Sad, But True (and Funny)

Another in a long line of reasons why companies need to hire an on staff social media professional.

In Defense of Women, or “Another Day, Another 77 Cents”

Women don’t need me (or any other man) to defend them, as they are quite capable of doing so themselves. But they do deserve my support and that of all men in their long and ongoing effort to achieve equality when it comes to treatment in the workplace, today earning about 77 cents for every dollar a man earns for similar work.

Married to a top corporate executive with two daughters working in the education and government fields, I have witnessed first-hand the challenges each face in pursing their careers. Two events last week got me thinking once again about this issue. The first, was the celebration of Equal Pay Day (Apr. 12) which strives to increase awareness of the discrepancy between male and female wages. The second was attending the “Shine On: Celebrating Women Making a Difference” awards at Radio city Music Hall (Apr. 11).

Despite the emergence of women as keen, capable business leaders the latest info shows they still only make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns for a similar job. To quote the Department of Labor,

While women hold nearly half of today’s jobs, and their earnings account for a significant portion of the household income that sustains the financial well-being of their families, they are still experiencing a gap in pay compared to men’s wages for similar work.” (Dept. of Labor, Equal Pay Day Toolkit)

Yes, progress has been made over the years, and certainly,  there has been a fundamental change in the role of women in the workplace. While Stay at Home Moms (SAHM) remain a vital part of society wage equity has certainly lagged behind the realities of today’s workforce where men are not necessarily the family’s main wage-earner.

Portrait Monument image via WikipediaCongress as well has hampered equal pay progress by failing to pass HR:1519 The Paycheck Fairness Act in both 2009 and 2010 (although reintroduced last week with 168 congressional representative sponsors). Ironically, Congress itself is an equal-pay workplace, mandated to pay senators and representatives specific salaries regardless of gender. Of course, Congress also kept the Portrait Monument (left), dedicated to the pioneers of women’s suffrage Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony, in the basement of the Capitol for 76 years before restoring it in the Rotunda in 1997, and even then said it’d only be there for one year (though obviously extended).  Hmm…

On a brighter note, Good Housekeeping — a “main stream media” magazine publisher that has remained relevant for over 125 years — celebrated women making history with its Shine On awards. This year’s winners were:

  • Christy Turlington Burns – For her work as an advocate via her Every Mother Counts
  • The sOccket Girls – Four Harvard grad students for combining  soccer with enlightenment
  • Elizabeth Blackburn – Nobel prize-winning scientist whose work may unlock a cure for cancer
  • Michelle Rhee – Controversial forward-thinking educator for her Students First organization
  • Lisa Switkin – Urban planner of green space including the High Line park in NYC
  • Indra Nooyi – Chairperson and CEO of Pepsico, Inc. also active in Water.org

Amazing people all, I was impressed with their intelligence, eloquence and passion to improve society.

Oh, and they just happen to be women.

To Stop the Bleeding AOL Applies a Patch

+ + =

When I was at AOL, we had two areas that appealed to our members literally where they lived: Digital City (later CityGuide and now City’s Best) for local content features; and AOL Local which provided local based community forums. These areas really resonated with our members because as vast as AOL was in its hey-day, these relevant offerings touched them on a personal level.

Flash forward to the present, and those halcyon days are long gone. AOL is now a smaller player on the online scene with niche properties replacing the walled-garden portal. And, it is making a big splash in the formerly safe-haven for local media — hyper-local news — with Patch.

Patch sites have sprung up all over the U.S. and their success is taking its toll on local news orgs. It just launched its 500th site in Hopkins, Minnesota and despite Patch editor-in-chief Brian Farnham’s contention that, “We aren’t there to compete, but to just add another voice to serve the community,” Patch is causing local news media to make changes.

After the launch of Sonoma (Calif.) Patch, the local Sonoma Index-Tribune was forced to drop its three-month-old content paywall in order to compete.

Will Patch be AOL’s salvation? Combined with it’s niche sites (TMZ, Popeater, LemonDrop, et. al.) I think it just might. What do you think?

Would your employees recommend you?

Think your employees would recommend your company or its products? Think again. A recent study by Advertising Age reveals that only 27% of employees would recommend its products or services. Worse, almost twice that amount, 49%, are actually company detractors.

As for blocking employee access to social media, the survey found that active social media participants are likely to support the company 48% of the time with far less (only 22%) likely detractors.

With a 78% likelihood that your social media savvy employees would not speak poorly of the company, it pays (literally) to let, no, to help your employees be your best ambassadors in the social media space.

Should we still call it Black Friday?

Should we still call it Black Friday if consumers demand and only respond to deep discounts? Revenue isn’t the only thing, profit matters. In an effort to build sales, retailers have conditioned shoppers to buy earlier, but only at the discount level traditionally reserved for leftover goods at season’s end.

Brief example: A retailer brings goods in and factoring out the cost, freight, shrinkage and other discounts, has a 40% initial gross profit  margin. Now, say those goods are on sale on Black Friday at 50% off retail. Add in extra selling expenses (payroll) to handle the extended hours that day, is any profit made? And the big Black Friday sellers, electronics and toys, typically have only an initial gross margin of 10% or less making them even less profitable when discounted.

And so Black Friday, meant to depict the date at which retailers started to operate at a profit, or “in the black”, and incorrectly thought to be the biggest shopping day of the year (the Saturday before Christmas has that distinction) may be more accurately — and awkwardly — referred to as “Continuing-the-red Friday.”

You can’t make that up in volume.

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