Teachable Moments: Mother’s Letter to Ivanka

What are the ethical considerations here

What are the ethical considerations here

Ahem. We learned that Ivanka Trump (daughter of billionaire President-elect) flew on a JetBlue plane in Coach class with her husband and children on December 22, 2016. Apparently her mother never had a talk with her about protocol or etiquette. This is definitely a (overdue) teachable moment and a time for some words from Mother. This is a time when an overwrought mother with too much on her plate will be challenged to be tactful and soft spoken so that the bottom line message can be heard. Here we go.

~~~~~

Ivanka, we need to have a conversation. No, you don’t need to do an inventory of the jewelry to be sold on your website. You definitely don’t need anyone else in the room with us. This is a private conversation. You need to listen carefully. You should ask questions. Don’t be like your father and ask questions that will twist things into making it allowable for you to do something similar at a later date. We need to help you grasp some concepts.

First, although your father gained an amazing number of states in order to win the Electoral College vote, he did not win the popular vote. Do you understand what that means, my love? No, it does not mean his message was what the people of the United States believe and want. It means (just as he kept shouting during his campaign) that there was something fishy with the election.

Bless his heart, he hates to be undone. He has to be top dog. He will never admit that there was tomfoolery when it came to affirming him as the choice of the people. My dear, the popular vote shows he was not.

But he has chosen to put himself in the spotlight through his years. He has chosen to be (in fact, he has insisted on being) center stage and refuses to allow anyone else to occupy that space. He has chosen to be a public figure; he insists on it – until it goes against him. Now that he’s been elected, now that he’s been confirmed by the Electoral College, he is more than a public figure. You, and your siblings, need to conduct yourselves as progeny of the incoming President of the United States.

Not only that, my dear, your father is a billionaire. All of us know that. Your salary is far above that of the average person. You are different.

What the hell were you thinking when you and Jared booked that flight from D.C. to New York on a commercial airline IN COACH with the children?

[deep breath]

You have never been one who is part of the general population. You are different, my love. You can afford much more than the mere average American (even though you occasionally try to appeal to them by walking through the crowds with your security team). This should not be a news flash, Ivanka. Your father is not adored by the population. You do not have an esteemed position in the country. You are, at best, tolerated by necessity, nothing more.

Just as that poor man was yelling, you should have taken a private plane. The you and Jared can afford that. It wasn’t a trans-Atlantic flight so there was no major expense. Even that is affordable with your income and allowance. What the hell were you two thinking?

It’s good that you bring up that meeting with the diplomats from Japan. That was quite a stir the two of you raised. No, your father hadn’t been elected. He was still on the campaign trail. Still, it may have been better if Melania (even with her broken English) had been there instead of you. Your being there made it appear that you were assuming the role of First Lady. It made it appear that you were part of diplomatic, confidential negotiations. You don’t even have security clearance!

And then to show off your line of jewelry! I thought you were intelligent! Do you realize the types of ethical concerns that were raised during that flight of fancy? Let me put this in commoner’s vernacular. There were subtle messages of bribery and coercion laced throughout that meeting. There are already rumors (not to mention outright statements) that diplomats and political emissaries feel they must stay at a Trump property when they visit. (Thus, they feel they must line the pockets of the new President. Argh!) The jewelry thing gave the impression that they must purchase your goods. You should have saved the marketing ploy for another place and another venue – or just left it to your marketing team. (Not to mention they’d have been much better at it.)

You haven’t learned about your father’s shouting tirades – yet. Kellyanne has been shielding you from them. She’ll be integral in doing that after the inauguration but one day. One day you’ll do the unacceptable and even those lurid comments about his beautiful, hot daughter will not protect you from the real man that we three wives know.

Use common sense, Ivanka. Being a woman of the people doesn’t mean flying on commercial airlines in coach. Being a woman of the people means doing things that bring you popularity among them because of your benevolence, because of your charisma. And those attributes will flow to you because you are promoting things that are reachable and desired by the average person aiming to reach a better status, not being able to purchase a several thousand-dollar bit of jewelry that only millionaires and billionaires can afford.

