Cracking the Glass Ceiling

A move in the right direction for women in business

By Natalie Hansen

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Mary Barra, GM’s new CEO

It’s well known that women only make up a small percentage of leaders for the country’s major corporations – as of this month, only 23 of the companies on the Fortune 500 list have a female CEO. Progress to crack the so-called glass ceiling has been slow, but it is happening; this year, the number of women in a CEO position jumped 4%. Women are slowly but surely breaking into more business positions where they can take the reins. Most recently, Mary Barra was chosen to be GM’s new CEO and made history as the first female CEO of a major American auto company.

 

Barra previously served as the company’s vice president of global product development and, while not a sure bet, was in a great position to move onto CEO.  Barra called the move a “natural progression” and said young women (and men) aspiring to a similar position someday just needed to “do great work” in order to get noticed. Barra has been with the company since 1980, and has made headlines by taking up the leadership mantle in a highly male-dominated industry.

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Marjorie Scardino

Elsewhere in business news, Marjorie Scardino was appointed Twitter’s first female board member, after several months of backlash against the social media outlet for not having an all-white, all-male board. Once the board’s makeup had been made public knowledge, Twitter users responded in force with requests that Twitter immediately hire a female member. Twitter’s CEO initially resisted the criticism, and said that choosing a woman for the board would simply amount to “checking a box.” His mind has since changed, or Scardino impressed him enough to consider otherwise.

This attitude, in essence, is why women struggle to climb to the top. While progress is being made, there’s still a long way to go before women don’t feel the need to compensate for being female just to earn a corporate leadership position. Tom Falk, CEO of Kimberly-Clark Corp., says that most companies likely aren’t putting a focus on diversity in their boards and leadership. While they may be considering all applicants equally regardless of gender, the “boys club” that has already been established at the top makes it difficult for women to even get there to begin with. Charlotte Laurent-Ottomane of The Thirty Percent Coalition, a group that seeks to ensure women make up 30% of board seats across public companies by 2015, says that board term limits are a major issue. When board members only rotate out once every ten to twenty years, it makes it difficult for women to find available positions to work towards. Laurent-Ottomane also acknowledged that diversity quotas for boards (“just checking a box”) were likely not helpful either and may even be counterproductive.

Still, the small progress that has happened is promising for the future of women in business. As the push for diversity continues, and women like Barra and Scardino become role models for girls and women in the field, more women will follow them and squeeze through the cracks in the glass ceiling. Boris Groysberg, who teaches a class at Harvard on how women can further their careers, said in a CNN article that he has high hopes for the next generation of women in business. “I am going to do everything in my power to make sure that I helped build companies in 10 years that will be much, much more receptive to my daughters than the companies that I know exist in 2013,” he said.

Count Your Blessings, and Then Buy Some More

What retailers gain and lose when they open their doors on Thanksgiving

By Natalie Hansen

As Black Friday has grown, and competition for consumer dollars has exploded, deals and sales have spilled over into Thanksgiving Thursday. Increasingly, major stores have chosen to open on Thanksgiving Day to get a jump on the Black Friday crowds. When customers started lining up Thursday night to be first in line Friday morning, stores saw an opportunity to draw those people in even sooner and boost sales by opening in the evening. Where these openings used to happen after dinner time, some stores are now extending the shopping to the early morning hours on Thursday – meaning some stores are open for nearly two days straight.

Kmart turned heads earlier this month when they announced that they’ll be opening at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving. This means by the time the doors finally close on Friday night, the stores will have been open for 41 straight hours. Kmart stated that this choice was black-friday-macysmade to reach out to consumers who would just be shopping online anyway if the stores were closed that day. Other retailers, including Macy’s (in a major first for them), Walmart, Target, JC Penny’s, and Kohl’s have chosen to wait until after customers have had their turkey and will be opening at 6 p.m. or later, and stay open through the Friday frenzy. Opening earlier allows retailers to draw in consumers who are likely off from work anyway, and stress that the choice to open on the holiday is due to consumer demand. Some shoppers have even made lining up early and getting the best deals possible onBlack Friday a family tradition. If the shoppers don’t mind stores opening on Thanksgiving, what is there for retailers to lose by doing exactly that?

