TIME Business

Let’s Fix It: Bring Diversity to the C-Suite

Denise Morrison attends the Thrive Arianna Huffington panel during AWXI on October 1, 2014 in New York City.
Denise Morrison attends the Thrive Arianna Huffington panel during AWXI on October 1, 2014 in New York City. Monica Schipper–Getty Images

Denise Morrison is the President and CEO of Campbell Soup Company.

I’m from a generation of women that found it exhilarating to shatter the glass ceiling. We viewed obstacles as opportunities and earned our seat at the leadership table

This Influencer post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Denise Morrison shares her thoughts as part of LinkedIn’s Influencer series, “Let’s Fix It” in which the brightest minds in business blog on LinkedIn about how they would fix what’s broken in this world. LinkedIn Editor Amy Chen provides an overview of the 60+ Influencers that tackled this subject as part of the package. Follow Denise Morrison and insights from other top minds in business on LinkedIn.

I’m a woman and a CEO, which at present is a rare occurrence in Fortune 500 companies. If I had a magic wand (and they’re also hard to find), one of the first things I’d fix would be increasing diversity in the C-suite.

I feel strongly about the need for diversity, and with good reason. I’m from a generation of women that found it exhilarating to shatter the glass ceiling. We viewed obstacles as opportunities and earned our seat at the leadership table.

But we still have a long way to go. Glaring diversity and gender gaps in business remain. Consider this – women make up slightly more than half of the U.S. population but we account for only 5 percent of the CEOs in the Fortune 500. I was heartened to see that Safra Catz was appointed co-CEO of Oracle last month. Including her, I’m one of 25 women CEOs in the Fortune 500 and one of 53 in the Fortune 1000, a group that includes my sister Maggie Wilderotter, Chairman and CEO of Frontier Communications.

When Maggie and I speak together publicly at various business schools and events (it’s one way for two busy sisters to see each other on a regular basis), we talk about the scarcity of women in the C-suite and how we broke the gender barrier. Our success started with our parents.

When we were growing up in Elberon, New Jersey, our mother told us “ambition is a part of femininity” and our dad, a high-ranking executive at Bell and AT&T, inspired us to pursue business careers.

When Dad came home from work, he’d turn our family dinners into tutorials on business, money, sales and profit margins. He shared fascinating stories about his customers, marketing and my favorite topic when I was a kid – new product launches. Our father also took us to his office before the advent of “Take Your Child to Work Day.”

In an era when leadership positions in public companies were reserved for men, he said the business world would open up to women and he wanted us to be prepared.

Things have changed since then — slowly. I’m the first woman to lead Campbell in its 145-year history and one of four women serving on our Board of Directors this year. But when I attend meetings with other CEOs, there are still times when I’m one of the few women in the room.

But women aren’t the only people missing in the C-suite. Minorities are vastly underrepresented in the Fortune 500, with African-American, Asian and Latino CEOs each in the range of 1 to 2 percent.

I’m equally a proponent of increasing women and minorities on the boards of public companies. You may have seen the Catalyst report that women held about 17 percent of the board seats at Fortune 500 companies in 2013, and more than 70 percent of the Fortune 500 had no directors who are women of color.

I’d like to see that change. With three decades of experience in the consumer packaged goods industry, it’s clear to me that diversity will become a competitive advantage in a global economy for companies that are willing to open their minds and embrace change. The best companies will build culturally-diverse leadership teams and workforces with divergent backgrounds, perspectives and ideas.

That’s our goal at Campbell. We have more work ahead, but I believe diversity will help us forge stronger connections with the consumers we serve today and with the new generations of consumers we will serve tomorrow.

The path to diversity begins with supporting, mentoring, and sponsoring diverse women and men to become leaders and entrepreneurs. For instance, we’ve established distinct business resource affinity networks for our women, Hispanic, African American and Asian employees. Externally, we are partnering with or sponsoring non-profit organizations like the National Society of Hispanic MBAs, which I addressed last month in Philadelphia.

Diversity is not only the right thing to do — it’s smart business — so let’s embrace diversity and lead change within our companies, within the business community and within our society… starting at the top.