Use common sense, Ivanka. And if there is a God in Heaven, encourage your father to do likewise. It’s becoming an embarrassment to acknowledge that I was married to him.

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Lessons in History – Conflicts of Interest

Recent headlines, similar to one from today’s Guardian, keep making me reflect on 20th Century events in politics and business. The make me wonder how things will actually play out (if allowed) in comparison to the Teapot Dome and Watergate situations.

Symbols of Government Ethics

Symbols of Government Ethics

The recent appointees in the developing Trump Administration have interesting, interwoven and strategic situations and alliances. They’re quite similar to the ones of the Teapot Dome flavor.

The Teapot Dome story is also documented on Wikipedia. The Brookings Institute provided more chronicling of the incident.

Enter Watergate

And then there’s Watergate and the lessons it taught us about being neglectful and too trusting in decisions made by government leaders. Reference.com summarizes that point in history while also available is the Front Line documentary history of the administration that gave rise to Watergate.

A Look at Bribery as Causation

A recent article that appeared in Corporate Counsel considered the impact of bribery on fraudulent practices in government and its influence on conflicts of interest. Some of the statistics are broken out for the reader. One of particular note is:

The United States ranked 20th. It still falls within the top 20 countries that TRACE considers “low risk.” The riskiest area for bribery in the U.S. is “business interactions with government.”

Also earning breakout attention:

• Syria suffered a considerable setback in its bribery environment, followed by Belize, with their overall risk scores rising. Syria is now one of the eight riskiest countries in the world for bribery.
• The seven other riskiest countries in order are Nigeria (199th out of 199 countries), Angola, Yemen, Guinea, Cambodia, Myanmar and South Sudan.

With regard to graft driving contracts approvals in foreign governments, one reader noted that in “. . . Italy, it’s simply accepted that many dealings with businesses or government bodies require a little grease on the wheels. So much so, that base salaries for some civil servants are less relevant than what can be made on top.” That reader recommends the book The Dark Heart of Italy for more edification. It should be noted that similar practices are heavily used in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) as revealed in a recent study conducted through Fuller Seminary. According to that study, the non-Muslim population was/is being subjected to extreme conditions of discrimination that keeps them in conditions of economic distress unless they agree to act as government-sponsored spies against family members.

Ethics Lessons

Should we be learning from history or is it our fate to close our ears and minds and simply allow ourselves to be repeatedly crushed under the Wheel of Time as it rotates? Perhaps it’s time to not only remember the lessons of the past but also become proactive about not reliving them.

When it comes to “conflicts of interest“, the layman can look to Wikipedia for its various definitions and examples or to other books that provide guidance.

Additional Reading:

Consider signing and sharing a petition to evaluate the fitness to serve before confirmation of the President-elect.

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Oscar and Minorities

Hollywood

Hollywood California USA. World Famous Hollywood Sign Concept.

Not the first time in their history, the Oscar Awards ceremony has a boycott in store this year. Started by Jada Pinkett Smith, it didn’t take long for the boycott of the Oscars ceremony (announced the day after the nominations were revealed) would take place. And the announcement was close on the heels of another protest in Hollywood – women’s salaries compared with those of men.

The complaint is there are far too few roles for Blacks on the big screen that result in far too few who are eligible for nomination for having done exceptional work. Some of Hollywood argues back that there aren’t enough stories to be told. In the alternative, the viewing public only identifies with White faces and characters, thus the casting of the parts. But the Oscars acknowledge the work of more than just those on the screen. There are also writers, directors, composers, designers, and more who comprise the entertainment experience. This year none of color were among those nominated. Protests regarding the good ole boys club atmosphere among those who can nominate and vote for Oscar recipients grew with such intensity that protocols were immediately changed and implemented – but too late for this year’s nominees. As long ago as 1970, George C. Scott was noted as having expressed his disdain for the Oscars. “George C. Scott held nothing but contempt for the Oscar organization. He called it a ‘2 hour meat parade’. He said the whole thing was offensive, barbarous, and innately corrupt.”

