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22 2012

Resolved: HR Policy Should Discourage Kids Riding Tricycles

Syndicated from: balance-AND-results

Talk about strategic issues. Some in depth research at Easter dinner revealed to me that kids fall off tricycles and injure themselves despite today’s penchant for helmets and knee, elbow and wrist pads on two-year olds. This means parents of such youngsters tend to stay off work more, with hospital visits and all, and absenteeism, we know, hurts productivity. Since a hiring ban on young parents is infeasible we surely need to ban tricycle riding, by children at least, though goodness knows parents on tricycles probably would create similar productivity issues. Now for that one reader who is about to email to say he favors kids riding tricycles, this is intended tongue-in-cheek, which is to say ‘as a joke.’ Not quite so the recent Globe and Mail report of research in Germany showing banks that appoint women to their boards of directors take more risks. They seem to conclude perhaps women shouldn’t be appointed. That’s a joke for sure, but unintended apparently. There’s science and then there’s bad science. Ideally reporters should mention the difference. In as many of the 209 comments on the article as I could handle, none seemed to mention some of the more obvious possibilities, choosing instead to suggest these women weren’t generally ready or meritorious enough. For one, perhaps those avant garde banks who riskily undertook to appoint women in this still dark day and age were already equally massive risk takers in other ways such as their investing proclivities. Alternatively perhaps we’re so early in the era of appointing women that the majority of men still on these boards simply circled the wagons and kept women’s opinions (notably their supposedly more conservative opinions on risk according to the reporter) from having any sway. No, really, could it be the minority, women, were simply out-voted? Or to carry this a bit further, that the beleaguered men on those boards huddled together in even more ‘group think’ style than often seems the case and plumped for following the pressure they were getting from investors to ‘take the gloves off’ like the real men of neighboring institutions and take unwarranted risks to compete? Or could it be that those men, hearing counter advice from women, decided in macho style to ‘do it anyway’ to show what terrific decision-makers they are? Let’s drag out all the stereotypes. Maybe the solution is to ban men and have all women? Or, like all-boy, all-girl schools, perhaps that’s a better principle for Boards? Or, don’t even think, perhaps the research itself is flawed, that the supposed mountains of data didn’t cover enough territory and so showed an incorrect artifact inasmuch as the researchers themselves avow it to be only a very slight, marginal difference. Perhaps we shouldn’t jump too soon to an absolute ban on women on all boards until this potentially productive line of study can be replicated as with all good science. Or should we perhaps, just perhaps, mention that most relevant prior research seems to show that mixed teams actually make better decisions – but only, ONLY if they are well-managed, something Boards aren’t entirely known for, aren’t typically structured for and often don’t seem to spend much time on? Given these observations it wouldn’t have surprised me if the shortfall was much larger. It appears, one might say, that boards with women are doing remarkably well in these early learning stages, to come close to parity, if indeed the presence of women has anything at all to do with the apparent result and it isn’t due to something else entirely. One might ask what cause and effect proof we’re getting, but oh heck, let’s just keep on the safe side and ban women. NOT! Maybe this is one risk sensible boards SHOULD take along with some efforts to learn better management practices in general. Bookmark and share this post More »

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