In this series of posts, Influencers explain what they wish they could fix — and how. Read all the stories here and write your own (please include the hashtag #FixIt in the body of your post).

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Business

Get Ready for Halloween With IKEA’s Spot-On Parody of The Shining

The ad recreates Stanley Kubrick's iconic hallway scene

A month after releasing a mega-popular commercial that spoofed Apple, IKEA is back with a new ad — and this one takes a rather different approach. The commercial pays homage to Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1980 film The Shining by recreating its iconic (and super creepy) hallway scene.

The video’s creators seem to be pretty big Kubrick fans, as they paid very close attention to detail. They also hid a number of products within the video and launched a social media contest so viewers can spot the items and then win stuff. You know, because #engagement.

TIME France

Oil Exec Who Charmed Kings and Dictators Killed in Plane Crash

Total CEO Christophe de Margerie Dies in Plane Crash
Christophe de Margerie, chief executive officer of Total SA, reacts during a Bloomberg Television interview on day three of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday, Jan. 24, 2014. Simon Dawson—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Tributes For Total CEO Killed When His Jet Hit a Snowplow On Russian Runway

Christophe de Margerie, the CEO and chairman of the French energy giant Total who was killed in a private plane accident in Moscow on Monday night, was fond of saying that one couldn’t drill for oil in pleasant, peaceful places — a riposte to environmentalists and human-right activists who have railed against oil companies for cutting lucrative deals with repressive leaders. “I’d be more than delighted to go find energy in Club Med,” he told TIME back in December 2009, seated on a private plane during an overnight flight from Paris to the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain. “But we’ve tried, and did not find it.”

It was a characteristically blunt statement in an industry that is famous for its opaque leadership rather than plain-talking executives. Unlike his peers, De Margerie, 63, seemed unconcerned about what he said publicly. Rather, he appeared to relish his image as an outsized personality whose common touch — despite his wealthy family background — won him friends, as well as some detractors, in difficult, even hostile, places. Explaining his personality, he told TIME that his lifelong shyness (“I hate going on stage, I’m really scared,” he said) had compelled him from childhood to become a keen observer of people, and that he had learned to “listen to people, from the hotel doorman to the King of Saudi Arabia.”

Tributes flooded in on Tuesday after news broke that De Margerie had died on his way back from Moscow where he had attended a gathering of foreign investors and met with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev at Medvedev’s country residence near the capital. The private plane in which De Margerie was traveling collided with a snowplow at Moscow’s Vnukovo International airport shortly before midnight, killing him and three French crew members on board. Russian investigators quickly blamed the operator of the plow (who survived unscathed), saying that the man was drunk, and adding that air traffic controllers might also have made errors. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov voiced President Vladimir Putin’s condolences, saying that the Russian leader “has long known De Margerie [and] had a close working relationship with him.” In Paris, President François Hollande said De Margerie had “brilliantly defended the level of excellence and success of French technology,” and praised his “independent character” and “originality.”

Indeed, it seemed hundreds of people across the world knew De Margerie — if only as the man with the abundant gray whiskers framing his corpulent cheeks, which had earned him the nickname of “Monsieur Moustache” among his employees.

De Margerie joined the company in 1974 fresh out of university, largely, he told TIME, because it was a 10-minute walk from his family home in western Paris, and because his youthful dream of becoming a motorcycle policeman had come to naught. He rose to head its crucial exploration and production department, helping to expand hugely Total’s operations across the world. He became CEO in 2007 and chairman in 2010. During his career the company faced several serious accusations of wrongdoing. He and other Total executives faced charges in France of helping then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein skirt the U.N.’s oil-for-food sanctions during the 1990s and although they were cleared, the company paid a fine in the U.S. And after an oil tanker broke apart and sank off the Brittany coast in 1999, spewing thousands of tons of oil into the sea and killing an estimated 150,000 sea birds, a Paris court ordered Total to pay more than $250 million in damages.

Apparently unaffected by these controversies, De Margerie steadily built Total into a giant company, opening new fields across the world — including in places from which other energy companies steered clear, like Burma and Yemen. Total is now the fourth biggest Western oil company, after ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron, with nearly 100,000 employees in 130 countries and revenues of nearly $240 billion last year.

