#penelopepapers: Unveiling the biggest conspiracy of humanity


Penelope. Ring from 5BCE. Louvre Museum. From here [retrieved May 12th, 2016]

“Men have always been cheated!” – such was the first comment that Beyoncé is rumoured to have posted in an (apparently immediately deleted) tweet[1] in reaction to the recent unveiling of what social media quickly dubbed the “Penelope Papers”: A collection of 11.5 million leaked documents authored by more than 214,488 women, some dating back to the pre-anthropocene[2].

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The Diversity Trap: How to make sure that being different makes a difference

I’m a huge believer in diversity[1]. Not only because I’m convinced that the universe is a better place when there’s a balance between sports cars and handbags, soccer and yoga, trousers and skirts, swords and flowers, skilful means and wisdom, and whatever other dualistic distinctions we might want to come up with[2]. But also because I’ve witnessed countless examples of discussions and decisions getting better when more perspectives are brought to the table, more critical questions are asked, and more counterintuitive suggestions are made[3].

Now, this is exactly where the problem starts

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On compliments, votes, and donations: When causes are bigger than choices

Life is a string of choices[1]. Some are very intentional, like selecting ice-cream flavours on a sunny day[2], some are relatively deliberate like picking a job, a mate, or a car[3], and for some, our rationales appear blurred and we ourselves doubt our influence on our decisions, so for lack of better explanations, we call it fate, destiny, karma, or science. Still, for most situations, most of us have figured out how to make our choices in ways that make us feel  consistent with who we think we are (or who we want to be)[4].

Today, I’m not going to talk about the seemingly “big” choices in life (or business)[5]. Instead, I want to talk about a particular kind of choice that presents itself the moment we deeply care about an ideal, a cause, or a principle.

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Variations on cleavages, responsibility, and identities

“If your business partners or colleagues lose focus, the reason could be a revealing cleavage – in particular, if you’re a business woman. Does this sound familiar? If yes, it’s high time for you to check the amount of female allure you bring to work”. Such reads the (translated) introductory passage of an article just published in a German business weekly[1]. Always interested in learning about what makes women (or men[2]) successful in business, and also, I admit, occasionally interested in fashion and style, this piqued my curiosity, and I went ahead and read the whole text.

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Why we are scared of mothers (in our business lives)

Every human being is born from a mother[1]. By consequence, one could assume that relating to mothers is the most natural thing on earth. The dire fact it: It isn’t. Of course, there’s Freud and the Oedipus complex, there are the Beatles and Mother Nature’s Son[2], and there are mothers’ days, mothers’ little helpers, and mothers’ curses. A universe of stories and reasons why relationships with mothers can be – and often are – difficult. This is not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about why so many of us are scared of working with mothers in a professional (business) environment[3].

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Helping men conquer the boardroom: Seven secrets to success

Almost every other human being on this planet is male[1]. Without any doubt, there are plenty of men whose superior wits[2], ceaseless caring[3], or blissful selflessness[4] are changing the world for the better. Why, then, do men still struggle to find their way into the boardrooms of large corporations (or, for that matter, into other leading ranks in business, politics, and society)? A lot has been written about the value of diverse leadership teams[5], so it is high time this value finally gets realised in practice by helping men actually conquer the boardroom.

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