Potentially, good will and reputation. Despite crowds showing up in record numbers on Thanksgiving itself and Black Friday last year, there has been massive outcry after announcements by more stores that will open on the holiday this year. Some Kmart employees have claimed that they are not allowed to even request Thanksgiving off to be with their families. A “Save Thanksgiving” petition, which demands that all retailers stay closed on Thanksgiving Day, has gathered over 200,000 signatures. The petition signers are horrified that a holiday meant to show thankfulness, already unfortunately followed by Black Friday, is now becoming a day centered on materialism. The internet’s reaction to Walmart’s choice to open earlier than ever at 6 p.m. ranged from complete disgust and sympathy for the employees to worry that the best deals would be out of reach for those choosing not to shop on Thanksgiving. Certain retailers, such as Nordstrom, have attempted to boost their reputation by making a point of staying closed on Thanksgiving Day. Companies’ images have been tarnished in years past thanks to mob-induced injuries and worse. Riots, over-the-top fights, and a trampling death in 2008 (which Walmart has still not paid the fine for) scare some shoppers away from Black Friday festivities all together. And despite all the craziness, Black Friday is not even the biggest shopping day of the year in America; that honor typically goes to the Saturday before Christmas.

Despite that fact, it appears that the Thanksgiving/Black Friday debate will continue black-friday-shopperslong into the future. Unless sales are far below expectations on Thanksgiving, stores will continue to open earlier and earlier to compete for the most shoppers. If shoppers want to get the best deals, they will have to show up earlier and earlier. So, where is the line drawn for a business debating being open on Thanksgiving Day? Is the public backlash worth the revenue gain? For a struggling business, the answer could be yes, even if there is employee outcry – extra revenue means they get to keep their jobs. But the financial damage done by a tarnished reputation is real as well. As consumers, we also have to decide what’s most important for us. Is it spending time with our families, or making sure we can get them the best gifts possible to show our love? Will the next generation even have time to count their blessings at the dinner table before rushing off to buy more?

On Floods and Family

How you can help with the ongoing flood relief effort

By Natalie Hansen

One of the best things about being part of Ram Country is the camaraderie among students and the community. People from all walks of life attend Colorado State University, and the Fort Collins community at large is amazingly supportive of the University and the students. When tragedy strikes, Rams can be counted on to pull together and put in effort to solve the problems at hand and assist their fellow Coloradans.

Shortly after school started for the fall semester, our state was hit with what some are now calling a “100 or even 500 year storm.” The rain seemed pretty innocent when it started on Sept. 9; it was deemed a sign of fall’s arrival, and maybe even a welcome change of pace from the 90 degree temperatures that had decided to hang around well into the end of summer. Even when water began to build up, people could be seen splashing and playing in the new mini lakes. But by days two and three of the now relentless rain, it became apparent things were not looking good for those near water sources in Colorado. President Obama and Governor Hickenlooper declared a national emergency, and sent members of the Coast Guard and National Guard to help with evacuations and rescues.

By the time the storm finally moved out on Sept. 15, roads had been destroyed, citizens of some mountain towns were cut off from communication and fresh drinking water, lives had been lost, and thousands had been evacuated from their homes. According to the Cooperative Research Institute for Environmental Sciences in Boulder, the Front Range area experienced 10+ inches of rain fall during the seven day period of flooding, with Boulder seeing nearly 17 inches of rain. Around 80 buildings on the CU Boulder campus suffered damage, and more than 400 students were displaced during flooding. The flood area encompassed 17 counties and 1,918 square miles.  9 News states that as of Sept. 20, 82 people are still missing in Larimer County, 5,900 across the affected area are still under mandatory evacuation and eight people were killed. The recovery effort will cost millions and will take years.

CSU is no stranger to the havoc a flood can cause, due to the 1997 flood. Fort Collins was again affected by the 2013 flooding. and the community spent a few days under essential lockdown with I-25 and all bridges over the Poudre River closed. Luckily, the CSU campus area remained safe with no damage. School was cancelled on Friday, Sept. 13 due to the road closures, and many students and faculty who live away from the center of Fort Collins were evacuated and experienced loss. However, it didn’t take long for CSU to come together to start contributing to the flood relief effort.

