Archive for the ‘Equality’ Category

Too much, too little and two mishaps

December 10, 2017

Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore

We’ve had two wonderful days at The Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Co. Waterford, which included the most incredible feast of fantastic food that you could imagine.

On our first night we treated ourselves to the tasting menu, which was a feast of the senses, delivered by a superb team, led by Adriaan Bartels who are passionate about great service and introducing customers to some amazing food that you would never taste otherwise.

The Wagyu beef from James Whelan Butchers was my favourite of all the amazing dishes on the tasting menu, which came with a well chosen matching wine selection of five different wines.

The following night we ate in the bar and as expected this meal was also incredible – I couldn’t resist the set menu with a selection of starters, desserts and a choice of main courses.

Of course we also indulged in a delicious breakfast each morning, which was a feast in itself.

Cliff Walk, Ardmore

Eventually it was time to leave after two fantastic days of indulgence, rest and recuperation and even some exercise as we did the breathtaking Cliff Walk and a long walk on Ardmore beach.

We headed back to Cork as we were due at the Cork Chamber Christmas lunch, which was at Fota Resort.

After all of the rich food we had eaten over the two days at The Cliff House, I was in the horrors at the thought of eating another morsel of food!

At Fota the perplexed waiters and waitresses came to us a few times questioning why we didn’t want the smoked salmon starter – was there something wrong, did we have special dietary requirements?

I explained that my special dietary requirement was that I didn’t need a starter as I was simply stuffed!!

I managed to eat most of the main course and I did have one little taste of the dessert – I was glad when the meal was over with, as I just wasn’t able.

I glanced around the room at the capacity crowd as together we ate the fine food, and drank the wine and indulged in the satisfaction of a positive year and a well earned Christmas break that would soon be here.

What are your plans for Christmas?” and “Are you taking much time off?” were the popular questions being asked at each table.

I reflected on my uncomfortably full stomach and the room full of festive spirits, and I thought of those who were cold and miserable today and would love nothing more than a hot meal in a warm room, let alone entertain any thoughts of an indulgent Christmas with friends and family.

I also reflected on a thought provoking podcast that I had listened to on the journey to the Cliff House, just two days before. It was the Legends and Losers podcast by Christopher Lochhead and the particular episode featured the inspirational founder of ‘The Giving Spirit’, Tom Bagamane. This is a non-profit in L.A. that helps the huge number of homeless people in the city.

One of the big messages in the episode was that most people are just two mishaps away from being homeless – job loss, poor health, relationship breakdown, bereavement and mental problems are all mishaps that can easily throw any of us upside down, if they come knocking at our door.

Many of the homeless are not the stereotypes that we may often think they are.

Kathleen O'Sullivan

This morning I read about 43 year old, Kathleen O’Sullivan who had been found dead, wrapped in blankets in a doorway in Cork city. Apparently, ‘big hearted, kind, caring’ Kathleen who was suffering from emphysema and pleurisy hadn’t recovered from the death of her child a number of years ago.

We all deserve our breaks and we most definitely deserve to enjoy the fruits of our labour, but we mustn’t forget about those less fortunate than us, and remember that we are all just two mishaps away from being on the streets.

Merry Christmas to all..

A big thanks to Bernard MacNamee who brought me these powerful lyrics from the Kirsty McColl song, “Walking Down Madison

From an uptown apartment to a knife on the A train
It’s not that far
From the sharks in the penthouse to the rats in the basement
It’s not that far
To the bag lady frozen asleep in the park
Oh no, it’s not that far

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Branding  services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Is age diversity the biggest opportunity?

October 28, 2017

Fintech 20

I was thrilled to be the moderator on one of the discussion panels at the fantastic FinTech conference at UCD organised by Simon Cocking and his team from Irish Tech News.

There are clearly many opportunities in this dynamic sector and the jam packed agenda featured startups in the space, established businesses, financiers and angel investors as well as sponsors with a vested interest in the sector.

One of the observations that was made on the day was (as usual) about the gender mix in the room, which was I’m guessing, about 75/25% male versus female.

This probably reflects the tech sector generally as it just seems to attract more males than females – the event was a free to attend event.

Mary McKenna, an Angel Investor and a great person into bargain, shared her philosophy about how she chooses projects to invest in. While the project or idea always has to be great and have an element of ‘doing good’ she looks for great, committed people in that business to drive it forward.

Her other critical criteria is that the founders must be female!

