thestoryofmeaningfuluse

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Archive for WorkEcology’s Women in Sustainability

Women’s Secrets on the Economic Battlefield

A Systemic View

By Lavinia Weissman

@wecarehealth54545454545454545454

New York, New York

“We seek only to give words

to those who cannot speak

(too may women in too many countries)

I seek only to forget

The sorrows of my grandmothers

Silence”

 

– Anasuya Sengupta,  India

Last week, I offered a post (part 1) in a private subscribed conference,  Monday Circle of Prayer, Walking About Rather than Walking From.  It focused on a more personal experience with respect to how women cope with the realization they have no choice but to walk away from dysfunctional employment and other related activities and what that implies.

This article is a  second installment to that reflective inquiry from a more systemic view of women’s participation in the workforce.

Part 2- A Systemic View – When Walking Away is Your Only Alternative

It has been 30 years since, Gro Harlem Brundtland, M.D., launched the sustainability movement by convening the Brundtland Commission Inquiry in cooperation with the United Nations.  One of the worlds most remarkable female leaders, Dr. Brundtland is the former prime minister of Norway and former Executive Director of the World Health Organization and continues her work out of the United Nations community to this day.

What is happening for women in the economic system in which the work of the Brundtland Commission dialogue was to influence change?

A company culture that embeds corporate social responsibility implies that this culture has worked or is working on issues of transparency and materiality that invite an end to secrets. To assure acceleration of the women’s agenda in the workplace, this is a solid beginning but one has to ask why with such remarkable leadership among women, is this movement so slow to accelerate?

 

Conditions for Women Today

A few years back, I came to recognize living a life of spirit and faith was also key and not engaging dysfunction. As the economy became more challenged, I found myself on a battlefield of toxicity for work that has brought me to a downward spiral that many health people share with me.

On an ongoing basis, I am reminded of how exceptional women have been good at retaining secrets from public view, e.g. health, marital abuse and discrimination in the workplace to a degree of complicity that underlies why there is so little progress for women in a country that has complicated the lives of so many now by the cost of education, the diminished number of jobs available and the increasing number of jobs available for a wage that no one can live on, let alone support children.

Somehow in the United States, women forgot to speak for and in support of their peers. The spiritual movement in the US grew into a focus of self-care and personal intention and the issues that trapped or harmed so many were forgotten that can compromise any woman’s health or access to education.   We make people personally responsible to heal the obstruction and wounds that have been imposed on them that they did not cause.

Living and working in this kind of environment can result in the adoption of behavior that is dysfunctional when we feel all we can do I fight back on the battlefield by declaring war or simply protest. Some woman cannot free themselves for socio-economic reasons and need access to constructive options of employment, education and housing, especially if they have children.  They need a form of protection that can overcome the harm they had to endure personally or to their children if they speak up or make the “secret known.”

For me this week, I can own the cost of freeing myself from walking away from systems of obstruction and not looking back to my Sodom and Gomorrah.

For many years, more than I care to think, I have found the courage to walk forward with my wisdom and my eyes to in minutes note an elephant in the room that is not right.  I like many offer compassion and no remedy and keep walking or support as I can. This week, I became very clear, I will not perpetuate or enable anymore secrets and I will not engage in any conversations that bring me into a form of triangulation that perpetuates the secrete. Yet as women in this country we continue to perpetuate secrets and to me this has become as harmful as keeping the secret.

Over the past 3 decades there emerged a new set of systemic challenges at a rate of acceleration that the Earth Charter and UN Global Compact Principles have been designed to counter act all this.

These systemic challenges have form into many secrets that can become the ground of a battlefield of tension and obstruction we cannot speak about in public. For a few who experience this they have the protection of wealth, position or marriage to reduce the harm, but the wounds from these battles can be life long.  I know this personally and discovered I was not alone in this experience in a very pronounced way in 2004.

The Hidden Story

In 2004, I attend a private by invitation meeting in Boston, attended by over 200 women who had MBA’s and worked successfully in the Financial Service industry. Success in this instance is equated with title and financial success. Most of these women were graduates of a top 10 MBA programs. This particular program by 2004, had over 900 female graduates working in industry.

As a journalist and business writer my invitation was extended with a strong request for non-disclosure. This group wanted my participation and I had to promise not to report any panelist personal story or report on the overall event to a public audience.

