Gender Equity Is Not Zero Sum

To make progress toward gender equity, men need to be involved. But zero-sum bias often deters men from engaging in the conversation (let alone taking action) because it fuels the belief that men must sacrifice their resources or stature for women to earn a place at the table. Although zero-sum thinking is invalidated by the data, it pervades the workplace equity narrative.

Fortunately, organizations can take specific actions to overcome the zero-sum bias among male employees and move the needle on matters of gender equity: quantify gender equity in terms of economic gains for the company; hold leaders accountable for change by tying DEI metrics to performance reviews; offer development opportunities to increase gender intelligence, empathy, and self-efficacy; pull back the curtain on misperceived social norms; encourage cross-gender professional relationships; and frame, focus, and integrate interventions into core business outcomes and mission.

It’s easy to see why men are reluctant to engage in gender equity conversations. Why would they want to join a movement routinely framed as a women’s issue, with men identified as the problem? Why would they seek to participate in such a corporate extracurricular if they believe it will come at the expense of their professional stature?

But we need to engage men if we want to make progress toward gender equity. On the basis of our research, we find that one of the best ways to bring more men into diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives starts with busting the zero-sum bias that disincentivizes male participation.

By definition, zero-sum situations create winners and losers whose goals are at odds with each other. For zero-sum thinkers, the world is binary: Either I win and you lose, or you win and I lose. Mutually beneficial outcomes are never considered. This thinking — often implicit and automatic — leads to unnecessary division and tension.

Examples of the zero-sum bias are all around us, from the debate stage to the negotiation table to the narratives that shape workplace DEI initiatives. When it comes to gender equity, zero-sum bias deters men from even engaging in the conversation (let alone taking action) because it fuels the belief that men cannot thrive in tandem with women — that they must sacrifice their resources or stature for women to earn a place at the table. Although zero-sum thinking is invalidated by the data, it pervades the workplace equity narrative.

And without men (the leaders of 82% of all firms globally), DEI efforts will fall short. They are already doing so. From 2019 to 2020 we moved backwards, adding 55 years to the estimated time needed to close the gender gap in economic equality. Without substantive change, we may have to wait another 257 years before the gap is closed.​ And gender disparities are only widening during the pandemic. The situation for women of color is especially dire. Black women, for instance, have not only faced higher unemployment rates since the start of the pandemic but have also seen an increase in unemployment month after month. Since February, more than 1.4 million jobs held by Black women have evaporated. That’s a particularly harrowing statistic when one considers that 51% of all Black U.S. households with children depend on breadwinner moms.

There’s a real benefit for organizations to achieving gender equity. Businesses that commit to closing their gender equity gaps across all races and ethnicities enjoy increased profitability and returns on equity, productivity, and innovation; a greater ability to attract and retain top talent; and revenue gains. Research by Pipeline across 4,161 companies in 29 countries shows that for every 10% increase in gender equity, businesses see a 1% to 2% increase in revenue.

We cannot afford to wait centuries for men to fully engage as accomplices and advocates in achieving full gender parity in the workplace, especially at a time when our economic recovery depends on the equitable inclusion of employees. Here are six actions to help organizations overcome the zero-sum bias among male employees, move the needle on matters of equity, and reap the financial upside.

1. Quantify gender equity in terms of economic gains for the company. This will remove the notion of a fixed economic pie and show that improving gender equity expands the pie for everyone. When making the case, bring evidence to show how men benefit when women and people of color are fully and equitably included at all levels of leadership. Research shows that organizations with equitable representation are more successful, profitable, and innovative, which benefits men. These desirable outcomes are facilitated by the increased access to information, greater diversity of networks, and enhanced interpersonal skills that men reap from being part of a more diverse and inclusive organization.