It was complained that only movies about slaves and slavery or racism are put forward as examples of Blacks who have done superlative work as actors. What about the other portrayals that could have been available? There are far too few. Why is that? It seems one of the complaints expressed during this year’s protest are accurate. It isn’t so much that the parts aren’t available so much as a matter of the parts for Black characters are converted to being played by White actors. This fact was memorialized in a book I happened to discover circa 2007 while at a Los Angeles branch library that dealt with the subject of Black Hollywood. A random opening of the book brought me to a section about the Western, “The Searchers” in which the scout is portrayed as a White man. According to the book, the scout was actually Negro but Hollywood didn’t find it appropriate to portray that fact.

The refusal of Hollywood to cast Black actors in positive roles has been cited as one of the reasons there is still a struggle for Blacks to rise into being viewed as a population other than suspect and available for exploitation. The outcries of 2016 are merely echoes of what was openly expressed in a 1999 paper on ethics wherein the three authors state:

Forcibly brought here as slaves to the white man, blacks have never been treated as completely equal to whites. Stereotypes of blacks as lazy, stupid, foolish, cowardly, submissive, irresponsible, childish, violent, sub-human, and animal-like, are rampant in today’s society. These degrading stereotypes are reinforced and enhanced by the negative portrayal of blacks in the media. Black characters have appeared in American films since the beginning of the industry in 1 888. But blacks weren’t even hired to portray blacks in early works. Instead, white actors and actresses were hired to portray the characters while in “blackface.” (http:/www.moderntimes.com/palace/black/open.htm). By refusing to hire black actors to portray black characters, demeaning stereotypes were being created as blacks were presented in an unfavorable light. In addition, blacks were purposely portrayed in films with negative stereotypes that reinforced white supremacy over blacks. This has had a tremendous effect on our society’s view of blacks since motion pictures have had more of an impact on the public mind than any other entertainment medium in the last ninety years.

Add to that representation the unstated but very prevalent attitude that Blacks are an exotic race that is more for the appeasement of sexual gratification and stimulation, not for critical thinking and stubborn business aptitude.

The reference librarian who attempted to help me relocate that book from 2007 found a list of titles that may be helpful to your further inquiry on the subject of Hollywood and accurate portrayal of race. He never found the book. He explained that it may have been removed from the shelves. However, the list of titles he did find is provocative and can be found at the bottom of this post. To get more information about any of the titles, you may visit the page of your favorite book seller or put the title into your favorite search engine.

This boycott and protest is not new to Oscar. The civil rights of a pantheon of actors of all colors and genders, of every sexual preference, has endured throughout the ages. The question, then, is whether this latest wave will be effective in bringing about positive, enduring change.

References:

Other References:

  • Cinema Civil Rights: Regulation, Repression, and Race in the Classical Hollywood Era by Ellen C. Scott
  • Reel Racism: Confronting Hollywood’s Construction of Afro-American Culture by Vincent F. Rocchio
  • Race Results: Hollywood vs. Supreme Court ; ten decades of racial decisions and film by Eileen C. Moore
  • Framing the South: Hollywood, Television, and Race during the Civil Rights Struggle by Allison Schoen
  • The subject of film and race : retheorizing politics, ideology, and cinema by Gerald Sim

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Re-electing the Convicted

I’m upset.

Meet the Press featured a special segment about former legislators who served prison terms. Their convictions involved fraud and racketeering, among other matters. Now that they’ve been released, they’re running for office again (Published October 19th 2014, 10:43 am).

The former Governor of Louisiana is among those who served at least five years in prison for racketeering.

There’s also a clip of him on the campaign trail. He talks with an elderly Black woman. She expresses her favorable impression of him and promises to support his election because she’s aware that he’s focused on the good of the people and wants to help them. Perhaps she isn’t aware of his on-camera quip elsewhere: He’s just fine under the sheets. And there he’s a wizard. The implications of that statement are frightening.

It hints at his private life activities. It seems to forebode a return to old-style practices that seem to be budding throughout all of the Obama administration and especially in light of the anti-Obama tactics being used to put Republicans into office. Collectively, there is a presage of socially returning to practices of a national historic nature.

