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Newsletter Week 31

September 11, 2019

This week: Nokia found a pay gap. Then they fixed it. Plus, being “fat” at work is hard work. New research explores the lived experience of “fatness,” how people cope, and how companies can help. “We blew it,” says Forbes, about their “Most Innovative Leaders” list that included 99 men and one woman. Finally, a guide to September 11, plus a fact-based look at terrorism around the world.

Nokia Found a Gender Pay Gap. Then They Fixed It.

Diversity Doers: Nokia Set Diversity as a Business Priority for 2019 and Closed an Unexplainable Pay Gap. (D&I Original)

Anneli Karlstedt is head of Inclusion and Diversity at Nokia, and the word order is deliberate. “Inclusion is the topic that inspires people, and we can easily get them to understand why it matters.” she says.

Karlstedt talks with our European contributor, Dr. Jonna Louvrier, about Nokia’s pay gap journey, and how the company is looking at pay processes ongoing to make sure that the gap doesn’t recur.

Fixing any systematic pay discrepancy isn’t “one and done.” To make sure equal pay stays equal, it’s important to develop systems for monitoring each transition point where inequity can creep in. For example, Nokia now watches for pay equity not only in promotions but also in international transfers.

For more on achieving (and keeping) pay equity at your company, check out some best practices from former senior leaders at Starbucks, which achieved pay equity (at least in the US) in 2018. Or, if you’re more interested in diversity in Finland, check out this long but data-packed read on why gender equity at work still lags in Nordic countries.

This Week in News and Research

1. New Research Examines the Treacherous Experience of Being “Fat” at Work (Quartz)

Important new research from the Netherlands examines the experience of being “fat” (a term many activists use) at work. Among the fascinating results:

  • Some interviewees focused on demonstrating how they were “different” from stereotypes about fat people. This included meticulous grooming (to avoid triggering stereotypes of fat people as slobs), consciously walking more quickly than was comfortable (to demonstrate physical fitness), etc.

  • Others chose more of a “flaunt it” strategy, in which they deliberately took up space in order to assert their right to be there.

  • Many participants talked about the physical environment of work was not comfortable, with equipment placed too closely together, furniture being too small for their weight, etc.

This is a dimension of diversity that is often under-explored in the work context, so I’m excited for this in-depth look, and to read more of the authors’ findings as they are published.

2. “We Blew It: Forbes Named 99 Men and Only One Woman on its List of Most Innovative Leaders  (Washington Post)

I heard about this one on Friday, when one of my Facebook groups for women in tech lit up with outrage. By the weekend, Twitter was ablaze, and by Sunday Forbes was publishing multiple apologies. Two key takeaways:

  • If you have a list that is 99% one kind of person, check your criteria. It’s 2019. A list of business “best ofs” that is 99% male just doesn’t make any sense. Given everything we know about how narrow criteria perpetuate bias, a list with one woman should have been a flashing neon sign that something was wrong.

  • If you’re going to apologize, get it right. Chief Content Officer Randall Lane compounded the error by publishing a very half-hearted apology in which he both “owned” the error and defended the “objective” methodology used to create the list.  (He also starts off the apology with a description of how the Twitterstorm had brought down the mood at Forbes’ Friday night launch party, which did not win him any points.) This tone-deaf response actually added to the backlash, causing Moira Forbes to write her own op-ed the next day. 

3. September 11 (The Tanenbaum Center)

While not an official national holiday, September 11 is an emotional day for many Americans. Like most of my peers, I remember exactly where I was when the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were destroyed by terrorists flying a hijacked plane.

I also remember how hard it was, in the days after, for many of my colleagues from the Middle East, India, Pakistan and other countries. Suddenly, they were endlessly scrutinized and stopped whenever they tried to fly, enter a high-rise building, or speak another language in public. Almost all of them were incredibly gracious about the increased suspicion, but it clearly made them feel “other” in a way that they hadn’t before.

In memory of 9/11, the Tanenbaum Center has put together a useful guide to the events of that tragic day, which includes a fact-based analysis of terrorism both in the US and around the world. 

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