What I can say now is that the meeting focused on report from Catalyst, a non-profit established in 1962 that conducts research on the progress for women in business. The 2004 Catalyst presentation focused on the question,  “Why fewer than 7% of women had advanced to C-level positions in the Fortune 2000?”

This report has popularized and been presented to a public view over and over again. What I did not expect was to listen to testimony of female leaders in the financial industry that offered “secrets.” These secrets included that 85% of the panelists suffered from chronic illness and had compromised life circumstances that led to the deterioration of their own health when they are parents, elderly caregivers, or witnessed first hand corruption.

A panelist at the time of the conference was working in venture capital investments. She reported that she had witnessed when employed by a securities firm of fame,  an “indiscretion.” Her husband’s response to her was, “Resign immediately.  I am glad I can support us and assure your resignation with dignity because you don’t have to work.”  She also indicated her resignation was just on time to see her husband through his own health challenges while caring for her young children at home, which she was not anticipating and needed the freedom of her own company. She ended her presentation stating, “I do not know what single women did to protect themselves from this kind of association by employment?”

The most dramatic presentation was last from a woman of status and achievement in the financial service industry, who announced that she let her career destroy her life – marriage, relationship with her children and friends. This is not news.  How many articles and reports have there been through the years on women who sacrificed a “life” for “career.I found comfort in recognizing and end to my ongoing feeling of an isolated experience.  I had just met women like me who had lived through similar experiences.

I noticed by the end of the event that women,  I respected the most was no longer employed in industry, but served industry.  These women structured their businesses so they no longer had to personally absorb or perpetuate harmful corporate behavior they could not control.

Forbes journalist, Meghan Casserly wrote, Millennial Women Are Burning Out by 30, Great for Business.  This is truly not news. Casserly points out more women are becoming entrepreneurs and starting their own companies as an alternative.  In my experience the women succeeding are doing that with the education and knowledge of sustainability and corporate social responsibility. What does that imply to women today?

As someone, who has worked at the frontier of sustainability and csr, for nearly two decades, I have seen the freedom that these woman claimed that was across the board empowered by family and friends. It was clear to me if you did not have that kind of support, it was a long hard road with no guarantee for successful outcome.

Is Change Possible?

 

Elaine Cohen, a recognized authority on HR and corporate reporting in the movement of change for Corporate Social Responsibility, recently reviewed Women and the New Business Leadership by Peninah Thomson with Tom Lloyd.

Thomas and Lloyd reported that one mentee interviewed pointed out

” Women tend to want to get everything on the table, because they
believe it is only when all the sometimes painful facts are on the table
that the truth of the matter can emerge “

This fits with my view that  “women rarely want to disregard the “elephant in the room.” Yet we have appeared to often organize our view of the most “difficult,” as a secret.

I believe until women find a spiritual foundation and new form of strength that has them begin to see strife as strife of many rather than getting lost in their own strife to intend a miracle of repair. This is critical as a principle of uniting and forming a credible movement of change from which to claim their power and influence the acceleration of change.

I do not see this happening as rapidly  without women learning to weave networks in which they can safely claim their power and also generate solutions to generations of abuse and harm to their health and economic status and social position that no one asks to be imposed on them.

Margaret Wheatley, a leadership thought leader and change agent, points out how critical it is for any change agent (man or woman) to exercise perseverance.  In her book titled Perseverance she writes:

“Perseverance is a discipline—it’s a day-by-day decision not to give up.  Therefore, we have to notice the moments when we feel lost or overwhelmed or betrayed or exhausted and note how we respond to them.  And we have to notice the rewarding times, when we experience the joy of working together on something hard but worthwhile, when we realize we’ve made a small difference.

A Personal Action Plan

I know many competent, leadership quality women, who did not chose the adversity that was imposed on them.  Often the only solution for them was to accept roles of care giving, patient or simply walk away from a job to protect their health.  They wisely recognized that to envision repair and change for a scale of outreach that goes beyond what they can know personally and it implied now walking away, but walking in a high degree of uncertainty with perseverance to form something new for which there was no guarantee of outcome or assurance of a happy ending.

My chemical and environmental sensitivity and chronic illness has pushed me to care about the impact on this to people because so many men, women and children suffer more than me. Drawing from this perspective I learned how to formulate ideas that assure lasting social impact. I did not ask to live life with this challenge and at the same time, this challenge has pushed me to integrate a spiritual practice and take on life in forms that are ordinary but not anything that anyone could teach me.

