Friday, November 14, 2014

Time votes to ban "Feminist"

Time magazine is running a poll as to which words should be banned and the word feminist appears on the list.

I had to read the list twice and slap myself to believe that they had actually put this word on there.

And perhaps what surprised me the most is over 45% of the readers had voted to do away with the word. Who are these people and what in god’s name are they thinking.

At a time when the debate is rich and engaging at a global level, we have a well-respected magazine place it on a “ban” list.  

Why is the word “boys club” not on the list!

We are in an era, I believe, where the word feminist is no longer seen as a dirty word, feminism is seen as a movement, a demand for equality.

Because if we are not equal than what are we?

We are not bra burning, male hating monsters. We are level headed, smart, entrepreneurs who simply want equal representation at leadership levels, equal pay; not be among the world’s poorest, or refugees or be the victims of domestic and sexual violence.

We believe in and demand social, political and economic equality. And what may I ask is wrong with that?

For a moment let’s imagine if we did do away with the word. How would we describe ourselves then?

For a long time so many were afraid to be labelled feminists, I was one of them, not anymore, as more and more men and women join this movement it becomes richer and stronger and it starts to create a ripple effect, a revolution that will inspire and demand change.

We cannot be feminists quietly, by ourselves, in our own time, the movement requires men to join us to ensure that we have significant impact and influence.  

I grew up in an environment where girls were not encouraged to be themselves, were spectators rather than participants, their ambitions were denied, their aspirations were only around marriage, yet the men were the opposite.  And in many places in the world this culture still exists.

In Australia the debate is rich around the gender pay gap, which is currently at its highest, women in senior leadership positions, on boards and of course whether we legislate on quotas and targets.

So for Time magazine to put this word on a list of potential words to be banned is sadly a reflection of where we stand globally on this debate of equality.

The disappearance of this word would mean that we ignore, forget and deny generations of good men and women who have fought for us to have the right to vote, the right to work and now we fight for gender equality.

I would prefer to ban words such as “paygap”, “inequality”,” housewife”, “sexism”, “sexual harassment”

At a time when this is a global debate, why is gender equality not on the G20 agenda?

Our Prime Minister could easily lead this discussion and it is one that is worthy of a discussion at this level. However Mr Abbott has not been proactive on this issue. Women in Australia will retire on 40% less superannuation then men, they will pay more interest in their university loans then men simply because they will have children.

It will be 2089 before we achieve equal pay globally. That is 75 years and almost 3 generations away. We cannot let this happen, this is not the legacy I want to leave my children.

We all know that the issue of gender equality is not just a fight or an issue for women.

Yet the answer to the issues lies in the hands of our leaders. Our male leaders. Who if any of them will have the courage to actually start the ripple?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ripple Affect

It is common for women to ask men to " put themselves in women’s shoes and consider how it would feel to be a woman." We hope that by asking men to do this they will have some empathy towards us. 

To date, I don't believe, that this has worked very well. Men don't seem to be able to put themselves in our shoes.

Maybe we need to ask a different question because men are certainly not “feeling” what we do.

Perhaps the question needs to be “how would your life be different if you were born a woman”?

This question gets men to actually consider the ‘biases’ against women and how they would react to them if they were against them.

To help our male counterparts understand what it would be like to have been born a woman here
 are few thought starters:

In many countries being born a woman does not equate to the celebration of a new life, it equates to being a burden on the family which may result in your death as an infant, if you are kept alive then education may not be your privilege, becoming a child bride may be or worse being sold into slavery. Your male family members will often decide your fate and if you choose to defy these it may result in your death.

You may be one of the 70% of women who make up the world’s poor, where you are a victim of systematic discrimination in education and healthcare, you may have never learnt to read and write, be the one in three that is a victim of abuse or forced into labour.

You would have had to fight for the right to vote and now that you have it, fight for equal pay and equal employment opportunities.

You may be the victim of violence, in Australia 1 woman a week dies from domestic violence and 1 in 3 have experienced violence of some sort.

You would have had to give up your career at some point to have your children and yes just imagine giving birth.

More often than not, the role of ensuring that the household is still functioning will be your responsibility. And yes your husband will potentially be coming home late most nights.

Every month you will of course have your periods, you will bloat, have tender breasts, feel grumpy, tear up and often be in pain.

Every two years you will have to have a pap smear.

Then at some point you will go through menopause.

You will retire on 40% less superannuation than your husband if you are in Australia

You will pay more interest for any loans you may have taken out to complete your university degree simply because you will choose to take a break and have kids

The common language you will hear is that you have to ask for what you want, lean in, learn how to do business like a man, letting go of the guilt.

In the workplace you may be described as bossy, bitchy, aggressive, and often be accused of sleeping your way to the top.

You will have to work harder in business to gain the promotions that your male counterparts currently get.

You will feel enormous guilt over just about everything.

Everything you wear will be commented on and judged, how you do your hair and your makeup, nails, shoes....the list will go on.

You will spend a lot of money getting most of your body waxed to ensure that you are virtually hairless for your partner as this seems to be the trend today

Oh and of course there is the whole weight issue. If you add on a few kilo’s your male partners in life and work will no doubt notice it and comment. Note also that the waist line of your male counterparts seems to grow in girth yearly

Now of all the above were not challenging enough lets add to the mix the following

o   Under representation in the media

o   No such thing as a cheap haircut

o   Under representation in politics

o   More likely to be harassed in public

o   At worse other women will not support your endeavours

So, if you were born a woman, some of the challenges you may face , depending on where you are born, will be around gender equality, gender pay gap, violence, poverty, hunger, homelessness, trafficking, under-representation at all levels.
Given all the above, how many men would choose to live the life of a woman.