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Delta Sigma Pi members at the flood cleanup. Photo courtesy of Evan Fuellenbach and Delaney Hunt

The CSU Rams football team wore special Colorado flag decals in the shape of a raindrop on their helmets during their nationally televised road game against Alabama on Sept. 21. Head Coach McElwain and his staff wore the decals on their clothing as well, to help raise awareness of the tragedy back home. CSU Cares, a fund formed after the 2012 High Park fires to help those in the CSU community affected by natural disasters, has designed t-shirts featuring the raindrop logo. The $10 shirts come in green or Aggie orange, and will be available at CSU Bookstore locations beginning Sept. 27. All proceeds directly benefit flood relief efforts.

Delta Sigma Pi, the College of Business’ fraternity, wasted no time getting their hands dirty for flood relief. The Mu Rho chapter at CSU helped out with cleanup efforts in the area shortly after the initial flood.

With the long road ahead, it’s important that every Ram help the relief efforts in any way they can. It can be as simple as purchasing one of the orange CSU Cares shirts from the bookstore and wearing it to the Orange Out football game against University of Texas at El Paso this Saturday, Sept. 28. You can visit the Colorado Flood Relief Facebook page to find opportunities to donate time, money or food to victims of the flood. This particular outlet is a great chance to help other affected areas in Colorado outside of Larimer County. Help Colorado Now has drop-off locations in Loveland for material items like clothing, hygiene products and cleaning items. If you know of a fellow Ram displaced by the flooding, you can offer a couch to crash on, or your own two hands to help them move or clean up their damaged home.

Always check that you are donating to a reputable agency if you choose that route, and keep in mind that volunteers will be needed for relief efforts long past the end of the year. Thankfully, a good number of us in the CSU community were spared from the major tragedies the past few weeks, but not all were so lucky. Across the state, other Coloradans are facing an uncertain future in terms of a place to live. This includes our family at CU Boulder; a sports rivalry has never precluded either of us from supporting the other when they need it the most. Every little bit you can provide will help the relief effort. Here in Ram Country, we take care of each other and put others before ourselves. Even in the face of disaster, this is what makes Colorado and CSU a great place to be.


Save the Date: July 24th come visit our table at The Lagoon Concert Series

By: Natalie Hansen

One of the best things about Fort Collins is that most nights of the week, you can find live music somewhere around Old Town.  The Lagoon Summer Concert Series is a free event entering its 18th year of bringing local musicians to campus. Each Wednesday from July 9th to August 14th, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., a different genre of music is featured, including everything from country to 80s pop. If you are in Fort Collins this summer, the Lagoon Summer Concert Series is a great opportunity to get outside and enjoy music, without spending money.

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Photo by Annie Burnham

The stage is set just west of the lagoon, making it a perfect spot to relax in the shade away from the heat of the Colorado summer.  Evenings during the summer are normally a bit breezier, so concert goers should be able to kick back and take in the show.  There is plenty of space in the grass to bring a group of friends, your dog, a blanket, and a picnic dinner. Free parking is available after 4 p.m. nearby in the parking lot behind Morgan Library, but you can also access the event by walking or riding a bike – another chance to soak up the sun before classes start again in six weeks.

You’ll also find a variety of local organizations sponsoring tables during the concert series, as well as some of the colleges here at CSU. The College of Business, Extension, and The College of Agricultural Sciences will be hosting tables on Wednesday, July 24th. From 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., we will be out enjoying the sunshine and music from the Tumbling Dice, a high energy country band from Denver. The group promises to be a hit with dance and music lovers of all kinds and will be a fun way to unwind in the middle of your week. We also have some surprises in store for those of you planning to stop by the concert – we’ll have swag, popcorn, and even a photo booth to capture some of your summer memories.

We’re looking forward to seeing you by the lagoon!

