National / International News

Tim Cook and the diversity problem in the C-suite

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-10-30 11:00

Apple CEO Tim Cook became on Thursday the first Fortune 500 CEO to be out, in public, as gay.

"I'm proud to be gay," he wrote in a Bloomberg Businessweek op-ed, "and I consider being gay one of the greatest gifts God has given me."

"Part of social progress is understanding that a person is not defined only by one’s sexuality, race, or gender,” he continued. 

But while we can see signs of that progress all around us, there's still a long way to go — especially when it comes to the C-suites of companies like Apple. 

Tim Cook is, after all, a white man — like more than 90 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs and less than 35 percent of all Americans. 

"It does not reflect at all the population," says Vanessa Cárdenas, who focuses on changing demographics at the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress.

By 2050, according to her projections, the majority of Americans will be people of color and the majority of the workforce will be women. Why don't we see that diversity among our corporate leadership? 

"We’d all like to know that answer," says Donna Dabney, executive director of the Governance Center at the Conference Board.  "I think we need to focus on what happens at the middle level: the middle management level."

Dabney says women make up 40 percent of the workforce, but only 15 percent of C-suite executives. One problem: "Men tend to get sponsored, and women get mentored," Dabney says. 

Advice is nice, but having someone actively advocate for you is more critical for advancement. 

Another problem is just getting on the ladder in the first place.

"We know that Fortune 500 companies often target their recruiting at elite colleges," says Alexandria Walton Radford, who directs the Transition to College program at RTI International. "And because we know that lower-income students are underrepresented at elite colleges as are Hispanic and African-American students, that just affects this pipeline."

The overriding theme is that altering the diversity picture requires stepping outside your comfort zone. 

"What really plays into this whole equation, and why I think we have such a huge gap, is because of unconscious bias," says Dr. Shirley Davis, president of SDS Global Enterprises. 

Even where explicit racism is absent, people tend to pick people like them--to hire and to help them advance. The vicious cycle has helped the top levels of corporations remain much less diverse than the country as a whole. 

"The typical profile of a corporate executive, CEO or board of director is a white male in his late 40s or 50s that’s straight," says Davis.

On that last score, at least, Tim Cook just shifted the needle.

The biggest smartphone maker you've never heard of

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-10-30 11:00

When it comes to the global smartphone market, everybody knows about Samsung and Apple. But do you know who number three is?

Xiaomi, an upstart Chinese company you’ve probably never heard of, has taken the smartphone bronze, based on sales this summer. It edged past players like LG on the way.

“So far, Samsung still remains number one. Number two is Apple. But now Xiaomi is number three,” says Linda Sui with the research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics.

Analysts say this growth is incredible, given that Xiaomi only sold its first phone three years ago. The Chinese company has passed Samsung and Apple in China, and sold between 17 and 18 million phones in Asia last quarter.

“Because it’s only within Asia, that’s a huge number,” says Ramon Llamas with IDC.

He adds that these phones are “feature-packed, easy to use and rather inexpensive. And that really appeals to millions and millions of users. And here’s the scary thing: It’s just getting started.”

Xiaomi is expanding in India, with an eye on Brazil, Mexico and more countries in Southeast Asia. But not the U.S. — yet.

“You cannot jump from the Chinese market straight to the U.S. markets,” says Boris Metodiev, a research manager with 451 Research.

Customers in emerging markets prioritize cost and value, he says, while customers in the U.S. tend to stay loyal to brands like Apple.

So Xiaomi has to keep growing.

“Conquering step by step the developing markets,” Metodiev says. “And once their name becomes more and more popular, then they will eventually move to the U.S. markets, to the West European markets, and so on and so forth.”

Even if Xiaomi continues to expand, it might not hold onto the number three spot. That’s because its competition just grew. Lenovo announced today it has completed its acquisition of Motorola Mobility.

 

 

 

Iraqi Kurd fighters 'enter Kobane'

BBC - Thu, 2014-10-30 10:59
An advance party of 10 Iraqi Kurd fighters have entered the Syrian border town of Kobane to join the battle against Islamic State militants, activists say.