Not many I would suggest. Who in their right mind would want to deal with these issues?
If the thought of being born a woman is not one that any man would want why is it that men are not championing the issues we face louder than women are, why are they not leading the charge more aggressively than woman are.

There are more men around board tables, directors and CEO’s of companies, surely the issue of gender equality should be an easy one to fix if these men truly understood what their life would be like if they had been born a woman!

Common ground between politicians and real estate agents!

I attended an event recently where the keynote speakers were political analysts discussing the upcoming Victorian State Elections.

What I found fascinating and interesting was the focus on the changing face of the electorate and the key ways politicians now had to engage with them to gain their vote.  

Simply being the local politician who represented and followed the party line on policies wasn’t enough.
The electorate today is more informed, has access to information or data and they demand  a connection with party policies and the politicians. There are, in fact, more swinging voters than ever before and the youth coming through question everything.
As I sat and listened to the speakers, I was amused at the irony of how the issues politicians face are not dis-similar to ours in real estate.
How do you get people to know you, like you and trust you, to vote for you or select you as their listing agent?
It was suggested, by one of the speakers,  that if political parties had call centres that employed nurses, teachers or mums to make calls or even door knock suburbs to share with the constituents the virtues of a political party and their polices they would obtain far more engagement then what they currently do.  It’s the power of third party endorsements – sound familiar.
If these political campaigners then used social media to comment or share their views and experiences, they would obtain even more cut through with their constituents.
Believe it or not, if political parties did consistent DL drops with a message that the consumer connected with and then door knocked they would get buy in.
What I found fascinating was the key issues political parties’ face is identical to what we face in real estate - having a database that is up to date and called and marketed to in a consistent manner.
To quote one of the presenters – if a politician had an up to date data base, that was consistently called, who connected with the consumers and ensured that people understood his/her key message and the benefits of voting for him/her; then that politician would be more likely to win an election!
Database connection was more powerful and engaging than any TV, newspaper or radio advertising.

As agents we do have an advantage over politicians – we are perhaps more trusted!
On a serious note however most agents work in farm areas and you don’t need to have an entire state on a database; just everyone from your farm area.
The issue then becomes more about consistently marketing to your database with a message that people are going to connect with and consequently, select you as their listing agent.
Time and time again it has been proven that there needs to be a balance between success and connective marketing. The consumer needs to know that you understand their needs and you are the right agent to list with because of your success.
The reasons why people sell or buy homes are upgrade, downgrade, death, divorce and change in financial situation. Why not create marketing around these key messages linked in with your success?
Using social media not to market properties you have listed, sold or leased but more about what you are putting back into the community and have others endorse your success.
Lastly the concept of a call centre or lead generator shouldn’t be out of the question. Why not have someone call your database on a regular basis to constantly keep it updated, connect with your constituents and find you leads.
The research we conduct at Harcourts consistently shows that we are selected as the listing agent because the vendor knew the agent; was referred by family or friend; had used us before or simply contacted the local Harcourts office. Given these are the reasons it is important you have a mix of the following as part of your ongoing prospecting plan:
  • Consistent calls to your database
  • Success marketing
  • Connective marketing
  • Social media presence
  • Boards in your local market
  • Advertising in your local press   
 It is much easier for us to build a database, relationships and become the agent of choice than it is for a politician to do the same and get elected.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Virgin's unlimited holidays

We are constantly discussing flexible workplaces, engaging the next generation of workers, hot desking, having people work from home and it seems that Richard Branson has gumpzed us all by announcing that his staff can have unlimited holidays.
The Virgin staff in the US and UK head office will receive unlimited leave on the proviso their work is up to date. The focus, Branson states, is on getting the work done rather than the 8am-5pm hours.

An interesting paradigm shift for employers and employees.
Employees are being held accountable on the fact that when they take their leave their work is 100% up to date and that everyone is across what they are responsible for and their time away will not in any way damage the business or their careers.

The idea is to create workplaces that boost morale and drive productivity. Virgin is not the first business to head down this path.
The positives are clear, employees, you would assume, will be less stressed because they are taking regular breaks which then impacts positively on their productivity and the bottom line.

As employers we don’t have to set times for annual leave or pay out those who choose to leave. I would also assume that long service leave would no longer be applicable.
The key positive impact is from a recruitment perspective. You would assume that this would be attractive to potential employees when assessing who or which brand they want to work for.

It seems that by allowing employees to take unlimited breaks what we are testing here is the trust we have in each other and whether unlimited leave actually does equate to productive motivated team members.
The jury is still out on this I feel.

The reality is that yes we are much more productive before we go on leave. While on leave however almost all of us check emails so we don’t return to an overflowing in box.
If you work in a team environment and take regular breaks it means that someone is constantly having to pick up your work. No different to what happens when you take your required leave now however it is only for a fixed period of time.

If you are given the choice of unlimited leave, how often will you actually go? And given Branson’s criteria – you will not damage the business or your career, you would perhaps not actually take any extra leave.
We have held onto the traditional 4 week leave for far too many years in my opinion. With the use of technology and access we have to each other across the globe I believe it is time for business to reassess leave entitlements.

If we didn’t want to be as extreme as Branson, however still make changes and attract people into our businesses or sectors, perhaps consider

·        6 – 8 weeks leave vs 4 weeks

·        1 week leave to work for a not for profit

·        The day off on your birthday

·        The day off on your child’s birthday

·        The day off on your spouse’s significant birthday or event

·        Flexible work days

·        Ability to work from home

Annual leave is something we can change per business or group or industry.
If we all agree that employees who are less stressed and tired are far more productive, that the traditional 4 weeks leave needs to be changed, then as employers we each have the ability to change the landscape on this and perhaps attract and retain the best people in the process.