Blind spot? Managers in meritocratic organizations fail to recognise their own bias. From founders to funders, Silicon Valley prides itself on its meritocratic ethos; however, new research from MIT finds that organizations with meritocratic values are often the worst offenders of bias, specifically as it relates to gender. Authors Emilio Castilla and Stephen Bernard found that organizations with meritocratic principles favor men over “equally performing women” via higher bonuses and favorable career outcomes. Conversely, when the authors stressed organizational values that emphasized individual autonomy (and not meritocratic principles), they found no statistical significance in the difference of bonus amount awarded by gender. Their work supports previous research, which finds women and minorities are paid less than white male peers – even when they have the same job, supervisor, human capital and performance evaluation score. Castilla and Bernard conclude, “Merit-based pay practices in particular may fail to achieve race or gender neutral outcomes.” Why does this happen? It appears that when managers work for meritocratic organizations, they believe they are more impartial, and thus (unknowingly) give themselves permission to act on their biases. And when people view themselves as unbiased, they are less likely to self-scrutinize. Castilla calls this, “the paradox of meritocracy”. Biases from beginning to end We all have biases, and they’re revealed beyond bonus times. In fact, they creep in throughout an employee’s entire career – in hiring, retention, promotion and attrition. When reviewing resumés during hiring, our unconscious biases – or the bias we are unaware of that allows us to gather information quickly – often finds that we prefer male to female candidates and “white” sounding names (like Emily and Greg) to more ethnic sounding names (like Lakisha and Jamal). In fact, both men and women will prefer to hire a male applicant – even when […]
A 2016 research paper in the Journal Nature predicts a 40% shortfall of available water across the globe by 2030 with effects not just for drinking, food production, hygiene and public health, but also for 98% of global electric power generation. Presented at the Asia-Pacific Energy Leaders’ Summit in New Zealand the early findings of a new report, ‘The road to resilience – managing the risks of the energy-water-food nexus’ from the World Energy Council is calling for immediate action in order to secure resilient energy infrastructure. Supported by a task force of over 140 experts from across the world, the report makes five recommendations: Improve understanding of the water footprint of energy technologies in order to mitigate the risks of stranded assets Account for the price of water, particularly in areas of water stress Consider a wider range of financial and insurance instruments to hedge short term risks such as adverse weather incidents and associated electricity price volatility Give investors the confidence to invest by providing them a full risk assessment that includes different climate and hydrological scenarios in financial analyses Provide a reliable and transparent regulatory and legal framework that takes into account water issues and competing stakeholders’ interest. Christoph Frei, Secretary General World Energy Council said: “The energy-water-food nexus poses a systemic risk which could impact the robustness of the energy supply and demand over many years to come. Power plants across the world could be affected by changes in precipitation patterns, which are combining with increasing competition between water users to adversely affect the resilience of energy services. “Clear co-ordination and integrated planning needs to take place now, or we will start to see the effects of water scarcity on energy supplies in the very near future. Assuming a water price during project planning is one […]
You have to hand it to Fox, they sure know how to represent the Republicans in this election. They always find negative comment against the Democrats and pitch their flag behind the GOP. None more so than Sean Hannity who is the leader of The Donald’s fan club and an ideal candidate to be Secretary for Communications if Trump wins. He doesn’t let facts get in the way of a good story. Hannity positively gushes when talking to Trump and gives Trump the questions that he likes to answer. He also has a knack of not upsetting Republican viewers by endlessly finding ways that appeal to their viewpoint. Like, Obama’s done a bad job as president or Republicans at Trump rallies don’t cause disruption. It amazes me how Fox continues to get away with this highly emotive right wing propaganda but that is what Fox is all about and with such a large Republican-viewer following Fox is on a winner – lecturing the bamboozled, bothered and bewildered. And white, christian and narrow-minded. Hannity is appealing to a particular mind-set of viewers. Those who believe America is going downhill and that Trump is the only one who can fix it. Well think again America…and then think again. If you can’t make a clear decision on the best candidate for President, don’t rely on Sean to do your thinking for you. Sean has enough issues of his own to work through. Like how is my hair looking and will The Donald like my tie?
