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Corporate Philanthropy Boosts Employee Productivity–But Is That A Good Thing? | Co.Exist | ideas + impact
Corporate Philanthropy Boosts Employee Productivity—But Is That A Good Thing?
“The motivational impact of social incentives, coupled with sufficient tax breaks or additional advantages coming from customers, regulators, or investors, would make [social incentives] as effective for employers as offering financial incentives,” says study co-author Michael Vlassopoulos.
When a charitable donation was linked to their job, the subjects’ performance rose 13% on average and 30% among those who were initially the least productive. That was not much less than performance increased with direct pay for each accurate entry.
The study was conducted with 320 university student subjects online, who received 20 pounds for completing four one-hour data entry sessions over the course of a week and then different kinds of incentives for each entry they completed. Performance rose the most overall when the workers got to decide if and how much of their pay to contribute to a charity of their choice (about half chose to give in this scenario, and gave an average of 20% of their per-entry rate.)
But if employee charitable contributions are to replace bonuses (even if voluntarily), the implications are troubling from a workers’ perspective, shifting the burden of giving onto employees and awarding the benefits to the company. “Our findings indicate that in occupations and sectors with characteristics that engender prosocial behavior (such as health, education, and social care), a given level of productivity can be achieved with fewer financial incentives,” the authors write.
Growing up in Middletown America, Minnesota, I always witnessed females at the top end of all competitions.. Even in tetherball tournaments on the playground, Peggy Wayne dominated the rusting poles fused to the tarmac. There has never been a competition that hadn’t included a female who was an equal rival to her male counterpart. To this end, I’m still surprised about the lack of perceived or real prejudice or discrimination in the workplace due to gender. After you read this article, feel free to share your thoughts and experiences with me.
Yours in entrepreneurship,
Women in business “need to be made of steelier stuff,” said co-chair Nancy Hechinger in her opening remarks at the fifth annual Women Entrepreneurs Festival in New York City on Thursday.
That’s not to say developing this hardened exterior is easy. On average, men are 60 percent more likely to receive funding for their companies than women, even though women have a roughly 50 percent higher rate of return on their investment, according to angel investor and other festival co-chair Joanne Wilson. That doesn’t factor in gender discrimination–which many women continue to face in the world of entrepreneurship, especially in tech.
It’s no wonder, then, that women feel the psychological price of entrepreneurship more acutely than their male counterparts: A recent study found that women in positions of power were more likely to be depressed than their male counterparts. This reality prompted renowned fashion mogul Diane von Furstenberg to reiterate her mantra “Love is Life is Love,” in her keynote address on Wednesday evening. She urged women to “be true to yourself, be hard on yourself, be nice to yourself.”
It’s obviously a hot topic–three other female fashion-business founders dished on their own moments of doubt, as well as what they do to overcome them. Here are their top tips:
Create a divide between your personal and professional life.
For Aimee Cheshire, co-founder and president of plus-size retailer Hey Gorgeous, maintaining a separation between business and personal life has been key for dealing with stress. She should know. When she’s not running her online shop, she’s busy raising two children. Cheshire makes sure to give herself some “me time” during her busy workweek, even if it’s something as simple as grabbing a coffee.
Claire Mazur, who heads up the online design retailer Of a Kind, was quick to echo Cheshire on the subject of work/life balance: “You need to have something to escape to that has nothing to do with your business,” she said. For Mazur, that means one hour of exercise per day, as well as blocking off time to “nurture friendships.” That’s what keeps her sane in the moments when she wants to curl up in child’s pose and cry on the shower floor–something that happened, she reflected, on her way to meet up with an entrepreneurial mentor.
Another important takeaway for business owners: stay busy. Like many entrepreneurs, Mazur admits that she becomes “depressed and anxious” when she doesn’t have enough to do. And while studies show that some anxiety may be productive, too much of it is certainly harmful.
Bake confidence into your business model.
Remember that your customers can also lack confidence, even on the days that you’re feeling solid personally. Diane von Furstenberg noted that she sees herself as “selling confidence” to women through her designs.