What A Brush With SARS Taught A Doctor About Ebola

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-30 10:52

A young doctor put on a protective suit so he could examine a man who might be sick with SARS. It was hard to tell who was more frightened: the doctor or the patient.

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Abbas warning over holy site closure

BBC - Thu, 2014-10-30 10:50
The Palestinian leader's spokesman calls the closure of a disputed Jerusalem holy site after the shooting of a Jewish activist a "declaration of war".

North Sea industry 'less optimistic'

BBC - Thu, 2014-10-30 10:48
Industry body Oil and Gas UK publishes research indicating a decline in optimism among key players in the sector.

Hopes fade for Lanka mudslip victims

BBC - Thu, 2014-10-30 10:45
Rescue workers in Sri Lanka intensify their search for survivors of a tea plantation landslide which is feared to have buried more than 100 people.

BARDA: The venture capital firm buried in the U.S. government

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-10-30 10:43

For five years, John Eldridge and his team at Profectus Bioscience have developed and tested their Ebola vaccine. First it was on guinea pigs, then monkeys. 

At that point, Eldridge realized monkeys weren't getting sick.

“When I saw those results, I realized that we had a real vaccine candidate which had the potential to make a real difference for mankind,” he says.

But before it can go to market, the vaccine must be tested on humans, a timely and expensive proposition for tiny start-ups like Profectus. And this is where things get tricky. Despite this year’s outbreak, there is virtually no commercial market for Eldridge’s vaccine. In other words, it’s financially difficult for a drug maker of any size to justify the expense of development and production with little payout in return.

That’s why the little agency no one has ever heard of  – the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) – is so important.

“They are investing in things that would die if they didn’t have additional funding,” says Boston University’s Kevin Outterson

Outterson says getting any product from the lab to the market is called "crossing the valley of death." For products like Eldridge’s, which has little financial appeal but huge public health upside, that valley is deeper and longer.

“You can think of BARDA almost like a venture capital firm buried in the U.S. government,” he says.

To find an Ebola treatment, BARDA is investing in the most promising drugs and vaccines. That money, about $30 million just for vaccines so far, changes the equation so it makes better business sense for companies big and small to bring drugs to market. Unlike venture capitalists, BARDA won’t take a cut; in fact, more money may be on the way, with the President expected to seek additional funding from Congress.

“When we decided to put our pedal to the metal, everybody could accelerate and get to a finish line we are aiming for,” says Dr. Nicole Lurie, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at HHS, who oversees BARDA.

She says vaccine development would usually take up to 10 years. “We are moving forward in unprecedented speed.”

With this Ebola crisis, Lurie says Washington and industry are hand-in-glove. Lurie’s hoping to avoid mistakes from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, when nearly 61 million Americans got sick and the virus killed more than 12,000 – all while the government, working with drug makers, couldn’t get enough flu vaccine manufactured.

“We learned that we needed much stronger relationships with our industry partners,” says Lurie.

She sees signs of a massive Ebola manufacturing mobilization, from giants like GlaxoSmithKline to the little guys like Profectus and John Eldridge, who says he’s actually been given enough money to do the work this time.

“We negotiated the contract. They came to us multiple times and said, ‘we need to supply you with adequate funding that you can move as rapidly as possible,’” he says.

Eldridge still doesn’t know if his vaccine works. But thanks to the tiny office no one has ever heard of, there’s a chance.

Burgess keen on World Cup chance

BBC - Thu, 2014-10-30 10:40
Bath's cross-code signing Sam Burgess says it would be "fantastic" to play for England at a Rugby World Cup.

Abuse inquiry appointment 'chaotic'

BBC - Thu, 2014-10-30 10:39
A letter from the new head of the inquiry into child abuse over concerns about her suitability for the role "raises more questions than it answers", say MPs.

Neiman Marcus' CEO on adapting to new consumer habits

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-10-30 10:30

It has been a big year for the luxury department store chain Neiman Marcus.

The Dallas-based retailer announced earlier this year that they are building their first Neiman Marcus store in Manhattan, with doors set to open in 2018, joining Bergdorf Goodman the company’s only New York City outlet to date. They also launched a shopping app earlier this week called “Slyce," which lets users take pictures of any item they want to buy, and suggests something similar available at Neiman Marcus – the latest in a long line of technological experiments Neiman Marcus Group CEO, Karen Katz, has brought to the company.

