The Daily Visionary: Thursday, December 6, 2018

#MeToo leads to a men’s mentorship blackout with young women in the workplace


Senior executives on Wall Street are icing out younger female colleagues to protect themselves against potential false, career-ending sexual harassment claims. Bloomberg interviewed nearly three dozen senior executives who work for hedge funds, law firms, banks, private equity firms, and investment-management firms about how their interactions with younger female staff have changed a year after the #MeToo movement brought to light workplace sexual harassment in Hollywood, media, and other industries.


According to a new Bloomberg report, men on Wall Street have adopted defensive strategies intended to head off potential career-ending allegations including: avoid one-on-one meetings with female employees or meetings in rooms without windows; no more dinners with female colleagues; avoid work travel with female colleagues; avoid sitting beside female colleagues on flights; book hotel rooms on different floors; keep distance from female workers in elevators; and eliminate social functions like after parties. Even hiring women now carries fear and risk.


Employment attorney Stephen Zweig warns men against taking such precautions, noting, “If men avoid working or traveling with women alone, or stop mentoring women for fear of being accused of sexual harassment, those men are going to back out of a sexual harassment complaint and right into a sex discrimination complaint.”


The Wall Street report is only one example of widespread sentiment across industries. The #MeToo backlash against women in the workplace has created an anxious work environment and reduced opportunities for young women in particular to move ahead in their careers by limiting professional development and networking opportunities. It doesn’t help the situation when individual Millennials fail to handle constructive feedback and criticism in a professional manner, which has been discussed at length over the years as poorly reflecting on the generation as a whole and paints all Millennial women as overly sensitive and fragile.


Dr. Jordan B. Peterson Announces the Peterson Fellowship at the Acton School of Business


Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, a public intellectual, clinical psychologist, and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto has announced the establishment of a partnership with the Acton School of Business in Austin, Texas under the stewardship of Acton Co-Founder and Master Teacher Jeff Sandefer for its MBA program in entrepreneurship.


The Acton curriculum provides an institutional analog to the psychological content I have been sharing in my online videos, podcasts, and books. The MBA’s emphasis on individual responsibility and adventure parallels my work’s focus on maturity, simultaneous service to the individual, family and broader community, and the relationship between meaning, discipline, and vision,” said Dr. Peterson.


Dr. Peterson is currently on tour for his bestselling book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, which has sold over two million copies since its release less than a year ago. His sold-out discussions and speeches to diverse crowds resonate with a significant number of Millennials, in particular, who are searching for meaning in their lives. Dr. Peterson’s goal is to strengthen the individual because life contains tragedy and evil, and our personal journeys justify the burden of Being by pursuing truth, making order out of chaos. The alternative, he says, is to deceive yourself with ideology and nihilism, which had led to many destructive authoritarian movements around the world, so better to take yourself seriously, know the monster within you, and become a responsible person with an integrated character; begin by cleaning up your bedroom.


The Acton curriculum is grounded in the Socratic method, and its teachers spur learning by asking questions, not by answering them. Acton’s enrollees are rarely interested in working for a large corporation or similar institution. Instead, the school selects those interested in founding their own personal ventures, and encourages them to engage in the difficult production, marketing, sales, and customer service work associated with start-up entrepreneurial activity. The goal is to identify fifty Peterson Fellows, who will work to prototype innovative educational programs, as well as work alongside successful entrepreneurs in real-world, hands-on challenges. Candidates are brilliant, competitive, cooperative individuals pursuing innovative ideas of significant social importance, and will be selected through an online application process that assesses intellectual ability, academic background, personality, and strategic philosophy.


Fashion labels fail to adequately combat forced labour in the global supply chain


Today, an estimated 24.9 million people around the world are victims of forced labour, generating USD $150 billion in illegal profits in the private economy. In the wake of forced labour abuse revelations in global supply chains, companies are increasingly expected by consumers, investors, media, and governments to maintain transparent and responsible supply chains. Although more fashion companies are implementing changes to support vulnerable workers, a new report argues that there is still significant room for improvement.


In KnowTheChain’s 2018 Apparel and Footwear Benchmark Findings Report, luxury companies Hermès, LVMH (Louis Vuitton), Salvatore Ferragamo, and Prada were among the firms the scored the lowest for fighting forced labor. Fashion companies are operating increasingly widespread and complex supply chains, which has made overseeing the rights of the labour force more complicated, opening the door for more risk of exploitation. Out of a possible score of one hundred, the forty-three brands benchmarked by KnowTheChain received a fifty-six. This was up from the previous report from 2016, in which the average was forty-nine. Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss, and Kering all improved their scores by more than ten points. Hugo Boss, Ralph Lauren, and Burberry all scored above fifty points.


"Many luxury good companies have taken meaningful action on environmental issues and animal rights," KnowTheChain Project Director Kilian Moote said, "However, currently there is a lack of acknowledgement and acceptance that forced labor, and labor conditions more broadly, are something that impact the luxury industry.”


According to the United States (U.S.) Department of Labor, labour exploitation occurs in everything from raw material harvesting for cotton and rubber to production of apparel and footwear. About two-thirds of the international fashion workforce is female, and much of the industry is also made of migrant workers. This adds to the risks surrounding labour violations, as workers face gender or socioeconomic discrimination, making them more vulnerable to mistreatment and less apt to know about their rights or take action.


