Thursday, October 23, 2014

Come See this Wall of Shame

Happy Fernandez had big plans for helping develop women leaders in the non-profit world. Women in particular, she felt, could benefit from mentoring by other women who, like herself, had made difficult ascents up institutional ladders and were now reaching the end of their careers.
The politically savvy former college head pulled together some 20 women -- leaders in the non-profit  sector -- who began meeting to come up with a plan for giving back. (She included me, thinking some day I'd write about their initiative.)
Then,  very suddenly nearly two years ago, Happy died.
With her spirit and energy still in the room, her rump group continued to meet, following up on one of her ideas: to study the gender gap, both in numbers and salary, among non-profit executives in education and healthcare in the Philadelphia area. Thanks to the Forum of Executive Women,  that report was published this week -- a new addition to the Forum's annual look at corporate salaries.
The good news: the percentage of women at the helm of non-profits or on their boards is far greater than for public companies in the Philadelphia region. A survey of the area's 100 top companies in 2013, found that only 12 percent of executive positions were held by women. That compared with 26 percent of executives in health care and 29 percent in colleges and universities.
The bad news from those same numbers: even in the non-profit sector where women generally reach higher rungs, only about 1 in 4 executives are women, according to the latest data, from 2011.
Plus, most of the medical and educational institutions with significant numbers of women in leadership are those that were historically women's schools and/or Catholic institutions where nuns had significant roles. Their numbers skew the totals.
Look at the pitiful number of women on boards of some big non-profit institutions based on 2011 data:
Thomas Jefferson University -- 4 of 39 board members were women; Temple University (4 women out of 36), Virtua health system (1 out of 12),  and Kennedy Health System (1 out of 11).
Women, after all, account for most employees in both education and health. Those are areas of care and nurturing -- roles that women in particular have claimed as their dominion (though thankfully more men are stepping up at least on the home front.)
Although the numbers of women leaders at public companies (vetted by the accounting firm PwC) have been edging up,  the results remain dismal. Fewer than half the companies  (44 percent) have no women at all as top executives, according to their 10K filings. Comcast, now a big national company, in 2013 had no top executive women, no top salary earners and but one female member out of 12 on its board.
There's more:
--35 of the top 100 public companies in the area had no women on their (well paid) boards;
--Only eight companies had three or more female board members
--Only seven companies had a female CEO
And by my count, 21 of the 100 companies were all male bastions, with not a single woman on either their boards or among the top ranks of their executives in 2013, according to the report, which failed to break out that tally. For the record, let's name those without  any women leadership: Triumph GroupDFC GlobalJ&J Snack Foods (what, women don't eat pretzels?); Dorman ProductsBrandywine Realty TrustFive Below (we know who shops for the toys); StoneMore Partners (owners of funeral homes and cemeteries); Vishay Precision GroupPhotoMedex (a skin care firm); SL IndustriesDover Downs Gaming & Entertainment (maybe that's why its shares are worth only 81 cents); Omega FlexRCM Technologies; Resource America; Lannett (a drug maker); Dover Motorsports (owners of Dover Speedway); WPCS InternationalInTESTInnovative Solutions; JetPay (a payroll company); and ProPhase Labs (which makes ColdEEZE).
While many of these are industrial and technology companies, what do their leadership choices say about their commitment to women in STEM (Science, Technology Engineering, Math) jobs?

The report also found women lagging men financially, both in public companies and "eds and meds":
Of the "top earners":
--Women comprised only 10 percent of top earners at the 100 public companies;
--Women comprised 32 percent of top earners at health-care systems;
--Women made up 27 percent of top earners at colleges and universities.

Jane Scaccetti, one of three women directors of Pep Boys, a car care company, explains why getting more women on boards can make a difference in decision making.  Not naming a company with just one female board member (herself), she gave this example: "I watched a board committee become enthralled with a candidate because he was once a great athlete. They asked questions mostly about his athletic accomplishments…After the interview, when I questioned the shallowness of the candidate's answers to technical questions and experience, a member looked shocked that I was challenging a great athlete."
At Pep Boys, she said, adding women to the board has changed its dynamic. "As a lone female board member when I voiced an opinion or raised an issue," she says in the report, "I would hear, 'She said.' When there were two women serving on the board, things improved to 'They said.' Now that there are three women, we hear, 'What did you say?'"

Happy, who had just stepped down as president of Moore College of Art, was seeking a way to channel women's leadership experience to help others up the ladder as her "unretiring" project. A way to give back.  Her legacy is inspiring other to find ways to do that. For one, the Forum of Executive Women offers mentoring in the corporate world. What else is out there? Do you know of another programs? Have any ideas?

Monday, October 20, 2014

As for a Name, the Answer is …..

Thanks to many of you for responding to my plea on what I should call myself for the Library of Congress  Some of you thought I should not walk away from my byline of many years (Dorothy Brown). Others advised that I needed a name with more gravitas.
I have decided! I am me! I'm settling for the name I feel most comfortable with -- the name I've preferred since getting married, the one I've been using for this blog -- which by the way does not have "Dorothy" in it!
I tried out my new byline in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday, where I wrote a piece that dovetails with the book that I should be working on now instead of blogging.  Here's the link.
The article is about the surprising history of the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta, happening Oct. 25-26.
Also, I've decided I have to walk the walk, but in this case it's 'row the row.' If I'm writing a book about Boathouse Row, I need to race!  I'll be on the river with my niece at 2.55 p.m. Saturday, rowing our little hearts out over the 2.5-mile course. We hope to do it in under 25 minutes, which won't be any record, except for us.
Challenges! That's  what we need to continue living at peak performance.
Again, my thanks to all for your advice. --"Dotty Brown"

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

On Picking a Name -- For Me

I was a bit stunned and humored some years ago to learn that my eldest daughter had turned to the internet to ask her friends -- and total strangers -- for advice naming her newborn daughter. In fairness, she had picked out two names but she was stuck deciding which one. She liked the ring of both but worried that one would be the baby name-of-the-year. And she worried which one felt just right. What would her child's identity be?
Now, I'm laughing at myself! Because I'm reaching out for help, too. And for much the same reasons.
Except it's about me. How can it be that at this stage of life, I should worry about my name? my identity?
Recently, I signed a book contract. With the paperwork came a piece of paper asking me what name I want to use for the Library of Congress.
The Library of Congress!!
Decades ago, newly married, I made a major turn in life when I was confronted with the question of my first byline at the long defunct Philadelphia Bulletin. My editors convinced me that my maiden name was too convoluted and I should just go with the simple: "Dorothy Brown." Reluctantly, I conceded, though I always much preferred "Dotty," which is what I chose three years ago for my  blog name.
Now I'm pondering: For my book, for the Library of Congress, should I be "Dorothy Brown"?  (Why walk away from a byline I've built up over the years, one friend advised.)
 Or "Dotty Brown?" (It's a "good name," my book editor said and UnRetiring has given it a presence on the web.)
Or use my maiden name in the middle? (For her book, Arlene Morgan told me she added  "Notoro" to honor her parents. Also, my brother liked that idea because, he said, "When people google you, I'll come up!")
I took to the web to see which of my personae could most easily be found. Under "Dorothy Brown," using specific additional search terms (which probably only I know), I did find some of my travel stories:  traveling with grandkids to Italy,  hiking across England on the coast-to-coast trail , or great bike rides in Philadelphia, including "Larry's loop," the directions for which have been lost from the web. (I'll email them to you if you want.) I also stumbled on an article by the late and much beloved Inquirer editor Jim Naughton that mentions me, in 2001, as one of the few remaining people then at the paper who had edited a Pulitzer prize.
But on Google, I'm sandwiched between many other Dorothy Browns, including a Philadelphia woman who is in legal trouble running a charter school. She even has my middle initial!
On the other hand, "Dotty Brown"  is a major purveyor of fabrics in England. Only after you get past her, do you find some of my blogs.
The last time I fretted this much about my identity was when I bought my last car! One person had scarily told me it could, in fact, be the last car I buy.
Is there an afterlife in a book? Or on the web? Should I care? Or should I think more about the good works I do that live after me.
Hopefully, some day, when I cradle my new creation in my arms,  I'll finally be comfortable with who I am.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ivan Smith: His Gut Said 'Go'!

Ivan Smith: No more gray 
Actor and educator Ivan Smith knew in his gut when it was time to leave his job. When the vibrancy ebbed away.
As Ivan put it:
"When the dye of the fabric leaves, you're left with sort of a gray … when the color starts to leave it's time for a change."
It's "less of  a mental thing and more of a feeling of the heart," he explained.
And so, after 35 years, Ivan left his career as a pioneering educator in Montreal, developing alternative schools for high school drop outs. A behavioral consultant with a background in psychology, he became "part of a therapeutic intervention team to help kids with behavioral differences and other differences and their families to make schools and their lives a happier and better experience."
"I always in life want to maintain the color, maintain the exuberance, maintain the energy," he said of his leaving. I've never been in a job that I dreaded or disliked or luckily needed financially. ...I tend to change my life when the color does deplete."
But Ivan had --and still has -- a second love.
"I was always an actor, always will be, I think."
Since his first TV role as a teenager, Ivan has performed part time on TV, on stage in Montreal, and in movies such as Dr. Baboor, in The Phantom. See his many creds here.
Where once he was picky about his roles, trying to balance work and acting, he now has the time to go out for cattle calls. "It's a bit of a crush on the ego but at this age you learn to cope with rejection."
A year after leaving the education world, Ivan is is surprised, in retrospect, at how much easier it is for him to now "unplug." It used to take him about 40 minutes of walking or running to feel good, to relax.  Now, it happens in 15 minutes.  "I'd come home and I thought I had border control but apparently I didn't," he explained. "All the negativity that you have to deal with travels with you, stays somewhere in the crevices of your mind. The children who are being abused. The parents who are irate. The principals who don't understand."
His goal: "to continue being freed and savoring the smaller things in life. You need very little to be happy. A walk will do it. A good meal. Friendship is really important All the supposedly cliche things are true…A passion is important. I've started painting again.  I love cooking and am developing that skill.
"You have to have something you want to do so that fabric doesn't turn gray. You need the color."
And occasionally, klieg lights.