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Thursday, April 27, 2006

In defense of Matt Lauer

I underestimated the Matt Lauer's fan base. To illustrate women's wage gap, I wrote in my column in the Miami Herald that Meredith Vieira will make $2 million less a year as co-anchor of the Today Show. She has just as much experience on ABC (if two different time slots for that matter, The View in the morning and Who Wants to Be A Millionaire at night) and she will work the same hours as Lauer. But her paycheck will be smaller. It doesn't seem fair. Yet, I am inundated with e-mail from men who don't agree.

Here's one man's argument: "Is it relevant that Matt Lauer might deserve more because for a dozen years he has cultivated an audience for the Today show, whereas Vieira has not?

Here's another: Could it be that Matt Lauer earns more $$ because he has been doing his job longer than the newly designated co-host?
If the Herald hired me to do a job similar to yours and i was to start in a week, absent relevant experience, do you think the Knight folks would pay me as much as they pay you? I doubt it.

My argument:Vieira has as much experience as Lauer and she has cultivated an audience in two time slots. She will be working the same hours and have the same responsibilities. I hold my ground. She deserves more money.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Female bosses - good, bad, ugly?

Have you worked for a hard-driving female boss? How has that affected your work life?
Today, a few of us women at my office debated the subject. We argued about whether women have to be bitchy to be a boss. We also argued about whether a woman who sacrifices everything for the corner office is our ideal candidate for a boss. (A resounding no!) Personally, I want to be led by someone committed to her job and willing to spend the time it takes to be a good manager. But I also want her to have respect for her employees personal lives. One of my colleagues is convinced women bosses prefer mentoring male employees and are more concerned about their work/life balance.
My co-worker's comment: "Some women are quick to throw other women under the bus.''

Want more money, become a man

Today is National Pay Equity Day and the message is clear. If you want to make more money, become a man. Why? Because full time working women make 77 cents to a full time working man's dollar. With that $35 more that I would have earned yesterday if I was a man, I could have paid for the dinner I had to buy my family because I got stuck late in the office and didn't have time to cook what I had planned before rushing my daughter to gymnastics.
Today in Miami, hundreds of women will march down Lincoln Road wearing red to symbolize the inequities in pay between men and women. Evelyn Murphy, author of Getting Even: Why Women Don't Get Paid Like Men and What to Do About it, gives this advice: "To get paid like men, women and men must put perssure on chief executives -- to make women's pay fair. That's it. It's simple. But women must act or CEO's will not react."
Are you willing to act?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Take Your Kids to Work, a farce?

Is Take Your Kids to Work Day a farce? On Thursday, employees across the country will let their kids miss school to come to their workplaces. The truth is, most kids won't get an accurate picture of what their parents' workday entails. Most business put on special program where kids color, draw pictures, go on tours and listen to speakers. Most employees who work low wage jobs -- garbage collectors, waitresses, cashiers -- are forbidden to bring their kids to work for safety reasons or because they will interfere. There's nothing wrong with instilling work ethic at a young age and if bringing kids into a work environment helps, I'm all for it. But perhaps some kids would benefit from a dose of reality, seeing up close what their parents' work day REALLY is like.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

I'm not rich

Here I am, back at the office today. I didn't win the lottery. No, that $82 million ticket is in the hands of some other soul. Too bad for me. I had been fantasizing about how my balancing act would get easier with a chef making my family gourmet homemade dinners every night. Of course, he/she would also make and pack my kids healthy, well balanced lunches every day too. Oh well, I better head to the grocery store today, me and the other lottery losers.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Putting it all on the line

I have admiration for people brave enough to put their savings into a start up. In a column about family business, I wrote about the Brindaks who put their daughter's college tuition funds into a start up business called Miss O & Friends. Wow, what a gamble! Their oldest daughter is a junior which means she will have to get scholarships, financial aid or the company will have to turn a profit FAST! I give the family credit though for taking a chance. So many people contemplate leaving the corporate setting for better work/life balance and feel they can't. Usually starting a venture means gambling with your income, benefits and often your family savings. The Brindaks are using some caution. Mom, Hermine, kept her job and is working on the family business after hours. I plan to keep in touch with the family to see whether their gamble pays off.

Here's a link to a video in which I'm talking about the family and their boundary issues.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Fair or Unfair?

Nina McLemore, a female CEO I profiled recently in a column that highlights CEO strategies for business and personal success sent this to me in an e-mail response.
"I wonder if you had written this article about 3 successful male entrepreneurs whether it would have contained so much about their personal lives and marriage or divorce, than in fact what skills, ideas, business methods, it took to build the business? "
My response is yes. I consider how CEOs (male or female) manage their work/life balance as interesting as what skills it takes to build a business. What do you think?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Who knew?

I'm back in the office from Spring Break and found an interesting bit of info in my inbox. Despite all the stories of woe, companies are doing something right. Work/life balance may have seemed like an unattainable dream for many of us in the past, but a new survey suggests the tide is shifting
OfficeTeam, a staffing service, found 53 percent of workers said their employers are very supportive of their efforts to achieve work/life balance; Only 10 percent of employees and 5 percent of managers said their companies are unsupportive of work/life balance concerns.
Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam, points out that as little as a decade ago, the survey results might have been different. “Telecommuting, job-share and flextime options were once the exception. Today, these and other employee benefits are increasingly common, " she says. Do you agree with Domeyer?

