A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (January 30, 2007) discusses award-winning corporate programs that expand leadership opportunities for women. Catalyst recognized Goldman Sachs, PepsiCo Inc., and PricewaterhouseCoopers and a few others for their efforts to increase women at the executive level.
For example, PepsiCo is big on mentoring. Senior female executives mentor women interested in leadership positions. Mentoring adds great intangible value to an organization and paves the way for others to lead. At PepsiCo the number of women of color increased from 72 to 144 since 2001 because of its nurturing environment. This is no small task since almost every company is trying to increase its diversity while the pool continues to remain small.
Other award-winning companies have implemented other elegant and practical ideas to encourage women to seek leadership positions. Scotia Bank regularly interviews female executives informaly before an audience of middle and lower level women managers. These interviews cover the gamut of questions from work-life balance to time management. Such simple yet meaningful programs have yielded dramatic results for the bank. Women executives have increased from 18.9% to 31% since 2003.
The bottom line is increasing the number of women and minorities in senior level positions does not require huge investments of money. Instead it requires commitment, dedication, and walking the walk. It is simple as that and challenging as that! Some corporations are clearly ahead of the pack and such companies will be the winners in the long run while others play catchup.
My name has become associated with a now infamous and anonymous blog. Believe me, it was not by choice. As many of you in academia can attest, very little in academia is by choice, especially if you are an administrator in the middle of a controversy! I was not seeking fame or notoriety. I was the President of a small rural college (Alfred State College) and made a decision that almost any Presidents in my situation would have made. The few individuals who were affected by my decision vowed to make life difficult and they did. A blog was started on May13, 2005 (yes, Friday the 13th!) I received an email over a weekend that carried the first posting of the blog. It was under the name of Brewster Pennybaker.
To the Editor: Brock Read’s "Attack of the Blog"
September 15) states that the unknown blogger was "mad as hell" at my performance as the president of the State University of New York College of Technology at Alfred. My report card includes, to list just a few items, an outstanding accreditation report from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and high praise from the accreditation team for my leadership; a double-digit increase in funds raised; … a 35-percent increase in international students; several first-time community-outreach initiatives; Intel recognition as one of the top-50 "most wired" campuses; and the largest building boom on the campus since the 1960s. The full credit for the above accomplishments should go to a highly ethical, dedicated, and visionary team of senior leaders that I was privileged to be a part of. The Chronicle’s article has a few errors and omissions. First, it states that "more than 20 college officials had quit or been fired." Human- resources records show one termination, four nonrenewals requested by direct supervisors, and eight reassignments.Second, SUNY did not conduct an investigation "of the tension between administrators and faculty members at the college." The administration and the Faculty Senate jointly invited an arbitration team — which, by the way, found serious flaws with the way the senate conducts business — to do so.Third, Robert Albrecht, another target of the blog who was mentioned in your article, is a SUNY distinguished teaching professor, who has served with distinction for four decades. .Finally, the bloggers targeted not just the president, but many others, including the chancellor, senior SUNY administrators, community members, and even young children of senior administrators. These attacks are still occurring. Other presidents before me, and their families, have also been viciously attacked by this group. The article omitted two important facts: First, public documents show why James Grillo was reassigned from his administrative post, a decision enthusiastically hailed by internal and external stakeholders as long overdue, and, as your reporter noted, an event "seen by many professors as a catalyst for the blog’s formation." Second, the administration incurred Mr. Grillo’s wrath when it took a principled stand against a bar he owns a few yards from the campus, which places students at high risk through its questionable practices. Anonymity is an aphrodisiac for cowards who perpetuate lies and slander to destroy hard-earned reputions, and sacrifice the common good for their personal gain. Confusing it with "free speech" is an insult to our forefathers.
Uma G. Gupta
Senior Adviser to the State University of New York for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
State University of New York
Happy New Year to all my readers!
All predictions are that 2007 will be an adventurous year. It will be the year for those with courage, conviction, guts, values, and vision, whether it be individuals or nations. For those who have their heads stuck in the sand, well, sand doesn’t taste good, you know?
For those who see the world as a global stage, life will be exciting and adventurous and the rewards will be bountiful. As any one who has traveled the world can attest, travel changes your view of the world. It opens your mind from being narrow, parochial, partisan, and paranoid to bold, tolerant, vibrant, and intelligent. So this year topping my list of New Year resolutions is Travel. See the world. Learn about different people and their cultures. Learn a new language. Make time for friends. Be connected to a higher spirit and of course, ignore the nay sayers (remember,no one has ever erected a statue for anonymous writers!)
So if you have never left your little corner of the world, venture out. Learn something new about other cultures. Being global is no longer an abstract concept. You may live in a rural part of the world, but if your thinking is well, not global, then dinosaurs and you will have a lot in common. That’s in essence what Pamela Martin says in her convocation address to the freshman class of 2009 at Carolina Coastal University.
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