Corporate Eye

The May Wrap-up


Follow-ups and afterthoughts . . .

1.  One post in May asked the question Can “Disability Humor” Really Work?  Boston Globe business writer Drake Bennett poses a related query in Who’s Still Biased?, an in-depth look at whether diversity training actually works.  The cited studies and quoted experts in Drake’s article seem to suggest that no one really knows—but the provisional answer is “probably not.”  There seems to be little evidence that companies with formal diversity training programs improve in terms of hiring and promoting women and minorities.  It even seems that compulsory and/or legalistic training can have a negative effect.

What does (or at least might) work better?  The best plan may be adding “more explicit measures like minority outreach, mentoring, and even old-fashioned affirmative-action programs like setting gender- and race-based promotion targets and making someone responsible for them.”

2.  Perils and Perks:  Government Online recounted both a cautionary tale and a happy story.  Here’s a little more news from the happy category:  New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., have all made a some key data sets available to third-party developers—and the result is an array of apps that sift through the official info and makes it more useful to users.  For example:  San Francisco Crimespotting offers a nice interface for exploring police report data.  And in NYC, a BigApps competition drew some inventive entries like Bookzee (enter the title of a book and the nearest public library with a copy will pop up on your iPhone).  Data access is not limited to developers, by the way.  Anyone can visit DC Data Catalog, NYC Data Mine and Data SF for serve-yourself downloads of permit records, purchase orders, code enforcement incidents, and more.

3.  Inside Unemployment looked at the experience of editor Dominique Browning, whose job at an upscale lifestyle magazine suddenly disappeared.  I think Browning’s book includes themes familiar to many people coping with unemployment, and offers interesting reflections on losing/finding work-life balance.  But I can also understand why the book has provoked some critical responses.  Carolyn See’s Washington Post review takes a rather sharp view of the book and its author, and although Browning defended herself in a recent appearance on the Diane Rehm show, it’s clear (from some of the negative emails received during the show, as well as comments on DR’s website) that people are very sensitive around the issue of unemployment.

Not much employment improvement in May—but things are not worse either.  Let’s keep a good thought for June.

(Many thanks to thefixer for this month’s just-for-pretty photo:  a ruby-throated hummingbird, caught in mid-flutter.)

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Cynthia Giles has followed a serpentine career path from academia to publishing to marketing and design to information technology and corporate communications. There’s plenty of detail about this journey at, but briefly--the common theme has been ideas, and how to present them effectively. Along the way, she became an accidental expert on data warehousing and business intelligence, and for the past ten years she has combined corporate contracting with an independent consulting practice that focuses on marketing strategy for smaller businesses and non-profits. Having spent quite a bit of time looking for work, and anywhere from two weeks to two years inside a wide variety of American companies—she has given much thought to what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to creating a great employment fit.

I am very interested in employment of the disabled and hold a BA in Mental Retardation and and MA in Special Education. I am especially interested in those with Asperger’s syndrome. In two years I will be retired from teaching and would be interested in being included wherever I may fit in the promotion of promoting jobs for these people. Please email me back to hopefully with some ideas as to how I may become involved. Thank you.

Sandra Vey

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