But De Margerie will likely be remembered most of all for his insistence that governments should as much as possible leave it to oil companies to decide where to operate. And it is that insistence that led him most regularly into fiery debates with activists, who accused Total of cozying up to dictators in order to win concessions that were worth billions.

De Margerie, unlike other oil executives, never shied away from the argument, telling journalists that the world could face a serious oil shortage — an argument that seems less urgent these days, with declining growth in demand for oil and sinking prices on the world oil markets. “Where is electricity coming from? Flowers?” he told TIME during the flight from Paris to Bahrain in late 2009. “Maybe some day. But what’s available now is from oil and gas,” he said.

De Margerie defended his decision to extract natural gas in Burma and pipe it across the country at a time when U.S. sanctions prevented most American business links with the military government, telling an audience of Columbia University students in 2009, “Who is telling us who are the cowboys and who are the Indians? People who have never been in those countries.” As such, De Margerie nurtured relationships even under sanctions — including in Russia, where Total has a $27-billion deal to produce liquefied natural gas in Siberia.

Gregarious, with a love of fine dining — his grandfather Pierre Taittinger founded the famed Champagne house of that name — De Margerie was known to be excellent company, no matter one’s views. During the all-night flight on the rented private plane he slept little, preferring to talk for hours about everything from politics to the latest celebrity gossip, and to debate which Bordeaux wine on offer in the plane was best. Back then, Total executive Jacques de Boisseson, who heads the company’s exploration and production operations in Russia, told TIME that his boss had a knack for breaking the ice even in formal meetings with heads of state — and even after arriving late, as he frequently did. “He changes a meeting with his personal touch,” de Boisseson said. “He can get very close to very different people.”

TIME Aviation

Airlines Hike Prices on Domestic Flights

JetBlue initiated the $4 fare increase

The five biggest U.S. airlines all increased their base fare on domestic flights in the past week, despite declining fuel prices and apprehension over the potential spread of Ebola.

JetBlue initiated a $4 fare increase last Thursday, and United, Delta, American and Southwest followed suit, the Associated Press reports.

Though the airlines are trying to boost revenue with an across-the-board price increase, the effect it will have on the average consumer is less clear. Even with a base fare increase, airlines change prices frequently to adjust for evolving demand.

The move comes despite a slip in fuel prices (one of an airline’s largest expenses) and worldwide fear over Ebola. Both factors might seem to give airlines reasons to cut fares.

Wall Street seemed to reward the price increase with shares in the major airlines all gaining by at least 3%.

[AP]

TIME women

Corporate Egg Freezing Is a Benefit, Not a Mandate

Apple IPads Sales Down
In this photo illustration an Apple iPad displays it's home screen on August 6, 2014 in London, England. Peter Macdiarmid—Getty Images

Darlena Cunha is a Florida-based contributor to The Washington Post and TIME among dozens of other publications.

No matter how nefarious you think Apple and Facebook are, the bottom line is that women are getting more choice

Can everyone ease up on Apple and Facebook already?

Last week’s news that the two tech giants now pay for female employees to freeze their eggs prompted many to say that the program could make women feel as if they have to put their child bearing off until it’s convenient for the companies, forcing women to have their lives “in the right order.” These critics say that if women ignore the egg freezing option and choose to have babies in their 20s or early 30s, they may be indirectly penalized.

I could see reason to protest if Apple and Facebook had replaced their extremely generous (by U.S. standards) maternity and paternity leaves, “baby cash” or adoption and other infertility coverage with their new policy. But they haven’t. This benefit will be provided in addition to the family-oriented programs already in place. It’s a boon for the companies, yes, but also for the women working within them.

It can be incredibly hard to juggle the demands of a job in the technical field and the demands of a toddler. More than 50% of women in tech leave their jobs midway through their career. In an unrelated survey of 716 women who left the tech field never to return, two-thirds cited motherhood as a deciding factor. And now companies are responding in kind. Knowing that infertility issues can increase as maternal age increase, the corporations have decided to fund child-planning programs that speak to a population in their buildings. They’re not telling women they can’t have families while working; they’re offering help to women who have come to the decision not to have families at a young age to begin with.

