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U of T leaders, Consul-General of Japan on the processes of “Mentoring Women Leaders”

Rotman hosts panel discussion on women as leaders in the workplace

U of T leaders, Consul-General of Japan on the processes of “Mentoring Women Leaders”

On International Women’s Day, the Faculty of Arts and Science and the Rotman Faculty of Management co-hosted “Mentoring Women Leaders,” a symposium featuring discussions on leadership, the value of mentoring, and the importance of building inclusive spaces for gender minorities.

In Rotman’s Desautels Hall, the event commenced with a keynote speech delivered by U of T Chancellor Rose Patten, followed by a panel discussion with three speakers: Kelly Hannah-Moffat, U of T’s Vice-President Human Resources & Equity; Rachel Silvey, the Richard Charles Lee Director of the Asian Institute at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy; and Takako Ito, the Consul-General of Japan in Toronto.

In her speech, Patten said that the century that we have celebrated International Women’s Day has been a century of “opportunity to celebrate the central role that women have played internationally and in countries around the world in the advancement of peace and justice.”

What does good leadership actually look like?

Before mentorship comes leadership. Mentorship can only exist if leaders allow it to; mentorship can only operate effectively and as intended if leaders allow it to. Throughout her career, Patten noticed the flaws resulting from assuming that leadership is timeless. Context and conditions, she said, need to be recognized, understood, and translated into what is important for the given moment.

“Leadership is not timeless,” she said. “It has shelf-life.”

Hannah-Moffat added that women in leadership introduce the necessary diversity of perspectives to address the increasing complexity of today’s problems.

“Here at the University of Toronto, we recognize this, and we embody this, and we have a deep commitment to both equity and diversity, and inclusion,” she said.

According to U of T’s Employment Equity Report 2016-2017, 47 per cent of faculty and librarians and 66 per cent of its staff self-identify as women. According to Hannah-Moffat, the university’s employment equity rates are 29 per cent higher than the global average for labour markets for public institutions. “But that’s not good enough because we recognize that even though we’re good with equity in employment, we have to ensure that we retain our talent. And to retain we mentor and promote that talent.”

Intersectionality, and when ‘good’ is not good enough  

Hannah-Moffat spoke critically of the nuanced nature of promoting gender minorities in work.

“To think about women as a homogeneous category is highly problematic,” she said. Women’s diversity functions along race, sexuality, and literacy lines. “To be as excellent as we strive to be at this university, if we are to embody the principles of International Women’s Day, then we need to look beyond just women and to the complexities and nuances of what [this means].” To simply make room for women is not enough.

Ito spoke to her experience as Consul-General in noting Japan’s commitment to Womenomics, the notion that women’s development and economic strength are inexorably connected in today’s world.

She said that if women are without barriers and allowed the same economic participation as men, Japan could expect a 30 per cent increase in GDP. Similarly, Silvey commented on her research on care work — typically associated with women — and work that is often misunderstood and therefore overlooked. “Care work is essential to making everything else possible. It connects the formal and informal economies,” she said.  

Hannah-Moffat stressed that these issues do not end at walls of institutions and corporations. “Gender parity, diversity, and inclusion are not just women’s issues, not just work issues, and not just university issues,” she said. “They’re also economic, political, and social issues that impact all of us.”

The importance of mentorship    

Patten referenced the opportunity to uncover both weaknesses and hidden strengths for both mentors and mentees. It is this self-awareness that paves way for better leadership with the ability to adjust and adapt.  

When asked about the most meaningful experiences of working with their respective mentors, the panelists spoke of gaining perspective, accepting and understanding one’s own mistakes, and the strength in battling the numerous challenges they faced while simultaneously accepting what is not within their own control.

Gender issues as we understand them today are confined within physical spaces. But as the panelists note, the impacts of good leadership and mentorship go beyond our university and our workplace.

Positive mentorship allows women to make a difference on a global scale.  

 

David Rosenberg delivers Rotman talk on impending US recession

Gluskin Sheff chief economist suggests Feds are disguising a market downturn

David Rosenberg delivers Rotman talk on impending US recession

The Rotman School of Management hosted David Rosenberg for its Investing Experts Speaker Series on January 29. Rosenberg is the Chief Economist and Strategist at wealth management firm Gluskin Sheff, and he was previously the Chief North American Economist at Merrill Lynch Canada. He reflected on current market forces through his experiences in investing from within the private sector.

