Category Archives: Authors

Diversity vs. Free Speech Part 1: An Invented Conflict – by Carlos E. Cortés

“That’s against free speech.”  “That’s censorship.”  “That’s unconstitutional.”
Those are the kinds of responses diversity advocates are likely to receive when they challenge hate speech or other forms of demeaning and marginalizing expression.  Unfortunately, diversity supporters often take the bait and respond by arguing for the importance of limiting free speech.  But they shouldn’t go down that road.  They don’t have to challenge free speech because free speech doesn’t actually exist.  Let me explain.
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One year ago I was selected to be a fellow of the University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement.   My research project focused on the intersection of diversity and speech.  In my fellowship application I proposed to address the following historical question: over the past fifty years, what factors have driven many higher education diversity advocates to oppose our nation’s tradition of free speech?  However, my research quickly convinced me that I had posed the wrong question.

Continue reading Diversity vs. Free Speech Part 1: An Invented Conflict – by Carlos E. Cortés

Valentine’s Day: Beware of Cupid’s Arrow at Work – by David B. Grinberg

No professional wants to be caught in a bad romance at work on any given day, but especially on Valentine’s Day.

While office dating can send you to the honeymoon suite, it’s more likely to land you in the heartbreak hotel, outside on the company doorstep, or in a red hot legal mess.

Whether you’re shooting Cupid’s Arrow or being struck by it, workplace romance can have a detrimental impact on your career. Office dating can damage your prospects for advancement, negatively impact your health and wellness, while causing your productivity to plummet.

Continue reading Valentine’s Day: Beware of Cupid’s Arrow at Work – by David B. Grinberg

When Nobody’s Looking: the Northam Moment! – by Terry Howard

Sigh, here we are again folks. Race…America…2019!

Like those meddlesome spring dandelions in the front yard, the specter of race keeps coming up as a slap upside the head reminder of how far we’ve come yet how far we need to go. One step forward, two, three, four, five steps back.

Here’s the latest “what the heck was he thinking” moment; one, I add with disgust, broke in the headlines on the first day of African American History Month in a state where 400 years ago the first slaves were hauled off in chains onto the shores in Virginia.

Continue reading When Nobody’s Looking: the Northam Moment! – by Terry Howard

Corporate Governance and Sustainable Development – by Bojana Bogojević

At the present moment, when only a few economies of the world have recovered from the global economic crisis that befell, and only spill-over has occurred for the rest, corporate governance has become a vital solution for the economic growth and sustainable development to which every economy aspires.

What is Corporate Governance?

Corporate Governance is the system of process and rules under which a company is directed and controlled. Corporate Governance isn’t just a set of value statements. There are a significant number of very technical legal requirements that companies must follow in order to demonstrate that they have good corporate governance.

Why good Governance is important

Fundamentally, there is a level of confidence that is associated with a company that is known to have good corporate governance.

Corporate governance is known to be one of the criteria that foreign institutional investors are increasingly depending on when deciding on which companies to invest in.

It is important to tell that having  a good and  clean image on the corporate governance front could also make it easier for companies to source capital at more reasonable costs.

However all crises, and their economic consequences, have a positive side. They create a general alarm for change and illustrate that the previous systems need to be improved for future progress. The positive impact of the economic crisis could be used as a guideline for establishing stable and above all sustainable development.

What is sustainable development?

It is a concept that appeared for the first time in 1987 in Brundtland Report also known as Our Common Future published by the World Commission on Environment and Development. In this Report  the concept of sustainable development is introduced and described how it could be achieved. Subsequently the Brundtland Report called on the UN to establish the UN Programme of Action on Sustainable Development. The Brundtland Report  laid the foundations for the Rio Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, which then ultimately led to the creation of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development that same year.

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. It is important to know that  achieving the SDGs requires the partnership of governments, private sector, civil society and citizens alike to make sure we leave a better planet for future generations.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with their 169 targets, form the core of the 2030 Agenda. They balance the economic, social and ecological dimensions of sustainable development, and place the fight against poverty and sustainable development on the same agenda for the first time.

Well-functioning legal and state institutions with the necessary rule of law are vital for good governance. A weak judicial system where laws are not respected and implemented, particularly regarding corruption, leads to the undermining of respect for the rule of law, widespread degradation, and threatens aspirations towards sustainable development and progress.

Therefore, in order to develop, attention and efforts must be directed towards establishing a functioning legal system where the penalties for non-compliance with legal norms are imposed and applied. Otherwise, the beta risk affecting the attractiveness of investing in a particular country, in this case Serbia, will continue to grow, and for the very companies that need to be the main drivers of overcoming a particular countries economic problems, the increase in alpha risks affects the quality of their corporate management.