And I have created my own form of empowerment and remedy:

1.   Formulating a course the redefines network so anyone person can benchmark and define their personal social network and its assets;

2.   Gathering group of women and men  in my life that I can interact with virtually on a daily basis to empower me to overcome the obstacles that I and many of my peers and colleagues face in challenging economy.

3.    Shaping my presentations and coaching  to inspire this change, for which I can speak with passion, credibility and spark engagement between women in local community.

Every person in my sustainable reflective  prayer community knows a variation of challenge. The question remains in taking care for yourself and those you love, how you move from hero, heroine or victim to claim a life of repair and solution with other women to accelerate that change and claim our power?

I regret in 2004 with this alumnae group of  women with Wall Street related careers, we did not follow-up with another meeting to look at these questions.

While articles like what Meghan Casserly wrote for Forbes portray a bright picture for the millennial women, we have millions of other women, who are able to step up to learn a new way that I teach that can empower and accelerate a global economic change that has not been fostered by the traditional institutions and industries where women continue to burn out or wait for a pink slip and then what?

Come to one of my programs or host one for your community through a local “green” incubator.

____________

Author’s Bio:

Lavinia Weissman is sustainable leadership coach, health advocate, capacity builder, and publisher/editor-in-chief of thestoryofmeaningfuluse.com.

For More information on Lavinia’s Coaching, Workshops and Presentations or to obtain an invitation to Monday Circle or Prayer Community Conference,

Contact Adriana Hill  in the US by phone 516.204.6791 or  at mydestinyjourney ampersand gmail.com.

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What Do People Want After #OccupyWallStreet?

Reform Wall Street or Repair the Tear in the Local Economy &  Social Fabric

By Lavinia Weissman

@WeCareHealth56

Boulder Co

On October 20th, I read Don Tapscott’s exceptional Huffington Post, Three Principles for a New Wall Street This is Tapscott’s view on what is needed  to repair the Wall Street.

 No one will argue, that Don Tapscott’s Huffington was an intelligent and educated view.


This editorial, sparked by the movement of #OccupyWallStreet, is a statement of meaning and power. Yet, I found it  confusing for  the ordinary person without wealth, working hard to survive the mess we are living with in American and what if anything that he proposed would impact the lives of so many torn now?

Don’s  opening remarks captured my attention:

To many it feels like just that. The financial services industry is in desperate need of reform. Many bankers have behaved as secretive corporate titans serving only their own interests, and insist the devastating consequences are not their fault. They are failing to fulfill their obligations to society — in some cases, even to shareholders — and a growing number of critics view the day-to-day behavior of the financial services industry as unacceptable. If the industry doesn’t initiate reform from within then it will eventually have more extreme reform imposed from outside.”

 

I completed reading this article and found myself as a woman with a lot to say that I have not see written that many women I know do see.

Not many men will speak from our view of  how the financial service industry has failed us.

My Synthesis of Tapscott’s Editorial

Don’s editorial it is written from a systemic overview and perspective that the solutions lie within a new formation of integrity and transparency on a global scale. Once again, a leader is pointing out the board room perspective for the big financial service companies and investment banks.

Don’s thesis is based on a financial system of a sizeable deposit mass, larger than the sum of a  local community can create.

This creates a senior debt managed as a corporate asset for a core group of economic decision makers and shareholders. The focus become how to leverage returns from aggregation and spiraling consumer banking fees.

Transparency as defined in this context shapes from an issue of checks and balances and compliance reports rather than a source of measurement for how a community and its residents sustain health and thrive from creating sustainable market value that serve a consumer need identified by a social network analysis drawn from people with local voice or exemplary pulse taking capabililty

 

The Tear in the American Social Fabric from a Woman’s View

 

The very fabric of our country is torn in many places on the map.

The places on the map are actually not cities, rural areas, counties, states or a very torn apart country served by a broken finance system and politics.  Occupy Wall as a movement by today, spread to 1039 local communities across 87 countries. 

The tear in the fabric of this country is the millions of broken hearts of people, who no matter what they do, cannot take care of themselves as we have been taught to do and in a way that defines us as Americans.  It translated into a Republican view of “the haves and have nots, “ in the late 1990’s post the failure of the Democratic Welfare Reform.

As a woman, I  represent so many who have not had their voices heard in bank, law or compliance; our interests for banking and funds becomes even more fundamental.

