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The Great Moral Challenge of Our Time

October 29, 2010

Gender inequity is the great cause of our time -- the next moral dilemma that civilation must attack to move to a higher level.  New York Times reporters and husband and wife Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristoff bring tremendous focus to the issue in their fantastic book Half the Sky.Sheryl WuDunn brought their powerful message to a TED forum in London.  Once you start listening to her message, I doubt you'll be able to stop.  Click here for more. 


A Little Peace Music

October 29, 2010

These final days leading up to the mid-term elections have been so filled with vitriol, small-mindness, finger-pointing and squabbling that I deeply appreciated a friend sending me this beautiful clip from the film, Fiddler on the Roof.  Click here for two minutes that will nourish your soul.  Peace.

Leadership at all Levels Behind Ford Motor's Stunning Turnaround

October 28, 2010

Detroit News columnist Dan Howes, who has been covering the auto industry for decades, provides the story behind the story of the company that is presently the pride of the Motor City and regaining Wall Street's confidence. 

Foresight leads to Ford’s comeback


The rush to confer quasi-sainthood on Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally is understandable, given the pile of profits the automaker is amassing — standing at $6.4 billion so far this year, ahead of schedule.

But he had help, lots of it, to put Ford on the verge of becoming the world's most profitable automaker, starting with a board of directors led by an executive chairman whose name is stamped on every Blue Oval worldwide. That's huge, arguably even more than the backing of the Ford family itself.

What could the Ford family diaspora do in the dark days of 2006 or the even darker days of '08 and '09 — peddle their stakes to would-be buyers at the lowest valuations in their lifetimes and risk losing control of the company? Don't think so.

Corporate directors have choices, though: They can fret over their image and resign, as former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin did a month before Mulally arrived in 2006 and HSBC's John Bond and Nokia's Jorma Ollila did in the fall of 2008. Or they can stand up, do their jobs and force a change in direction by hiring someone who will lead the change, and then back him up.

The directors, including Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. and his cousin, Edsel Ford II, realized as far back as 2006 (and probably sooner) that the Dearborn automaker's business was broken, that bankruptcy would destroy the company and the family's century-long hold on it, that collapse was probable.

They understood that the revolving executive doors atop the Glass House left them with few viable inside candidates to replace Bill Ford, that the company needed a CEO hardened by tough industrial restructuring, that the new guy would need billions of dollars to finance a turnaround certain to include cutting jobs, jettisoning brands and shaking the company to its core.

They faced what their rivals at then-General Motors Corp. mostly avoided until it was way past too late. Which is why Ford is on track to be one of the greatest industrial turnarounds this country has ever seen and GM is doing it the harder way.

GM gutted through bankruptcy and emerged as a ward of the federal government. It is preparing to launch an initial public offering, led by its fourth CEO in less than two years. Why? Because GM's former directors refused to make the tough choices, to find the right leaders, that Ford did.

Oversimplified? Not really. Way back in '07, when GM was agreeing to fund hefty increases in pension payments for the United Auto Workers, Mulally would stand at his window in the northeast corner of Ford headquarters, point in the direction of the Rouge complex and say something like: In 10 years, this could all be gone.

He'd tell Ford marketers and engineers that the company had been going out of business for 25 years. He'd argue unspeakable heresy — that Ford didn't need to be in the global luxury car business, that it didn't need to own a third of Mazda Motor Corp., that the Mercury brand had outlived its usefulness.

In each case, he'd be right. In each case, the Ford logic he probed didn't make business sense. In each case, the outsider gone inside voiced conclusions echoing those from critical employees, outside analysts and media hacks who were routinely dismissed by company officials.

And in each case, the directors backed the new guy because they knew he was right — Ford had to change or it would die. They approved his once-unthinkable moves, funded product plans and backed his management team assembled mostly from longtime Ford hands.

All of which put Ford more squarely on a road to a sustainable and profitable recovery, the kind of result that many inside and outside the Detroit automotive bubble could be excused for thinking they would never see.

But they are. Ford this week said its net income through the first nine months of this year totaled $6.37 billion, most of it coming from its crucial North American operations. U.S. market share is up for the second year in a row. And a pillar of the American auto industry can legitimately claim that reports of its death were premature.

Gives new meaning to the word comeback — and the difference enlightened leadership can make.


(313) 222-2106

Name It, Change It

October 26, 2010

The Women's Media Center has started a new initiative to fight sexist and misogynistic attacks on women.  It's called:  Name It, Change It:  Sexism and Equality Don't Mix.  They've been particularly busy during the campaign season.  Here's just a sample of what they're tackling:  




With the midterm election just one week away, sexism against women candidates is accelerating towards an all-time high. At the Name It. Change It. campaign, we've had our work cut out for us, fighting to curb misogynistic media coverage case by case. In fact, we've responded to 13 incidents in the last two weeks!

We've found sexism everywhere--from opposition attack ads to magazine cover illustrations, from television pundits to "private" conversations, from men's magazines to iconic fashion publications. We've been hard at work, standing up against misogyny directed towards all women leaders, whether they are State Senators or former Vice Presidential Nominees, Republicans, Democrats, or even Green-Rainbow Party candidates. Name It. Change It. has embraced its mission to help all women running for office, irrespective of their political party--because an attack against one woman is an attack against all women.

Sexist jabs have become so rampant that we've uncovered some surprising perpetrators: women themselves. In recent weeks, female candidates have engaged in gendered mudslinging by urging their male opponents to "man up" or accusing male leaders of lacking "cojones." Even the California NOW President approved the characterization of gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman as a "whore." Sexist slights, no matter who uses them, perpetuate a toxic political environment and reinforce the barrier to women's political participation.

Though we continue to be frustrated by ubiquitous sexism, we are also tremendously inspired by the strength and resilience women candidates have shown by taking a stand against sexist attacks. Thanks to you, together we flooded the WRKO station in Boston with hundreds of calls, while MA State Treasurer candidate Karyn E. Polito reprimanded the crew of WRKO's Tom and Todd Show for discussing her "tight little butt" on air. And all total, Jay Leno received 1.372 emails after making an inappropriate oral sex joke. NC State Senator Margaret Dickson was joined by women leaders and organizations in a press conference denouncing her opponent's sexist attack ad, and U.S. Congressional candidate Krystal Ball made headlines across the nation for her valiant response to media sexism. Even our own WCF President/CEO Siobhan "Sam" Bennett, who faced breathtaking sexism in her bid for U.S. Congress in 2008, proved her valor when respondingd to a blogger who reposted a deeply misogynistic quote about her.

Name It. Change It. not only combats sexism in the media against women candidates, but empowers women in media and politics by encouraging them to stand up for themselves and for all women. During this last week leading up to the election, we're asking you to tell your friends join us in taking a stand against misogyny by reporting and responding to sexist media coverage. Together, we can work to create a more equitable political environment and a more inclusive media landscape. 



Insights for Women in Business

October 24, 2010

More companies on jumping on the Womenomics bangwagon and realizing how much of the consumer spending women control these days.   Beth Marcello, vice president of women's business development for PNC Bank, sent me an example of what her financial institution is doing to offer women specialized financial information.  Lots of good content.  Click here to read Insights for Women in Business. 

For Colored Girls Coming November 5th

October 17, 2010

I've been compiling a list of wonderful movies about women's lives and with strong female characters.   Women and men from all over North America have been sending me recommendations.  Some have sent links to trailers.  I've discovered some fantastic movies that I missed and remembered old time friends. 

Several people also alerted me to fantastic new films and documentaries that are coming soon, such as For Colored Girls that debuts Nov. 5th with a star-studded cast.   Here's the trailer.

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