Family-friendly working is the most overused phrase

first_img At every HR event, speakers and delegates have been eager to drop words like flexible working into the conversation at every opportunity.The media have been full of articles on the work-life balance; nor have politicians been slow to jump on the bandwagon of what looks like a votewinner.The DTI has been busy canvassing views, and its review of the issues concerning parents at work, which was launched in June, closes next week. The next step will be a Government consultation paper, which is expected at the end of next month.The idea of a “baby bonus” for employers is one of the better ones that have been floated (news, p1). Companies would welcome a payment that funds training and updates the skills of women returners. In a buoyant recruitment market, where there are skills shortages and a fight to keep the best talent, any initiatives which encourage employers to make sure women return to work are essential.What is important is that HR professionals have their say. Practitioners were surprisingly reluctant to comment on this issue when Personnel Today sought their views this week.Proposals such as extending maternity leave from 40 weeks to a year have a direct effect on the business, and HR should ensure it makes its views known.Been there, done thatThe Hollywood comedy Groundhog Day is about a man permanently trapped in the same day. Every time the alarm rings in the morning he checks the date on the digital monitor, and discovers he is about to relive the previous day.When veteran delegates to CIPD conferences wake up in their splendid Victorian hotel rooms next week they might well experience a similar sensation. This feeling will intensify if, over the full English breakfast, they happen to scan the conference programme.Many of the names of keynote speakers will be familiar – and the themes will ring a bell, too. It can feel as if the organisers get the themes for this year’s conference by jumbling up the words for last year’s. Last year it might have been “Putting people into strategy”. This year, perhaps, “Putting strategy into people”.The format of the CIPD’s conference has served it well. But might it be time to ring the changes? Family-friendly working is the most overused phraseOn 10 Oct 2000 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Bridging the gap, digitally