Let’s not forget that women have free will. They do what they want. Many working in the tech field have toiled for decades to perfect their resume in the competitive landscape. Many simply don’t want to have a family at a young age. By acting like offering egg freezing forces the hand of women in tech to delay families before it has been proven to do so, we are forgetting the many women who are playing that hand of their own volition. We are telling them they must want to delay childbearing only because their work is giving them those cues. We are acting like all women not only want a family, but want one in their 20s. Because biology. Or women-folk. Or something.

For parents, daycare costs, health emergencies, simple lack of sleep and feeling spread too thin are par for the hectic course. Yes, businesses don’t want to have to deal with that, but did anyone pause to think that maybe the women (and possibly men) in the field don’t want to deal with that either? I wonder again, how is giving women the choice a bad thing?

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2008 18% of women remained childless into their 40s. By the time a woman reaches her early 40s, likelihood of pregnancy naturally falls to just 5%, and infertility treatments are costly and not always covered by insurance.

It’s important to mention that Apple and other tech companies already offer help for family planning, including adoption and infertility coverage. In that light, this new policy isn’t much different in kind, and really just an extension of care already being provided.

Egg freezing isn’t the one-and-only, all-inclusive solution to tech’s lack-of-women problem, but it is an olive branch for women struggling to keep their footing in a career filled, so far, with men, whose family responsibilities, even in this day and age, are still viewed as less of a problem than women’s. We may not have won the war yet, but we shouldn’t complain about winning a battle.

Darlena Cunha is a Florida-based contributor to The Washington Post and TIME among dozens of other publications. You can find her on Twitter @parentwin or on her blog at http://parentwin.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Business

Let’s Fix It: The H-1B Visa Process Needs Improvement

Google Leads Investment In Social-Networking Game Startup Kabam
Kevin Chou, chief executive officer of Kabam Inc., stands for a photograph at the company's office in Redwood City, California. Bloomberg—Getty Images

Kevin Chou is the CEO and Co-Founder of Kabam.

Employees from other parts of the world bring with them an international view that is indispensable when looking to expand into new markets

This Influencer post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Kevin Chou shares his thoughts as part of LinkedIn’s Influencer series, “Let’s Fix It” in which the brightest minds in business blog on LinkedIn about how they would fix what’s broken in this world. LinkedIn Editor Amy Chen provides an overview of the 60+ Influencers that tackled this subject as part of the package. Follow Kevin Chou and insights from other top minds in business on LinkedIn.

Sometimes, when trying to make a point, it’s better to tell a story than rattle off a series of statistics. This approach is useful for me when talking about why our current H-1B visa process is something I’d fix.

I’ve written before about how, as the son of immigrants, immigration reform is personal to me. We know that the number of H-1B petitioners far surpasses the number of visas available. I don’t want to rekindle a debate about how many H-1B visas should be given, or whether ornot there is a STEM worker shortage in the U.S.

I’m here to tell a story about one of my employees that illustrates why we at my company, Kabam, likes to hire foreign workers to augment our talented U.S. workforce.

Always be learning
Jill is originally from Taiwan, where she had already graduated from college and held a master’s degree. She came to America on a student visa to study computer science at Carnegie Mellon where she earned her second master’s degree.

At Kabam, we place a high value on education and feel it’s important to always consider yourself a student, even after school. Through her extended education, Jill showed the desire to continually expand and deepen her skills, even if that meant doing so in a second language in a completely different country.

The Nitty-Gritty
Foreigners that want to work in the U.S. display another attribute that we value at Kabam — grit, or the ability to make it happen. Nothing was handed to Jill on her journey; all that she’s done was achieved through her own force of will.

Each step of the way from student to intern to full-time student had its own level of regulatory paperwork, including documentation (and more documentation) that had to be perfect in its presentation every time. Yet, she always met the bureaucratic criteria while still studying and working full-time.

Sweating the Small Stuff
Navigating the visa process also shows a remarkable ability to pay attention to detail, another trait highly valued at Kabam. As you can imagine, there is little margin for error with Jill’s paperwork when it came to government regulators.