The Fourth of July: A personal reflection on the meaning of independence

By: Annie Burnham

I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.  I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.  ~Abraham Lincoln

Sometimes, it’s easy to complain about the freedoms we have that we feel are infringed upon or mishandled; but how often are we truly grateful just simply for the freedoms we have? This Independence Day, while we enjoy cookouts and fireworks, let’s find creative ways to express our gratitude to those who fought 237 years ago for our independence. Let’s take a moment to be present and remember the people who protect those freedoms today.

We’ve all got holiday stories and memories. As you read what Independence Day means to me, I hope you’ll reflect upon what it means to you. Please share your stories and reflections in the comments section.

I don’t typically get excited about the Fourth of July. In past years, I’ve always seen it as mostly another way for people to eat good food and watch fireworks. But this year, I decided to reexamine this holiday that is often celebrated without thought to the real meaning behind it.

The last few months I’ve become very interested in my grandfather’s life. I am the oldest granddaughter, and I was the only one who really got to know him before he passed away in 2002. I couldn’t say “grandfather” as a little girl, so I shortened his name to “Gran-Gran.” The name stuck and everyone calls him that to this day.  Being a writer, I’m fascinated with stories about people I have known. Through a series of informal interviews with my grandmother and hours devoted to scouring Alabama newspaper archives, I’ve begun creating Gran-Gran’s memoir.

Horace Rupert Burnham

Horace Rupert Burnham

Horace Rupert Burnham (known as Pat to most) was born on a farm in Calhoun County, Ala. Growing up he worked hard as one of three children on a farm. At age 18, he was drafted in the army at the beginning of World War II in 1939. When he returned after the war, a lot had changed. His mother, Annie Cheatwood (I’m named after her) had passed away and his father had remarried.  Gran-Gran met my grandmother in French class at Jacksonville State UniversityThey dated through college but both wanted to pursue higher education, so he went to law school at the University of Alabama and my grandmother went to Columbia University in New York City. His degree was funded by the GI Bill, but he also worked in the local Post Office. He began practicing law shortly after obtaining his degree. In 1952, he was called back to military service to serve in the Korean War. Shortly before he shipped out, he and my grandmother, Jane Self, married.

Upon his return from the Korean War, he got into politics. His Christian beliefs and his experience as an investigator of war crimes in Nuremberg after WWII led to his deep convictions about civil rights. He rose to become a member of the Alabama House of Representatives during the time while George Wallace was governor of Alabama. Gran-Gran was at odds with Governor Wallace‘s views about civil rights. After deciding that he wanted to spend more time with his family and serving his local community, Gran-Gran stepped down from politics. My grandfather was dedicated to fighting for civil rights and against the segregation of schools in Calhoun County. He worked hard in his town, known by all as a respectable man and one heck of a lawyer.  He was a man of dignity and bravery; a man of courage and honor. I want to be like him – willing to sacrifice everything for what I believe in because it is the right thing to do. I think that is why he was in the military, why he fought for the rights of all people, and why he loved his family the way he did.

Gran-Gran & My Dad 2001

Gran-Gran & My Dad in 2001

He knew the responsibility of fighting for his country and the honor that it earned him – but he also knew the cost. He was there at the beaches at Normandy; how many of those young men did he see fall?? I can only imagine the sense of awe that came upon him every Fourth of July, knowing he played a part in the grand defense of our great nation. I think he would be saddened by my lack of celebration in years past. This year, I think he’ll be proud.

Five Ways to Stay Sharp Over Summer Vacation

By: Annie Burnham

Summer always seems to pass too quickly. I’m in total shock that it’s almost July. I’ve been working on campus all summer, but I still feel like I’ve gotten so out of school mode that it will be something akin to culture shock in the fall when classes start.

