Friday, November 21, 2008
Diversity Program Challenges, Saving the World, and DEFLATION
Yesterday was another one of those days. It was a day so fascinating, so filled with interesting people and ideas, I felt like my head was going to explode. Here are the bullet points from each of three meetings:
- In the morning I spent some time speaking with some passionate women leaders of a major institution talking to them about their challenges and opportunities with respect to lay off, hiring, managing and promoting their women employees. I have A LOT to say about corporate diversity programs and why generally speaking, they have failed to move the bar. Here is the problem at this moment: a disproportionate number of women are going to be fired in these downsizings. Should there be heroic measures to save them for the sake of the numbers? If so, under what conditions. In the time of bail-outs - do they implement their own human capital management ‘rescue programs'? Subject of a longer piece.
- Next I had a lunch with John McArthur, the policy director at the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Co-Director of the Millennium Villages Project, collaboration between the Earth Institute, Millennium Promise, and the UN Development Program to promote community-level achievement of the Millennium Development goals across Africa. I have written on them before and I was interested in learning more, in particular and in particular learn more about MD Goal 4 – Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women. My “Why Invest in Women” OPED is in the works so stay tuned. We had an explosive conversation that was filled with hope. Why? People everywhere, but in particular young people, are embracing change and want to use their talents to make the world a better place by addressing social challenges, like climate change. They see it as their job, not someone else’s, and we are going to see exciting new businesses emerge. My friend Alan Webber is all over this idea… you go Alan!! I am hooking them up.
- Lastly, I had the incredible opportunity to spend 1 ½ hours with David Rosenberg of ML. David has been predicting a recession that is both bad and different, for some time. Today his conversation focused on his latest publication “The Frugal Future.” If you can figure out a way to get a copy of it through someone at ML, do. Warning, do not have any sharp objects close by when you read it. This 90 page wallet size flip book is filled with charts and graphs and one liners that are both true, and frightening. His conclusions? Deflation. Deflation. Deflation. He figures we are at about the 3rd or 4th inning of this deleveraging process and there is going to be much pain before this process is over. We were quick to ask him where he thought the bottom of the S & P might be. Though he suggested we might call a proctologist who actually is an expert on bottoms, if we forced him to put on the rubber gloves, he thought 650 was the new level where we might hang out for a while. I could go on and on and on about this but just get your hands on what you can by this author and come to your own conclusions. I would also suggest reading this piece coming out of PIMCO. What do you do in a deflationary environment? I am neither an investment advisor nor do I give investment advice but here is what I have read about doing so far. Hunker down. Spend less, pay down debt, sell what you can sell if prices are at ‘old world’ prices are close to it, be very selective about equities and consider buying government longer term bonds. He also likes Gold. I continue to be VERY worried longer term about the US dollar and once I have that all figured out, I will get back to you. For a go deeper, must read, on the topic of deflation - read this speech by our current FED Reserve Chair. More from yours truly on deleveraging - click here.
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