2. Hold leaders accountable for change by tying DEI metrics to performance reviews. Businesses rely on data to measure progress toward their objectives. That’s why implementing a standard DEI scorecard will play a critical role in closing intersectional gender gaps. The scorecard needs to track metrics at every stage of the employee lifecycle and on every step of the corporate ladder. It also needs to disaggregate data by gender and race, at the least, so that leaders can understand the breadth of intersectional employee experiences. Leaders should make this process transparent by publishing quarterly progress checks and annual diversity reports.

3. Offer development opportunities to increase gender intelligence, empathy, and self-efficacy. Increasing awareness of women’s experiences and challenges in the workplace is foundational to changing attitudes about gender bias and sexism and providing empathic motivation. Interventions and trainings such as Pennsylvania State University’s Workshop Activity for Gender Equity Simulation (WAGES) and LeanIn’s 50 Ways to Fight Bias create a setting where managers and employees can discuss topics such as sexism and gender bias. A candid setting can minimize zero-sum reactance and denial, fostering a workplace where employees learn to take immediate action for positive change and to develop empathy for colleagues. And when employees rely on one other to accomplish their work, psychological safety and trust — key ingredients in employee engagement — grow.

4. Pull back the curtain on misperceived social norms. Research shows that men think that other men have a high level of acceptance of sexism — but in reality, most men don’t explicitly endorse sexism. This misconception creates a group dynamic whereby men reinforce sexist behavior and zero-sum thinking through conformity. The good news is that often it takes just one man speaking up to change the dynamic. Leadership training that employs a bystander intervention methodology, perspective taking, and self-persuasion activities can also change sexist attitudes tied to zero-sum perspectives.

5. Establish cross-gender professional relationships. Positive social interactions in a professional setting that emphasize learning, self-awareness, personal growth, and collaboration break down stereotypes, prejudice, and zero-sum bias. Mentoring relationships can be especially powerful bridges to positive interaction. The best mentorships promote both personal and professional growth for the mentee and the mentor alike. This interpersonal bond can be attributed to the mere exposure effect: When we spend more time with people, we grow to like them and break down previous social barriers such as faulty zero-sum thinking.

6. Frame, focus, and integrate interventions into core business outcomes and mission. Too often DEI initiatives focus on telling those in the majority what they should not do in relation to underrepresented groups as part of broad mandatory compliance-oriented training. Instead, focus on what we should all do that emphasizes a shared identity — what all employees have in common as members of your organization (for example, “Tweeps” at Twitter appreciate diverse perspectives and foster collaboration). Then, focus on inclusive behaviors and values that improve business outcomes. For example, if safety is critical to your organization, employ interventions and strategies that create a culture of openness and transparent sharing of lessons learned. Openness and transparency make it obvious when there are gender inequities. If innovation is important, create a work environment where people feel comfortable making mistakes and collaborating on diverse teams. Humility and collaboration are hallmarks of organizational cultures that value equity.

Dismantling systemic barriers to gender equity such as sexism and zero-sum bias will require practical changes to workplace behavior and culture. Organizations that follow the recommendations above will break down biases and encourage men to take on a much-need role as allies and advocates.

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Apollo readies Japan private equity push, joining KKR and Carlyle

TOKYO — Headquartered in a skyscraper on New York’s 57th Street, otherwise known as Billionaires’ Row, alternative investment manager Apollo Global Management has amassed more than $400 billion in assets under management over its three decades.

Despite its status as a global private equity firm on a par with KKR and Carlyle, Apollo is a relatively unfamiliar name in Japan.

But this may be about to change. A year ago, under the leadership of CEO Leon Black, it hired 39-year-old Tetsuji Okamoto from Bain Capital. And he and his team have been actively visiting companies, scouring the country for potential targets.

It is widely seen to be making its first private equity investment in Japan soon, joining most of the rest of the industry in a market that has recently become a magnet for global money.

The recent interest owes to a wave of corporate reform in Japan, long seen as a laggard in governance.

Hitachi President Toshiaki Higashihara has said the company will “set a direction for restructuring our listed subsidiaries by the end of fiscal 2021.”

