that killed Breonna Taylor on March 13. These are among other efforts around the country to push back on gun control, feminist issues, and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Brené Brown – research professor at the University of Houston and has spent the last two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. She has been listening and engaging on how racism and our shame intersect. She also speaks about how people can reflect on themselves and where they can take action to better our society. She has some antiracism resources on her website.
With all of this information and the change in our daily routines and work habits (or business adjustments), what is a fresh approach or possibly a new angle that you haven’t been able to consider?
There is one social channel against grind culture that may not be as well-known. At an initial glance, you may even perceive this place as a spoof Twitter and Instagram that is just telling you to take a nap. But hold on, it’s actually much smarter than that. The description says “We examine the liberating power of naps. We believe rest is a form of resistance and reparations. We install Nap Experiences. Founding in 2016.”
It might be a great time for you to check out The Nap Ministry, inspired by Tricia Hersey. White people are called to action, and people of color are expressly told to give time to taking care of themselves. Ultimately, it goes both ways – everyone needs the time to recharge and recuperate. But people of color especially are being told to value their rest more than the grind culture. Yes, you’re being told you need to manage your mental health and include self-care in your schedule.
Through The Nap Ministry, Tricia “examines rest as a form of resistance by curating safe spaces for the community to rest via Collective Napping Experiences, immersive workshops, and performance art installations.”
“In this incredibly rich offering, we speak with Tricia on the myths of grind culture, rest as resistance, and reclaiming our imaginative power through sleep. Capitalism and white supremacy have tricked us into believing that our self-worth is tied to our productivity. Tricia shares with us the revolutionary power of rest.” They have even explored embracing sleep as a political act.
Let this allow you to take a deep breath and sigh – it is a must that you take care of yourself to take care of your business as well as your customers and your community. And yes, keep your drive and desire to “get to work”. But not at your expense for the old grind culture narrative.
The actual reasons people choose to work at startups
(EDITORIAL) Startups have a lot going for them, environment, communication, visible growth. But why else would you work for one?
Startups are perpetually viewed as the quintessential millennial paradise with all of the accompanying perks: Flexible hours, in-house table tennis, and long holidays. With this reputation so massively ingrained in the popular perception of startups, is it foolish to think that their employees actually care about the work that startup companies accomplish?
Well, yes and no.
The average startup has a few benefits that traditional business models can’t touch. These benefits often include things like open communication, a relaxed social hierarchy, and proximity to the startup’s mission. That last one is especially important: While larger businesses keep several degrees of separation between their employees and their end goals, startups put the stakes out in the open, allowing employees to find personal motivation to succeed.
When employees find themselves personally fulfilled by their work, that work reaps many of the benefits in the employee’s dedication, which in turn helps the startup propagate. Many aspiring startup employees know this and are eager to “find themselves” through their work.
Nevertheless, the allure of your average startup doesn’t always come from the opportunity to work on “something that matters.”
Tiffany Philippou touches on this concept by pointing out that “People come to work for you because they need money to live… [s]tartups actually offer pretty decent salaries these days.”
It’s true that many employees in their early to late twenties will likely take any available job, so assuming that your startup’s 25-and-under employee base is as committed to finding new uses for plastic as you are may be a bit naïve—indeed, this is a notion that holds true for any business, regardless of size or persuasion.
However, startup experience can color a young employee’s perception of their own self-worth. This allows them to pursue more personally tailored employment opportunities down the road—and that’s not a bad legacy to have.
Additionally, startups often offer—and even encourage—a level of personal connection and interactivity that employees simply won’t find in larger, more established workplaces. That isn’t symptomatic of startups being too laid-back or operating under loosely defined parameters. Instead, it’s a clue that work environments that facilitate personalities rather than rote productivity may stand to get more out of their employees.
Finally, your average startup has a limited number of spots, each of which has a clearly defined role and a possibility for massive growth. An employee of a startup doesn’t typically have to question their purpose in the company—it’s laid out for them; who are we to question their dedication to fulfilling it?
How Peloton has developed a cult-following
(OPINION EDITORIALS) How has Peloton gotten so popular? Turns out there are some clear takeaways from the bike company’s wildly successful model.
Peloton is certainly not the first company to gain a cult-like following–in the past we’ve talked about other brands with similar levels of devotion, like Crossfit and Yeti. Now, full disclosure: I’m not an exercise buff, so while I’d vaguely heard of Peloton–a company that sells stationary bikes–I had no idea it was such a big deal.
I mean, it’s not really surprising that an at-home bike that offers the option for cycling classes has grown so much during the pandemic era (a sales growth of 172% to be exact). But Peloton has been highly popular within its fanbase for years now. So, what gives? A few factors, actually.
If your company really wants to guarantee the vision and quality you’re aiming for, one of the best ways to enact it is through vertical integration, where a company owns or controls more than one part of its supply chain. Take Netflix, for example, which not only distributes media, but creates original media. Vertical integration lets companies bypass areas that are otherwise left to chance with third-party suppliers.
Peloton uses vertical integration–everything from the bike to its Wi-Fi connected tablet to the classes taught are created by Peloton. Although this may have made the bike more expensive than other at-home exercise bikes, it has also allowed Peloton to create higher quality products. And it’s worked. Many people who start on a Peloton bike comment on how the machine itself is well-built.
Takeaway: Are there any parts of your business process that you can improve in-house, rather than outsourcing?
But with people also shelling out $40 a month for access to the training regimen Peloton provides, there’s more going on than simply high-quality craftsmanship.
Hey, plenty of cults have charismatic leaders, and Peloton is no exception. Okay, joking about the cult leader part, but really, people love their trainers. Just listen to this blogger chat about some of her favorites; people are connecting with this very human element of training. So much so that many people face blowback when suggesting they might like training without the trainers!
The trainers are only part of this puzzle though–attending live classes is a large draw. Well, as live as something can be when streamed into your house. Still, with classmate usernames and stats available while you ride, and teachers able to respond in real time to your “class,” this can simulate an in-person class without the struggle of a commute.
Takeaway: People want to see the human side of a business! Are there any ways your company could go live and provide that connection?
Pandemic aside, you can get a decent bike and workout class at an actual gym. But the folks at Peloton have one other major trick up their sleeve: Competition. Whether you’re attending a live session or catching up on a pre-recorded ride, you’re constantly competing against each other and your own records.
These leaderboards provide a constant stream of goals while you’re working out. Small accomplishments like these can help boost your dopamine, which can be the burst of good feeling you need while your legs are burning mid-workout. With this in mind, it’s no wonder why Peloton fans might be into it.
Takeaway: Is there a way to cater to your audience’s competitive side?
At the end of the day, of course, Peloton also has the advantage of taking a unique idea (live-streamed cycle classes built into your at-home bike) and doing it first. Plus, they just happened to be poised to succeed during a quarantine. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from what Peloton is doing right to build your own community of fanatics. There are plenty of people out there just waiting to get excited about a brand like yours!
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