Who knew?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Use caution with Summer Camp registration

Here's a word of caution about summer camp registration. Most of the local day camps already are filling up and working parents like me are eager to make sure our kids are going to keep busy this summer. But beware: some of the camp start dates do not coincide with the end of the school year. Some of the preschools and private schools let out of the academic year after the camps already are in session. You may be paying for days or weeks that your child won't be attending camp. I just discovered that I fall into that category after I registered my youngest for camp. Now, I have to go back to the camp and see what I can work out. Check those camp dates carefully!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Spring break ideas

I'm lucky enough to get four weeks vacation a year from work so I am taking Spring Break off with my kids. Here's a good deal if you're looking for a getaway: Universal Studios in Orlando has free kids admission with each adult ticket, but you must buy the tickets online. And, if you stay in a hotel on the property, you get an Express Pass, which lets you into a much shorter line on most of the rides. If you go, make sure you bring your Master Card with you or your AAA card -- you can get some decent discounts on rides and merchandise with those two cards. We just returned and it wasn't too crowded there.

If your stuck at work while your kids are on break, the museums and local attractions have some good camp programs. Parrot Jungle's has earned high praise as has the Museum of Science and Discovery in Fort Lauderdale. My employer, The Miami Herald, offers a Spring Break program for employees and some other local business have similar programs. But of course, those businesses that offfer child care are much fewer than those that don't. Check out some of the local park camps too.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Overwhelmed by errands

I just hung up on my husband. This is not something I do often. But today, he is giving me a list of chores I should accomplish and questioning why I haven't done some of the former ones he had asked me to do. I work part-time (four days a week) but still, never have enough time to get to even half of my to-do list.
I'm surprised by how many moms, working and non-working, accept the mother load of household, husband, and kid responsibilities. Lately, I am dealing with aging parent issues too. Sometimes, I resent that my husband goes to work early and comes home late, giving him a more legitimate excuse for not going to the bank or grocery store. Do you have equality at home? What are fair distribution of chores anyway?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

What do women CEOs have in common?

A view from the top of million-dollar business reveals this insight: female CEOs need to lose the attitude and make running their companies about teamwork.
Sue Romanos runs a $15 million South Florida staffing company and changed the way she leads a few years ago. A series of unfortunate events fell on Romanos and her two partners at the same time, forcing them to be out of the office for three months for differing reasons. Her managers took over daily operations.
"Now we regularly ask employees for their input," she says. "We built a structure so people within company can handle the daily running of company, which allows us to have some free time."

A little inspiration for working moms

Do you love your job? If you do, tell your kids.
An interview with 15-year-old Juliette Brindek, who has launched a business called Miss O & Friends, inspired me.
Juliette told me she's inspired by her mom. "She does what she loves and she loves her family. I think I can balance a job and family too as long as I do something I love.'' So far, Juliette's off to a good start - her company has a website, books and marketing deals with Office Depot and Claires Stores.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Will the Williams sisters teach us a lesson?

Is there a lesson for all of us in the great debate on the tennis court over Serena and Venus Williams. The tennis superstar sisters withdrew from the NASDAQ-100 Open in Key Biscayne, Serena saying she is not match fit and Venus with an elbow injury.
It seems tennis experts have some harsh criticism for Serena's interest in acting and designing clothes and attribute it to the reason she is not "matchfit." Chris Evert's strongly worded letter in Tennis Magazine pleads with Serena to take tennis more seriously.
"In the short-term, you may be happy with the various things going on in your life, but I wonder whether 20 years from now you might reflect on your career and regret not putting 100 percent of yourself into tennis.'' she writes. ``I don't see how acting and designing clothes can compare with the pride of being the best tennis player in the world,''
My colleague Amy Sherman made a good point when compares Serena with the rest of us working stiffs. Sherman wonders: "If you are really successful in your career, is it still not safe to put all your eggs into one basket? Should regular folks (and athletes) make sure they have lots of different skills and interests -- and a personal life -- just in case?
Clearly, some male athletes who never seemed to do anything but their sport sometimes fall into trouble once they retire....various problems in their personal relationships and family life. Perhaps it is because they never developed into well rounded people?
Are the Williams sisters actually a great example for regular working stiffs? Remember, Serena and Venus did not chose to take up tennas as little girls. It was their father, Richard, who saw the dollar signs and pushed them into the sport.
``Serena has a gift, and she's not utilizing it,'' said Martina Navratilova who will turn 50 in the fall but hasn't lost her love of playing or winning.''
Is it so wrong for the girls to want more in their lives than tennis after more than 20 years of practicing and competing? Is it so wrong to love tennis -- and acting and fashion design.
There may be some truth in the recent criticism that athletes cannot be dabblers, which is what Serena and Venus have become. But these girls see a life for themselves balanced out by other interests. Maybe they don't want to spend the next 25 years in one career. Are they doing anything the rest of us haven't pondered ourselves?