Friday, April 27, 2018
My April column in the "Chicago Business Journal" is out. It looks at Metra as an example of why mobile apps can trump traditional websites:
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
The Economist recently had an interesting article on the gender pay gap. April 4th was the deadline for employers in Britain to start reporting the difference between the average pay of men and women (for disclosure, The Economist reported a median gap of 29.5%).
As The Economist pointed out, there are some caveats to these values because they compare total salaries, without regard to similarity in roles. So, for example, the gap will be really high for Premier League football (soccer) clubs because they would be skewed by the players' salaries on the men's side.
However, in general, they think the data could lead to a dialog about the causes of the pay gap, which they think would make it worthwhile.
One of the causes that The Economist mentions (besides the need for better parental leave) is the asymmetry between employers (who know all salaries) and workers, which give employers an advantage in negotiations.
They feel that more salary transparency is needed for good-faith negotiations.
The trade-off then becomes transparency vs. privacy. For example, in Finland, Norway, and Sweden, anyone can look up anyone else's salary. This is pretty radical and would probably meet with resistance elsewhere, such as in the U.S.
However, from the article, I thought that Germany has found an elegant compromise. Rather than showing individual salary data, companies with at least 200 employees have to provide employees who ask with the average salary in their peer group.
New Lands' End current CEO, Jerome Griffith, is cleaning up after the previous CEO, Federica Marchionni, who was ousted in 2016.
Before Lands' End, Marchionni was a former Ferrari and Dolce & Gabbana executive. She tried to remake Lands' End to compete with trendy chains such as Zara. Instead, she alienated the chain's loyal customers and employees—who objected that she stayed in Manhattan, rather than locating to headquarters in Dodgeville, WI.
The new CEO, Griffith, grew up on a dairy farm and now lives near headquarters. He discontinued the flashy clothes lines that were higher priced and smaller sized than traditional Land's End products, and he returned to the chain's roots: outdoor clothes with elastic waistbands.
The lesson for businesses: don't try to copy others. Instead, remember the reason for your initial success. Embrace your unique advantages and become an improved version of yourself.