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Gender bias is more than just actions, thoughts too

(ENTREPRENEUR) Harvard Business Review just released a study that shows how our subconscious language has as much of a gender bias as our actions.

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Subconscious language

Unfortunately, it’s no secret that language is subtly but dangerously gendered. Women are “bossy” while men are “assertive.” Women are “past their prime” while men are “distinguished” and “experienced.”

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Obviously there is not some overhead conspiracy against women, but there remains a subconscious bias in the way that genders are discussed and the list of tilted adjectives goes on.

Conversational study

A recent study by the Harvard Business Review (HBR) was designed to examine the financial decision making process for government venture capitalists in Sweden, who take tax revenue and strategically invest it back into the Swedish economy by funding entrepreneurial innovations. But in the course of analyzing the recorded conversations of 125 decisive, closed-room meetings, HBR uncovered an unsettling, unquestionable disparity between the language used to evaluate male and female entrepreneurs.

Over a two year period, HBR observed, recorded, and transcribed the kinds of language seven VCs (five men and two women) used to talk about male and female entrepreneurs.

The transcriptions underwent a meticulous translation process into English, and were then analyzed to pull out words and phrases used to describe the entrepreneurial hopefuls, including comments on appearance and capability.

Using these comments, HBR developed profiles of the average male and female entrepreneur, as described by the government VCs. The gender bias nothing but striking.

The lingo

The average male entrepreneur sounds pretty great. He is:

  • “young and promising”
  • “arrogant, but very impressive competence”
  • “aggressive, but a really good entrepreneur”
  • “experienced and knowledgeable”
  • A “very competent innovator and already has money to play with”
  • “cautious, sensible, and level headed”
  • “extremely capable and very driven”

Hard to say no to that entrepreneur’s business! And what about that female entrepreneur over there? Well, she’s . . .

  • “young, but inexperienced”
  • Lacking “network contacts and in need of help to develop her business concept”
  • “enthusiastic, but weak”
  • “experienced, but worried”
  • “good looking and careless with money”
  • “too cautious and does not dare”
  • Lacking “ability for venturing and growth”

Wrapping up

To summarize, men are competent, knowledgeable, sensible, and capable. Women need help, and they’re weak, good looking, careless, and too cautious. Positive qualities in men become negatives in women. And for the love of money, why does it matter what she looks like??

HBR points out that this sub-conscious gendered language isn’t just a bad sign for gender equality – it’s also a bad sign for the economy, since bias could be preventing the best ventures from getting the funding they deserve.

In Sweden, about a third of all businesses are owned and run by women, but female-owned businesses receive only 13 to 18 percent of all government venture capital funding.

Thankfully, after HBR presented their bonus findings to the government VCs, new regulations were put in place to help combat that damaging bias. But we still have a long way to go before women business owners are both fairly funded and fairly represented – bias creates major inertia, often discouraging disadvantaged groups for going after their goals in the first place. Raising awareness is the first step, but really, we’re aware already! Let’s do something about it.

#GenderLanguage

Staff Writer, Natalie Bradford earned her B.A. in English from Cornell University and spends a lot of time convincing herself not to bake MORE brownies. She enjoys cats, cocktails, and good films - preferably together. She is currently working on a collection of short stories.

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Business Entrepreneur

Amazon on a collision course with politicians as they strengthen their monopoly

(BUSINESS) E-commerce has come a long way in the last decade, specifically led by Amazon, but are their controlling ways putting them on a collision course with regulators?

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In March, Amazon stopped replenishing weekly purchase orders for tens of thousands of vendors in a move that has stirred up some trouble. The tech giant has once flexed its power over first-party sellers over their platform. And it’s not the first time.

Amazon originally sent out to vendors as an automated message citing the hold up in orders as a technical glitch. The following day, vendors were told the change was permanent. The affected vendors were categorized as making $10 million or less in sales volume per year and not having managers at Amazon. Vendors selling specialized goods that were difficult to ship were also a factor.

The effects can have remarkable effects on the market as Amazon’s algorithms decide who is able to sell what to whom via their near-ubiquitous platform. According to John Ghiorso, the CEO of Orca Pacific, an Amazon agency for consultation and manufacturers representatives, the decision is driven by financial data such as total revenue, profitability, and catalog size.

In a response from an Amazon spokesperson, the change was made in order to improve value, convenience, and selection for customers. The mass termination of purchase orders and the delayed response from Amazon herald the transition to the One Vendor system, putting vendors in an exclusive relationship with Amazon. This system will merge the current Seller Central and Vendor Central.