That’s something Cheshire knows well. While she feels “blessed” to be comfortable identifying as plus-sized, she quickly learned that her target demographic at Hey Gorgeous often has a different experience with fashion. “I had to take a step out my bubble and realize that not everyone may be as confident, or wants to identify themselves as plus-size.”
She ultimately decided to rebrand her company, which was initially called Madison Plus Select.
Trust your instincts.
When Susan Gregg Koger started her online retail company, ModCloth, at the ripe age of 17, she says that her confidence was paper-thin. “Trusting your instincts,” she added, “is something that women struggle with more than men.” She recalled letting others tell her what to do–sometimes to her company’s detriment.
Still, she learned to embrace her flaws. “Not having experience can be a real gift,” said Koger. “It’s important to maintain that confidence in yourself.”
Mazur agreed, noting that in retrospect, she wished that she had stuck to her instincts more, rather than letting others make important decisions for her: “People are going to give you their opinions because they love to,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean that they’re right.”
Put up your blinders.
Your greatest weakness is also your greatest strength, at least according to Koger. She admits, for example, that she’s “obsessed with details,” but that this “can be a real hindrance when you can’t let go.” At the same time, being detail-oriented forces Koger to do things like read through every line of copy on ModCloth’s site, allowing her to catch errors and inconsistencies almost right away (and to alert her staff to those errors, even in the early hours of the morning.)
Cheshire recommends also knowing when to put your blinders on. It’s helpful when she’s faced with negative criticism, or when she feels inclined to compare herself to others. Indeed, noted von Furstenberg in her keynote, it’s important to keep in mind that when you’re faced with that seemingly “put-together” woman across the room, “for her, you are the woman across the room.”
While you can’t learn self-confidence overnight, you can certainly make a more concerted effort to channel insecurities into future successes. Just take it from women who are making it as entrepreneurs–and in the ever-shifting world of e-commerce, to boot.
One Woman’s Unorthodox Journey To Building A $100 Million Tech Startup | Fast Company | Business + Innovation
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Want to read a wonderful story of encouragement and inspiration? Enjoy this allegory.
Yours in entrepreneurship,
One Woman’s Unorthodox Journey To Building A $100 Million Tech Startup
By Lydia Dishman
Joanna Weidenmiller is an anomaly in Silicon Valley.
The 32-year-old founder and CEO of 1-Page, a San Francisco-based recruiting technology company opted to go public this past October rather than continue raising funding from venture capital firms. That the company was just three years old, was radical enough. For comparison, Facebook and LinkedIn were both operating for eight years before their first appearance on the NASDAQ. But Weidenmiller led the IPO down under and used an unconventional method —a reverse merger with an existing company—to list 1-Page on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) Doing this, Weidenmiller’s startup became the first Silicon Valley company to list on the ASX. The gambit paid off. The stock has gone up over 600% Weidenmiller tells Fast Company, making the company’s valuation soar to over $160 million.
Yet as Weidenmiller fills in the details about her life and career, it’s easy to see why she’d make such an unorthodox decision to grow 1-Page.
An elite college athlete (she was a nationally ranked rower at the University of Virginia) who earned straight As majoring in Foreign Affairs, Weidenmiller was recruited by the FBI to train and work with police in the Middle East and Africa on drug and crime scene investigations.
Though she’d dreamed of being a secret agent, it didn’t take long for Weidenmiller to understand that the FBI’s bureaucracy wasn’t a good fit for her naturally entrepreneurial spirit. No matter how long you wanted to work, Weidenmiller says, after 25 years employees have to retire. Promotions are not based on merit, but rather the length of tenure, something that Weidenmiller says was shocking. “As somebody who could apply myself, put my head down and get it done, while I loved what I did I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold back this drive and this passion I had,” she says.
So Weidenmiller bid farewell to the Bureau and set out to apply herself to a task that was more aligned with the way she envisioned success. A short stint as a salesperson, where she quickly climbed to the top of the ranks paved the way for starting her own company. At the age of 22, she and two others, began building a sales and marketing outsourcing firm.