The talk was titled “The Year of the Pig (Lipstick Won’t Help!),” referencing the Chinese zodiac and riffing on the famous porcine expression of putting lipstick on a pig. Rosenberg said that branding changes being undertaken by the US Federal Reserve System (Fed) are a futile attempt to disguise an impending economic downturn.

If you’re on time, you’re late

With a commanding tone and sardonic remarks such as “economists are accountants with personality,” Rosenberg delved into the topic at hand by introducing a key principle of investing: “Be cognizant of what’s priced in.”

Referencing Donald Coxe, one of his mentors, Rosenberg relayed the prescription to “beware of the front cover affect.”

Much like how the freshness of viral memes are played out by the time they appear on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, he said that stories that appear on the front pages of financial magazines aren’t novel and that their problems have already been factored into the price of equities. With the investor’s goal of buying low and selling high, this provides little margin for profit.

“You want to buy the page B16 story on its way to page A1. Now when it gets on page A1, the story is over,” he said.

Despite the length of the current decade-long US economic expansion, it was his self-described contrarian thinking and a front page story in The Economist, titled “The bull market in everything,” that led Rosenberg to heed his own advice and prepare for the economic downturn of a bear market and possible recession.

Monetary policy

Rosenberg emphasized the significance of interest rates in understanding market behaviour. “Interest rates! That is what is important, because when you’re talking about stocks, or bonds, or real estate, anything that generates an earnings stream, you have to know where interest rates are going or you’re going to be completely lost.”

After the 2008 market crash and resulting recession, lower interest rates set by the Feds were used to induce spending as a means for recovering and reinvigorating the stagnant market. This was followed by quantitative easing (QE) — a large scale purchase of government debt and private assets by the central bank. While an unusual policy move, QE became a popular mechanism for central governments to introduce cash into the market when they were unable to lower interest rates much further.

According to Rosenberg, these policies have led to a ballooning of the stock market not reflected by the economy: “If I had constrained the stock market to what the economy had actually done, the S&P 500, you should know, would’ve peaked at 1,850, not 2,940. And the excess, that gap, is all about the excess Fed liquidity pumped into the system through artificially low interest rates and quantitative easing.”

The high, apparently healthy, numbers of the stock market index superficially conceal the relatively weaker health of the economy.

A bloating system

In addition to the artificial ballooning of the stock market, Rosenberg noted other trends that have strengthened his conviction of an economic slowdown.

In particular, he pointed to high corporate debt-to-GDP ratios. Such high leverage situations have often preceded recessions.

Focusing on corporate debt, Rosenberg emphasized that “we have never had a more junkier corporate bond market than we do today.” He added that even the quality of bonds is poor, with 50 per cent of investment grade bonds rated BBB. This is the lowest rating for an investment grade bond, with lower graded bonds classified as ‘junk’ and considered high-risk or speculative.

Rosenberg explained that the response to the current high leverage will be corporate deleveraging. This would in turn lead to recession because of the sacrifices in capital spending.

Recession is coming

Based on correlative analysis, Rosenberg presented a relationship between levels of employment and recession cycles. Low unemployment, as is currently the case, was often followed by recession and a shrinking job market, while high unemployment signified a potential for sustained growth.

“They call the unemployment rate a lagging indicator,” Rosenberg said. “I don’t think it’s a lagging indicator. It is actually a great recession indicator.”

In Rosenberg’s view, economic health markers are clearly trending in a downward direction. Yet some might argue that these are tenuous relationships with interrelated causes and effects, a classic case of the chicken and the egg.

As common wisdom goes, cycles end, bubbles burst, and a bull market transitions into a bear one. So when will this period of boom hit a dead end?

The answer, for Rosenberg, is that we might already be in it.