The number of publicly traded units owned by the industrial conglomerate has plunged since the global financial crisis, from 22 to just two. Of the three subsidiaries once seen as core units, only Hitachi Metals remains, and Hitachi is eyeing its sale as well.

Two former listed subsidiaries — power tool maker Hitachi Koki, now known as Koki Holdings, and Hitachi Kokusai Electric — were acquired by KKR.

KKR is headquartered just one floor below Apollo in the same Billionaires’ Row building on 9 W. 57th Street.

KKR co-founder Henry Kravis had made extended trips to Japan over the past few years, and even this year, as he sought opportunities to visit prospective companies until the last possible moment.

Henry Kravis, co-CEO of the firm, calls Japan a top priority, citing “green shoots” of change. Kravis himself has made extended trips to Japan over the past few years — and even this year, with the coronavirus raging, he sought opportunities to visit until the last possible moment.

The green shoots include a shift in attitudes toward corporate governance, particularly when it comes to parent-child listings — long a symbol of Japan’s lack of progress on this front.

Critics argue that such arrangements give the parent company the power to make decisions at the subsidiary that are in its own interest, to the detriment of minority shareholders. The decline in parent-child listings in recent years is evidence that Japanese business is coming around to the idea of focusing on corporate value.

The shift is taking place through not only sales like Hitachi’s, but also through deals to reclaim profits that had been allowed to flow to outside investors. Nippon Telegraph & Telephone’s takeover this year of wireless subsidiary NTT Docomo, the largest acquisition of 2020, is an example of the latter.

Docomo had slumped to last place among Japan’s big three mobile carriers in terms of revenue. With Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government ratcheting up pressure to cut wireless service rates, NTT President Jun Sawada opted for a 4 trillion yen ($38.7 billion) tender offer — a record for a Japanese company — to bring the subsidiary fully under NTT’s umbrella.

“If we focus on minority shareholders, discussion and decision-making will take more time,” he said.

Joseph Baratta, Blackstone Group’s global head of private equity, likens Japan to Germany in the 2000s. Under then-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s administration, German businesses unwound networks of cross-shareholdings and big companies restructured operations. A similar period of reform is just getting underway in Japan.

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Private equity firms sold stake in SolarWinds days before hack warning

Private equity investors in SolarWinds sold a $315m stake in the software group to one of their own longstanding financial backers, shortly before the US warned that “nation-state” hackers had hijacked one of the company’s products.

The transaction reduced the exposure of Silver Lake and Thoma Bravo to the stricken software company days before its share price fell as vulnerabilities were discovered in a product that is used by multiple federal agencies and almost all Fortune 500 companies.

But the trade could prove embarrassing for Menlo Park-based Silver Lake and its rival Thoma Bravo, which rank among the biggest technology-focused private equity firms in the world.

The firms together held roughly 75 per cent of SolarWinds at the end of September, securities filings show, and three executives from each of the private equity firms sit on SolarWind’s board.

The two firms sold a portion of that stake to Canada Public Pension Plan Investment Board at a price of $21.97 a share in a private placement transaction that closed on December 7, representing a 5 per cent stake in the IT company, securities filings show.

SolarWind shares changed hands at $18.52 on Wednesday, leaving the Canadian pension fund nursing a paper loss of about 15 per cent after less than 10 days.

Institutional investors often cultivate long-term relationships with private equity sponsors in the hope of receiving side-benefits such as early access to new funds and the ability to co-invest in deals. CPPIB has committed $1.7bn to four Silver Lake funds since 2004 and $1.1bn to five Thoma Bravo funds since 2014, according to data from PitchBook.

In a joint statement, the firms said they “were not aware of this potential cyber attack at SolarWinds prior to entering into a private placement to a single institutional investor on December 7”. CPPIB declined to comment on the transaction.

Unlike buy or sell orders that are executed by a stockbroker, secondary private placements are typically heavily negotiated over a period of days or weeks, analysts say.