Additionally, Jill had to time things just right. She had to balance looking for and accepting any kind of internship or job offer with the timing constraints of her visa, as well as obtaining the necessary paperwork.

These are skills that serve her well in her current role at Kabam.

Perseverance
Luck — both good and bad — also plays a role Jill’s story. She was fortunate enough to have graduated in 2009, a time when H-1B visas were still plentiful, so getting one was not as much an issue back then.

But she encountered her share of bad luck, like the Friday when she was told, out of the blue, that her H-1B visa transfer had been denied (because of an external clerical error) and she had to leave the U.S. that day and return to Taiwan.

Rather than succumb to defeat at this shocking development and give up, Jill returned to Taiwan, kept her cool and was able to legally get back in the country in a decent amount of time, get a new visa and rejoin us at work.

Worldly Wise
To be truly successful in this always-on, interconnected world, companies need to be globallysuccessful. Employees from other parts of the world bring with them an international view that is indispensable when looking to expand into new markets.

For Kabam in particular, we are looking to grow dramatically in Asia. Jill brings with her knowledge of the region and is fluent in both Chinese and English, making her a valuable asset in that expansion plan.

To be clear, I don’t see H-1B visa workers as replacements for American workers, nor am I saying that American workers don’t have these skills. As we become more of a global company, H-1B visa workers have the characteristics we look for and that can help the company grow and produce even more jobs for more American workers.

We’d like to tell more success stories like J’s, but with the H-1B visa process being a lottery, we can’t go after qualified non-U.S. citizen candidates because it’s too risky for us to make them an offer, make plans for their arrival and then be denied the ability to actually on-board them because of a lack of visa availability.

That’s something I’d like to fix.

In this series of posts, Influencers explain what they wish they could fix — and how. Read all the stories here and write your own (please include the hashtag #FixIt in the body of your post).

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Business

2 Simple Rules for Naming a Successful Product

Alphabet letters
Getty Images

Successful naming demands focus, linguistic alchemy, and midnight oil

When I tell people at parties what I do, they’re always curious. “You’re a namer-of-things? That sounds like fun. Tell me more,” they say, seemingly surprised that it’s an actual job.

In fact, the profession has grown in the last 15 years or so with the explosion of entrepreneurs and startups that need to name everything from products and services to websites and apps. “Verbal identity” is at the core of every product launch and includes not just names but slogans and taglines.

I’m a naming consultant hired by branding agencies to tackle projects for clients that have included a faith-based financial institution, an online investment service, and wine marketed to women. I’ve coined quite a few cute names. For example, City Block™ is a note cube with a city map printed on its side. Then there’s HandJive™—fashion gloves designed for cyclists.

When I get hired to name a product, the branding agency provides me with a briefing document that outlines the client’s business strategy, identifies the competition, and suggests preferred directions, themes or language. Then I go to town. I get into a naming zone. I start with a walk for fresh air and ideas. I stop at the neighborhood newsstand and scan the magazine covers. I window-shop and note clever taglines (like the Gap’s “Fall into our sale.”)

I’m often one of several namers working on a tight deadline—anywhere from just 24 hours to a few days—to generate as many as 200 names. With luck and persistence, a short list of top contenders is presented to the client.

The tools of my trade go beyond Roget’s Thesaurus. I peruse foreign-language dictionaries, as well as a rhyming dictionary, Visual Thesaurus, and the Oxford English Dictionary to study a word’s historical origins. If I’m looking for a three-letter word, I can search ScrabbleFinder.com.

Successful naming demands focus, linguistic alchemy, and midnight oil. The creative process of naming is always tempered by legal scrutiny to ensure that a name doesn’t already exist. My clients—mostly small businesses and startups—hire trademark attorneys to register and protect the names that I’ve come up with for them.

Research is easier than when I started thanks to companies that allow you to search and register domain names. But it can be difficult to find a name that hasn’t already been claimed. One common solution to this problem is to leave out a letter: See Flickr or Tumblr.