So how do you stay sharp over the summer? Here are five suggestions for keeping your wits over the break:

  1. Read! You don’t have to read textbooks to keep your mind engaged. One thing I look forward to most about the summer is that I can read for fun again.  Fiction is my preference for the summer. During the school year, I’m too busy doing schoolwork to read fiction, so it’s a nice treat over summer. I’m trying to take advantage of my iPad as well and use the iBooks app to find the free books. You can also check out Good Reads for suggestions. Nonfiction is an area I’m slowly coming to appreciate. Biographies of some of the great figures in history are appearing on my to-read list. Just go walk around the WP_20130625_003 nonfiction section of one of the local libraries – you might be surprised at what you find. Maybe you like current events. If so, you should check out Tim’s blog from two weeks ago. He goes into the benefits of keeping up-to-date on news. No matter what your preference is, reading is a great way to stay sharp over the summer.
  2. Volunteer. Donate your time to a cause that you love. I volunteer most weekends with All Aboard Animal Rescue, a non-profit in Fort Collins that saves dogs from high-kill shelters around the West. Whatever cause or organization you choose to volunteer for, be sure to ask questions, try new things, and enjoy it. Not only will you be doing something good for others, but you will also have the chance to make some great connections. Sometimes volunteer work allows you to gain experience that will one day be invaluable when you enter the professional world. To find out more ways to volunteer, visit United Way.
  3. Exercise. This summer I’ve made it my goal to hit the gym five mornings a week. For the most part, I’ve stuck to that and I can tell throughout the work day my energy level is better. Exercise reduces stress and helps you feel better overall, whether you are working behind a desk or completing a high-energy internship. Maybe you are feeling adventurous. If you are around Fort Collins, you should take advantage of how bike friendly this community is. Or drive west a few miles and explore some of the hiking trails. I really want to try to hike the A by Hughes Stadium at least once before school starts in August. Or maybe for you, being adventurous is trying out that Zumba or kickboxing class. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you enjoy.
  4. Rest. Most of the time, I feel like I’m running 90 miles an hour in 10 different directions. As a culture, I feel we’ve lost the ability to just sit down and relax. Rest doesn’t have to mean sleeping. Most days, some of us from the CoB office will get up and walk over to the Lory Student Center and grab a soda. Taking a break from the computer helps me focus better when we get back. Even sitting down to relax for a half-hour break will improve your ability to concentrate on other tasks throughout your day. Make sure to lounge and sleep enough, even if you are working or interning.
  5. Set Goals. This might be the most important of all five tips. For me, this is what is driving my productivity this summer. I set a few goals back in May that I’ll share:
    1. Read at least 5 books for fun over the summer
    2. Workout five times a week
    3. Complete the first draft of a novel
    4. Write out and stick to a budget

Whatever your goal is, make sure you find someone to hold you accountable. This will increase your chances of success. Giving yourself a few benchmarks to meet throughout the summertime also will increase your productivity and keep you sharp for the fall semester.

As we reach the halfway point in summer break, take time to sit back and evaluate the last month and a half. What have you done? Make sure you are taking time for yourself, resting and being proactive with your health. Set goals to achieve this summer – maybe the goal is to get eight hours of sleep each night or to read ten new books by the end of summer vacation. Whether you are taking summer classes, working full time, or at home relaxing, remember that you can apply these tips anywhere.

What do you do to stay sharp during the summer? Feel free to add your thoughts to the comments below.

The AP Twitter Hack: Technological glitches and their effects on business

By Annie Burnham

There is now no question about the effect that social media has on business. This week the US saw firsthand that Twitter can create chaos for the economy. Tuesday, around 1 p.m. EST, the Associated Press Twitter account was hacked and sent out a tweet that said, “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.” The tweet remained up for almost three minutes and was retweeted more than 1850 times.

Drop in the DOW in Tuesday Image Credit: CNN Money

Drop in the DOW in Tuesday
Image Credit: CNN Money

The Syrian Electronic Army, the group claiming responsibility for the @AP hack, is also suspected of hacking @60minutes and @CBSDenver. We have heard more and more about Twitter accounts being hacked and causing mayhem in the last few months. What long-term impacts will this have on business use of the social media site?

These most recent hacks bring to light several questions. The first one is why hasn’t Twitter found a way to beef up security for Twitter accounts – especially of prominent organizations in society? One must also ask what potential threats do fake tweets pose for the economy? We saw the DOW drop 144 points in seconds, all based on a fake tweet!