Such “private placements” can provide large investors with an opportunity to purchase stock at a discount, while allowing the seller to liquidate a large holding at an agreed price.

The Washington Post earlier reported on the stake sale by Silver Lake and Thoma Bravo, without identifying the buyer.

The US government issued an emergency warning on Sunday about what appeared to be a sophisticated cyber espionage campaign that centred on Orion, a piece of its software used by hundreds of thousands of organisations around the world.

The Pentagon, the US state department, all five branches of the US military, the NSA, the Department of Justice and the Office of the President of the United States are among SolarWinds’ clients, according to its website.

Additional reporting by Hannah Murphy

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European stocks stumble on COVID-19 vaccine setback, while U.S. equity futures fall on stimulus worries

A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the maker of a COVID-19 vaccine. The story has been corrected.

European stocks traded lower on Friday after Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate suffered a setback, and Brexit deal uncertainty dragged on. U.S. equity futures also stumbled as stimulus talks stalled.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index
fell 1% to 389.08, in a week that has seen the index lose 1.3%. The German DAX
and French CAC 40
fell 1% each and the FTSE 100
dropped 0.9% as well.

Shares of Sanofi

fell 2.8% after the French drugmaker said the Covid-19 vaccine treatment it is developing with U.K. pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline

has been delayed due to insuffiencient immune response in the elderly. Shares of GlaxoSmithKline were unchanged.

“Grim coronavirus numbers across Europe are also weighing on risk appetite this morning. The number of new COVID-19 infections has reached a new record high in Germany, and stricter lockdowns appear likely now across Europe,” said Milan Cutkovic, market analyst at Axi, in a note to clients.

“While governments and central banks are taking decisive action to combat the negative effects of the prolonged lockdowns, it is becoming more difficult for market participants to ignore the imminent effects of this crisis,” said Cutkovic.

There were vaccine setbacks elsewhere with Australia abandoning a plan for a COVID-19 vaccine from biopharmaceutical company CSL
after false positive results to HIV tests.

Those setbacks come after weeks of positive vaccine news. Late Thursday, a Food and Drug advisory committee granting emergency authorization for BioNTech
and Pfizer’s
COVID-19 vaccine candidate.  The U.K. began to roll out its vaccine program this week, as COVID-19 infections surge in London.

Brexit talks remain in focus, with the pound
down 0.4% against the dollar as after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday that there was “a strong possibility” of a no-deal exit from the European Union.

“We need to be very, very clear there is now a strong possibility—a strong possibility—that we will have a solution that’s more like an Australian relationship with the EU than a Canadian relationship with the EU,” Mr. Johnson said, according to a video address released by his office.

U.S. stock futures


also soured, with Dow futures dropping 142 points. Discussions over a bipartisan $908 billion pandemic relief package in Washington stumbled as economic data on Thursday showed a sharp rise in jobless claims, likely fallout from an uncontrolled second wave of the pandemic in the U.S.

Among most active stocks, shares of Ericsson
slid 7% after the Swedish telecommunications equipment vendor said it has filed a lawsuit against Samsung Electronics
in the U.S. over violations of contractual commitments. Ericsson warned that delayed royalty payments and legal costs could cost it between 1 billion and 1.5 billion Swedish kronor ($118.1 million-$177.2 million) a quarter.

Shares of Randstad
climbed near 6% after the Dutch recruitment company reported a faster-than-expected recovery in the fourth quarter of the year so far, and lifted guidance.

Shares of Rolls-Royce
fell over 4% after the British aircraft-engine maker said it now expects a bigger-than-expected cash outflow of 4.2 billion pounds ($5.58 billion) for 2020, due to surging coronavirus infections that have slowed a recovery for air travel.

Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize
said it has secured a €1 billion ($1.21 billion) sustainability revolving credit facility, which will help the Amsterdam-listed food retailer cut wastage and carbon emissions and provide financial flexibility amid the pandemic. Shares rose 0.4%.

