Two hundred years ago (August 24, 1814), the British burned the U.S. Capitol and White House to the ground. This took place at a time of an intensely divided American government — where rancor, bitterness, and profane curses were commonplace in Congressional debates between Federalists and Republicans. Yet, these same Members of Congress stood together to turn back the British and rebuild Washington.
Polarization and intense difference hold sway today too. Shall we come together or let the house burn down?
One of the inspiring lights of that earlier era was Dolley Madison, remembered as the country’s first “first lady.” She took it upon herself to provide a context for engagement that cut through the animosity of the time. She redesigned the White House, carving out grand social spaces, to make it possible for people to meet together.
Nearly one fifth of American workers work in retail and fast food, and they have bad jobs. They earn poverty-level wages, have unpredictable schedules that make it hard to hold on to a second job, and have few opportunities for success and growth. These are not just people who are uneducated or unskilled. In 2010 more than a third of all working adults with jobs that did not pay a living wage had at least some college education or a degree.
The conventional wisdom in business is that bad jobs like this are necessary to keep prices low and profits high. If a low-cost retail chain were to pay its cashiers more, then it would either make less money or have to raise its prices. Implicit in this logic is the seemingly self-evident tradeoff between low prices and good jobs. But that is a false tradeoff. Even in highly competitive industries like low-cost retail, it is possible to pay employees decent wages and treat them well while giving customers the low prices they demand.
I studied four retail chains that manage to do this: Costco, Trader Joe’s, QuikTrip (a U.S. chain of convenience stores with gas stations), and Mercadona (Spain’s largest supermarket chain). They offer their employees much better jobs than their competitors, all the while keeping their prices low and performing well in all the ways that matter to any business. They have high productivity, great customer service, healthy growth, and excellent returns to their investors. They compete head-on with companies that spend far less on their employees, and they win.
Sports radio isn’t a typical venue for impassioned debate on work-family issues and employment policy. But recently when Daniel Murphy took three days off from his job as second baseman for the New York Mets to be with his wife as she delivered their newborn son, it became just that. Two WFAN broadcasters — Mike Francesa and Boomer Esiason — took to the airwaves to rebuke Murphy’s absence.
“Quite frankly, I would have said [to my wife that she should have a] C-section before the season starts,” Esiason said. (For the record: Major League Baseball has had a three-day paternity leave policy since 2011.) Thankfully, all that machismo subsided when fans and athletes came to Murphy’s defense.
“You know, the man had his first child. He’s allowed to be there. The rules state that he can be there, so he went,” said Terry Collins, the Mets manager.
Bravo to Murphy for exercising his employee right to take paternity leave. Well done to Collins, his boss, for encouraging him to do so. These are welcome developments, particularly in such a male-dominated arena, like sports.
Companies promote diversity in the workplace as a moral imperative with “bottom line benefits.” But research on the value of diversity is mixed. Some studies have found diverse teams—meaning workgroups comprised of employees of different races, genders, and backgrounds—promote creativity, nurture critical thinking, and tend to make better, more thoughtful decisions because they consider a wider range of perspectives. Other studies indicate diverse teams fuel interpersonal conflicts, reduce cohesion, and slow the pace of learning.
Bryn Panee Burkhart, Associate Director, Alumni Career Development
Social media has become an integral component in the recruiting and hiring strategy of all types of firms, from startups to multinational corporations. In particular, LinkedIn offers robust corporate recruiting tools, giving firms sophisticated means of combing through LinkedIn profiles to find talent, a solid job board that shows users their connections to hiring firms, and company pages that build strong corporate brands.
LinkedIn’s biggest source of revenue is from corporations who purchase its corporate hiring solutions. Out of the Fortune 100 companies, 85 now use LinkedIn for recruiting. There are over 200 million members on LinkedIn, and the site claims that a new member joins every two seconds. The fastest growing demographic on LinkedIn is students. LinkedIn is a formidable tool for both recruiters and job seekers, and in the Career Development Office we are actively teaching our students how to leverage LinkedIn. Some key tenants include: Read More »