first_imgOne recent morning, Karthik Ramanna, an associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School (HBS), sat down in a virtually empty Harvard conference room and prepared to explain different forms of government corruption and how to combat them.But he was not teaching his usual M.B.A. students. Rather, his words — specifically, a presentation of HBS three case studies on anti-corruption efforts in China, Russia, and India — were being broadcast live to students, academics, and activists at 13 universities in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.Ramanna, an authority on corporate accountability, was sharing his knowledge with the eager audience of budding social entrepreneurs, who had gathered in classrooms around the world (it was evening, by their time) to hear how his examples might prove useful in their homelands. Corruption is a problem in countries, Ramanna said over the live feed, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be solved by clever, dogged individuals.“Transparency is perhaps the most potent tool in the fight against corruption,” he said, as he launched into a presentation about a fearless publisher of exposés in Russia and an Indian website that crowdsources examples of government officials seeking bribes.His talk was part of a series of live Web chats, hosted by the South Asia Institute and made possible by the Pakistan Higher Education Commission’s Virtual Education Project, that aims to bring together Harvard experts and social entrepreneurs in South Asia. The live video chats are the latest tech-savvy solution to the question of how Harvard can share its insights on education, health, good governance, and a host of other social issues with civic-minded entrepreneurs around the globe.The video conferences are the latest project of the Pakistan Innovation Network, a social enterprise started by graduate students Mariam Chughtai, a doctoral candidate at Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), and Erum Sattar, a doctoral candidate at Harvard Law School (HLS). In addition to Ramanna’s class on Feb. 27, the series also has featured Fernando Reimers, Ford Foundation Professor of International Education, and Tarun Khanna, HBS’s Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, and Sattar and Chughtai are planning six more conferences for the 2013-2014 academic year. The startup, which receives support from the South Asia Institute, recently acquired space in the Harvard Innovation Lab to continue its work on fostering social entrepreneurship in Pakistan and the surrounding region.Students Erum Sattar (from left) and Mariam Chughtai (center), and Karthik Ramanna, associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, talk via webcast with participants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.The point of the group is “not to say, ‘Let’s all go and build iPad apps,’” Sattar said. “It’s saying, ‘Let’s encourage people to find solutions to problems that they all experience everyday, and that maybe they never thought they could do anything about.’”Sattar and Chughtai, who are both from Pakistan, hope to capitalize on a growing interest in entrepreneurship in the region, where neither civil servants nor business leaders are necessarily taught to think about how to solve broad societal problems.“In India or Pakistan, people go to business school to work for Citibank or Coca-Cola,” Sattar said. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but they’re not trained to solve the problems and work on finding solutions to the most pressing social concerns. People are seeing that problems are going to have to be solved innovatively.“If you wait for some donor, some international agency to come and solve your problems, that’s not going to happen,” Sattar continued. “Then there are people at the base who have immense capacity, and no one has enabled this amazing human potential.”Sattar and Chughtai acknowledge that few Harvard professors can find time to travel to — or even have much expertise concerning — Pakistan, but they hope that virtually connecting students and activists in the region with Harvard academics can lead to a fruitful exchange of ideas.“Harvard’s strength can be its global view, a horizontal worldview,” Sattar said. Their plan, she said, is to “put Harvard in conversation with these people who have deep vertical knowledge of their society.”That difference in worldviews was on display during Ramanna’s video chat. After he presented the case studies, questions poured in through Twitter and the live feeds in classrooms across the globe. And Ramanna’s students for the day were not afraid to push back.“None of your examples would work in our country,” said one leading activist from Sri Lanka. While the country has no dearth of “bravado” when it comes to calling out corruption, he added, “Naming and shaming makes no difference in our country.” There are also structural impediments to unearthing corruption, he added. To start a petition to Parliament, Parliament must first sign off on the content of the petition.When a questioner in Karachi, Pakistan, asked about the ability of open-source models, such as the website WikiLeaks, to achieve “radical transparency” in government, Ramanna urged caution.“Instances of misuse of transparency have ironically received more coverage in some cases than corruption itself,” he said, noting the notorious legal and media backlash against WikiLeaks.In Sattar’s view, the morning’s session was a perfect example of how social media can enliven conversations about deep, systemic problems like corruption that will require years of slow, determined work to solve.“Overturning 150 years of colonial history is not going to happen in five minutes,” Sattar said. “These things need our sustained attention and hard work.”last_img read more

Casting Set for Broadway-Bound Come From Away

first_img Related Shows We now have casting for the much-buzzed about Broadway-bound Come From Away. Great White Way favorites Chad Kimball, Jenn Colella and more will continue in their roles in the new musical when it starts performances on the Main Stem in February 2017 at a Shubert theater to be announced.Along with Tony nominee Kimball (Memphis) and Colella (If/Then), the Broadway cast will include Petrina Bromley (Stratford’s As You Like It), Geno Carr (The Old Globe’s Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas), Joel Hatch (Annie), Rodney Hicks (The Scottsboro Boys), Kendra Kassebaum (Wicked), Lee MacDougall (Stratford’s The Music Man), Caesar Samayoa (Sister Act), Q. Smith (Mary Poppins), Astrid Van Wieren (Mamma Mia!) and Sharon Wheatley (Avenue Q).With a book, music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, Come From Away will be directed by Christopher Ashley and choreographed by Kelly Devine. In a heartbeat, 38 planes and 6,579 passengers were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, doubling the population of one small town on the edge of the world. On September 11, 2001 the world stopped. On September 12, their stories moved us all.After acclaimed engagements at La Jolla Playhouse and Seattle Repertory Theatre, the new tuner will now head to Washington D.C.’s Ford’s Theatre (September 2 through October 9), and Toronto’s Royal Alexandra Theatre (November 15 through January 8). The Broadway company is also set to play Toronto. Chad Kimball Come From Away ‘Come From Away'(Photo: Chris Bennion)center_img from $49.00 View Comments Star Fileslast_img read more