A few (including me!) immediately questioned her logic for taking this position – were females better, could they be trusted more, did they bring special qualities to the table? Why Mary??

Mary’s answer was really simple – it’s my money and I can do what I want with it. I’m choosing to invest in females and that’s that! There was a collective shrug of the shoulders in the auditorium. Fair enough….

Mary might miss out on great projects and bigger opportunities, that also do good because of her narrow criteria, but it is her money and her prerogative.

If the gender equality police had their way this would be a crime – if it was a stated preference for male founders I’m guessing there would be total outrage!! (equality must play both ways people).

Age Diversity

On one of the panels, which was discussing the challenge of attracting talent, inevitably the topic of male versus female was raised. One of the panellists changed the diversity focus to age instead of gender, which they felt was a more relevant one worthy of more discussion.

To emphasise the point he went on to explain a recent recruitment experience that he had in their company. He was explaining the value of recruiting older people instead of the obsession about millennials – recently they employed an older person and I sat up to hear a little more…

Someone in their sixties maybe? – he was trying to make a point, after all.

It was someone in their forties!!

As a 52 year old I was shifting uneasily in my seat as I reckoned if I was not self employed, many would not even consider me for a job.

I’ve been seeing quite a few revealing articles on this topic recently – one in particular makes some great arguments for the importance of age diversity in business,

An article on the Chron, tech website says: “Companies that employ workers in wide ranges of age have the advantage of creating a dynamic, multi-generational workforce — with a diverse range of skill sets — that is beneficial to the company”

Specifically they list the following advantages:

Diverse Skill Sets – Each age group brings their own unique skills and talents. Young employees are likely to have a strong grasp on the use of high-tech business mediums and more mature professionals often have exceptional interpersonal skills and perform well in environments where traditional in-person communication is used.

Technology – While the younger generation have grown up with technology all generations are using it.

Business Skills – Just as younger generations are credited with having good working knowledge of business technology, more mature members of a workforce have the advantage of traditional business skills.

Mentoring – Employees of all ages have the opportunity to teach, share and learn from one another.

Continuity – A mix of maturity and experience with the vitality, energy and rawness of youth is likely to create a strong mix that ensures a strong identity and culture that protects continuity of the business

So..while we are all getting quite obsessed about the boys versus girls, please don’t forget about the old fogies in their forties, fifties, sixties and beyond – we have a lot to offer!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Branding  services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

 

Amy and Adam – are we all to blame?

May 5, 2017

My McCarthy

Amy McCarthy, a beautiful 22-year-old mother of one-year-old baby Adam, was found dead in a disused building on Sheares Street in Cork last Sunday night.

Apparently, this old building, which is in the centre of town and one that I have walked past a thousand times is often used as a squat for homeless people, alcoholics and drug users.

The Gardai are still apparently investigating what happened to poor Amy and have not ruled out foul play.

This happened in our city, under our very noses and I found myself wanting to find out more about this young girl to try to get some clue as to how something so wrong could have happened and if anything could have been done to help her.

If you look at her Facebook page it shows you a young girl who seemed to have a lot of friends who were all happy to admire baby Adam anytime that Amy posted a picture of him. It looks like he was born in March of 2016 and Adam O’Keefe is the father and her boyfriend.

What was Amy doing in this place on Saturday night and what happened her?  

Adam O'Keefe

26-year-old Adam O’Keefe, her boyfriend was arrested on Monday in Cork as he seriously assaulted another man in the city – the newspaper reports seem to indicate that Adam has been living in various charity temporary accommodation and this attack was due to the fact that he was ‘upset’ and intoxicated because of what had happened to Amy.

Adam was refused bail as it was felt he was a risk because of his vulnerable state. I wondered what was his story? Why was there no one with him at this clearly traumatic time – prison is a really great solution for this troubled kid.

His Facebook page reveals a young man originally from Midleton who was quite excited about Amy’s pregnancy over 12 months previous:

Amy McCarthy and Adam O'Keefe

my girlfriend 6 mtns pregnant and I swear 2 god I cant wait 2 b a father best thing ever luv u babe far eaver“.

Why was Adam living in temporary accommodation and where was he on the Saturday night that Amy died?

Where are the families of these two young people and what will become of their baby? Was she not living at home anymore? Did anyone try to help them?

While we might find out some of these answers in time, what is certain is that these two young people have been left down by our society, somewhere along the way.

At some point in their lives, they were unlucky and things took a serious turn for the worse.