What is unclear is why these three men are eligible to run for office. They have been convicted of felonies and served time for their crimes against society. At least one has admitted he believes he’s above the law and cannot be caught at involvement in his activities. Again, the former Governor says he can’t be caught unless he’s found with a dead woman in his bed or with a young boy and neither, he says, is likely. Do the others have similar attitudes? It would be good for the Press to devote more focus on these people, to investigate the legitimacy of the candidacies. Usually, one loses their rights of citizenship after being convicted and serving prison time.

Is anyone aware of these previously convicted legislators who appear to still have the same intents and propensities?

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Is Anyone Listening?

The age-old complaint has resurfaced. Job seekers place little value in using recruiters because they aren’t reliable.

An applicant will be induced to apply for a very alluring sounding position, whether permanent or through a staffing agency. But when they get past the application, all sorts of little bugs start creeping out of the woodwork that weren’t expect. New conditions, new requirements, new qualifications. Those are predicated on the fact that the office actually exists.

Another amazing thing that happens is, after enduring an hour or so of machine assisted testing and achieving high scores on each test, the position turns out to be something that doesn’t require that much expertise and the firm doesn’t typically send people out who have that much. They only want the most basic skills possible. Next, the new candidate is told they will be called when something comes up. Someone else was sent out on the advertised situation. Or, there is another opportunity but the rate will be a little lower than the one in the ad. Can you start tomorrow?

Some agencies are a reflection of the fact that humans are part of the wheels that turn. Office functions must be done. Sometimes things get overlooked or lost or misplaced or sent to the wrong place. But it’s the temp who gets blamed for the difficulty and the blame is cemented to the worker’s reputation. Applicants are now very wary of temp agencies.

A Drawer Full of Resumes

One recruiter who did permanent placements had an entire drawer full of engineering resumes that had not been reviewed. Needless to say, the applicants had not been contacted at all. Did any of them meet some of the criteria for new orders? Well, they needed to be organized so why not make that determination while doing the sorting and organizing.

I was the researcher in that firm. The engineering terminology and highlights of career accomplishments weren’t part of my vocabulary. I went to the recruiter to seek clarification about the language. Unfortunately, he had about as much knowledge as I did. The resumes went back into a stack and filed away.

The Other Side of the Coin

Applicants and candidates also have some failings that need to be corrected. So let’s not lay all of the blame for failed opportunities at the feet of the recruiter. Stephen cites some very valid counter arguments. Also notable is the fact that he’s willing to own up to some of the errors that are committed.

Mike (another recruiter) groaned one day about a candidate who seemed to be intentionally obstinate. But the candidate hemmed and hawed about setting a date for a personal interview. It must have been their desire to not look too anxious. They agreed to a phone (not an in-person) interview, maybe. And the date and time of even the phone interview couldn’t be nailed down. The situation raised a lot of questions. Perhaps the office was too far in terms of travel. Then, again, with the cost of gasoline, it could be the candidate didn’t have gas money and didn’t want to admit that. Who knows what bugaboos were attacking that candidate’s ability to meet the invitation. The point is, they did not and had no reasonable explanations for their change in direction. Would gentle probing for the reason have helped? No matter. Opportunity lost.

Job Market

News informs us that the job market is softening. There are more jobs available. The difficulty with the news is that we aren’t told what quality of jobs are blossoming. Are they permanent jobs, entry level, across the enterprise, focused in just one industry, or are they temporary jobs?

No matter what types of jobs they are, another concern is the rate of pay. Job seekers are also weary of attempting to make ends meet with minimum wages of $7.25 (federal) or as much as $10 per hour. It simply isn’t a livable wage these days. There are true stories of people who are working two and three jobs in order to support their families. One of the ways they finally manage to do so is by virtue of the fact that there’s another wage earner in the household. But they still don’t have health insurance.

Return of Ethics in Recruiting

Ethics in Recruiting

Ethics in Recruiting

This month started with the revival of “Ethics in Recruiting“, a discussion group that proved to be very popular from 2004 to 2007.

As before, its focus is on the practices used in recruiting with a goal of coming to a consensus about good, ethical practices.