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Union Bank to seek shareholders nod to raise up to Rs 6,800 cr equity capital

Union Bank of India (UBI) will hold an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) later this month to seek shareholders’ approval for raising up to Rs 6,800 crore equity capital.

The EGM will be held on December 30, 2020 through video conferencing or other audio visual means to obtain shareholders’ approval for raising of equity capital up to Rs 6,800 crore during the FY2020-21 by way of various modes such as public issue, rights issue, or private placement including Qualified Institutions Placement or preferential allotment to the government, the public sector bank said in a regulatory filing.

“In order to meet the minimum capital and leverage ratio requirements under the Basel III guidelines for expansion of business assets and based on the estimated growth, your directors have decided to raise equity share capital up to Rs 6,800 crore,” UBI said.

The enhanced capital will be utilized for the general business purposes of the bank, it added.

Shares of UBI on Thursday closed 5.27 per cent higher at Rs 30.95 apiece on the BSE.

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Super tax breaks not needed for wealthy, they should tap into their home equity, retirement income review

The almost $42 billion annual cost of superannuation tax concessions is largely benefiting wealthy savers, according to the Federal Government’s retirement income review, which suggests they should instead tap into the equity of their homes to help fund their retirement.

The 650-page report, by former IMF director and senior Treasury bureaucrat Michael Callaghan, suggests it is time to revamp the system to stop those on higher incomes from using superannuation as a wealth accumulation tool.

Currently, 16 million Australians own close to $3 trillion in superannuation assets but those holding the most in super, and getting the biggest tax breaks on them, are typically older and wealthier Australians.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, more than 11,000 high-income Australians had superannuation balances in excess of $5 million and got annual tax concessions of about $70,000.

The review also builds a case for leaving the rate employers contribute to people’s super — the superannuation guarantee rate — at 9.5 per cent.

It said going ahead with the legislated plan to increase it to 12 per cent over time would cost the budget more in tax breaks than it saves in Age Pension costs until 2055, would reduce wages and the planned rise would be poorly timed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has said any decision on delaying the increase from 9.5 per cent to 12 per cent by 2025 would be made in the May 2021 budget, but hinted a delay could be possible.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has hinted there may be a delay to increasing the rate that employers must contribute to workers’ super from 9.5 per cent to 12 per cent.(News Video)

Asked whether the Federal Government would have the political will to cut back generous tax concessions for wealthy retirees, Liberal backbencher Senator Andrew Bragg said: “How can you have a system that costs more than it saves when it’s supposed to be a savings system?”

“That’s a real problem. And the whole system needs to be looked at. It’s not there for wealth transfers through generations, it’s there as a retirement income system.”

The review also asks the question whether it’s worth changing the rules so that a retiree’s principal residence is assessed as part of the Age Pension assets test.

“This would help equate the treatment of homeowners and renters,” it said.

It asked whether retirees should be encouraged to use the equity in their home to support their standard of living in retirement.

“The options available to do so include reverse mortgages, equity release schemes, home equity loans and downsizing,” it said.

The report also said the $30 billion in fees reaped by super funds each year was expected to grow alongside the growth of people’s super balances.

It referred back to the 2018 review by the Productivity Commission that noted that just 0.5 percentage points extra in fees across a working life can reduce retirement balances by 12 per cent.

Super not for wealth accumulation, review says

Of the $41.55 billion cost to the federal budget in tax concessions, $18.3 billion was employer contributions tax concessions (both compulsory and salary sacrifice), and $22.1 billion was earnings tax concessions that largely benefit wealthier retirees.

“Only $1.1 billion was personal contributions tax concessions, reflecting that less than 10 per cent of personal contributions are concessional,” the report said.

The review made clear the super system was there to support people to build their retirement income, not purely for wealth accumulation.

“Yet most retirees leave the bulk of the wealth they had at retirement as a bequest,” it said.

