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Archive for October, 2016

Men, speak out on violence against women.

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

The Cincinnati Enquirer ran a series of OpEds to bring awareness to the culture of violence against women and girls, and the role that male community leaders can take in helping other men understand that this is not acceptable. The series showcased perspectives from prominent men in the community from academia, corporate and professional athletics, including Stuart Aitken, CEO of 84.51°. The following is Stuart’s important and powerful message that ran in the Cincinnati Enquirer on September 14, 2106: 

Growing up, my mother was the matriarch of the family. Watching her strength as she raised my sister and me as a single parent instilled in me a tremendous respect for all women. It wasn’t until I grew older that I realized there were families who dealt with assault, and how common these issues are within our communities.

Nearly 1 in 3 young people today will be in an abusive or unhealthy relationship. Young women ages 16-24 face the highest risk of sexual assault, with many victims suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder that includes mental, physical, behavioral and academic consequences. To say this is unacceptable is an understatement.

I do not understand the mentality of men who assault women. I believe it is a sign of weakness and that abusive men may have issues they don’t know how to deal with, and use control to assault women, rather than seeking help. Much of this behavior is learned, whether from friends or family. Men that saw their fathers or other male figures assault or overpower women as a means of control often repeat this same behavior.

It’s unbelievable to me that sexual assault exists to the degree that it does in today’s society, especially with the focus on diversity and inclusion. There needs to be a broader conversation whereby there is an understanding of equality between men and women – both at work and at home. People matter, individuals matter, our communities matter. Gender equality is paramount to creating a culture of inclusion and safety.

Imagine what it’s like for a mother to explain to her child why she has a black eye and to have to hide a situation because she has no respite.

It’s thanks to community advocates and organizations like Women Helping Women that this scenario is changing. By promoting community education, advocacy, support, and safety options for survivors of sexual assault and violence, we are helping to combat the silence. I believe that as a result, the community dialogue and one-on-one conversations have started to change. Abuse and assault used to be a taboo topic, but today men who hear of abuse are more likely to speak up and take action – no longer sweeping it under the carpet.

It’s imperative that we talk about it, whether it’s on social media, at sports outings with friends or after work with colleagues. However, we’re certainly not where we need to be. That’s why men in positions of influence need to continue to be advocates. As a community leader myself, I’ve partnered with Women Helping Women to bring awareness to the culture of violence against women and girls because I believe it isn’t a women’s issue, it’s an issue that affects all of us.

84.51°, and dunnhumby previously, has been an advocate and financial supporter of Women Helping Women for over a decade. As CEO of 84.51°, I believe companies can provide support through communication and education about what is truly an epidemic. By advocating a message of no tolerance, even to the point of having a no-tolerance policy around this sort of behavior, employees will begin to understand that not only are they risking their own lives and the lives of their partners and children, they’re potentially risking their livelihoods. In conjunction with new policies and education, companies can also make a difference by offering financial and volunteer support to organizations like Women Helping Women, creating better community support systems and allowing women who are victims to seek help.

Instances of assault, abuse and violence continue to be pervasive. Changing the culture of violence against women is every person’s duty – men, women, policymakers, business executives, academic institutions, sports teams and community leaders alike. By working together as advocates and offering support to vital organizations, we can raise awareness and help everyone to understand that violence against women and girls is never acceptable.

Cincinnati Enquirer OpEd Link:

Dance, man, dance.

Friday, October 21st, 2016


Keith Haring was a master of activating his art so that anyone can understand it. 

Shot by: Jon Keeling

Facebook At Work.

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

Facebook is no longer satisfied with overtaking our personal lives; it wants our social media addiction to expand into our work lives, too. The company recently launched its enterprise communication and collaboration network, Facebook At Work.

According to TechCrunch, Facebook At Work subscribers can use the product’s special “Work Feed” of posts from colleagues to find out what’s new and relevant at the company, exchange ideas and assume tasks. Facebook At Work will also offer Groups as well as Messenger, which include audio and video calling. Plus it provides the social network’s Profiles, Live Video features and Events, with the ability to invite your whole company to an event.

While there is a long list of positives associated with Facebook At Work, the potential negatives need to be seriously considered and addressed before companies adopt the platform.