Instead of getting the help, assistance or intervention that they desperately needed to set them on the right path and keep them safe they have fallen tragically.

Are we all to blame?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

The same ticket but not the same

April 16, 2017

We were on the North East Corridor train heading out from Penn Station in New York to Metro Park in New Jersey to spend a few days with my brother Colin and his family.

On a commuter train to suburbia it’s hard not to observe the other passengers and wonder about their stories and their lives.

There was a guy sitting across from us, I’m guessing in his twenties dressed all in black with headphones on – every now and then he would sing along in Spanish. Many of the public signs here are in English and Spanish, which surprised me.

There was an African American guy, again in his twenties wearing a green hoodie and a baseball cap under that, also listening to his music.

An older guy sat alongside us wearing grey tracksuit bottoms and a grey top and an unusual pair of Crocs on his feet. He also had a crutch so this probably explained the footwear. He looked a little dishevelled so maybe he wasn’t having the best of days.

The ticket collector came around – he takes your ticket, then produces another ticket, punches a hole in this and then clips it behind you under a little metal clip. He does this for each of the people around us.

He comes to the guy next to us, the grey tracksuit guy, who takes his ticket from under his sock and produces it for inspection.

Tear it in half” the ticket officer tells him. The passenger looks confused.

Tear it in half” the ticket officer repeats, this time with a little more intent.

He looks confused and asks “Why?”

I’m not touching that, it’s been in your sock” he says.

The poor guy in the tracksuit never felt better I’m sure. His bad day, week, month, year or decade was confirmed in front of his fellow travellers and he quietly accepted this instruction and tore his ticket in half.

The ticket officer was able to go ahead with his job without having to touch the offensive ticket.

This was an unpleasant and unnecessary exchange between two strangers and at what cost?

Would it have been so hard just to take the piece of paper from this fellow human being and treat it like all those other pieces of paper, equally and with respect?

However, we are not equal.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Time to Prioritise Caring

December 30, 2016

Caring

As we roll into another year we inevitably start thinking about the things we have achieved and the things we want and wish for in the new year.

If I was to express my wishes for next year in one word I would choose the word “Caring“.

I’m not sure if it is just now that I feel there is a real deficit of caring in the world, if it is just what I am seeing and reading or whether it is a reflection of my age and if I am starting to think and observe things differently?

I am worried that there is not enough caring in the world and I feel that this year has plummeted with awful incidents in Nice, Berlin, Aleppo and some of the horribleness that we witnessed in the United States by the President Elect, Donald Trump in his campaign.

Lessons in how to win elections were absorbed by a new generation and “caring” isn’t quite the word that comes to mind when you reflect on what we saw being played out for months and months in the lead up to the awful result.

Closer to home our year ended in Ireland with the homeless coming together under the simple ‘Home Sweet Home‘ banner and they occupied an unused office building, Apollo House to put much needed roofs over heads and put a public spotlight on this big issue, which is getting worse and worse. The homeless need this as they can’t go on strike to get attention.

We heard the involvement of high profile Irish musicians including Glen Hansard and Hozier being sadly criticised by some in the media as being a stunt by them to raise their popularity!

What has happened with the way we think about things?

The courts moved in double quick time (they can when they want to) incredibly to process an injunction against the occupants.

The very sad “win” was that the homeless were allowed stay in the disused office building until January 11th – Merry Christmas!!

When living in a disused office block over Christmas is considered a win for those poor temporary residents we have arrived at a very poor state of affairs. Unfortunately this was a win for them – can you imagine?

My wish for the new year is that we start genuinely caring for each other, that we teach our children the importance of caring and let them witness it everyday, that we teach caring in our schools, that we make caring a priority in our workplaces, that caring becomes part of the values that companies live by and that we put caring for people in our communities, on our roads, in our cities and countries before any other criteria.

Let’s start caring.

Happy New Year and a big thank you to all the readers of my blog posts – see you next year!!

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Strategic Communications, Marketing, PR, Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Why a scheme just for female entrepreneurs?

May 26, 2016

Female entrepreneurship

A particular tender caught my attention today.

The organisation/body were looking for a provider:”to develop and implement a tailored work programme to address the skills, enterprise and capability gaps of rural nascent female entrepreneurs

Any scheme that encourages entrepreneurship is a great thing but specifically creating an initiative that only people who have certain “physical attributes” seems to be unfair and in my opinion reeks of inequality.

Is it even constitutional?

I don’t think it’s right – what do you think?