Higher-income earners received more superannuation tax concessions than lower- and middle-income earners, the largest tax savings as a percentage of superannuation contributions over their lifetime, and the largest tax concessions on superannuation earnings, it said.

“Many very large superannuation balances were built up under previous higher contributions caps and are expected to stay in the system for several decades,” the report said.

As of June 2018, there were more than 11,000 people with a balance of over $5 million. A superannuation balance of $5 million can achieve annual earnings tax concessions of around $70,000.”

Given the Australian population was ageing, birth rates have fallen, and the ratio of working-age people relative to retirees was decreasing, over time these tax breaks would outweigh the savings achieved by people not relying on the Age Pension.

Generic stock image of a baby's feet
The Australian population is ageing as birth rates have fallen. The review said the ratio of working-age people relative to retirees is decreasing, which has major budget implications.( Janko Ferlic, CC-0)

While Government spending on the Age Pension is projected to fall over the next 40 years from 2.5 per cent of GDP today to 2.3 per cent in 2060, the cost of superannuation tax concessions is projected to grow as a proportion of GDP and exceed that of Age Pension expenditure by about 2050.

Older people had the opportunity to contribute more to superannuation than younger people, and rising residential property values over recent decades had benefited homeowners and increased the wealth of many retirees.

“Inheritances are significant, representing the transfer of wealth from one generation to another,” it said.

“They are not distributed equally and increase inequity within the generation that receives the bequests.

“Most people die with the majority of wealth they had when they retired. If this does not change, as the superannuation system matures, superannuation balances will be larger when people die, as will inheritances.”

Inequities between young and old, renters and homeowners

The report said 71 per cent of people aged 65 and over receive the age pension or other pension payments, with 60 per cent of these receiving the maximum rate.

For most households aged 65 and over, the family home is their main asset. Superannuation makes up a small share of their net wealth.

But the system “does not appear to be delivering an appropriate standard of living for many retiree renters” who face income poverty.

It said renters have to self-fund a higher proportion of their retirement income compared with a homeowner.

“Regardless of the value of the house, a homeowner can receive the same Age Pension as a renter, all other things being equal,” it added.

It said although Commonwealth Rent Assistance provides additional support to retiree renters, “it is far below the level that would bridge the gap in their living standards compared to homeowners”.

The review said increasing the rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance “would not have a meaningful impact on reducing income poverty among retiree renters”.

It repeatedly highlighted inequitable retirement outcomes for various groups, such as women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, those with a disability and those not covered by the superannuation guarantee.

While about 90 per cent of employees are covered compulsory superannuation contributions by employers the self-employed and employees who earn less than $450 before tax in a calendar month with an individual employer are excluded.

About 300,000 people, or 3 per cent of employees, are affected by the $450 threshold exemption and there have long been calls to end it.

“Removing the $450-a-month threshold for SG payments would not materially improve retirement outcomes, but would improve equity of the system, particularly for women and lower-income workers,” it said.

ACOSS chief executive Cassandra Goldie said the review made clear it was time to fix the “mounting inequality” in the system and suggested the Federal Government increase the super guarantee to 10 per cent, as legislated, but reconsider any further increases.

CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service Cassandra Goldie
Australian Council of Social Service CEO Cassandra Goldie says the Federal Government must address inequities in the system, including women retiring on less savings than men.(AAP: Lukas Coch)

She said the current 15 per cent tax on employer superannuation contributions meant that “people on high incomes benefit greatly from generous superannuation tax concessions, at a cost of tens of billions per year to the federal budget”.

She also noted women were the major losers, with their average balance just two-thirds of those for men.

In 2017/18, average superannuation savings for a woman aged 60-to-64 were $279,167 compared with $344,718 for a man of the same age.

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Hovis sold to UK private equity group following bidding war

Hovis, the 134-year old British bread brand, has been bought by a UK private equity firm following a bidding war.