As British economist Joan Robinson said: “The purpose of economics is not in constructing the model, but in a constant effort to make life easier to all humanity.”

The question that inevitably arises at this point is how does good corporate governance affect sustainable development? Good corporate governance contributes to sustainable economic development by improving company business results, increases operational efficiency, and facilitates and improves access to capital markets. This leads to a reduction in company capital raising costs, increases the value of assets, and thereby contributes to a better corporate reputation.

Few societies understand the complexity of these issues

At the beginning, it is necessary to access certain parts of the comprehensive restructuring of corporate management. This is a complex and often time-consuming process but must be approached if we want to make progress.

In order to ensure a proactive approach to sustainable development, as viewed through the prism of good corporate governance, it is necessary to focus and direct limited government and domestic investments towards the most profitable companies.

In most cases, if a specific company wants to survive in this new business environment it must completely stop the current practice of business, work and behavior. A company must adapt to these new conditions by adopting the principles of good governance to implement change. The changes that must be introduced are comprehensive and require the construction of a new, efficient system of business values that will dominate the quality of operations, business ethics, and above all, the business culture. These changes are necessary not only for a particular business organization, but possibly the entire economic system.

Improving good governance practices in society also leads to improved accountability systems. These accountability systems significantly decrease the risk that employees will commit fraud or conduct business for their own personal benefit.

Significant strides towards sustainable development would be achieved if we actively and responsibly implement these solutions to overcoming existing problems.

When we talk about Serbia, the Balkans, and other economies that are in transition from a planned to full market economy, the economic crisis that we faced, and which unfortunately has not yet passed, is only partly a result of the global financial and economic crisis. The primarily reason the Serbian economy, and other transit economies, is developing under very volatile and problematic circumstances is the economic systems are constantly being tested due to inherited, and it is fair to say not enough and in some parts absolutely undeveloped, economic and commercial structures.

Serbia – National Sustainable Development Strategy (incl. SCP)

The National Sustainable Development Strategy defines sustainable development as a target-oriented, long-term (continuous), comprehensive and synergetic process affecting on all aspects of life (economic, social, environmental and institutional) at all levels.

The transition period of the national economy, and society as a whole, represents a comprehensive adaptation to new and, above all, required standards. In the Republic of Serbia and greater region, the desired standards taken are the standards of the European Union.

As economist and philosopher Adam Smith said: “Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice; all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.”

Some parts of this Professional article are published by the Bar Association of Serbia, Long Term Economy portal in Italy, and several  media outlets in Serbia.

The Case for Dialogue – by Terry Howard

Should I, or should I not?

At this moment I’m grappling with that question, staring numbly at still another request to accept someone’s request to be their “friend” on Facebook. And here I am again gritting my teeth, vacillating between two options, three actually – accept, decline or ignore – and the potential reactions to any one of them.

Now here’s what’s gnawing at me: Many of those who ask me to join them on Facebook are some great individuals, people I deeply respect and immensely enjoy one-on-one interactions with. Yet my fear stems from this question: “If I ‘accept,’ will it diminish our ability to dialogue?”

Look, maybe I’m part of a vanishing genre of generational dinosaurs who’s hoping against hope that good old-fashioned face-to-face dialogue doesn’t get lost in social media frenzy. Yes dialogue, the art of opening the mouth to a two-way flow of sounds, sentences and syllables through a mosaic of accents and cadences – ideally one person talking, the other listening, and vice versa.

Now to be clear, I’m not talking about yapping on the phone, talking “about,” “over,” “around,” “behind” or “down” to others. Nor am I talking about “trash” talking,” or just plain talking too much. What I am talking about is doing more of what mouths were designed to do (beyond the consumption of food, liquid or an occasional foot) ….. D-I-A-L-O-G-U-I-N-G!

So, what are some contemporary inhibitors to good old fashion dialogue? We’ll get back to that momentarily. But first this anecdote.
Years ago, a power loss occurred in my building as temperatures outside soared into the 100s. Suddenly, laptop screens went black and overhead lights flickered before going completely out. One by one, folks cautiously eased out of their offices and actually talked to each other. Only moments before these same people had been e-mailing each other in, get this, adjacent offices. I mean they’d spent an entire day – eight hours – without actually talking to each other.
Now, the few extroverts were loving every bit of this unscheduled opportunity to talk. The introverts, the majority, were unnerved by being thrust out into the open. Twenty minutes later the lights flickered back on. Like deer caught in headlights, the introverts froze temporarily then darted back into their offices while the extroverts continued to relish the opportunity for an afternoon chat.

This scenario is analogous to how we sometimes act when thrust into the “headlights” of opportunities for face-to-face dialogue. So what are the headlights, those inhibitors to dialogue? Well, two come immediately come to mind for me.