My parents tell me I was born for this occupation. As a little kid, I was verbal, inquisitive, and imaginative. Even then, I paid attention to the names of beauty products. I blushed when my mom revealed she was wearing Revlon’s “Naked Pink” nail polish to a PTA meeting. Today, nail polish manufacturer OPI has cornered the market with its quirky, clever names. My top pick for a pedicure is their “I’m Not Really a Waitress” red. Rule #1 of my profession: A name should be memorable.

In 1990, I jumped at the chance to tap into my inner-child and took a job as packaging copywriter for toy manufacturer Mattel. Over more than 15 years, I produced countless descriptions and taglines, and hundreds of names, for toys.

I worked at Mattel in a team with a graphic designer and a structural engineer. We met with product designers who made preliminary drawings, engineers who created prototypes, and marketing mavens who called the business shots. In our brainstorms—or as we called them “name-storms”—we entertained dozens of ideas. The work wasn’t always fun and games and required many levels of approval. But the rewards were big: What could be more exciting than to hear a little one ask for Baby Ah-Choo™ at Toys “R” Us?

Rule #2: A name must be easy to pronounce. Some of my favorites: Stack-tivity™: a set of building blocks, each with a playful activity on it. A child could draw on the blank face of the What’s Her Face™ doll. There were plenty of names that I loved that were nixed by a higher authority. For example, Paw-Pets was the perfect name for a set of animal finger puppets. Rule #3: Never fall in love with a name—and never take rejection personally.

In so many words, a good name is memorable, meaningful, and distinctive. You know it when you see it. Even more importantly, you know it when you hear it.

I recently bought a pair of men’s cashmere socks, despite the hefty price tag, because the name blended playfulness and luxury. I knew that the recipient of my gift would appreciate it, too: Ovadafut. The spelling may look exotic, but say it out loud.

If you say it out loud and you smile: bingo. That’s the game of the name.

Ellen Lutwak wrote this piece for Zocalo Public Square, a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Business

Let’s Fix It: Shattering the Perfection Myth

Prezi logo
Courtesy of Prezi

Peter Arvai is the CEO and Co-Founder of Prezi.

I have come to realize that revealing my imperfections actually empowers my team

This Influencer post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Peter Arvai shares his thoughts as part of LinkedIn’s Influencer series, “Let’s Fix It” in which the brightest minds in business blog on LinkedIn about how they would fix what’s broken in this world. LinkedIn Editor Amy Chen provides an overview of the 60+ Influencers that tackled this subject as part of the package. Follow Peter Arvai and insights from other top minds in business on LinkedIn.

Until recently, I never realized the power of making a mistake in a meeting. Of course, there’s always that initial moment of dread, followed by the internal dialogue—“Did I really just say that?” or “Did everyone see that?”

Even though they may be embarrassing at first, however, mistakes offer an opportunity to use one of the most under-appreciated leadership tools: vulnerability.

I’ve often felt the expectation that I need to be perfect to be accepted as a leader, but I have come to realize that revealing my imperfections actually empowers my team. Being vulnerable changes the conversation from one where team members feel they have to prove themselves to one where they are free to think big and take risks.

Our society is facing huge challenges, from poverty to disease to climate change— these are challenges that are in need of creative leadership to find solutions. If we want our teams to tackle these issues efficiently, we need to ditch the traditional model of leadership. Let’s support vulnerability instead of fixed structures in order to fuel the creative engines that business requires to thrive at today’s breakneck pace; here are some tangible examples I’ve seen work:

Reduce judgment by getting personal.

Fear of judgment is an instant killer of creativity and risk-taking—when people are worried that others will judge them for their ideas or flaws, they shut down. We can create a safe space for free thinking by being completely open. Sheryl Sandberg is an example of a leader who shows vulnerability by being open.

During her 2010 TED Talk, Sandberg recounted a story that many parents can relate to: her 3-year-old daughter clung to her leg before she left for a conference, begging her not to get on the plane. Sandberg’s openness about her personal struggle with managing time between work and family sends a clear message—there’s no room for judgment in the auditorium. What’s more, Sandberg’s presentation opened up space for working parents around the world to be open about their own struggles, which in turn resulted in real changes, like daycare programs at offices in increasing numbers. That’s the power of vulnerability in action.