One article from The Telegraph in the UK commented on the fact that this issue isn’t with the account getting hacked so much as it is about humanity as a whole relying too much on technology. The computers that run the stock exchange move so fast that stock brokers cannot possibly keep up with the constantly changing pace. Another major concern is that if something is online, it can be hacked. In 2010, during the “flash crash,” a rogue algorithm wiped one trillion dollars from the stock shares.

With the constant developments in social media, companies are going to have to be more careful with monitoring their accounts. This occurrence on Tuesday has left businesses wondering if the business world has become too dependent on social media.

Jeff Hancock, a professor of communication and of computer and information science at Cornell University, says the AP Twitter hack is the latest evidence that social media has grown up.

Wall Street Stock Exchange Image Credit: US Defense Department

Wall Street Stock Exchange
Image Credit: US Defense Department

USA Today interviewed Hancock about the drop in the market this week after the Twitter hack. “Our trust of social media has reached new levels. It’s amazing that things like social media have gone from something the ‘kids do’ to affecting how the market operates,” said Hancock. “This response also highlights that humans have a built in [sic] truth bias to believe what others say. Although there is a lot of suspicion about the Internet in general, the truth bias is alive and well with social media.”

Fill out the BusinessWeek survey!

Hey business students – are you proud of your college? If so, don’t keep it inside; make sure to let someone know. Specifically, you should tell BusinessWeek, who recently released their annual survey of business students.

Last year, the College of Business at Colorado State University ranked 94th overall among business schools, 37th among public business schools, 18th among land-grant universities, and 10th among public universities without a Ph.D. program. Only seven schools ranked higher than CSU that were less expensive.

A number of factors go into BusinessWeek’s ranking system, but feedback from students is a major one. In order for CSU to be ranked, the College needs a certain percentage of students to submit completed surveys. Your voice counts, so make sure to share your input.

Though the surveys should have arrived in your student email inboxes by now, we understand that those emails get deleted and lost, or that you may have simply forgotten your password. No need to fret – you can still take the survey and show pride in your school.

If you have lost your login, it can be retrieved by going to http://survey.businessweek.com/.  Enter your school email address as your username, and your password will be emailed to you. Remember, the correct email address to be used is your @rams.colostate.edu email address, not your College of Business or personal email.

Depending on how many students submit surveys, the deadline will be around Jan. 20, 2013. It only takes a few minutes to fill out the survey, so please follow the email or the link!

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Start Planning Your Study Abroad Adventure Now!

Last week we published a post about the importance of studying abroad for business students. This week you have a chance to start looking seriously at various study abroad programs and how they could benefit you and your future.  The CSU Study Abroad Fair is this Friday, September 7, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. in the Lory Student Center Main Ballrooms.  Meet CSU faculty, advisors, CSU and affiliated program providers, and study abroad alumni to learn about study, intern, volunteer and work abroad programs!  Also, look for study abroad representatives at the College of Business International Programs table!

There are other ways you can learn more about studying abroad and opportunities available to you. The Fall 2012 International Connections Brown Bag Lunch Series will highlight international travel. Themes will include what you can do abroad, how to prepare to travel, how to pay for your international experience, and wonderful stories of student travel experiences and how it has influenced their CSU experience.  These events are free and open to the public. Bring a friend and your lunch to any or all of the following meetings:

  • September 11,  Lory Student Center, Room 203-205 12:15-1:00: Don’t believe the rumor: You CAN afford to travel abroad (Visa and MasterCard not required)
  • September 18, Lory Student Center, Room 210 12:15-1:00: Culture: More than just the accents are different
  • September 25, Lory Student Center, Room 203-205 12:15-1:00: What I wish I would have known: Student perspectives on international travel

Today, September 6, at 2:30 p.m., the CSU Office of International Programs Scholarships for Study Abroad will host a panel of professionals who have worked closely with scholarships to answer your questions about scholarships for study abroad. The panel will include CSU affiliates, CSU Student Financial Services employees, and successful student recipients. The panel discussion will take place in the Study Abroad Office at Laurel Hall on the Oval. Visit http://www.studyabroad.colostate.edu/ for more information.

To learn even more about about studying abroad for business students, visit http://biz.colostate.edu/studyAbroad/Pages/default.aspx.