Katz describes the company's customers: “She is very deliberate in how she is spending her money. There has to be a real value... pre-recession, I like to say, she was shopping with abandonment. She wasn’t looking at prices. If she liked something, she bought two of them... I think the world has changed post-recession. We’re much more in tune with how she wants to think about things.”

You can hear the full conversation on the Oct. 30 episode of Marketplace with Kai Ryssdal, or listen using the audio player at the top of the page. Here are some excepts from their conversation: 

Impact of digital interaction: 24 percent of business at Neiman Marcus is now done online, and 70 percent of customers go to the website to research by category before going into the store.

On the risks of working in retail: Katz says, “That’s somewhat the thrill of the business.”

The Neiman Marcus Christmas Catalog item at the top of Kai’s wishlist? That would be the 100th anniversary Neiman Marcus limited edition Maserati Ghibli S Q4.

An earlier version of this story misspelled "Neiman Marcus." The text has been corrected.

Nieman Marcus' CEO on adapting to new consumer habits

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-10-30 10:30

It has been a big year for the luxury department store chain Neiman Marcus.

 

The Dallas-based retailer announced earlier this year that they are building their first Neiman Marcus store in Manhattan, with doors set to open in 2018, joining Bergdorf Goodman the company’s only New York City outlet to date. They also launched a shopping app earlier this week called “Slyce," which lets users take pictures of any item they want to buy, and suggests something similar available at Neiman Marcus – the latest in a long line of technological experiments Neiman Marcus Group CEO, Karen Katz, has brought to the company.

 

Katz describes the company's customers: “She is very deliberate in how she is spending her money. There has to be a real value... pre-recession, I like to say, she was shopping with abandonment. She wasn’t looking at prices. If she liked something, she bought two of them... I think the world has changed post-recession. We’re much more in tune with how she wants to think about things.”

 

You can hear the full conversation on tonight's Marketplace with Kai Ryssdal, or check back here for the full audio later this evening. In the meantime, here's a sneak peek: 

 

Impact of digital interaction: 24 percent of business at Nieman Marcus is now done online, and 70 percent of customers go to the website to research by category before going into the store.

 

On the risks of working in retail: Katz says, “That’s somewhat the thrill of the business.”

 

The Nieman Marcus Christmas Catalog item at the top of Kai’s wishlist? That would be the 100th anniversary Nieman Marcus limited edition Maserati Ghibli S Q4

Royal Mint bid to woo gold investors

BBC - Thu, 2014-10-30 10:18
The Royal Mint announces the sale of a series of new, smaller, gold coins in a bid to encourage more people to invest in bullion.

Cows to keep Kenyan girls in school

BBC - Thu, 2014-10-30 10:18
Nine cows will be offered to fathers in areas of northern Kenya to ensure their daughters finish their education, a county governor says.

Children's social work faces change

BBC - Thu, 2014-10-30 10:15
The government has announced changes to children's social work, aiming to restore confidence in the service.

Airport boss aims to 'add airlines'

BBC - Thu, 2014-10-30 10:13
The new managing director of Cardiff Airport says she is determined to reverse the decline in passenger numbers by attracting more airlines.

Can Shows Like 'The McCarthys' Replace CBS' 'Thursday Night Football'?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-30 10:05

Tonight marks the return of scripted programming on CBS after seven weeks of Thursday Night Football, including a new show, The McCarthys, that should have been left in the locker room.

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So Who Was Socrates, Anyway? Let's Ask Some Kids

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-30 10:03

In part two of our look at the ancient Greek philosopher, we ask students at a California school about the Socratic teaching method and the questions it inspires.

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Meeting over council chief's pay-off

BBC - Thu, 2014-10-30 10:01
Pembrokeshire council's chief executive is due to leave the job on Friday but a question mark is still hanging over his £330,000 pay-off deal.

Match-fix threat significant - FAW

BBC - Thu, 2014-10-30 09:38
The FA of Wales launches an anti-match-fixing campaign, as it reveals that over £75m a season is bet on the Welsh Premier League.
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