Encourage entrepreneurship in everyone!!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

Macho politics and the need for femininity

April 8, 2016

Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin

If you mention gender quotas to me you will probably sense my temperature rise and start to notice the steam emerging from different parts of my body!

I want the best person to get the job but I do absolutely believe that we need to do everything to make sure this can be a woman or a man with no disadvantage to either.

However (this is huge coming from me!) watching the political standoff between Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, the independent candidates and the other parties as Ireland struggles to form a government reminds me of some of the key messages I heard recently at the Network Ireland, International Women’s Day event.

At the conference Gabrielle Motolla (a very impressive American photographer who lives in Iceland) spoke about the worldwide economic crash and a profound comment that was made at the time that “the banking systems lack of femininity caused many of the problems

It wasn’t that there were too many men involved but the point was there was too much “masculinity” in the mix – too much testosterone, too much macho stuff, too much bravado, too much risk taking, too much ultra competitiveness and too many egos recklessly driving the banking system off the cliff.

All of these characteristics can be demonstrated by men or women but they are typically masculine traits so a gender balance could provide some protection against the potentially dangerous excesses of these traits.

This point really impacted on me – I understood exactly what she was saying and I can see the danger myself of too much of any particular trait in an organisation.

I met a Canadian woman at the same conference who operates a large energy company in Canada and we spoke about this issue. She’s not in favour of quotas but she explained that in her business it would be virtually impossible to manage a team of all men and it would be just as difficult with a team of all women.

In her experience the guys are just too macho and the women are too passive and cautious – she reckons a balance works best and in her industry she reckoned 60/40 works best and this is what she strives for when assembling teams.

With our political impasse at the moment I notice that nearly all of the posturing, which is getting us nowhere is very masculine.

We desperately need to sort this out and get our country back on track – maybe we should introduce some femininity and get this process moving?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

Gender equality and losing our cobblers!

March 30, 2016

Gender Inequality

A disturbing image appeared in my twitter feed – How is it that I am likely to live nearly five years less than my female equivalent …outrage!!

This blatant inequality is a total disgrace and why aren’t us boys kicking up a storm about this injustice?

Why is it happening, what do I have to do different to sort it out? – I’m guessing if the shoe was on the other foot there would be riots in the streets but us boys have been way too passive and just putting up with it!

I asked my buddy Mr. Google for some answers. He’s normally quite helpful with these things.

It took me to an article on Psychology Today written by Christopher Bergland entitled “Why do women live longer than men?

According to this article and related studies: Women live longer than men primarily because of modern lifestyle factors, rather than any biological difference. Statistically, women are less prone to heart disease and smoking related illnesses, which are the leading causes of death due to making healthier lifestyles choices.

Ok..In the world we live 4.5 years on average less than women but if I make healthier life choices I could beat these numbers and besides I don’t smoke. That doesn’t sound too bad!

I found another article on a BBC site with exactly the same title written by David Robson.

In this article he talks about: One early idea was that men work themselves into an early grave. Whether working in a mine or ploughing the land, they put extra stress on their bodies and amassed injuries that caught up with them later in life. Yet if that were the case, you might expect the gap to be closing, as both men and women converge on the same, sedentary jobs.

So gender equality might level the life scores as we will live longer and women will live shorter..hmm.

However changing lifestyles hasn’t changed the ‘life’ gap so this isn’t the answer.

In his article he does explore lifestyle choices, which he feels is a factor but he feels there is more than that: The fact is that female chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and gibbons also consistently outlive the males of the group, and you do not see apes – male or female – with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths and beer glasses in their hands.

So it’s more than healthy lifestyle choices and work patterns?

In this article some other quite painful research might point towards an answer – imagine the following headline on the front page of your daily newspaper!

Eunuchs are 130 times more likely to reach 100, compared to other men 

The very thought of it makes me wince in pain and brings many tears to my eyes but apparently the answer to this ‘life’ gap question could be testosterone:

euneuch

Evidence comes from an unexpected place: the Imperial Court of the Chosun Dynasty in Korea. Korean scientist Han-Nam Park recently analysed the detailed records of court life from the 19th Century, including information about 81 eunuchs whose testicles had been removed before puberty.

His analyses revealed that the eunuchs lived for around 70 years – compared to an average of just 50 years among the other men in the court. Overall, they were 130 times more likely to celebrate their hundredth birthday than the average man living in Korea at the time. Even the kings – who were the most pampered people in the palace – did not come close.