First, in our culture we just don’t have time for each other. Our plates are overrun with things to get done. We’re always seem to be “going somewhere,” on the cellphone, or on the way to a meeting. Restroom breaks, doctor appointments and sit down family dinners seem to inconvenience us. That’s headlight number one.
The second headlight? The fear of the “OMIF” (Open Mouth, Insert Foot) disease, AKA the fear of offending someone. Given the contemporary maze of ethnic, race, gender, religious, language, age differences, awkward moments and slips of tongue are virtually inevitable.

So what do we do? How about deciding between engaging in “proactive” versus “reactive” dialogue.”

Proactive dialogue is driven by genuine curiosity, respect, trust, and personal growth. Reactive dialogue occurs when we are forced by circumstances – unfortunate circumstances in many instances – or damage control to dialogue. If we invest in the first inexpensive choice, the need for the second expensive one becomes highly unlikely.

Wrote Robert Lewis Stevenson: Talk is by far the most accessible of pleasures. It costs nothing in money or profit, it completes our education, forges and fosters friendships and can be enjoyed at any age and in almost any condition of health.”

So if I keep getting requests to be Facebook friends and decline or just ignore some of them – and, okay, maybe even yours – don’t take it personally. But I will accept any and all requests for face-to-face dialogue. That you can take to the bank. … And the check won’t bounce.

Civil Rights Lessons from MLK for Millennials and Gen Z- by David Grinberg

Too many Millennials and members of their younger cohort, Generation Z, consider civil rights history as ancient history at the dawn of a new millennium. However, there are profound and poignant lessons which today’s young people need to learn. The most important lesson is how to make major changes in society through the type of peaceful means championed by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his fellow civil rights leaders of the time.

A term of significance for young people to comprehend is: “civil disobedience.”

Continue reading Civil Rights Lessons from MLK for Millennials and Gen Z- by David Grinberg

Valuing the Remnants! – by Terry Howard

The first thing that caught my eye when I entered that carpet store was the separation between the multi-colored, expensive looking carpets lined up vertically on the right wall and, by contrast, the mundane remnants stacked in horizontal piles on the left. Oddly, those images got me thinking about the evidence of societal human separation. It also reminded me of something Oprah Winfrey wrote recently.

Let’s start with Oprah.

Now with the exception of a billion dollars  – like she got it, I don’t – Ms. Winfrey and I have something in common; we both know, as millions do, that the undeniable truth is that our nation has reached a dangerous fraying around the edges, an implosion of our fundamental values and, in the words of Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Leonard Pitts, we’re dropping verbal litter into the public square. And it seems that there’s no end in sight.

Continue reading Valuing the Remnants! – by Terry Howard

Verbal paralysis at death’s bedside – by Terry Howard

I received this email a while back. Truth is, when faced with touchy issues, even the well-spoken can find themselves tongue-tied with no idea what to say, let alone do.

“Terry, in two weeks I will visit a lifelong friend who has spreading colon cancer. Two years ago, I visited another lifelong friend who was suffering from lung cancer. It was on New Year’s Day. I searched for the right words, but they did not come. I was embarrassed when I caught myself avoiding eye contact. He had to sense my discomfort. Instinctively I knew that this would probably be last time I’d see him alive. Two months later he died. Long story short, I struggled for the right words then and I will struggle for the right words and the right behaviors in two weeks. What do I say and what do I do?”

My hunch is that I’m not the only one who can identify with this conundrum. And because I didn’t have all the answers, I shared it with my global network and asked for their advice. Here’s what they suggested:

Continue reading Verbal paralysis at death’s bedside – by Terry Howard

She Descends – Poem by Meena Chopra

Crisp autumn air
Splendid bronze
Marinated gold
Silver and copper
The entire landscape
Quilted
She descends
The deepest splendour
The palette
for she has swallowed
All the colours and
The fire
The skyline
The setting sun
The gold and the orange
Burnt earth
The molten core
Sienna and the umber
The cool clouds,
Icicles
Bright and royal purple sky.
Dripping ceruleans
The formidable sea
SHE! The Restless Streak

Continue reading She Descends – Poem by Meena Chopra

When Bias Comes Knocking – by Terry Howard

During my highly visible role as diversity and inclusion director at two Fortune 500 companies, I wrote internal articles read by people across the globe. I also had to make difficult decisions, sometimes with potentially significant financial consequences, for the organization. Following is a major decision I made and the national fallout in one company. That’s followed by a few responses I received in response to internal articles I wrote. Note that topics of sexual orientation or Islam/Muslims seemed to generate these messages to me:

Continue reading When Bias Comes Knocking – by Terry Howard