Many employers already view social media as a potential distraction and take steps to eliminate unnecessary use at work. According to Statista, 1 in 5 American employees are unable to access Facebook at work due to technical restrictions put in place by their employer. However, a study by Pew Research found that 77% of workers still use social media on the job, regardless of any employer policy.

That same survey also found that among those who use social media for work-related tasks, 56% said it distracts from work they need to do. This is simply among employees who use social media for work-related tasks. What happens when all employees are encouraged to use Facebook for work-related tasks? Will the tool create a daily distraction for more than half of all employees in a company? What are the productivity implications?

Although it’s possible to create a separate account for Facebook At Work, it’s impossible not to consider how the new tool will effect workplace culture and employee relations. There’s already a thin line between personal and professional contacts with the invention of social media, and this tool will only further blur the line. Because of the familiarity of the platform, employees will likely be inclined to treat it as a less-formal form of communication. Selfies, emojis, silly Facebook Live antics, sharing personal information or political opinions, making donation solicitations, or uploading inappropriate happy hour photos – who knows where to draw the line?

Facebook At Work is certainly not all bad. It could absolutely reinforce an open and fun culture that so many companies, especially tech companies, are trying to create. Employees can feel free to communicate with each other, while cutting out the bureaucracy and organizational overhead that many companies tend to develop, especially as they expand. The familiarity of the platform could entice more employees to utilize and get involved with the platform, helping to streamline employee communication and boost morale, without sending another email.

If Facebook At Work is adopted, it will no doubt once again change the way we communicate at work. Like all new technology, it will find its niche overtime.

Social media during disasters: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets have forever altered the way the world communicates and reacts during emergencies and disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and terrorist attacks, like the 2016 Paris attacks. While some use these social media tools for good, others choose to spread ignorance and inaccuracies that could put lives at risk.

The people who choose to use social media for good during disasters can literally restore a person’s faith in humanity. During the Paris attacks, people tweeted out messages that opened their homes to complete strangers to keep them safe. Before Hurricane Sandy, former NWS meteorologist, Gary Szatkowski, gave out his home phone number, pleading with people to evacuate the New Jersey Shore. Experts prioritize sharing real-time information that saves lives. People on the scene use Facebook’s Safety Check to calm family and friends. Overall, thousands of people share messages of hope, encouragement, love, and assistance that create a sense of community and help create the best possible outcome.

But as we know, every rose has its thorns and every village has its idiots. The first type of idiot is the person who refuses to heed expert advice, putting their lives and emergency personnel lives at risk. To make matters worse, they broadcast this decision on social media, posting videos of deadly storms, ignoring mandatory evacuations, and encouraging others to join them. Let’s take the always-inspiring rapper, Vanilla Ice, for example. During the recent 2016 Hurricane Matthew, he publicly shared his decision not to evacuate and live-tweeted during the storm to his 280K followers. Luckily, the storm spared his life by unexpectedly shifting East, but his arrogance and poor decision could have endangered the lives of his family, the Twitter followers he influenced, and the emergency personnel who may have been forced to rescue him.

The only thing worse than those who blatantly ignore expert advice is people who position themselves as experts or influencers and share misinformation. During the devastating 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, social media created a storm of confusion as sources shot off unconfirmed information about suspects and arrests, causing community-wide confusion about public safety. This was also seen during Hurricane Matthew when Matt Drudge of the Drudge report tweeted out comments implying that the government was just hyping up the deadly storm to make a point about climate change. These tweets directly contradicted and undermined weather authorities’ pleas for people to take the storm seriously and were viewed by some as unjustified and insensitive, given the immense number of lives lost to the storm in Haiti just hours prior.

Perhaps the stupidity exhibited is just nature’s way of continuing to evolve our species in a world filled with warning labels and copious amounts of information. In other words, we’re seeing natural selection play out on a public platform when people choose to go outside and film a deadly hurricane or follow the advice of a rapper over a meteorologist – another win for Darwin’s theory!

Unfortunately, all of the good being spread on social media during disasters cannot eliminate the bad and the ugly. It’s up to each individual to share the good while digesting information from others with a scrupulous eye to make the best possible decision during an emergency.

Curiosity and the cat.

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Keeling Photo-7

Intelligence can sometimes mean trouble…

Shot by: Jon Keeling