Working Briefs


New book advises on making most of 'Mom Factor'

Is your business one a mother could love?

A new book argues that it ought to be. It notes about 75 percent of America's 108 million adult women have children and control well over half the buying decisions in the U.S. economy.

The Mom Factor: What Really Drives Where We Shop, Eat, and Play, by California consultant Nora Lee, was published last month by the Urban Land Institute. It offers stores, restaurants and other family venues on a checklist to lure and please mothers:

Health and safety. Moms anticipate danger, whether it's a nasty restroom, a spill on the floor or foods loaded with fat and sugar. Remove these problems, and Mom will more likely return.

Value. Cheap is not always a good deal. Mom's idea of value translates to "a balance of reasonable prices, decent quality and good selection."

Efficiency. Time is money, hence the appearance of Starbucks in banks and stamps sold from ATMs.

Customer service. Mom wants good attention but will usually request it in a soft, self-deprecating manner, Lee says. Snooty waiters who dread children won't get much in the way of tips or repeat business, but a waiter who brings a toddler crackers or an older child crayons will be rewarded.

Fun. Regardless of the recreation destination - mall, beach, museum or athletic event - Mom aims for the most fun for the most people and all too often sacrifices her enjoyment for that of others, Lee says. The destination that aids her in that quest will win her dollars and her loyalty.

Companies aim to offset loss of talented retirees

The aging of America holds an important consequence for U.S. business - the retirement loss of a lot of experienced talent.

More than half of 150 executives surveyed on the topic, 55 percent, said they're very or somewhat concerned about key employees retiring in the next five to 10 years. Most also said their companies are taking steps to compensate for the loss of these people. The survey was sponsored by Robert Half International Inc., a Menlo Park, Calif.-based staffing service for accounting, finance and IT professionals.

Among the popular initiatives, 59 percent have begun or enhanced succession-planning programs and 45 percent are boosting employee recruitment and retention efforts. More than a third, 35 percent, are turning to mentoring programs, and a quarter are asking retirees or future retirees to consider working as consultants or trainers. Only 15 percent of the executives who said they're taking steps to mitigate retirements are boosting salaries or bonuses.

Study gives good marks to women executives

Two studies about women in the workplace offer interesting perspectives about their movement into the executive suite.

In a joint study by Caliper, a New Jersey management firm, and London-based Aurora, a businesswomen's diversity network and research organization, researchers found that women are more assertive, more likely to take risks, and more empathetic than their male counterparts.

The study reveals that female executives are more likely to listen to subordinates and co-workers than their male colleagues do. They also tend to talk things over more, resulting in greater input from people.

Even so, women and minorities are still poorly represented on corporate boards, according to a separate study released recently by Catalyst, a women's research group in New York.

That study, sponsored by Catalyst and two other groups, suggests that the qualities that might have helped women move into the executive ranks can't help them garner more seats on corporate boards.

From Associated Press and Boston Globe reports

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