Share your mistakes.

Another obstacle in the way of big thinking and creativity is fear of failure. By openly promoting that mistakes are an important part of adapting and growing, leaders can empower those around them to let go of the stifling need to be perfect, so they can risk more to achieve more.

A.G. Lafley, the CEO of Proctor & Gamble, openly talks about his company’s failure in the 1980s to enter the bleach market — what was a spectacular flop at first actually taught the brand how to defend existing franchises and helped to contribute to the massive success of Tide, P&G’s laundry detergent.

At Prezi, we encourage open discussions about our failures in an effort to learn from our mistakes. For example, we celebrate “hero teams” (which we recognize at the end of a quarter), or those who fell below their original goal but who might have worked harder and applied creativity to solve unexpected problems along the way. By recognizing such work even when it leads to failure, we encourage our teams to take risks, which often leads to some of our best ideas.

Build a candid culture.

It isn’t always easy to be completely honest, especially when talking about personal flaws. Candor, however, is fundamental to building a culture of creativity. When people spend less time thinking about what they should or shouldn’t say, they can spend more time thinking about the stuff that really matters: their ideas.

There is tremendous value in having an open culture. I have a tradition of taking colleagues out for one-on-one “dream dinners,” where I ask them to tell me about their goals and aspirations. By asking them to be completely honest, I enable us to be vulnerable both ways. They might tell me something I don’t want to hear—like the fact that our senior engineer wants to start a company of his own—but in exchange, we build more authentic and rewarding relationships.

Two years later, that senior engineer is still with us, and now we can talk entrepreneurship when he has questions or ideas. Authentic relationships foster better collaboration and bigger thinking, both of which are essential to creative success.

Encouraging and supporting vulnerability may seem idealistic, but it’s critical to success. When it comes to tackling the biggest problems in business and society, creativity is necessary to find better solutions. But for creative ideas to emerge we also need vulnerable leaders who are comfortable with looking at themselves and their organizations from unexpected perspectives.

Let’s embrace the imperfect and let it inspire us.

In this series of posts, Influencers explain what they wish they could fix — and how. Read all the stories here and write your own (please include the hashtag #FixIt in the body of your post).

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Business

Let’s Fix It: Blame Unemployment on the Color Blue

Google Senior Vice President of People Operations Laszlo Bock attends The New York Times Next New World Conference on June 12, 2014 in San Francisco, California.
Google Senior Vice President of People Operations Laszlo Bock attends The New York Times Next New World Conference on June 12, 2014 in San Francisco, California. Neilson Barnard—Getty Images

Laszlo Bock is the Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google.

An employer has no way of knowing if most companies on a resume are good or bad, if a title means anything, or even what my words mean

This Influencer post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Laszlo Bock shares his thoughts as part of LinkedIn’s Influencer series, “Let’s Fix It” in which the brightest minds in business blog on LinkedIn about how they would fix what’s broken in this world. LinkedIn Editor Amy Chen provides an overview of the 60+ Influencers that tackled this subject as part of the package. Follow Laszlo Bock and insights from other top minds in business on LinkedIn.

I know myself, and employers know what they want to hire, but how do we explain that to each other efficiently and accurately? The marketplace for people and jobs is broken, especially for the small businesses that create the bulk of jobs in the United States. And it’s part of why so many people are out of work while simultaneously so many jobs are unfilled. Unemployment is an information asymmetry problem.

And it’s the one thing I’d fix if I could.

Information asymmetry is when one party has better information than another party. Let’s say I’m selling my car and I know the passenger door rattles when I drive over 65 mph. You are buying my car, and have no idea. That’s information asymmetry.

Job-matching efforts also suffer from information asymmetry, or what I call the Color Blue Problem. How do I know that when I see the color blue, it’s the same as when you see it? How do I know that when I describe myself to an employer, they know what I mean? And that when a hiring manager describes what she wants in a job posting, how do I know what she means?

