A non-profit organization in our area is well known for its program to help unemployed individuals find work. Imagine my surprise yesterday when I read a job posting from this organization for an Executive Coordinator. The posting ended with a statement that any applicants who had not been employed continuously for the past six months would not be considered for the position.
In other words, while this organization continues to solicit and receive funds from contributors to coach job seekers on how to best find work, they themselves would not consider any of these job seekers, no matter how qualified, for employment.
This ad epitomizes a trend among employers around the country. They separate applicants into two categories: the Haves and the Have Nots. Those who currently have a job are considered for hire; those who do not are automatically excluded. One could make a case that having a job, any job no matter how menial, reflects a certain integrity and work ethic valued by prospective employers. However in an era when even the most menial jobs are difficult to come by, treating current employment as a prerequisite condemns the currently unemployed to become even more unemployable as the gap on their resumes continues to widen.
In their recent interview with Alice Andors for HR Magazine (“Hidden in Plain Sight” January 2012), economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett and executive vice president of the Center for Talent Innovation Ripa Rashid postulated that there is a direct correlation between the education and corporate advancement of a country’s female workforce and the country’s economic growth. They specifically pointed out that the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), whose combined markets have accounted for forty-five percent of global economic growth since 2007, have this very thing in common. These countries are educating their young women at higher rates than they ever have before and they have outpaced the United States in the percentage of senior management positions held by women.
According to Hewlett, in 2009 Brazilian women held thirty percent of executive positions compared to the twenty percent held by women in the United States. Likewise, women hold thirty-two percent of senior management positions in China. In the United States only twenty-three percent of senior management positions are held by women.
There is, however, a dark side to the professional success of women in these countries. According to Rashid’s research, women working in management positions in the BRIC countries commonly put in over sixty hours a week. Highly qualified Chinese women employed by global companies work an average of seventy-one hours a week, while Russian women in senior positions put in seventy-three hours a week.
The emphasis on work-life balance here in the United States may be holding some women back from making the same strides as their ambitious counterparts in BRIC countries. At the same time, taking steps to enable and encourage more young American women to pursue degrees in the science, technology, engineering, and math (the STEM fields facing a shortage of qualified employees) and encouraging the promotion of deserving women into senior and executive management positions could spur economic growth here at home.
It’s common knowledge that the original Declaration of Independence was, for all practical purposes, written by, for, and about white male property owners. What would happen if we gave that declaration a twenty-first century makeover? The heart of the revised text might read something like this.
We hold these truths — following years of eye-opening civil rights marches, presidential proclamations, and federal legislation — to have finally been made evident, that all men and all women, of all ages, races, religions, ethnicities, national origins, sexual orientations, abilities, disabilities, and perceived disabilities, are endowed by their Creator — or by One Big Bang Randomly Scattering Sub-Atomic Particles — with certain Litigable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Equal Pay for Equal Work. To secure these rights, the EEOC, along with local, district, and supreme courts, are instituted among Men and Women and Transgenders, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed — that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to hold Tea Parties and to Occupy Wall Street and to pose questions via Facebook to Candidates Competing in Endless Televised Debates to institute a new Government as most likely to Lower Unemployment, to Raise the Stock Market, to Protect Property Values, and to keep Terrorists, Tax Collectors, and Drug Lords at bay.