The tear in the fabric for women is often exceptionally extreme.  We are the ones that are often called on first to manage and resource a special needs or chronically ill child or challenged elder.  With the rise in chronic illness to 1 our of every 2 people in this country, we are also the first derailed from the economic system that sustains us, especially when we are sole provider for ourselves or children.

As Rachel Qulter reminds us of how she finds this hope through the Myelin Repair Foundation:

We continue to be discounted in the work place as people of value.

The women, i know personally have  completed graduate education with significant debt.  Many after school have been challenged to obtain jobs in this economy or opted for self-employment. They become more so than men, up until now, burdened with significant challenge to support home and family.

Around 2004, I was invited as a journalist to participate in a financial service conference for an alumnae group of women at a top 10 MBA program. I was told when offered the invitation, I could not reveal the discussion in any factual way that was launched with an speaker from Catalyst, a women’s research think tank on the status of women’s capacity to lead in corporate settings.

As a skilled pulse-taker, I observed a view that there was no permission to give public audience to. All but 1 of the female leaders who spoke or sat on panels, had a child or a family member chronically ill. One woman, of significant personal resource left her job after witnessing a significant breach of ethic in a financial security firm, that is in public view.

A few women spoke about battle with life threatening illness and the cost of that and the impact on them personally and how they change. A chairwoman in banking ( a hard position to obtain) offered a mea culpa and apology for the cost of her career choice to her daughters, her exhusband and herself.

For me, it has been years of waiting, networking and praying to build a network of women friends, who know this kind of experience like me.  The women from the university conference are women who primarily know personal wealth and “buy their support systems,” that most of my friends cannot.

For years I was an outsider in what I call fundamentalist spiritual support groups in economic communities of wealth, where often the teachers, the coaches and others spurned people who lived the circumstance I live has being stuck in a limiting beliefs or having brought their circumstance to their door.

Trust me when I say, no woman (and often husband) selects to give birth to an autistic children or a premature baby requiring neonatal care that can accelerate into the hundreds of thousands and bankrupt a family. No woman that I know wants to ignore her elderly parents with Alzheimer or Parkinson Disease and then has to face the question for how long? And how will I continue to support myself and cope with this?

This is now an all too  common examination for women and men.

It  translates into a economic, emotional and spiritual issue at the root of challenge to women working in the institutional world. I believe from the perspective of a corporate financial service global firm is unlikely to ever be addressed. Yet when the firm causes harm, watch out, what is not reported in a compliance report is the harm to people who are dealing with the financial stress of chronic and life threatening illness.

 

What Does this Have to Do with Financial Service Industry?

 

My own struggle with Tapscotts’ editorial was the cry for more regulation or self-repair by a global industry that has not impacted harm of the “tear in the fabric.”

For years, I have not seen corporation or non-profit institution or government regulation or program repair or alter this tear to impact the health of people who live at the edge of the tear in our social fabric in local communities.

There is a lot of work ahead for all of us, not just the change agents like me.  Recently I received an email from a man, who has worked with me to alter my thinking, just as my spiritual support system that I draw on from women like me.

To me successful economic change reaches beyond the peer-to-peer arena that has pre-occupied much of the self-anointed leadership of the sustainability movement and has the potential to move sustainability practice into the hands of the masses – where it has always belonged.

As I welcome in more advice and shift the focus of my own work from the tradition of media and consulting to focus on repair of the social fabric through economic development, I have to thank a few remarkable people, who don’t want to be thanked for showing a new direction for me to guide my own spirit in these challenging times and construct a new view of myself and a view of my work that I can construct with others for more impact.

It requires imagination and a new style of conversation that generates change.

As my long time friend, Bill Shireman, President and CEO of the Future 500, another Huffington Poster  recently stated,

If we do not see the world as magical, then we are not awake!”

My response to Bill is,

Magic invites a new form of conversation that unites the practical nature of economic and business with a value that every person you know can sustain and if in the process of working with others, that person makes a real difference, I am happy to see them thrive.”

I am now putting to pen, speech, presentation and media what is in my imagination that can spark concrete local change to infrastructure for health to build repair and a new future for our children. I welcome you to join your magic and imagination with me.

_______________

Author’s bio: Lavinia Weissman is an sustainable market leadership coach, journalist, and publisher of thestoryofmeaningfuluse.com.

As a speaker, she describes the new emerging patterns of markets shaped by sustainable market leaders and the social networks they work with and employ.