A method developed by A*STAR for analysing the financial benefits of incorporating the recycling and reuse of materials in manufacturing processes is expected to encourage more companies to adopt environmentally friendly production practices. Increasing global consumerism is leading to a waste time bomb. All too often, products that reach the end of their useful life are either incinerated, releasing harmful byproducts into the atmosphere, or dumped in landfill sites, which are rapidly becoming full. Both individuals and multinational companies could take greater responsibility for reducing waste by recycling. “Manufacturers are facing ever increasing pressure due to resource scarcity and environmental legislation,” says Jonathan Sze Choong Low from the A*STAR Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology. “Dealing with it by just reducing resource consumption will not hold up anymore.” Now, Low and his co-workers have extended the traditional linear production chain that links the manufacturer to the supplier to the consumer so that it leads back to the manufacturer once the product is no longer of use — creating a so-called closed-loop supply chain. A crucial link in a closed-loop supply chain is the process of reinserting recovered parts and materials back into the original manufacturing process — known as a closed-loop production system. Such integrated reuse of resources clearly benefits the environment, but businesses need to be certain that a production system is financially viable before they will adopt it. Low and his colleagues have now created a cost-modeling technique that simplifies this analysis. Their procedure considers the product as a collection of recyclable subunits. In contrast, previous models considered the product as a whole, but this approach is complicated since different components have different closed loops. “The product structure-based integrated life cycle analysis, or PSILA, technique we have developed allows users to break down a complex closed-loop production system into […]
Personal touch … Mercedes-Benz has found some jobs can only be done by humans Mercedes-Benz is firing robots and bringing in humans to do the job instead. Robots can’t keep up with the changing pace and adaptation required by the luxury car-maker; instead the flexibility and dexterity of human workers is required. “We’re moving away from trying to maximize automation, with people taking a bigger part in industrial processes again,” said Markus Schaefer, head of production at the company. This change comes as many car manufacturers are moving towards an age of individualization, offering more options to consumers. Mercedes’s S-Class sedan, for example, comes with an array of options, from carbon-fibre trim, heated and cooled cup-holders and four types of caps for the tyre valves. “Robots can’t deal with the degree of individualization and the many variants that we have today,” Schaefer explains. Customizing on this scale proves difficult for robots, which aren’t programmed for adaptations. The variations have proved too much for the machines, with robots requiring to be reprogrammed and assembly patterns to be adapted. The chart below shows how luxury car-makers are expanding their ranges, jumping from less than 15 options in 2000 to more than 35 for Mercedes Benz in 2015. The automotive industry is the largest user of industrial robots. According to the International Federation of Robotics, nearly 1.3 million industrial robots are expected to come into use by 2018, with the automotive industry expected to maintain its prominence in using robotics. Mercedes isn’t going completely robot-free, though; they’ll be using smaller and more flexible robots in conjunction with skilled human workers. This “robot farming”, as Mercedes has dubbed it, will equip workers with smaller machines they can work with, rather than separating machines and workers.
Some inventions are an immediate success. When Apple released the iPhone in 2007, customers lined up outside stores, desperate to get their hands on what the media called the Jesus phone, a reference to the device’s popularity. Other innovations aren’t quite as successful. Take electric cars. They’ve been around longer than you might think – they were first invented early in the 19th century – but were quickly overshadowed by their oil-guzzling counterparts. For a long time, it looked as though things were set to stay that way. Despite all the benefits – electric cars could help cut carbon emissions and air pollution, for example – there were very few takers. In 2011, President Barack Obama predicted there would be 1 million plug-in cars on US roads by 2015. He was off by over 700,000. But electric vehicles might be set for a revival: “A shift is under way that will lead to widespread adoption of EVs in the next decade,” Bloomberg reported last week. What’s behind the change? It’s simple, really: electric vehicles are set to get a whole lot cheaper. While many people liked the idea behind electric vehicles, even with government subsidies they’re too expensive: “If there’s a price penalty, people just don’t buy,” Carlos Ghosn of Renault-Nissan told the Guardian last year. His company sells more than half of the world’s electric cars. One of the reasons for the price difference between electric and conventional vehicles is scale. Of the billions of cars on the world’s roads, only 1% of new cars are electric, which means higher production costs. Another is the cost of the batteries that power electric cars. And this is where the big changes are happening. Battery prices fell by 35% last year, and it’s a trend that will probably continue. As the […]
February 29, 2016, DEHLI – Jean Lebel, President of Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and His Excellency Nadir Patel, Ambassador of Canada to Nepal announced a new initiative to help Nepali communities rebuild following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the country in April 2015. This $1.2 million investment will restore housing, public buildings, and infrastructure, as well as promote better mitigation and management for future natural disasters. This initiative contributes to wider Government of Canada reconstruction efforts in Nepal. Working with a local partner, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), this partnership will support rehabilitation and reconstruction activities in Dhungentar ward. This initiative will strengthen the capacities of communities and institutions for disaster risk management and climate change adaptation, and build eco-friendly, climate and earthquake resilient homes. The disaster risk management and adaptation capabilities and practices that are developed and refined will be scaled up to help other communities better prepare for climate and non-climate hazards. The Government of Canada has so far provided $23 million in humanitarian assistance funding in response to the crisis, which has been directed to experienced humanitarian partners, including UN humanitarian agencies, Canadian NGOs and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). “This initiative will support mountain communities in their rebuilding and rehabilitation efforts following the earthquake of 2015,” said IDRC President Jean Lebel “and the knowledge generated will be shared in the wider region to improve disaster planning and preparedness to reduce the devastating impacts of such events.” “In the aftermath of last year’s earthquake in Nepal, Canada provided a timely and comprehensive response to humanitarian needs. Canada remains committed to work with Nepal in supporting the most vulnerable people affected by this tragedy. The ICIMOD project supported by IDRC will help in the long term […]