Happy Thanksgiving….. but

I was going to post a Happy Thanksgiving, nice, love and gratitude piece and then I read the below from someone I deeply respect, Paula Donovan of Aids-Free-World. I can tell you what I am NOT grateful for. I am not grateful when leaders have the opportunity to do the right thing, and do not. In fact I am down right tired of it. What will it take? Truly, what will it take?

Please read the below and take ONE ACTION at least. If you have time and passion, do more. If you want encouragement that male leaders can take a stand, watch this. 

Dear Jacki,

At the risk of sending this twice, this is so important and time-sensitive that we wanted to be sure it reached you directly. Your active engagement would be much appreciated.

The UN has promoted women’s equality for decades – in words, but not deeds.  On predictable dates, such as International Women’s Day and today, November 25th, the first of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, the Secretary-General takes to the world stage to preach about the full, equal rights and participation of women.

Throughout the rest of the year, his actions send a much louder and clearer message:  Equality for women? Not yet. Be patient.

We’re tired of waiting. It’s time for women to send back an equally clear message: As long as you ignore women, Mr. Secretary-General, we will ignore you.

Ban Ki-moon took his latest discriminatory action on October 31st when he appointed an “independent high-level panel” to review the way the UN and the world’s governments deal with peace operations. Given billions of candidates to consider, he selected 14 panelists: 11 men, three women.

He made his announcement on one of the few annual dates when UN Secretaries-General typically make pronouncements about gender equality. He chose October 31st, exactly fourteen long years from the day when the Security Council passed Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security. That historic resolution makes it incumbent upon on all governments, and every part of the UN system, to ensure the equal participation of women in all aspects of peace and security.
The anti-gender equality message Ban Ki-moon sent on October 31st sounded like this to women:


Yes, yes, you’re “equal” and sure, your participation is vital—but not in the complicated geopolitical work of the United Nations! Not at the global level! Don’t misunderstand: we consult you when your issues come up–child health, maternal mortality, nutrition, sexual violence, that sort of thing. But when we men have to make decisions about really complex issues, like peace, security, militarism, global economics and politics, climate change…frankly, “women’s full and equal participation” isn’t just an abstraction; it’s a distraction.  I needed experts who could deal with troop deployments, chains of command, civilian protection, drones and helicopters—artillery and heavy machinery, and what to do with peacekeepers who rape civilians!  Some day, women may be ready to grapple with those ‘hard’ issues. But for now, men are the ones with the broad skills. Men have more impressive CVs.  Men are more diplomatic. Men are intellectual, not emotional. Men have credibility. Men know how to cut deals and compromise. Men belong on “high-level panels.” Men should make decisions. Women can provide “input”—for men to weigh.

AIDS-Free World sent a letter of protest to the Secretary-General, and demanded that he re-constitute the panel to include equal numbers of women and men: some men could step down, or he could enlist another eight women.  Other proponents of women’s rights joined in. The media asked questions.
Through a spokesperson, there came an apology: “we’ll have to do better.”
We wrote again to say that an apology was not enough; Ban must fix the panel, now.
On November 21st, a solution was announced: the Secretary-General added one additional woman—but as an “ex-officio” member rather than a bona fide panelist. And the panel’s chair, José Ramos-Horta, gave his assurances that no one need worry: the three women plus the ex-officio member and the eleven men would think about the links between gender and the panel’s issues every day.  Plus, he’d consult with women’s organizations.

It’s time for an ultimatum. Proponents of women’s equal rights are tired of being invited to “participate” through a “broad consultative process” in which male decision-makers “listen to the voices of civil society women” – and then retreat behind closed doors to make their decisions.  We’re tired of a UN operated by and for men; women are sick of being silenced and side-lined by a Secretary-General who acts as though appointing a gender-balanced panel is both impossible and unimportant.

Let’s refuse to condone sexism at the highest level of the UN.  Let’s show our strength by forcing the Secretary-General’s hand. Let’s send a message back: Until you correct the gender imbalance of this panel, we refuse to cooperate with it. We pledge to ignore the panel’s work, and we protest its very credibility. 

And let’s show the Secretary-General and the world that he is dead WRONG: women are not concerned exclusively with “women’s issues.” They have interest and expertise in peace and security.

Please join us by taking the following actions:

  1. Send your own letter by email and/or fax to the Secretary-General, or copy and paste the draft letter below.
  2. Send the names of women who could be invited to serve on the panel to pledgetoignore@aidsfreeworld.org by Friday, December 5, 2014.  A name, country and (where available) affiliation is all that’s needed. We will compile and share the list with the Secretary-General.


Draft letter to the Secretary-General:
By email:

sg@un.org ; CC: Susana Malcorra, malcorra@un.org
Via Twitter:

#pledgetoignore; @UN; @UNPeacekeeping; @UN_Spokesperson


By fax:



By mail:

His Excellency Ban Ki-moon

United Nations Secretary-General

United Nations Secretariat

First Avenue at 46th Street

New York, NY  10017


Dear Mr. Secretary-General,
We are outraged by your decision to blatantly ignore the principle of gender equality in your recent appointment of a High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations. By your actions, you effectively repudiated your prior statements to the General Assembly and ignored the importance—agreed by Member States and enshrined in Security Council Resolution 1325—of “increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict.”


Until you provide for women’s equal representation, women and others who take the equality of women seriously will pledge not to support or engage with the panel. We will not lend any credibility to a review undertaken or recommendations offered through a flawed process that ignores the legitimacy of gender equality.


Download this letter as a Word document.