Realizing that there are recruiters around the world who are corporate, in-house, staffing, agency, and third-party or independent recruiters or consultants, who recruit for many industries, it is recognized that there are some practices that differ. There is terminology that may differ from one place to another. But the art of recruiting is essentially the same.

The intent is to include all aspects of the recruiting phases, from training and development, coaching, sourcing for candidates, screening and qualifying, shares and splits. Still related to the job is client development, guidance for clients, writing the job requisition as well as the description.

Salary negotiation and perks, signing bonuses, placement fees and “ownership” of placements is also an important aspect of the practice. Then there are factors such as confidentiality, non-competition agreements, discrimination, and contracts.

The welcome mat for inclusion is there for those who are animated toward coming to a common ground and pushing for a better image of the recruiting profession because of adherence to good business practices. There are organizations that have been in existence for many decades and that have their own Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct. There are organizations that provide training for all types of recruiters. Members of those bodies are extremely valuable and their input is necessary so that we can build toward establishing a single standard, if that is indeed possible.

Are people from the human resources aspect of employment appropriate members? Yes, because they’re part of the employment picture. Their voices are just as important as the others involved in the equation. Resume writers, career coaches, also add to the discussion. Membership is not restricted.

Let us continue the conversations. Let us return to hashing out the points that create the headaches and iron out the areas of contention. Let us work toward creating a single voice, wherever the practice, about Ethics in Recruiting.

Join us at the LinkedIn group, Ethics in Recruiting.

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Never Stopped to Think About It That Way

It was December 12, 2001 when Shaun Michael Jex wrote an insightful piece that related to the sacrifices that foreign correspondents and journalists make to deliver their message. Shaun’s column was Literary Theory Explorations and the installment was titled “By Any Means Necessary.” It was a challenging read; it was a very good read. Shaun’s writings were not simple and superficial. They dug deep into the subject matter and challenged the reader to consider the subject from many aspects. It was a read that compelled some comment and mine was among four that were published.

Thanks for your words, Shaun. Your tribute is (by the examples you give) to news journalists. There are many types of journalists and we all go into the trenches in order to get the real, true story from ground zero. Our desire is to know the inner workings of the whatever and then tell it to others so that they may have some appreciation of the perspectives powering and driving the events. We put ourselves outside of the events. We are but onlookers empathizing and understanding and then sharing that understanding.

One of the highest tenets of being a journalist is telling the accurate story. Another of the highest tenets is that you see each person in their own esteem and look down on nor up to anyone. They are all equal. Therein lie some of the secrets of reporting the events – by getting the right information and reporting it accurately.

The free press and freedom of speech are very precious commodities that are in real jeopardy these days. Too many times meaningful information that can empower or exalt understanding is suppressed while the journalist is beaten to the back of the crowd or else their words suppressed and altered in order to make them more palatable and attractive, more appealing to the masses and flatter them into ignorance. Too often the true and accurate words are erased into oblivion because they offended those who did not want to know and desired to continue in the old, uninformed ways.

Our Muses command us to write. Therefore, we do not shrink away and never tell the story again. We re-emerge another day, sometimes in another place, because for us the story must be told.

Thank you for your tribute to the news journalists. Thank you for speaking.

We need to hold the banner high for good reporting standards and excellent journalism. It’s up to the journalists to tell the story with truth and accuracy (to the extent possible). Slanted reporting, suggestions about the meaning of words, excessive emphasis on certain points, commentary inserted into reporting instead of saved for the reporter’s opinion column are not part of fair reporting and fair comment. It’s difficult to understand the good reporting that’s supposed to be delivered when all that can be found are talking heads behind a desk who are trading jokes and gossip. It’s more as though we’ve come to having 24-hour reality shows instead of good news reportage.

The reading public needs information to independently form their own ideas about a subject. There is little room in a free society for yellow journalism, and biased, non-factual writing that attempts to pass itself off as hard news. There needs to be fact checking and proofreading that goes into delivering the story and a reporter who has an appreciation of the subject or knows how to gain the information in order to provide an informative piece.

The sacrifices of our journalists are important. They should be applauded for doing their jobs.