Rotman hosts MLSE Foundation Game Changers Speakers Event

The Varsity spoke with Raptors Assistant GM Dan Tolzman

Rotman hosts MLSE Foundation Game Changers Speakers Event

In a panel hosted by Rotman Commerce on November 8, Toronto Raptors Assistant General Manager Dan Tolzman and Manager of Player Development Shelby Weaver discussed the culture shift in the Raptors’ organization. The panel was organized by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) and moderated by renowned TSN news anchor Lindsay Hamilton. Both the Raptors and the Toronto Maple Leafs are managed and coordinated by MLSE. The event was co-hosted by the Rotman Sports Business Association.

Switching things up with a three-point plan

Attracting high-calibre talent to Toronto is difficult, and many NBA fans and even local Torontonians assume that star players are not interested in playing in Canada. It is cold, taxes are high, and players need to be attracted to our organizations over others. Raptors President Masai Ujiri along with Tolzman have shaken up the Raptors’ culture to remedy this.

After an introductory press conference with NBA champions all-star player Kawhi Leonard and all-defensive player Danny Green, Ujiri declared that “the narrative of not wanting to come to this city is gone… Believe in this city. Believe in yourselves.”

Ujiri’s actions signal that Toronto athletes no longer have to remind the world that Toronto is indeed a great city for professional athletes. In addition to the Raptors’ acquisition of Kawhi Leonard this offseason, the Maple Leafs recently signed Toronto native John Tavares. Both of them are proving to be franchise-changing players.

Despite some heartache after losing head coach Dwane Casey and star player DeMar DeRozan, the Raptors are playing incredibly well.

In addition to the organization’s culture shift, Weaver and Tolzman explained the ways in which positive social media influence and emphases on mental health and work ethic have contributed to the franchise’s success.

Weaver acknowledged that many men are told that they must swallow their emotions and not talk about them, which has led to various mental health problems for male athletes. To help, the team has a psychologist working closely with Weaver.

Players also have a significant amount of downtime, an enormous amount of money, and are usually very young. This can often be a recipe for disaster, especially in a bustling city like Toronto. Weaver’s role is not to counsel or discipline players, but to help make sure that they are staying focused on basketball and that their time is productive and not full of partying.

Tolzman added that every player has 24/7 access to training facilities, so that they can always use this time to work on their game or improve their bodies.

MLSE LaunchPad and youth sports

Funds from the event go toward  MLSE’s LaunchPad, a 42,000-square-foot indoor athletic space that hosts sports activities for Toronto’s youth. The facility contains classroom spaces, a nutrition hub, a climbing wall, and an enormous gym. There is no membership fee, so anyone from the ages of six to 29 can become a member. Programs include Sport & Ready for School, Sport & Ready for Work, Sport & Healthy Mind, and Sport & Healthy Body.

Prior to the event, The Varsity discussed the importance of youth athletic development in the GTA and its impact on Canadian basketball with Tolzman.

When asked about the importance of LaunchPad, Tolzman said, “I think from an MLSE and Raptors standpoint, building basketball and sport in general, all the sports [for] the Toronto youth, that’s what makes us relevant.”

“People want to come out to our games and enjoy our team. And so there’s no other way we would want to give back to the community than to help promote sports in general back with the youth.”

When asked about the impact of youth programs directed towards sports, Tolzman noted, “I think sports in general is such a huge confidence builder, for young children, teenagers, or whoever. So much of what a person becomes as an adult has a lot to do with youth sports and what they took part in. You build friendships that way. You build companionship. Some of the best friendships of my life came from teams I was on as a kid. I think that, in general, being a part of sports as a youth is so important to where it’s not so much about having kids become Toronto Raptors fans, as much as it is becoming active and athletic, and being engaged with other kids.”

Tolzman also provided insight on the future of Canadian players in the NBA. “The more these young players that are coming up become good NBA players, it just leads to more people around here wanting to follow in their footsteps. It’s just a snowball effect.”

Canada has produced talented players in recent years, such as RJ Barrett, Jamal Murray, and Andrew Wiggins, and Tolzman sees potential for more Canadians getting a chance to play in the top basketball league in the world.

“The NBA is all about bringing in the most talented players, regardless of where they are from,” Tolzman said. “It just happens that a lot of these young guys happen to be coming from the Toronto area, and Canada in general. It’s just going to be more and more because the level of play is just improving every year.”

