T@W Weekly: Pausing Tech Uberization

Likability, audio for branding, and whether we could do another moon shot

The Word: Likability

You want to be liked at work but you also want to be successful. For a guy, this balancing act is possible. For women? Well, that’s another story altogether.

Caroline Fairchild of LinkedIn covered the Sophie’s choice of being liked or successful while being female at work. The research, according to a LinkedIn global survey show that women in the workplace are:

  • 2x more likely than men to want to be seen as perfect, enthusiastic, interesting, and dependable

  • 3x more likely than men to say they are organized

  • 4x more likely than men to say they want to be seen as collaborative

Marianne Cooper has studied these trends and see a divergence between likability and success, though. She says in the article, "Women are expected to be friendly, warm and modest. So when they exercise power, they violate societal expectations about how they should behave and people — both men and women — often react negatively."

Add in other factors, such as race, and the situation deteriorates even further.

Organizations need to take proactive action to fight this harsh reality. Cooper suggests that in addition to gender bias training, we need to take a look at the way we evaluate performance and determine promotions.

Technology can help too, but only if it’s looking to solve the issue. For companies that lack significant female presence when it comes to product roadmapping, are they even aware of the depth of the problem?

What the Click?

Contractors, Independent or Otherwise

The “Uberization” of the economy has been in full swing for the better part of a decade. With Uber and Lyft going to IPO in the last year, it continues to be worth asking if it’s a better deal for the contractors/employees that truly make these services work. At the very least, it’s worth contemplating whether something is truly a marketplace when they set the prices for services provided by independent contractors.

According to Deloitte research, the number of gig workers is going to skyrocket. The report suggests that self employment in the U.S. is expected to triple to 42 million people by 2020.

Please also realize that 2020 is less than five months away.

What Deloitte does identify is that organizations need to change their approach to managing gig workers, especially if they become a more significant part of your workforce.

For some organizations, it’s more than just a management challenge. Google is getting pressure to convert contractors to full-time employees after six months from ten U.S. Senators. A recent report found that contractors outnumber employees at the search giant, and the pay discrepancy can be very large.

In the U.S., like many countries, the law lags behind reality. Google isn’t the first tech company to entrust major parts of their operations to contractors that practically act like employees. Uber and Lyft aren’t the first to test the extreme limits of laws determining whether one is a contractor or not.

Laws need to be designed to protect the most vulnerable. While a contractor making an average of $90,000 a year for Google may seem very different from an Uber driver making $5 per hour, they are both similar in the eyes of the law. Nobody wants to pay more for a ride than necessary, but I’d also prefer a driver to not be sleep deprived or sick in order to make ends meet.

T@W Playlist of the Week

Mellow Chill Synth playlist from Artifact Music gets updated pretty frequently with about an hour of, well, chill synth music. It’s a change of pace from the acoustic or twang that I usually fill my ears with most days.

And Finally… How Far Are We Away From The Moon?

On HR Examiner, Michael Kannisto, Ph.D. wrote an interesting thought piece on whether we could’ve made the trip to the moon in 2019 as opposed to 50 years ago. He writes:

In an era where “fake it ‘till you make it” is seriously regarded by many as a legitimate approach to managing one’s career, are there still enough people who are capable of focusing for years and years on the creation of one specific system to do one specific thing?

Are we capable from a technology standpoint? Absolutely.

Everything else is different, though. Expectations for a career were often to be hired and retire at the same place. Politically, it was a unique time for an incredibly expensive moon shot. The depth of expertise and the independence that NASA had as a government agency seems impossible today.

It’s an interesting contrast to another story I read about the paradox of expertise, and how range and specialization work together toward success. In some cases, the more you know about a subject, the more locked into a worldview you can be.

The paradox is that the specialization it took to get people to the moon was an amazing accomplishment and needed in an era where computing power was limited. Individually though, the engineers and scientists who became experts also likely had a harder time adjusting to any work outside of NASA.

That’s the crux of the question about how far we are away from the moon. Would there be enough bright people who could focus long and hard enough on a project, likely to the detriment of current and future earnings, all to get a person to the moon?

Let’s hope so, if we are ever to tackle anything as big as that again.

Cheers, Lance