Amazon’s message is loud and clear: they will do what’s in their best interest to mitigate the market for their convenience. One may be reminded of the anti-trust lawsuit against Microsoft in 2001.

The lack of warning didn’t do them any favors either.

While smaller businesses need to change for Amazon’s program, first-party business will revolve around larger brands like Nike with whom Amazon is maintaining a relationship.

Despite the streamlined platform Amazon is going for, the company wields power over vendors and customers alike. Capitalism is one thing, but monopolies are a whole other ball game, and politicians are finally paying attention.

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Business Entrepreneur

Culture Codes is the guide you need for company culture questions

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) One of the biggest sellers of a company to a prospective employee or customer is their culture. Culture Codes has compiled some the biggest companies cultures in convenient decks for you to study and align with.

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Organizational culture is a hot button of conversation. While a variety of definitions exist, one way of defining Culture is the way businesses exist – a summary of values, rituals, and organizational mythology that helps employees make sense of the organization they work in.

Organizational cultures are often reflected in Mission, Vision, and Value statements of organizations.

What many entrepreneurs or new organization struggle with as well, is how to create a culture from the ground up. What kinds of statements and values do they advocate? What are areas of focus? Who are our competitors and what can we do to create a service, product, or quality advantage?

Building a strong culture can be challenging, but a good place to start is looking at the best cultures around.

A new resource by Tettra, Culture Codes, has everything you could want to know on different companies their cultures available for you to study up.

Over 40 companies employing over 280,000 employees have created culture decks and collected core values and mission statements. Companies like Spotify, Netflix, LinkedIn, and NASA have all contributed information.

This information is great for young companies or entrepreneurs to start building a schema about what kind of culture they want to create.

Or existing established companies can look towards peers and competitors and help decide what statements they want to engage culture change on.

For job seekers, Tettra can help potential employees gauge if they are a fit for an organization, or discover that maybe an organization they dream about working for has a culture they may not jive with. And perhaps most valuably, transparently showing off your culture and allowing it to be compared means that organizations can better compete in the talent market.

Recruiters should be obsessed with talking about culture – because it keeps people in the door.

The reasons why people leave employment: work/ life balance, poor treatment, lack of training, or relationship issues with a supervisor or boss; in many ways are a by-product of organizational culture. If you want to compete in the talent market, make culture a selling point and show it off in everything you do.

Even consumer’s benefit from learning about an organization’s culture – values that indicate a commitment to excellence in ethics make consumers feel good about supporting an organization.

It pays to have a good culture. I encourage you to head over to tetra.co/culture-codes and see how companies like Etsy are keeping it real, every day.

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Business Entrepreneur

Simple, inspiring growth hacks from successful startups

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) Growth hacks – they’re not the end all be all of tech startup success, but they’ve certainly helped give a major boost to many companies that are thriving today.

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Growth hacks – they’re not the end all be all of tech startup success, but they’ve certainly helped give a major boost to many companies that are thriving today. If you don’t know, a “growth hack” refers to a strategy used, often by tech startups, to rapidly sell products or memberships, and gain lots of exposure and a big following right off the bat. Growth hacks are usually clever, creative ways to maximize social networks, digital or literal, to gain customers quickly.

Quora recently listed a round-up of the “most ingenious” growth hacks. Let’s review three killer examples of growth hacking success:

Groupon remains one of the most obvious growth hack success stories.

In order to unlock Groupon discounts, you have to share them with your friends to reach a minimum number of people buying in.

Merchants can afford to give massive discounts, even losing profits, in exchange for the huge amount of exposure their brand gets.

Groupon and the brands offering coupons both win.

Airbnb’s business model has a built-in growth hack – literally anyone can list their apartment or house, meaning that the growth of Airbnb’s user base knows no bounds.

What is even more ingenious is that when you list a property on AirBnB, you have the option of also posting it on Craigslist.

You’d think more companies would have tried this hack by now, but apparently it took some pretty crafty coding for AirBnB’s tech geeks to figure out how to piggyback onto Craigslist’s audience.

One fabulous growth hacking idea comes from Dropbox. Refer a friend on Dropbox and get free extra storage space.

The storage space is relatively cheap for Dropbox to provide, but the referral is valuable.

This is exactly how I myself got into Dropbox, and every time I want to share a file with a friend, I recommend that they download Dropbox. As a file sharing platform, it makes sense for me to want the friends I share files with to be using the same platform.  This model has worked out so well for Dropbox that other companies are now offerings freebies in exchange for referrals.

Growth hacks won’t save a company without a solid business plan and sound investments behind it – but they can be a great way to utilize social networks to boost growth and establish a broad audience right from the start.

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