Within a couple of years, Weidenmiller says it was one of the nation’s largest, and had multiple offices across the country, thanks to serving such clients as Visa, Mastercard, and Staples. “What was incredible to me was how fast you can grow when you apply yourself,” she says.
Despite the fast pace, Weidenmiller elected to sell the company rather than keep growing it herself. At the age of 24, she found herself back in her hometown of San Francisco, itching to build another company in the locus of tech. She didn’t anticipate that falling in love would put her on a different track. Weidenmiller met the man who would become her husband and after a whirlwind romance, the two moved to China where he was building a venture capital firm. Weidenmiller set to work immediately and eventually wound up as managing partner of Hubert Burda Media, a German magazine publisher, to lead the company’s expansion into China.
After five years in China working for others, the entrepreneurial itch was demanding to be scratched again. This time, Weidenmiller recalled something else that was close to her heart.
She remembered how her father, Patrick Riley, had compiled his “secrets of business success” into a copy shop bound book to give her just before she decamped for college. The book was discovered by a friend of her mom’s who just so happened to be connected with Harpercollins. Despite Riley’s initial protesting, the book was published. The One-Page Proposal would become an international best seller.
Over the course of a decade, Weidenmiller had observed how often her father was contacted by interested readers. But not just any interested readers. “He was getting calls from big companies offering to pay him between $10,000 and $70,000 to write a proposal for them,” she recalls. “I’m like, Dad, there’s a $12 book in bookstores,” Weidenmiller explains, “And he said, ‘I guess it is harder to do than I thought.’”
The wheels started turning. Weidenmiller proposed starting a tech company based on building a platform for anyone to be able to write their own one-page proposal. Realizing this would be a rather massive undertaking, Weidenmiller refined her pitch to her father. “Let’s focus on the demographic that has the biggest communication problem in the world: job seekers.”
Weidenmiller believes the resume no longer works for either the applicant or the recruiter. “They have to hire to build things for the future,” she asserts, so why not allow an applicant to show what they could do for an employer rather than be evaluated solely on past accomplishments. A one-page proposal would allow the job seeker to pitch the potential manager and not be judged on age, experience, or gender.
Her father agreed, so Weidenmiller began learning to code (“in my pajamas in my apartment in China,” she notes) to build a prototype. She says it wasn’t long before 60% of users were getting job offers within two weeks of sending their one-page proposals. At the time post-recession, when unemployment could stretch out as long as two years, Weidenmiller says, “It was obviously working.”
Soon, corporations started calling and asking how they could request applicants to send in one-page proposals instead of resumes. “I had no idea,” she says with a laugh. But she was determined to find out.
Moving back to the States with her husband, Weidenmiller launched 1-Page in earnest, raising an initial $3 million from VCs to scaling it across companies with thousands of employees. The recent acquisition of Branchout expanded 1-Page’s reach to over 800 million job seekers.
Now companies can put out “challenges” and candidates compete to solve them with a one-page proposal. The 1-Page platform scores and ranks based on the company’s needs. It also pulls in data from candidates’ social graphs, says Weidenmiller, so a hiring manager has the ability to see a fuller picture of the candidate, which is especially helpful when recruiting through existing employee referrals.
As for further expansion, Weidemiller says the move to list on the ASX should also facilitate that. “Huge global enterprises are nervous about young, private tech companies,” she contends, because of their failure rate. The IPO allowed 1-Page to play on a more level field despite its relative newness.
All of Weidenmiller’s life and career, she’s worked to overcome bias, pioneer, and persevere. It’s why 1-Page staff is nearly 45% female (with three new women joining this week). It’s why she says, she’s committed to break down recruiters’ barriers and allow candidates to show off their skills regardless of gender. “I drink my own champagne,” Weidenmiller enthuses. “Everyone writes a one-page proposal and if someone pitches the right solution, you can get a job.”