In practice, it looks* like this:

Diane Labombarbe / Getty Images

Resumes stink. They’re a simply awful way of marketing yourself for a job. Some of that is our fault as job-seekers and can be fixed, as I wrote here and here. But an employer has no way of knowing if most companies on a resume are good or bad (is working at “LaszloCo” a good sign?), if a title means anything (VP is a senior title in tech, but not in banking, and even in tech some companies have one VP for every 20 people and some have one per 300), or even what my words mean (is a “superb programmer” the co-inventor of Google or just really, really good at Logo?). And employers are completely blind to the indefinable things that make you “you,” such as generosity, curiosity, or playfulness.

It’s just as bad on the job-posting side. Job descriptions are often written from generic templates, don’t give you a sense of what the job truly requires or what would make you successful in it, and are just plain boring. Here’s an insider’s view of what the process feels like from the other side:

Diane Labombarbe / Getty Images

Resume screeners and interviewers deliver the coup de grace: We all think we are great at assessing candidates. We’re not. We are biased, ask bad interview questions, rarely go back and check if our predictions were correct, and so on. We only hire the best, right? Then how did all those slackers in Sam’s department get hired? More to come on this in a future post, but the point is that the job-matching process is fragile and error-prone.

The root cause is that we can’t convey perfect information about our own skills, nor can employers convey perfect information about what they need. We both say the job is a “Color Blue” job, but we have no way of knowing for sure if we both mean the same thing when we say “Color Blue.” Information asymmetry.

The enormous opportunity to solve unemployment

But what if you could perfectly convey the real you? Not just your training and feats, but in what kind of workplace you would thrive. Whether you like to work alone or in groups. Whether you are a specialist or a utility player. Exactly how good you are at your disciplines. And what if sending this message was believable? If a prospective employer could know with certainty that they can see the real you.

Now, what if you had the same insight into jobs? Is my prospective manager a control freak or checked out? Is this job a stretch, just right, or completely out of reach? Do I have the general attributes that will set me up for rapid promotion, or will I be stuck in the same job for a decade? Do givers or takers thrive in this company?

In the short-term, much unemployment could be eliminated by doing a better job of matching people and jobs. By solving the Color Blue Problem.

There has been a visible revolution in the ability to analyze lots of data. Less noticed are advances in organizational science and behavioral economics, ranging from Amy Wrzesniewski’s pioneering jobcrafting work, to Evolv’s work on matching people to jobs, to Googler Brian Welle’s work on unconscious bias. (Disclosure: I was until recently a board member of Evolv and of course work at Google.)

Mapping the reality of what you have to offer against the reality of what organizations need — and who will thrive in that specific context – is a hard problem. But it is solvable. It becomes possible to move beyond “four years of public accounting experience” to “ability to learn quantitative methods combined with a zeal for catching and correcting the smallest of errors, persuade with data, and thrive in social settings” as job criteria, and to then identify people based on who they really are. For individuals, it becomes possible to find roles where they will excel regardless of where they went to college, or even if they went to college.

Now, imagine this works. If you’re a welder in Detroit, you can find out what skills are increasingly or decreasingly in demand. Then you can make some informed choices: Should I move to Atlanta where there will be more welding jobs, or stay put and go to nursing school since I know there will be demand for those jobs at home? If I go back to school, which schools’ graduates are most likely to end up in the jobs that I want?

Slowly we’d become able to not just match people today, but also to tell people where to invest to be ready for tomorrow’s jobs.

Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent each year on recruiting, so there’s a lot of incentive to figure this out. The trick is you can’t do this by conducting exhaustive (and exhausting surveys) coupled with anthropological dissections of every group inside every organization. Not practical.

The most efficient way is by looking at large sets of data and inferring relationships, similarities, and predictors of success and failure. And the only way to do that is with permission, appropriate privacy safeguards, and enough value delivered to the individuals and organizations to make them want to take part.

From a business perspective, the promise of solving unemployment is enormous. From a social perspective, it’s exhilarating. And from a computer and organizational science perspective, it’s coming into reach.

*Original fresco entitled “Ecce Homo” by Elias Garcia Martinez, as reported by Heraldo on August 21, 2012.

In this series of posts, Influencers explain what they wish they could fix — and how. Read all the stories here and write your own (please include the hashtag #FixIt in the body of your post).

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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