Archive for the ‘women in business’ Category

Supreme Court, Inc.

March 15, 2008

Illustration by Andy Friedman (website, email) from March 16, 2008 New York Times Magazine.

Jeffrey Rosen (profile and email), a law professor at George Washington University writes in tomorrow’s article, “Supreme Court, Inc,” that

A generation ago, progressive and consumer groups petitioning the court could count on favorable majority opinions written by justices who viewed big business with skepticism — or even outright prejudice. An economic populist like William O. Douglas, the former New Deal crusader who served on the court from 1939 to 1975, once unapologetically announced that he was “ready to bend the law in favor of the environment and against the corporations.”

Things have changed, however. Rosen talked with Robin Conrad, who heads the Chamber of Commerce’ss litigation effort and said she was especially pleased that several of the most important decisions were written by liberal justices and questioned the use of lawsuits to challenge corporate wrongdoing, strategy routinely denounced by conservatives as “regulation by litigation.”

Justice Ginsburg talked about how “private-securities fraud actions, if not adequately contained, can be employed abusively.”Justice Breyer had a wonderful quote about how Congress was trying to “weed out unmeritorious securities lawsuits.” Justice Souter talked about how the threat of litigation “will push cost-conscious defendants to settle.”

Rosen indicateds that since the appointment of John Roberts,

Forty percent of the cases the court heard last term involved business interests, up from around 30 percent in recent years. While the Rehnquist Court heard less than one antitrust decision a year, on average, between 1988 and 2003, the Roberts Court has heard seven in its first two terms — and all of them were decided in favor of the corporate defendants.


Rosen maintains that while these cases receive less attention than those concerning issues like affirmative action, abortion or the death penalty

shareholder suits, antitrust challenges to corporate mergers, patent disputes and efforts to reduce punitive-damage awards and prevent product-liability suits — are no less important. They involve billions of dollars, have huge consequences for the economy and can have a greater effect on people’s daily lives than the often symbolic battles of the culture wars.

He cites the blocked liability suit against Medtronic, the manufacturer of a heart catheter, and a shareholder claim against Enron. Additional, the court is slated to In the coming months, the decide whether to reduce the punitive-damage award which resulted from the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989.

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I’ll sign off now to drive to Roanoke to Lilly’s for a potluck and international folk dancing.

Star Women Build Portable Skills

January 26, 2008

Graphic (artist not credited by source) for Vilma Patil’s “Striving to Break Through the Glass Ceiling…” in the October 14, 2001 Tribune (Chandigarh, India).

In “How Star Women Build Portable Skills” in the February 2008 issue of the Harvard Business Review, Boris Groysberg (website, email) an Assistant Professor at Harvard Business School, looks back at his prior research that “star performers” fade when they move to new companies. In that research, published in the May 2004 Review, “The Risky Business of Hiring Stars” (authored with Ashish Nanda and Nitin Nohria) he found that companies are usually better off “growing stars than buying them.”

Now though, he has further analyzed his data and found that the trend is more true for men than for women. That’s because women were more likely to have:

  • built their success on relationships with clients and companies as opposed to relying on on internal networks (the good ol’ boys?)
  • considered more factors in assessing prospective employers as opposed to emphasizing compensation.

But here’s the weird thing. Wendy Pollack (email) at the Wall Street Journal blog, The Informed Reader, posted yesterday about the study:

The female analysts’ more successful transitions might be partly inadvertent — the women could have felt compelled to build external relationships because they had more difficulty than their male colleagues securing in-house mentors. Sexist attitudes could force them to work harder to protect their portability within the industry. And women generally look for organizations “that will welcome them as individuals,” raising the odds that they will be successful at the new firm.

I’m leaving Ms. Pollack a comment at the entry inviting her to respond:

Men, when they succeed are termed “strategic.” I was struck by the fact that you refer to the success of “star” women (such as yourself, I’d add) as “partly inadvertent.”

more later…I’m off to the contra dance