MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (March, 2023)
Pleased to join the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel, alongside Chris Glover and Elmer Kim, talking the closure of Nordstrom stores in Canada, increasing cell roaming charges, and Tall Poppy Syndrome (what’s that?, you ask; keep reading). You can watch our segment here.
Some thoughts on our discussion. As much as the business world is changing, there is always a degree of humbling when large companies (or parts of them) fail. As Nordstrom announced the closure of its Canadian stores this week, perhaps the most telling aspect of this development is the fact that its operations here have never been profitable. This suggests that what is at play is more than the impact of relatively recent factors such as inflation, COVID19, and the changing face of retail. Business fundamentals are important for companies of all sizes, including conducting targeted market research, comprehensive business planning, identifying the right business model, and rolling out the launch properly. Nordstrom is not the first large US chain to fail in Canada (Target stores may be the most pronounced example), raising the question of how well they really understood the Canadian market prior to entry.
Increasing roaming charges are another expenditure facing Canadians on the move, in terms of cell phone fees that are already much higher than what is the case in other countries; numerous studies have confirmed this fact. Although much has been said about the geographic realities of Canada, it would be helpful to bring some innovation and collaboration to this issue, as well as the initiative to meaningfully address this matter. Given the “infrastructure” nature of cellular communications, it is a reasonable expectation that fee and lack of competitiveness issues raised by consumers should be addressed.
And, finally, although you might not have heard the term Tall Poppy Syndrome (TPS) before, if you are a woman in the business world, you may have experienced it. According to a recent study conducted by Women of Influence, TPS occurs when people are attacked, resented, disliked, criticized, or cut down because of their achievements and/or success. The study’s findings indicate that almost 90% of respondents, including thousands of women from all demographics and professions in 103 countries, experienced this phenomenon at work.
On a personal level, I found it important to participate in this study, as respect, fairness, and equity are integral to a successful workplace. Speaking from experience, although the majority of organizations and people do not exhibit these behaviors, too many do (and when it happens to you, someone else in your workplace, or a close colleague, it is evident). To be clear, these behaviors should not be confused with “competition” (ambitious women say “bring it on!”); this conduct is about bias.
Related to this point, unacceptable or unprofessional conduct by others in the workplace is not the fault of the women who are subjected to it; rather, inappropriate behavior defines those who exhibit it. Why? Simply because it does not represent the norm or what is acceptable, and those who treat others in this manner might be surprised to learn that their conduct does not fade into the overall work experience. Women should not be criticized for raising this issue either; doing so is another way of minimizing an important issue that needs to be addressed.
There is a cost associated with TPS, on both a personal and organizational level. Business leaders, owners, boards of directors, and shareholders should care about inequitable treatment and bias in the workplace, not only from a cost perspective, but also in terms of reputation. Keep in mind that this behavior can and does also happen in places where it might not be expected, including in large companies and those associated with “prestige” or brand recognition. Learn more about TPS and the study findings from the infographic below.
Thanks for watching and see you again soon!
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