Archive for June, 2011

Are You Bumping Your Head?



The concept of a glass ceiling isn’t new. But maybe it’s not always about the glass. Sometimes, I think what we’re really running into is a green ceiling.

Although women now graduate from college at a higher rate than men, we’re still being paid less for the same job. I’ve heard a lot of rationalizations–women get mommy-tracked, some of these studies don’t really establish job parity and include CEO bonuses which skews the results, yadda yadda yadda.

But according to a new study, women who are new college grads earn less than their mail counterparts, even when they hold the same job. According to the article, “NACE research director Ed Koc analyzed starting salaries of 2010 bachelor’s degree graduates and found that women pulled down an average of $36,451, vs. $44,159 for men.”

That’s a 17% difference. That’s huge.

So, okay, it’s unfair. What do we do about it? Is this a question of how job applicants market themselves? I tend to think not. I suspect it’s perception on the part of the person doing the hiring. But the fact is this: a job is worth a certain amount of money. That’s true regardless of who fills it.

It’s time to end the unfair practice of salary confidentiality. This benefits the employer far more than the employee–and I’m not persuaded that there is any true benefit to the employee. We’re adults. We should be able to handle this news. And all the company has to do is pay its employees based on the jobs they do.

Photo by AMagill, courtesy of Flickr.

Closing the Loop


Loyalty scheme

Partnered loyalty programs abound, but it isn’t always easy to make the most of them. Recently, though, I’ve found an example that I think works.

The supermarket nearest to my home is Ralphs. It’s a major chain here, so there are lots of locations for me to visit, no matter what part of town I’m in.

The cheapest gas near my home is at one of the local Shell stations.

Several months ago, while filling up my tank, I noticed that the digital screen on the pump said something about the Ralphs Rewards program. I swiped my supermarket loyalty card at the gas pump and saved 10 cents per gallon.

So that’s pretty cool. The only trick was that to get the discount, I had to have “earned” 100 rewards points since my last trip to the gas station. But we buy a lot of groceries, so I was getting the discount more often than not.

Now, there’s a new wrinkle that makes this an even better deal. If I take my Shell receipt to Ralphs and show it to the cashier, I double whatever points I would receive for that supermarket purchase. So I get more points at Ralphs, speeding the pace at which I get discounts there, and it’s much more likely that I’ll reach the 100 points needed for a gas discount every time I fill up.

Nice job, Ralphs and Shell. I’m pretty sure this is what synergy feels like.

Photo by Pigsaw, via Flickr.

Privacy is History


At least, it is if we’re talking about the Web. Yes, you can select privacy settings that reduce the likelihood that information will be spread. But those aren’t guarantees. So why not just assume that anything you post can be spread, and factor that into your decision whether to post it?

Sadly, Representative Andrew Weiner is learning this in front of all of us. And what makes this particularly sad is that he’s not the first politician to be in this kind of situation.

So be smarter and better informed. Make wiser choices. What you share is up to you. Well, mostly.

Email Overload


GTD - my inbox (before)

I’m pretty sure that if I took all of the messages from companies I’ve bought things from and made them tangible, my inbox would look like this.

It’s a jumbled mess–and I don’t just mean the inbox. I mean the marketing itself. Why is there so much of it? And why does it go out so often? Seriously, unless you’re doing something special (and if you have a new promotion every week, it’s not special), it just doesn’t make sense to send promotional e-mail so frequently. Keep in mind that your customers are getting emails from any number of other companies. Do you want to stand out, or be an indistinguishable part of the clamor?

Several years ago, I was struck by the approach taken by Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. Their messages were carefully scheduled, and at the end of each one would be the statement, “See you next month!” I would always breathe a sigh of relief at that point. They’d told me what they wanted to, but they weren’t going to hit me over the head with it three times a week.

How often do you want to hear from companies you buy from? Share your thoughts.

Photo by kokagure, via Flickr.

That Isn’t Your Only Audience



You probably know who your customers are. You know where they live, how old they are, what they buy, and how much education they have.

But what about your co-workers? Your internal audience is key to any success, because they represent you. If you want your customers to see you as an organization that provides great service, then your employees have to want to provide that service.

It’s not enough to pay them for it, or to tell them that they need to. You have to get them to believe that it’s important. And that means letting them know why their actions matter.

You can’t provide great customer service if there’s internal infighting. Truly great customer service draws on internal resources, and infighting means that no one wants to help anyone else. What you want is an organization of people who support each other, and then extend that to the outside world.

So how do you do this? Start by sharing. Knowledge is power, but it’s power that grows through the sharing process. If you keep it to yourself, you’re being greedy and you’re hurting the organization. Give people the information they need to do their jobs, understand organizational goals and priorities, and feel proud of who you are and what they do. Trust me, the vast majority of life is not on a “need-to-know” basis, and most of your secrets don’t need to be secret.

Open up the blinds and let the sun in. You’ll be amazed at how much more everyone can see.

Photo by .digitale, via Flickr.

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