The article explores other evidence about the presence of our ‘cobblers’: In sad cases of mental health patients, institutionalised in the USA in the early 20th Century. A few were forcibly castrated as part of their “treatment”. Like the Korean eunuchs, they too lived for longer than the average inmate – but only if they had been sterilised before the age of 15.

More pain and even more tears..

It goes on to say that the female body could have advantages due to the sex hormone oestrogen, which can protect the woman’s health leading to longer life.

His article is inconclusive about why exactly us boys are expected to be around for shorter:  Scientists admit that we need to keep on looking for a definitive answer.

I tend to agree!!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

Promoting female entrepreneurs in rural areas

February 24, 2016

Wonder womenI was checking through my emails this minute and I was looking at the e-tender notifications about new projects etc.

One particular post caught my attention, which concerns me, which annoys me, which makes we worry that we are taking certain agendas to a stupid extreme.

Development programme targeted at female entrepreneurs in Irish rural areas

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland, intends issuing a public tender in 2016 for the provision (by one single service provider) of a national development programme targeted at nascent female entrepreneurs in Irish rural areas

Programmes that encourage entrepreneurship in rural areas is a fantastic idea.

Programmes that encourage entrepreneurship in any areas is a fantastic idea.

Programmes that promote female entrepreneurship specifically are wrong, silly, discriminatory and it strikes me that we are totally losing the run of ourselves with the gender equality agenda.

The fantastic women that I work with every day don’t need any special “pass”.

It’s about ‘equality’ folks, not the opposite.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

Paternity leave, gender equality and the changing role of fathers

January 28, 2016

Greg Canty and Brendan Canty

I listened with interest at the discussions about the new proposals regarding paternity leave and I fondly remembered (not!) how it was when my kids were born.

It was August, 1991 and Ellen, our second child was due. It was a busy time in work at that time of the year with my role as Financial Controller as I had to get all budgeting finalised for the following year. We were part of Guinness so it was a complex process.

I knew that when Ellen was born I wanted a little free time to enjoy the moment(s) and to be there to look after my son, Brendan who was two and a half at the time. I worked day and night and weekends leading up to that time so that when she was born there would be no issue and I could take a few days off.

Ellen was overdue and a date was set for her to be induced. I informed my boss,  Charlie of the date and he wasn’t very pleased as he was planning a management meeting on that date!

What could I do?

The hospital had a gap in their scheduling and Ellen was induced a day earlier ….my beautiful daughter arrived on the 21st August!!

My childminding role kicked in for the next few days. Two days later I popped into the office to check a few things and I was stupidly expecting a round of “congratulations” from all of my workmates.

Instead I got a serious look from the Sales Manager..”You’re in trouble“. I was dumbfounded at what I heard.

What the hell could I be in trouble for and by the way it was a girl!!” I responded.

It turns out that because Ellen was born a day earlier everyone reckoned I could and should have made the “crucial” management meeting. I grabbed Brendan and we left.

A day or two later I was back in work and was summoned to Charlie’s office ..I don’t think I even gave him a chance to open his mouth.

He got it full belt “I always put this stupid place first and this time you can well and truly f**k yourself as it is one time I am putting my family first” and stormed out. I don’t think we ever spoke about the incident again.

Two years ago in Fuzion we had our first ‘baby‘!

A few months before that one of our team announced that she was pregnant. While it was fantastic news for her and her husband, it did cause an issue for the business. She was a senior member of the team and now we had to plan about replacing her with a quality replacement.

She would be out for 6 months and she also planned on taking the extra two months. I also learnt that while she would be out she was entitled to holidays and bank holidays, so effectively she would be out for 9 months. This would be disruptive to the business as well as costing us – it was the most expensive baby I ever had!

This is life and our business had to make arrangements and cope but it did strike me that this ‘issue‘ was one that we had to solve with her. Where was the guy in this equation? Was his work disrupted or would it carry a cost for them?

Maybe she was more than happy to put her career on hold for a while and take off that precious time with her new baby but maybe she might have liked to share this gift with her husband? No one had a choice.

I imagined a different world where her husband announced to his boss that “they” were pregnant and that he was opting to take half of the parental leave. This is how it works in Denmark so it isn’t such a stretch.

I’m a dad and I’m a parent and I would have loved to have those precious days when Ellen was born back again to enjoy…maybe more than a few days?

If we are serious about the guys role as a parent and we are really serious about gender equality then us fellas need to be treated as equals.

Two weeks paternity leave..nah!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork