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“Domestic Violence: Your Coworker’s Dark Secret” is a Fortune online article that blew my mind.  First, I was surprised to see that someone in the established media was willing to take on the subject; Second, it’s a well-written, well-researched, and heart-rending article that captivated my attention.  From the article:

Now a small but growing group of CEOs is saying that it’s time for corporate America to confront the issue head-on. Domestic violence affects the bottom line, they say. It threatens workplace safety. As an HR issue, it’s much more volatile and potentially dangerous than drug addiction or alcoholism.

“I’d like to see more done about this,” says Thomas J. Wilson, CEO of Allstate, one of the CEOs who sees it as a major issue affecting employees, customers, or both. At Verizon Wireless, which handled about 100 abuse cases internally in the past year and roughly 225 more through its employee-assistance programs, “the numbers speak for themselves,” says Martha Delehanty, vice president of human resources. “This is an issue we must address.”

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In a study of three large companies spanning 39 states, 10% of workers who responded to survey questions said, “Right now I am going through this,” says Anne O’Leary-Kelly, a management professor who conducted the study.

The article gives stark portrayals of the women who have faced spousal abuse, and seen it spill over into their work lives.  More heartening, however, are the workplaces that have taken the initiative and responded to this blatant disrespect for human lives with an outpouring of support for the abused.

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Green trends and sustainable practices are the talk of everyone in business–well, almost everyone until now. Deloitte reports that companies involved in Mergers & Acquisitions haven’t been paying much attention to them. Read their report, “How Green Is the Deal? The Growing Role of Sustainability in M&A”. From the press release:

The “greening” of products and business operations has become a central theme in virtually every industry. In today’s environment, companies that have strong corporate responsibility and sustainability (CR&S) programs in place are likely to be rewarded for their efforts. As CR&S wields growing influence on the strategy and operations of a company, so too will it become an increasingly important aspect of mergers and acquisitions (M&A).

In this paper, we provide an outline of six key areas of focus for executives, and discuss how greater consideration of sustainability related issues, when evaluating potential M&A transactions, can help to improve deal success.

This week’s issue of Businessweek is its annual focus on MBA Schools, and it has a fascinating article called “The Millennials Invade the B-Schools.” The opening paragraph sounds like it could be one of our students:

Sara Hochman, 27, has always been interested in environmental issues, so it wasn’t much of a surprise that her first job out of college was as an environmental consultant. But after a few years on the job, she grew frustrated working with clients who didn’t have a clue about sustainability and didn’t care to learn. “They simply weren’t interested,” she says. Part of the problem, Hochman concluded, was that she wasn’t able to make the business case for sustainability. “I needed to beef up my business skills,” she says. So she decided to attend business school, ultimately choosing the University of Chicago. Since enrolling last fall, she has immersed herself in green business activities—including co-chairing the Energy Club and taking a new elective on renewable energy that was added at the urging of Hochman and fellow students.

The United States Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy today released a report titled “Small Businesses Are America’s Innovators.” From the press release:

Small businesses are the innovators of the American economy as they obtain many more patents per employee than larger firms, according to a study released today by the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Moreover, their patents outperform larger firms on a number of measurements, suggesting that small firm patents in general are more likely to be technologically important than those of larger firms.

“Small firms are the innovative driver of the American economy,” said Dr. Chad Moutray, Chief Economist for the Office of Advocacy. He added, “This report adds more weight to the evidence we already have that encouraging small firms is the best way to increase innovation, productivity, and jobs.”

The report analyzes a database of 1,293 small and large technology firms and more than 1 million patent records between 2002 and 2006. An Analysis of Small Business Patents by Industry and Firm Size, written by 1790 Analytics, LLC, with funding from the Office of Advocacy, builds on earlier work of the authors in 2003 and 2004.

Not only do all small firms (<500 employees) obtain more patents per employee than larger firms, but the relationship seems to hold for all size classes. That is, firms with fewer than 25 employees have a higher patent per employee ratio than those with fewer than 50 employees and so on.

The authors found that during the period studied, small firms made up 40 percent of all firms with 15 or more patents. They also found that the smaller patenting firms are younger, with 56.5 percent under 15 years old, while 90 percent of the larger firms were 15 or more years old.

Fortune online has two new “10 Most” lists: “10 Most ‘Accountable’ Big Companies” and “10 New Gurus You Should Know.” What I found interesting was that the first guru, BJ Fogg, whose big idea is that “mobile technology will be the most powerful way to influence consumers in the next 15 years” while the first most accountable company was Vodafone–coincodence?

Today’s Wall Street Journal has a special section on “The 50 Women to Watch 2008” which is also available online.  It’s not a big surprise that the top woman to watch is Sheila Bair, Chairwoman of the FDIC.  The online version has additional features, such as a video of Madeleine Albright speaking about women and leadership.

Potpourri Friday

I’ve been able to catch up on my blogs today, and wanted to put together some interesting, if topically disparate, posts that I came across:

Web 2.0 applications are coming, going, and denting companies’ reputations. See “Losing Face,” about how British Airways and Virgin Atlantic were dinged by their employee’s posts on Facebook, and then read about how blogging is going (has gone) mainstream in “Oh, Grow Up” from the Economist.

Businessweek‘s Management IQ blog has a post titled “The Gender Pay Gap: Still Alive at the Top, Too” where they quote a recent report saying that women execs make 85% of their male counterparts.

Research from Cornell about the 40-hour workweek was recently released: “Forty Hours Doesn’t Work for Everyone: Examining Employee Preferences for Work Hours”. From the summary:

Current economic conditions have caused many employers to reduce employees’ work hours—a trend that will likely continue if the economy worsens. Yet research on work hours is limited, as most studies in this area have focused on the effects of employees’ working in excess of a 40-hour work week. This report seeks to specifically examine the effect of “hours mismatch,” which is defined as the mismatch between the number of hours the employee desires to work and the actual number of hours worked. Based on a study of 1,032 individuals, the results show that hours mismatch is an important predictor of attitudinal outcomes, including life satisfaction, work-family conflict, job stress, and intent to turn over.

In other news, we have a new president! Merchandise, sporting Obama’s portrait, has been big business, but apparently a nanoscale portrait of our 44th president has been created as well. If you want to learn more about what’s going on during the presidential transition, then go to change.gov, the first-ever American presidential transition website. If you’d like a little sordid history about the 2008 Presidential Campaign, head over to Newsweek, where they’re doing a seven-part series on “Secrets of the 2008 Campaign”. Read all about how both McCain and Obama’s computer networks were hacked, and what you get for a $150,000 shopping spree.