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February 2017

A cheap risk strategy

Risk is the basis for life, given the advance of civilisation is entirely change-based. What if our species said, ‘nuh, sorry…I’m out – going back to the cave, folks.’

Because innovation is a change event, and humans are neurologically change-adverse – our primitive, instinctive reptilian brain function simply rails against it.

Business even constructed a communication framework to support people through workplace change, which manages organisational risk variables regarding adoption.

Otherwise, risk management is big business in its own right; as related to workplace safety and economic prosperity. However, with a world of scientific evidence in the information and technology ages, organisations continue absorb unnecessary risk.

Like Australian firm Denovo Consulting who, this week, ignored the evidential publication of their unethical business practices across three top social media platforms, with 48hrs and 24hrs respective notice to act.

This is good. It’s 2017: people know there’s a problem with unethical business. We don’t care which way business chooses to practice; we just want to know who is worthy of our trust and respect. Because smart professionals don’t align their brand with business that they aren’t proud to be associated with.

It might have escaped the attention of Australian business, but non-physical intangible assets such as brand equity, intellectual capital and goodwill are the dominate means by which they create value.

In fact, Harvard Business Review article, Risks and Reputation, put the American economy’s intangible market value at between 70–80%—and that was a decade ago.

Seven West Media chairperson Kerry Stokes and Beyond Blue CEO Jeff Kennett are great examples of brands willing to absorb reputational risk in their current crisis management mode; ie. risk management occurs well-prior to an adverse event.

Stokes backed his CEO, workplace lothario and sex scandal protagonist, Tim Worner who tabled a December media conference announcing a 91% company loss in six months.

‘Tim Worner, himself, continues to enjoy full confidence of the board as our CEO, where he is doing an outstanding job and he leads the best media team in Australia,’ Stokes told journalists.

‘There is no governance issue…the board will have no further inquiries. We were disappointed, we were forced to make such a serious investigation into such irrelevant allegations that have no substance at all.’

Apparently, Twitter-redacted SMS messages between Worner and Seven West combatant Amber Harrison, whereby Worner professed to being a chem-sex god, were inadmissible.

Stokes added he had received only four messages from concerned shareholders thus revealing his shareholder theory subscription; managers must maximise shareholder returns at all costs.

This is opposed to stakeholder theory, whereby a manager will balance shareholder and stakeholders’ interests; eg. employees, customers and the community, even if it reduces shareholder returns.

Again this month, Stokes further damaged his brand in refusing to release the audit report, clearing Worner of misconduct including corporate expenditure of $600k in three years.

As a result, former Royal Women’s Hospital Foundation Board chairperson and president and respected Gilbert + Tobin lawyer, Shelia McGregor immediately resigned the board citing ‘ethical issues’.

As for Kennett – the Seven West board member and Australia’s premier depression advocate is reimbursed $127k annually to represent an organisation that endorses well-documented female employee harassment.

So what would be the cost Seven West to mitigate the current reputational risk crisis? Apparently, only $245k owed to Harrison who contests the agreed separation fee was short.

That’s one arsey billionaire, I reckon – especially one indicting that they directly influence what future inquiries the board undertakes?

We know it would cost Kennett $127k to ensure his well-crafted benevolent image remains intact; but what would it cost for Denovo Consulting to protect their brand?

Nada…beside a direct hit to patriarchal pride. A couple of paragraphs, stating the bleeding obvious that could in fact win them business – sorry is still the hardest word to say.

And even professionals are getting it wrong, with advertising guru and fem-icon Jane Caro announcing on Monday breakfast television that two women featured in the now defunct Ultratune ad were ‘aliens’.

When Twitter-queried, Caro created a strawman as advocate against plastic surgery for ‘young girls’ standing by the vilification to her 17k+ audience, thus rendering a recent column professing to being a ‘woman’s woman’, as absolute crap.

Interestingly, risk is difficult to define – traditionally there’s little consensus: because how does one measure objective and subjective risk?

In 1921, Risk, Uncertainty and Profit author Frank Knight boils it down to this: risk is quantifiable uncertainty; eg. someone skydiving sans parachute suffers no uncertainty – they will die.

The engineering profession defines risk as the ‘product of the probability of an “undesirable” event occurring including expected harm assessment.’

But what about those life curveballs that impact psychology and ultimately, personal risk management frameworks? Like my old man – post Vietnam War.

Having survived a gunshot wound to heart and lungs, his brain injury reframed the definition of danger; ie. people are more dangerous than nature. So, Dad built a 38ft heavy weather boat and we sailed round-the-world for three years – in his words, he was ‘keeping us safe’.

Adventurers are by-nature, natural risk-takers; but they prime for as many known-unknowns as possible. So he prepared – smelting 12.5 tonnes of lead for keel ballast…right though to lead-lining the massive diesel engine bay.

Noise minimisation is important on a yacht. Built for wind, sailors engage engine power during risky manoeuvrers – like navigating a rocky entrance in a rolling swell, or for example, locating someone overboard off Shark Bay, West Australia at 3am in 3–4 metre seas…when we lost Mum.

In short, we-three teamed up and reversed Honeychild under engine power to her plaintive cries, ‘over here, over here’. Coming up port side, Dad with superhuman strength, reached into the drink and lifted Mum out, wet clothes and all – thus rendering $200 worth of foam lead-lining as priceless.

Whatever we know about risk, this is true – that undertaking risk, properly conceived, is often rewarding. And that’s the paradox: the real risk, is in not taking a risk. Just don’t forget the bloody lead-lining!

 

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What the world needs now

I’m a natural evidence-based dissident. Why not. I’m a smart, strong woman in a man’s world. If I can see a hole in an argument, it would be erroneous to validate the assertion with silence?

Like when SMS colleague Ed thought to advise me one sunny day to ‘write everything down; if you’re anything like me, you forget what happened the day before.’

It’s a little-known fact, but one of my superpowers is memory – it’s fucking technicoloured since age 2. So the cognitive dissonance that occurs, when a fallacious male entity proffers unrequested advice that attempts to align me with their personal limitations, is quite sharp and shocking.

And for both parties I’d imagine, when I shortly disinclined the argument and left. However, when it comes to Dunning Kruger, it’s important to demonstrate relationship inequalities, lest continue in the same vein. Boundaries – no good, if not enforced.

Besides, there is nothing quite like a timeless, well-delivered slapback. My rewards centre is always lit in pursuing linguistic perfection, but especially when it comes to returning shade where certain characters are involved.

Plus, I’ve got that slapback memory, which amuses mates and I decades after the fact. Sure, it’s my small brain in action, I freely admit; but at least it’s cerebral and ultimately, highly practical.

I only throw shade when I get it, or someone is being bullied. Meaning, if your operations negatively impact me or you’re prick generally speaking, I’m happy outlining argument theory flaws. It’s a pleasure.

Everyone does it in their own way. Like Charles Sturt University public ethics Professor Clive Hamilton on Friday, when he nationally disgraced the Australian Government by resigning from the so-funded Climate Change Authority.

Hired to develop meaningful, fully-endorsed policy, Hamilton was horrified when the government’s snakes-and-ladders approach to a world crisis, opted for a Red-bellied Black backward-arse tilt. Perceptually positioning, most can appreciate the cog-disconnect for an ethics academic hired to do a job by piss-weak blockers pretending to manage a shitshow.

‘It is perverse to boost coal production when 2016 marked the hottest year on record,’ Hamilton said, referring to the new Australian report by Climate Council’s Dr Tim Flannery. He continued, ‘If the new coal-fired power plants are built, the government’s already-weak 2030 carbon-reduction target is unattainable.’

But Hamilton’s stand demonstrates not just a perverted government actively seeking to destroy an environment they do not own, when numerous solutions are available; it’s this…that largely, government ‘business’ operations are an unethical farce.

If an ethics professor cannot work ethically for a government, then that government by definition is unethical and therefore, a farce.

As any associated employee, contractor and/or consultant will tell you, at any point in their career, government hires us and then actively prevents us from doing that job.

Hamilton has publically demonstrated the actual perversion of Australian Government; its operations are a converse error. That is, a government-funded agency is created to provide advice that the government takes because they fund it. Wrong. The latest ‘fuck you, Pachamama’, which Hamilton evidences, shows government is logical fallacy.

And the kicker? What was the government’s response to a public relations crisis of global proportion – what communication would Federal Government ‘choose’ when referencing the fact, the boy’s club are set to continue negatively affecting climate change, which will be an extinction event?

Wannabe-chief Australian environmental protector and second-in-command, Mr. Josh Frydenberg commented, we are ‘unapologetic as we transition’. Yep. Instead of manning-up to look like a ‘dick speaking the truth’, he went with looking like a ‘dick with a strong arm’. Good choice – always a great public relations move.

So what was the truth? That the Australian Government is scared shitless about last week’s Adelaide electricity debacle, when a 40% renewable-energy state leader suffered massive outages when wind farms were ‘becalmed’. That’s right – Adelaide hit the doldrums, and the government pissed its pants.

In any case, when it comes to dissidence – the meaning, like anything, is in the action. And Australia’s call-to-arms regarding our failing duty-of-care, tantamount to torture and murder, is on 22 April for Canberra locals.

So start saving your cardboard boxes, because not only are we marching for ‘that waterhole we spent hours’ duck-diving each summer with Mum yelling at us to get out, or the world’s totally-fearful soon-to-be displaced island peoples who have no voice’, but his Holiness Sir David Attenborough is visiting.

The world’s preferred grandad-adoptee is gracing Aussies with his presence, as his science peers kindly name a local slug in Dave’s honour. And he is honoured like only Dave could be – with gorgeous child-like wonder at the natural world, even if it’s slimy.

Apparently, the snail’s healing properties are a metaphor for his special brand of environmental balm. But will his message stick before we reach the scientific tipping point, and will anyone care if not?

For more information about the Aussie efforts regarding the global March for Science, go to marchforsciencecanberra.org and follow @ScienceMarchCBR.

To the mattresses: part 1, basic training

Manners maketh man’ is sizable social construct by a patriarchal religious institution in a patriarchal society, which largely, a patriarchy eschews practising? Well – when one considers 98% of incarcerated persons are male. At what point do women need to become downright fucking rude to advance their human rights?

Over the weekend, women in STEM hijacked an existing industry campaign to give US President Donald Trump a big-ole social media finger. And it was as pretty as it sounds.

The ‘actual living scientist’ tag ‘to improve industry access to professionals’ was leveraged in an emerging gender issue as threatened by the new White House administration.

Worldwide; tough, intelligent, tenacious STEM women segued existing discussion to comment professionally on Trump’s new ‘dress like a woman’ workplace policy, and tweet pics.

Like Karen Romano Young, who assert for her female colleagues in science and snow – ‘here’s what we wear in the Arctic when we’re studying the effects of climate change’.

Or, Ivelisse Viruet who tweet Trump commenting: ‘while you were granted five draft deferments, I served 22 years in the military – I #dresslikeawoman, and you need to #actlikeapresident’; and, Amy Tan MD, who says ‘I can’t #dresslikeawoman without my scrubs.’

But it’s Herding Movement who best demonstrates a continuing workplace problem: ‘I’ve had engineers ask me to get them a coffee because I #dresslikeawoman (and) then realise that I’m the #actuallivingsciventist running the damn project.’

Pound for pound, these women, and women globally, are doing it better than men in their arena. Period.

It’s easy to qualify that statement; simply, those women did it without the resources men have thrown at them, and yet, they continue to throw-in for the potentially criminal shitshow that they are often victim too.