Paula Donovan,


AIDS-Free World

Main: +1-212-729-5084

Email: pledgetoignore@aidsfreeworld.org

Twitter: @AIDS_Free_World



Giving USA Report – Just Out!

Giving USA ImagePublished on LinkedIn Influencers on June 27th, 2014

It is estimated that 88% of American households give to charity annually, and with over one million non-profit organizations registered with the IRS, every dollar has unlimited choices on where to go. For nearly 60 years, Giving USA has tracked the charitable contributions of those in the US, and while the charitable sector has taken a beating in recent years due to the ongoing fallout from the 2008 Financial Crisis and subsequent recession, the latest report, released earlier this month, has good news for those working in the nonprofit sector.

In the calendar year of 2013, Americans donated a total of $335.17 billion, a number that marks a 4.4% increase from 2012, and represents the fourth straight year of growth in charitable giving. More importantly, this number is rapidly approaching the pre-recession peak of charitable giving that occurred in 2007 when Americans donated $349.5 billion, meaning that while economic recovery from the recession is still persistently slow, the spirit of giving back hasn’t been dampened and continues to grow.

These reports are issued annually by Giving USA and track the charitable giving of individuals, foundations, corporations, and bequests, and highlights from the 2013 report include the following:

  • Total giving has increased 22.0% since the official end of the recession in 2009.
  • Individual giving (both small and large gifts) has significantly increased while corporate giving has decreased.
  • International giving, is the only area that continues to decrease across all giving recipients.
  • There is a major trend to give to causes versus to institutions.
  • Millennials account for 11% of giving. However, they see advocacy, purchasing sustainable goods, and volunteering as equally important charitable action – and must have these actions in place before or while donating.

An additional notable fact is that by far, the most amount of charitable giving comes from individuals, with individual donations accounting for $240.6 billion of the total giving, or 72%. When people think of philanthropy, they often think of big foundations such as the Ford Foundation or the Gates Foundation, both of which give out hundreds of millions of dollars a year in grants, but with foundations as a whole only accounting for 15% of the total giving in the US last year, it is clear that individual giving truly does make a difference.

What are your favorite organizations and/or causes? Regardless of what they are, a big thanks for doing what you can to make a difference in the lives of others.

For more highlights from the 2013 report, please click here. To learn more about Giving USA and the work they do, please click here.

Executive Presence: Do You Need It? Do You Have It?

Published on LinkedIn Influencers on June 23rd, 2014

“Executive presence will not earn you promotion after promotion, but lack of executive presence will impede your ability to get as far as you want to go… Quite simply, promotions are not just functions of ability, values, or the numbers you hit, but also rest critically on how you are perceived.” — Sylvia Ann Hewlett

executive-presenceWe would all like to believe that if we work hard, do our best, and keep at it, success will inevitably follow, but often this is not the case. One look at the lack of diversity in corporate America suggests that certain demographics are being left behind on the corporate ladder, and in an effort to understand why this is happening, the Center for Talent Innovation undertook a nation-wide survey to examine the factors that are key to career success. The results were illuminating, and form the basis for a new book titled Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success by Sylvia Ann Hewlett. Released earlier this month, Executive Presence argues that while merit and qualifications are important, they will only get you so far in your career. For that extra push, you need Executive Presence.

So what exactly is Executive Presence? Simply put, it’s not about whether or not you have what it takes to be a leader, but whether or not people perceive you to be leadership material. If you don’t exude leadership qualities, more often than not you’ll watch the promotion opportunities pass you by. While some people may recognize the importance of Executive Presence, just exactly how to go about achieving it is not commonly understood; something that this book directly addresses by offering a clear outline on not just how to project Executive Presence, but how to accomplish this in the most effective and impactful manner. The strategy outlined in the book is based around three keys components:

  1. Gravitas: How you act is vitally important, and in order to attain Executive Presence, you must exude confidence and poise, remain calm under pressure, and be able to prove your knowledge and expertise on the subject at hand.
  2. Communication: Equally important is how you communicate your knowledge and abilities through the use of authoritarian tones, clear and focused language, eye contact, and a firm handshake.
  3. Appearance: While the study found that appearance had the least impact on perceived leadership, survey respondents still reported that major mistakes in appearance and attire can be detrimental to a person’s career, with unkempt personal grooming and provocative or ill-fitting clothing often cited as examples.

Once put together, these components create a dynamic mix of qualities that create Executive Presence. While some of the points listed may seem fairly obvious, a whooping 81% of women surveyed reported being unclear about how to attain Executive Presence, saying that the feedback they have received in the past is often contradictory and/or confusing. However, it is not just women who struggle, and everyone can benefit from the strategies outlined in this book, which include guidelines for how to remain likeable while being strong and forceful in your leadership, how to solicit honest feedback from your higher ups, how to strengthen your speaking skills to be as concise and compelling as possible, and how to maintain your authenticity while trying to fit in. The last point was a big one for me being one of the few women on the trading floor of Goldman Sachs.

I have personally known Sylvia for over a decade, and I was honored to serve on the board of The Center for Talent Innovation prior to moving to Utah. I can tell you from experience that Sylvia radiates Executive Presence and is therefore the perfect person to be writing this book. I am always asked to share career advice and though I certainly have tips of my own, few people have done the research that Sylvia and her team have. When this woman speaks, I listen.

Sylvia’s prior works include Forget A Mentor, Find A Sponsor: The New Way to Fast-Track Your Career and Off-Ramps and On-Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success, but she is best known for her first book, Creating a Life: What Every Women Needs To Know About Having a Baby and a Career, which I give to every young women seeking advice on how to navigate family and career. I would highly suggest adding all of the above to your summer reading list.