And this year is particularly exciting for Toronto so far. As the season begins, the Raptors are currently in first place in the Eastern Conference with a 134 record, while the Maple Leafs are in second place in the Atlantic Division at 146.

MLSE has successfully brought relevance to the Raptors franchise as it stands now, and with LaunchPad, it is clear that it is making efforts to create spaces for young Torontonian athletes to improve their skills athletically and mentally. For all we know, the next great NBA star may find their launching point there.

Talking #MeToo with The New York Times

Rotman event hosts investigative reporters to discuss the challenges of reporting on sexual harassment

Talking #MeToo with <em>The New York Times</em>

Jodi Kantor and Emily Steel, two investigative reporters from The New York Times who broke the allegations of sexual harassment against powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, sat down for a discussion at the Rotman School of Management on Wednesday, February 21.

The sold-out event, titled “Journalism and the #MeToo Moment,” also featured the Times’ new gender editor, Jessica Bennett. Bennett is the first individual to hold this position, the goal of which is to improve coverage of women’s and gender issues across platforms.

The event was co-hosted by the Martin Prosperity Institute and the Institute for Gender and the Economy at Rotman, as well as the Times. Jamison Steve, the Prosperity Institute’s Executive Director, opened the event by acknowledging the value of Rotman’s relationship with the Times; this is the third event that the outlet has hosted at U of T.

Panelists discussed the cultural impact of #MeToo and the explosion of stories regarding sexual harassment and misconduct that have emerged since Kantor and her colleague, Megan Twohey, broke the story on October 5, 2017 of Weinstein’s mistreatment of women over the course of three decades.

Ian Austen, who has reported on Canada for the Times for over a decade, thanked the paper’s subscribers for their support of quality journalism and briefly introduced the discussion’s moderator, Catherine Porter. Porter, a former columnist for the Toronto Star, has served as the Times’ Canada bureau chief since February 2017.

In her introduction of Kantor, Porter noted that Kantor’s reporting has not only focused on Weinstein as an individual actor, but also the “complicity machine” that enabled him to continue his behavior, even as it was something of an open secret in Hollywood. For their investigation, Kantor and Twohey spoke to more than 200 people over the course of four months.

In addition to her reporting on O’Reilly alongside fellow Times reporter Michael Schmidt, Steel has written about the culture of harassment and inappropriate conduct at VICE News. Porter pointed out that Steel’s reporting has demonstrated how legacy media outlets are not the only ones with issues of sexual misconduct, but that newer and millennial-oriented ones have problems as well.

Bennett began her tenure as gender editor on October 30, just weeks after the Weinstein story had broken. She said that it was “overwhelming” to see the widespread response to the story. “We’ve been staggered by the global reaction to this reporting,” added Kantor.

One audience member asked about the factors that had led to this public reckoning. “People always want to look for one moment,” said Steel, “but it really is a chorus of voices growing louder and louder over the years.”

The difficulties that journalists face while reporting on allegations of sexual misconduct were a recurring theme of the conversation. Kantor and Twohey were writing under legal threat from Weinstein, and they were pushed by their editors to obtain as much documentation as possible to corroborate the women’s stories.

They were also trying to speak directly to high-profile actresses without involving agents or managers. “How do you get Gwyneth Paltrow’s phone number?” asked Kantor, to laughter from the crowd.

Other stories, like Bennett’s reporting on allegations by nine women against the playwright Israel Horovitz, did not have the same type of paper trail available, and they relied more heavily on corroboration of each woman’s story.

All of the panelists were vocal about how many of the high-profile figures accused of sexual harassment, such as Matt Lauer, Mark Halperin, and Charlie Rose, were “narrators and authors” of the culture, who often exerted significant influence through the media.

“These were people who were, in part, responsible for how we thought about ourselves,” said Kantor.

Kantor noted that there are often institutional obstacles to preventing sexual misconduct, which she termed the “systems and machinery of harassment.” Human resources departments may not be properly equipped to deal with allegations, or workplace sexual harassment training may be treated as a joke.

Still, Bennett seemed hopeful. “I do think there’s a lack of tolerance among young people for a lot of behaviour that has been normalized,” she said. “Young people are not going to put up with what our mothers’ generation did.”