Like my 1990s Defence colleague, ADFA naval officer Fiona, who was physically tortured by her officer-in-charge – made to march while carrying a vacuum cleaner over her head because he knew she had a bad back.

Or my mate Summers, a naval investigator at Garden Island whose well-qualified Christmas Day search request was blocked by lazy male officers.

In the end, she went around them; ran the investigation herself and uncovered a hoist of illegal weapons. One sailor had nine guns. Job done.

Or the time I was sexually harassed working for Immigration in 2010. Again, yawn. I was chatting with female colleagues about the green wedding dress Cate had worn, when ACT change pretender Troy lurched over.

Troy thought to demonstrate his kinky workplace VPL fashion concerns, which seemed strange for a Hawaiian-shirt loving Neanderthal? ‘You wouldn’t have worn panties on your wedding day, would you Amber,’ Troy grunted.

I tend to feel sorry for these professional deviants or workplace terrorists; well, look at them? What’s someone like that actually got going for them? Hot tip. It will never worry me when a 2017 male mode ‘chooses’ socially, politically and economically regressive personal policy, which as studies show, negatively affects ‘their’ mental health.

As women, we need to focus on circumstances within our control. These oft-silent terror attacks are and continue-to-be managed by professional women on a case-by-case basis. Think Turnbull and Trump for next four years, ala ANZUS Gate last week. Besides, warfare is a training grounds.

The real problem for women is not the odd workplace dust-up. It’s this. Despite the Dunning-Kruger effect, professional females who are ‘actively’ aware of their talent, are ‘actively’ underselling themselves because it’s ‘unladylike’.
And Australian female professionals have a further cultural barrier; more colonial hangover with the Tall Poppy Syndrome. Women are taught in so many ways – not to acknowledge professional strengths that aren’t sexually-based, and sell themselves in a capacity which is not physical-based. Think about that, people?

On the other hand, men are biologically-programmed and well socially-advised to double-down on risky behaviour that backs numero uno. Studies show, men are more likely to talk themselves up, and all the while, women are talking themselves down. Christ, I don’t need a study. I am the study.

Like Airservices colleague, German national Sven, who introduced self as an ‘ANU scholarship awardee’? Sure, it’s impressive – but it smacks of hubris, and is ultimately unAustralian. One does not walk around dispensing tickets to their own show, PT Barnum-like. ‘Step right up, folks!’ People want people to go about achieving quietly, and this is especially true of women.

Why? Over 150 years of studies show the incredible conscious and subconscious bias that both genders have towards women. Neurobiology well demonstrates the hurdle.

For example, researchers recently discovered that while both genders objectify undistorted images of each other – when the images were both distorted, both genders continued to objectify women…and not men.

Clearly, human beings have no real response control to ‘the feminine’ as a society – and I doubt we can ever know the full depth and breadth of an issue that will make or break us, I’m sure.

One thing is clear – male self-promotion is effective. This means professional women must adopt a new personal public relations strategy, and enforce new boundaries.

Because no one is here for anyone – if you don’t believe in you, with necessary self-talk required to develop a positive attitude and enact supporting behaviours, nobody is going too.

So, try it out. It’s won’t be easy for most – people will laugh at you, depending on the size of your social experiment. Like Canberra Business Chamber representative Katrina, when I test to partially determine her usefulness to me?

Although, it’s worth noting, the failure finally occurred some 14 days later, in which time, Katrina had managed to sign-me-up electronically for a $180 in-house workshop, all the while not distributing to me, the start-up information freely proffered.

Apparently, a smart professional woman who self-brands as ‘talent’, will continue to be confronting. Of course, there is the other thought? That it’s just so hard to find talent these days.

Ghandi said it best: when you go to ‘change the world’, people will ignore you at first. Then they laugh and resist you, before finally, accepting the change. The beauty is, also according to Ghandi, all you need to do is, ‘be the change’.

Yep, there it is. The man-made world already largely ‘works’ for men. So – it’s actually time for women to beat their change drum, which will benefit our species. Yep, time to double-down, ladies.

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