Diversity & inclusion at Spoiler Alert: our 2018 journey – Ricky Ashenfelter

Ricky Ashenfelter, MBA ’15, Co-Founder and CEO of Spoiler Alert.

From Medium

As we jump into 2019, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on how we’ve grown as a business over the last year. Growth in customer base, product capabilities, and market awareness of food waste as one of the leading contributors to climate change.

As the leader of our company (and by necessity in an early-stage startup: head of people ops, office manager, and employee handbook author), the most rewarding growth for me has been that of our team, having gone from 10 full-time employees (FTEs) at the start of 2018 to 19 FTEs at the start of 2019.

For some added context, we’re a 3-year old, Boston-based technology startup working in the fields of food, supply chain, and sustainability. Impact is one of our core values, and the environmental and social outcomes of our work are key drivers of everything we do. Motivated by a desire to create a stronger and more resilient team, we made a concerted effort in Q1 2018 to do something we find many companies don’t prioritize until much later on in their journeys. That is, to ensure we had the processes and values in place that enable us to attract a more diverse workforce and foster a more inclusive work environment.

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Talking Trump and Clinton in the Workplace – Neal Hartman

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Neal Hartman

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Neal Hartman

From The Huffington Post

Of course, you know the old adage: Don’t talk about religion and politics. But that’s difficult to avoid as we move into the final weeks of this turbulent election season. It’s natural to discuss the most recent presidential debate with co-workers with the opening line: “Can you believe what just happened?”

With partisan sentiments running high, however, such conversations can lead into stormy waters – if not outright hostility – and that can be counterproductive in the workplace. Modeling the third and final debate, for example, would itself be disrupting; you don’t want to talk over others, shout or slip in insults (“Such a nasty woman” and “You’re the puppet” comes to mind.) There are ways, however, to have political conversations without devolving into a shouting match.

We need to be careful that we – unlike perhaps Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton — don’t let emotions get in the way of considered conversation – even if there is a lot of emotion going into the presidential race. For starters, focus on the issues. Instead of immediately jumping in and saying, “How could anyone vote for him/her?” try asking why the candidate deserves support. What do you think of so-and-so’s policy on X? How could that candidate be helpful for our business or our daily lives? Ask, “What do you think of Trump’s or Clinton’s economic plans, their positions on small business taxes or making college affordable.” The last debate actually created some useful fodder for this kind of give-and-take.

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Discussing politics in the workplace — Neal Hartman

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Neal Hartman

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Neal Hartman

In the latest MIT Sloan Expert Series podcast, Neal Hartman, Senior Lecturer in Managerial Communication at the MIT Sloan School of Management, discusses the current political discourse and the impact of related discussions in the workplace.

What the Market Basket struggle means for Labor — Thomas Kochan

MIT Sloan Professor Thomas Kochan

MIT Sloan Professor Thomas Kochan

From Boston.com

Labor Day traditions call for celebrating worker struggles of the past that helped produce better working conditions for all. This year we have a bona fide case in our backyard that may just usher in a new era of workplace dynamics that future labor commentators will herald.

Arthur T. Demoulas captured the essence of this modern day struggle in his triumphant speech to his employees when he noted that they view their “workplace as more than just a job.”

Today’s workforce, young and old, executive and front line employees alike, want to identify with the mission of their workplace—whether it is serving customers well and providing value for scarce dollars, improving the quality of care to vulnerable patients, inspiring and educating children to reach their full potential, or creating and producing goods that help sustain the planet. When united in a cause people believe in and experience the pride and material benefits of a job well done, a deep culture of shared ownership inevitably develops. When combined with leaders who reinforce by word and actions the importance of teamwork, compassion when personal or family misfortunes arise, and a willingness to respond to community needs, the power of talented, motivated individuals multiplies into social capital no traditional competitor can match.

Read the full post at Boston.com

Thomas Kochan is the George Maverick Bunker Professor of Management, a Professor of Work and Employment Research and Engineering Systems, and the Co-Director of the MIT Sloan Institute for Work and Employment Research at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Changing a company’s DNA to inspire teamwork — Virginia Healy-Tangney

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Virginia Healy-Tangney

While “teamwork” may sound like the newest business buzz word, it’s actually been around for quite a while. What started as a way to increase productivity in a company has evolved to an actual science today with measurable results.

There are many reasons for this, but the clearest involves the need for collaboration. As was noted in a recent Fortune article, even geniuses like Thomas Edison were never “lone inventors.”

Business operates in ever evolving collaborative environments due to integrated factors, such as technology, globalization of markets and flatter organizational structures. Companies that effectively implement teams have found tremendous rewards in the form of innovative ideas, higher productivity, increased efficiency, and communicative cultures. As MIT Professor Alex “Sandy” Pentland  says in his recent HBR article, The New Science of Building Great Teams, this enables “energy, creativity, and shared commitment.” Read More »