The score for engaging with workers within the supply chains is also lower, at an average of 26. This includes educating laborers, allowing them to organize and unionize and providing outlets for those working in the supply chain to communicate grievances. In China, Burberry works with a non-governmental organization (NGO) to provide a confidential hotline for workers. "The mistreatment of workers is obviously a brand business risk, but it’s also a moral imperative," Mr. Moote said, "Luxury brands are falling short in some of the areas that most of the other companies we evaluated are, which unfortunately impact workers’ lives the most. Most notably, on ethical recruitment practices.”


Country of origin is a key positioning tactic for luxury products, but growing globalization in the fashion industry is making it more difficult to differentiate the geographic source of goods. Fashionbi's "Mystery of 'Made-in' in Fashion" report notes that rather than accepting what is told to them by brands, consumers today conduct their own research into brands’ production processes. Consumers are also becoming more aware of the social and environmental impact of their clothing.

Photo Credit: Joel Carillet, Getty Images

Photo Credit: Joel Carillet, Getty Images


Geologists repair bullet damage to ancient Middle Eastern heritage sites


An oasis in the desert, Palmyra, Syria had once been a cultural meeting place in the first and second centuries AD and a touchpoint of many civilizations. The Islamist terrorist group ISIS damaged the ancient Syrian city with explosives and bulldozers, and now geologists seek to repair the damage and conserve sites like these.


Seeing that deliberate destruction pushed me into taking action. I am not a lawyer, I cannot do anything medical, but I do know rocks. I saw something that needed doing and built up a team,” says Lisa Mol, a geomorphologist at the University of the West of England in Bristol who specializes in rock art and rock deterioration. She is spearheading an initiative that is the first of its kind to quantify and catalogue the impacts of bullets in rock at a heritage site in the Middle East. Satellite imagery has been used extensively to identify damage in conflict areas, for example in Syria and Libya, however, there is a dearth of information about how stone structures weather after ballistic damage, despite the fact that ancient sites are often casualties of conflict and have been for centuries.


Mol’s five-woman team, comprised of a palaeontologist, two geomorphologists, a heritage specialist, and an archaeologist, returned in September from an expedition to Wadi Rum, a cultural heritage site in southern Jordan. Wadi Rum is home to rock paintings, engravings and archaeological remains that document millennia of human habitation, and the scars of both historical and recent conflict. The bullet damage at Wadi Rum spans decades, from guerilla conflict in the early twentieth century to damage from AK-47 machine guns in the past few months thought to have been caused by people using rocks for target practice. The rocks’ physical characteristics, or lithology, are also similar to those in areas such as Syria, where safety issues are too great for researchers to make expeditions.


The team aims to develop step-by-step guidelines for locals to identify and catalogue ballistic damage to heritage sites for use in Jordan and beyond. Residents could record and communicate their findings using an information sheet, or send images to researchers by e-mail or through an app, says Ms. Mol. The researchers must first determine which stone properties are most crucial for tracking ballistic damage and environmental degradation. She says, “We can’t simplify to that level without the high-level scientific understanding.”


There is more to heritage conservation than scientific understanding; conservation efforts need the buy-in of local residents and should take their wishes into account, Ms. Mol’s team says. Some residents think that certain bullet damage should not be repaired and should stand as a warning against vandalism or as a reminder of the conflict that caused it. “You can’t understand something as complex as the physical damage to heritage—in a very different social context and the conservation attached to it—without social outreach, ethnography and geology,” the team’s geographer, Kaelin Groom, says.


Photo Credit: AFP

Photo Credit: AFP

CSIS report says modern Salafi-jihadists are increasingly decentralized as terror attacks use simple tactics


A new report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) says modern Salafi-jihadists are increasingly decentralized among four broad categories: the Islamic State and its provinces; Al-Qaeda and its affiliates; other Salafi-jihadist and allied groups; and inspired networks and individuals. Today, there are nearly four times as many Sunni Islamic militants today as there were on September 11, 2001.


Based on CSIS data, the regions with the largest number of fighters are Syria (between 43,650 and 70,550 fighters), Afghanistan (between 27,000 and 64,060), Pakistan (between 17,900 and 39,540), Iraq (between 10,000 and 15,000), Nigeria (between 3,450 and 6,900), and Somalia (between 3,095 and 7,240). Attack data indicates that there are still high levels of violence in Syria and Iraq from Salafi-jihadist groups, along with significant violence in such countries and regions as Yemen, the Sahel, Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Somalia.


These findings suggest that there is still a large pool of Salafi-jihadist and allied fighters willing and able to use violence to achieve their goals. While the number of attacks recently in the United States has been relatively low, the terrorism threat has been higher in Europe. Examples include the November 2015 Paris attack (which killed 130 and wounded 368 people), the July 2016 Nice attack (which killed 86 and wounded 434), the May 2017 Manchester bombing (which killed 22 and injured 139), the June 2017 London Bridge attack (which killed 8 and wounded 48), the August 2017 Barcelona attack (which killed 24 and wounded over 150), and the March 2018 Carcassonne and Trèbes, France attacks (which killed 4 and wounded 15). European officials have also disrupted major terrorist plots. In September 2018, for example, the Netherlands foiled “very advanced” plans for a largemulti-site terrorist attack and arrested seven suspects inspired by the Islamic State. Terrorist attacks in the West have increasingly involved simple tactics, such as vehicles used to kill pedestrians, rudimentary improvised explosive devices, knives, swords, small arms, and blunt objects like hammers.

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