As a coach, Lavinia works with all her clients to inspire professional development that assures a person the opportunity to embed sustainability as a leader into the network and culture of people they work with. She has a private practice where she works with women to embrace the experience of chronic illness that challenges their livelihood and form of work.

May-June 2011 Issue of TheStoryofMeaningfulUse

Letter from the Publisher

Lavinia Weissman

Boston, MA

@wecarehealth

This next series of articles to be released into our new magazine format for thestoryofmeaningfuluse.com examine the thought leadership and new practices coming into use to build new metrics of health for the environment, economy, people and habitat.

This new format of preparing a series of articles for a cycle of publishing was a bit overwhelming this first round; it pushed me to think and organize my work differently.   When I go into a learning cycle, I often have to find some real inspiration and within a few days the inspiration came to my door.  This inspiration was about repair of harm, I began to learn about through 3 major media events – a live broadcast, a outstanding interview and a sneek preview of film;

Given the events,  it provoked much discussion and debate in the mainstream press and social media.  Yet by the end of a week, I found myself pushed by these events to rethink  the sustainability practice of “transparency.” Transparency is any person’s  or institution’s power to adopt.   If you don’t practice transparency, you are diverting energy to “privacy, privilege and secrecy.”  Yet if you practice transparency you are opening the door to the very human aspect of life that “nothing is perfect.”  Transparency implies failure as lessons learned and opportunities to take those lessons and innovation change.

To me this is the essence of the world of people and communities practicing the discipline of “capacity building.”  From wherever I sit and draw my perspective, I continue to see a growing need for capacity building – in terms of recognition of need, resource and investment identification and a more common understanding that there is a need for a “cycle of capacity building.

Convening a group of people, who have the intention to innovate change requires a cycle or sustained capacity building. Capacity building is about breaking down the systemic barriers that re-enforce old patterns of behavior that keep a dying system perpetuating as that system ceases to serve more and more of the people who live in that system.

The community begins its learning when a small group of people recognize they need to budget and allocate resources to beginning an investigation int new responses to unmet needs from which a healthier society can take form to serve people into perpetuity. This means authoring a method of exercising precaution that addresses systemic harm that cannot be stopped by continuing in a form of “business as usual.”

These 3 events also implied a strong position that physical and violent harm, in particular to women and children should not be part the global future.

Yet the progress for achieving the UN Millenial Goals of 2000 to end poverty by 2015 is not sufficient.  And for the most part, according to the 2011 GreenBiz.com report on the State of Green Business, the world is still treading water in its progress to become a Green Society.

I am finding more and more – that what I publish, facilitate as change and build social media practice for is about “capacity building.”

Thee 3 media events inspired me to renew my faith and belief that a majority of people can convene to discern, learn and act to build a healthy sustainable economy so all species can live in health; this is the focus and context for anything I think about, work on integrate with into my work with others.

Over the next two weeks, please enjoy the roll out of articles for the May/June 2011 cycle of publication for thestoryofmeaningfuluse.com. All these articles provide a basis, a perspective, a briefing from which to learn how to engage in capacity building and monetize its development and ongoing capacity to su

Watch on Twitter, Facebook and from my Linkedin.com updates for the publication of these articles:

Prime Category Author Title
Lessons Learned Carol Sanford Business Can Make Life Easier
Research Note Lavinia Weissman #pharma Beyond Business as Usual
New Normal Brief Dave Wann Treasure Hunting for Clean Tech
Ethical Markets Media Rosalinda Sanquiche Update from Hazel Henderson
Capacity Building Lavinia Weissman Can Sustainability Sustain?
Book Review Lavinia Weissman The Responsible Business by Carol Sanford

Watch for a new post on  CSRWiretalkback as part of the SanofiAventisStoryCapture on how CEO Chris Viehbacher is leading a mission to guide Sanofi’s mission beyond the mindset of pharmaceuticals to becoming a global health leader.

And finally learn about WorkEcology.com’s new learning community, WorkEcology’s Women in Sustainability.

The core value that aligns women to join this professional association is based on the value for sustainability. This implies you wish to discern and learn with other women how to live a healthy life in a healthy world.

Groups can form anywhere for a size of 6- 10 members.

To  learn how to become a group leader or join a group already meeting click “contact,” on this page.

Warm thoughts,

Lavinia Weissman

Publisher