Best of Enron Week

After careful deliberation EJ, Kelly, Ross, and I are pleased to announce this week’s best post….

!!!!CONGRATULATIONS BROOKE!!!! and your post The Smartest People in the Room: Is using sex appeal smart or unfair?.

We have a few other awards to give out this week:

Thorough and original research: Derek for Control and Enron.

Great writing from first person perspective: Emily for What was in the water at Enron?.

Singular Trophy for Unique Idea: Mike1290 for Heroes at Enron.

Solid Award for Great Cohesion- EJ for Surviving at the Expense of Morality.

Long Memory for Using “Lovable Fool” article: Kelly for The Rise and Demise of Competent Jerks at Enron.

Visual Design Seal to Tania for using a picture!

Linking Certificate for Connecting Multiple Concepts: Jessie for Power: A Struggle to the Top.

Next Week’s Post: For this Wednesday, take some aspect of the Enron story and find out what has happened since.  This can include what happened to people, organizations, laws, American society, business practices, business education, global business, or some other aspect.  Are there untold stories from Enron that the Smartest Guys in the Room book overlooked?

Please use pictures, videos, quotations, links, etc. to spice up the blog! If you need help, look here.

Thank you!


The Smartest People in the Room: Is using sex appeal smart or unfair?

“Mark unapologetically viewed being a woman – a smart, charismatic woman – as a way to ‘get privileges that other people don’t get, and…audiences that others could never hope to achieve’…Her gender was not an obstacle to be overcome but an advantage” (The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron, 72).

Rebecca Mark’s admittance of her willingness to flaunt her femininity intrigued me.  There are many factors that can give an individual power.  Most of these – money, knowledge, skills – are accepted and understood, but one – sex appeal – is more controversial.  Should individuals use their looks to gain influence and control?

What makes using your sex appeal to control others any different from using your money?  Would you feel comfortable gaining power as a result of your appearance?  After all, why do career centers offer seminars on how to dress for interviews?  Yes, respect and professionalism are important, but I contend that it goes beyond that.  The seminars teach individuals to conform to the looks desired of organizations in a particular industry

It seems to me that Rebecca Mark was able to use her gender to her advantage to the large extent that she did because she worked in a male-dominated business.  She unabashedly took advantage of this, working her way up the ranks by “play[ing] up her physical attributes,” wearing “high heels and short skirts,” and sleeping with her boss.  My initial thought was that she didn’t deserve what she got and was unfairly rewarded.  However, further thought made me recognize that perhaps she was just smart.  Maybe the book title should be The Smartest People in the Room.  Why leave Rebecca Mark out?  She understood just as well as the guys how to play the system and take advantage of what she had.

Like Skilling, Lay, and many others, Mark was certainly smart.  The men were unethical, however, and their actions are generally looked down upon.  By gaining power through her femininity, did Rebecca Mark put herself in this category?  I think so…but I don’t blame her.  Society has created a world in which such things are rewarded.  Mark had the intelligence and the charisma, but unfortunately they may not have gotten her anywhere.  Those are the characteristics that should have propelled Mark to the top, but in reality it was only her sex appeal that could do so.

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Workplace Design

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about the importance of workplace design for employee satisfaction.  I was very interested in this topic initially so I decided to search wordpress for “workplace design” to see if I could find more information on it.  This search led me to Fine Arts Feedbag, a blog which offers articles on contemporary design.  This post in particular was about workplace design and a 2008 Gensler study of US Workplaces.  I then followed this post to the study.  I found that 36% of office workspace is utilized incorrectly and has no worth to the office. Employers should work towards spaces geared towards focus, collaboration, learning, and socializing when designing an office space.  Top companies have workplaces that are 80% effective while average companies only use their spaces 64% correctly.  I wondered how this factored in to the thousands of employees that now work from home as companies cut costs.

Whole Foods Health Incentives

I wrote a couple weeks ago about John Mackey, CEO of Whole Food Markets, instituting extra store discounts to healthier employees.  In an attempt to connect others with this topic, I investigated the related posts in WordPress.  I commented on this post, as well as on this post from our own BlOrg Theory.

Most related posts seem to give similar overviews of the incentive program.  Through my related readings, I have come to see past most criticisms of the program, as WFM has also been spending thousands of dollars to send obese and diabetic employees to special doctors for treatments and consultations. Other organizations encourage good health in more discriminatory ways.

The wal-mart effect on suppliers, employees, global trade

Wal-mart has been one of the most succesful companies in the United States; however, I believe that the company has lost its focus of social responsability. After reading the book Nickle and Dime, and having the author describe in great detail her working experience at Walmart, it seems like they are not valueing their employees effort, they have been outsourcing most of their products to reduces costs and increase the willingness to pay in their customers,  which has had a great effect on suppliers profits. Starting with employees, the firm has become too greddy and has slowly been turning away their employees who views it as selfish. As Barbara shared her experience, she seemed to have changed personalities noticing herself sadder, less motivated and angry at the situation and working conditions. It does not seem right that a person working at Wal-mart can not even afford a product there. Moving into suppliers and global trade, Wal-mart has had a great impact in these two aspects for outsorcing and trying to reduce costs. This has enhance global trade, transforming  from a world of separated states and national sovereignty to an integrated international community, in other words a global market. Wal-mart has made it possible to explore different forms of deals with its suppliers and their are bringing a greater variety of products into the market. Although it has had a positive effect on the global market, I think it should try to focus on active more social responsible and treating their employees more efficiently. Being one of the most wealthiest companies, they should show other companies how to treat well their workers since they are a prime example to them.

Walmart’s Squeeze on Society

For a shopper at Wal-Mart, it is difficult to say that the company is evil in any way.  Evil is probably too harsh a word to use anyway, but if the consumer looked past the low prices and considered that economic stability is a matter of cycles, they may not be so quick to speak.  Sure, one could even go as far to say that Wal-Mart is driving pure, American capitalism at its finest, but I would make the conjecture that they are doing more worse than good.  (This comes from a strictly economic standpoint — I rather enjoy the everyday low prices as a college student with limited funds.)  Continue reading

The (Feminist) Business Bloggers’ Lament

Gender composition has drastically changed in the last few decades. “In the 1940s women made up only about 20% of the workforce.  However, by 2004 more than 46% of all workers were women.” According to the blog businesswomen tend to feel intimidated when talking about fairness of equality between men and women. They feel that they cannot perform to their best ability and it has become a concern in the working environment. In diverse levels of analysis, the social psychological level plays a huge role in this matter. I believe that organizations should put a major emphasis in making all their employers feel comfortable with their co-workers. It is important to persist on gender equality so women can perform to their best capacity.

Am organization is greatly defined by the decisions it makes. There can be major difficulties by executing poor when co-workers do not feel comfortable in the environment. By ratifying the values, beliefs, and expectations that each person has in the organization, women could feel more empowered to perform better. It should not be gender that defines the effectiveness of a worker. Acting ethically, shaping the decisions the organization makes from differentiating right from wrong, should become the heart and soul of the company’s culture, and it can signify an immense difference between the success and failure of an organization.