Thursday Buzz: How Not to Talk about Workplace Gender Issues

An Australian startup CEO gets pilloried for his comments on why he hires women. Also: A major technology company stops making laptops for a major market—for now.

If you’re going to close the gender gap at your organization, don’t do it like this.

This month, Australian startup founder Evan Thornley explained how his company, LookSmart, ended up hiring more women than did other firms in the sector. But his reasons for doing so raised eyebrows.

“There’s a great arbitrage there: We would give them more responsibility and a greater share of the rewards than they were likely to get anywhere else, and that was still often relatively cheap to someone less good of a different gender,” Thornley said during the Sunrise startup conference last week.

He compounded matters by running this slide during the presentation:


Thornley has since apologized for the comments, but he nonetheless started a good debate, the highlights of which are discussed at Bloomberg Businessweek.

“That’s not how this conversation should go at all,” the magazine’s Claire Suddath writes. “Realizing that women are undervalued and then paying them less [than] men because you know you can is not the solution that any company should adopt—and not just because it’s illegal.”

And next time, skip the graphic.

(By the way, for a look at the latest data on the CEO salary gender gap in the nonprofit sector, read our coverage of the new GuideStar report.)

A Post-Laptop World?

Is it a harbinger? On Wednesday, PC Advisor scored a scoop about one of the world’s largest technology companies, Samsung, quitting the laptop market in Europe, a significant announcement considering the size of the company and the buying power of the continent.

It’s not just Windows PCs, either.

“We quickly adapt to market needs and demands,” a company representative told the news outlet. “In Europe, we will be discontinuing sales of laptops, including Chromebooks, for now. This is specific to the region—and is not necessarily reflective of conditions in other markets.”

The company promised that it might someday return, adding that it would “continue to thoroughly evaluate market conditions.”

For what it’s worth, a recent study suggests that people are learning to love their desktops more these days. (ht @Techmeme)

Other good reads

You may have to cut a few corners to trim costs, but that doesn’t mean your attendees have to notice. Event Manager Blog suggests a few ways to save money on events without drawing a lot of attention.

Don’t let your connections fade: You need to keep your network strong, notes Velvet Chainsaw Consulting.

“A lot of people think Google is their friend. That may be true, but it’s a friendship with conditions.” At the Association Media and Publishing blog, author Jeff Korhan suggests ways to boost your presence without leaning too hard on Google.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a senior editor for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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