Joint owners Premier Foods, of Mr Kipling fame, and US-based Gores Group sold the brand to Endless for an undisclosed sum days after Sky News revealed that it was close to seeing off competition from an Italian food producer.

It is understood that a price of £100m had been sought for the bakery.

Premier, which had a 49% stake in Hovis, said it was to receive proceeds of £37m.

For its part, Endless promised “significant investment” in Hovis at a time when household essentials are in strong demand due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The brand employs 2,700 people.

Endless has previously owned The West Cornwall Pasty Company and pork giant Karro Foods.

Endless partner, Francesco Santinon, said of the deal: “Hovis is the instantly recognisable British bread brand with a strong and established heritage.

“We were extremely impressed by the management team and have great confidence in supporting and investing in its future as Hovis looks to achieve further expansion within the bakery category.”

Hovis chief executive, Nish Kankiwala, added: “Based on our extensive engagement with Endless over the past several months, it became clear that both parties share a commitment to customers and colleagues and for building on Hovis’s heritage by investing in growing both the brand and product range.”

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Pandemic activism: How a college athlete is tackling safety and equity

For Dallas Hobbs, defensive lineman at Washington State University, the call to action was sparked by a text message in June from his friend Dylan Boles, a defensive end for Stanford University. The exchanges that followed led to a movement to help collegiate players, many of whom are Black, fight for better pandemic safety protocols.

On campuses across the United States, football players and other athletes are embracing a new activism aimed at raising awareness of racial inequities and proposing solutions – many of them feeling empowered to speak out for the first time, experts say.

Among them is Mr. Hobbs, who is rallying against racial injustice in sports, standing up for players’ health and well-being, and advocating for Black Lives Matter helmet stickers and uniform patches.

“It’s not something I ever truly thought I would be a part of,” he says, “but … something needs to happen to create more success for college athletes who are putting their bodies and their health on the line.”

Pullman, Wash.

Washington State University defensive lineman Dallas Hobbs walks through a vast but largely deserted campus athletic complex in Pullman, a quiet college town surrounded by golden fields of freshly cut spring wheat, on his day off from the Cougars’ football practice.

“Hey, coach!” he greets WSU head football coach Nick Rolovich in passing. Then he steps into the empty WSU stadium and strides onto the turf at center field, recalling the night three years ago his team defeated the University of Southern California (USC) Trojans in overtime, and elated fans rushed the field.

“It was pretty exciting,” recalls Mr. Hobbs, then a freshman, even though that celebration cost his team “a big fine.”

Back then, by his own account, Mr. Hobbs’ life revolved entirely around football and other sports – and still does to a degree. This year’s delayed Pac-12 Conference football season will kick off Nov. 7, and the 6-foot-6-inch, 285-pound junior says he’s raring to go.

But in sharp contrast to previous seasons, Mr. Hobbs has undergone a transformation in outlook that is shaping how he views football, school, and his future. For the first time in his life, he’s speaking out against racial injustice in sports, standing up for players’ health and well-being, and advocating for Black Lives Matter helmet stickers and uniform patches.

“It’s not something I ever truly thought I would be a part of, but … something needs to happen to create more success for college athletes who are putting their bodies and their health on the line,” says Mr. Hobbs.

The twin catalysts for his awakening as an activist-athlete were the pandemic, which starkly highlighted inadequate protections for college football players, the majority of whom at top levels are Black, and the killing in May of George Floyd, who was suffocated under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.

“The turning point was George Floyd,” says Mr. Hobbs, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt he designed that says “im human” on the front. “It has totally changed my perspective on a lot of things, and is really changing the path I am on now.”

On college and university campuses across the United States, football players and other athletes are embracing a new activism aimed at raising awareness of racial inequities and proposing solutions – many of them feeling empowered to speak out for the first time, experts say.

“Student athletes have been inspired by the current movement for Black lives and racial justice, and it has been great to see more of them use their platforms,” says Shaun Harper, professor of education and business at USC and executive director of the USC Race and Equity Center. 

“Now is the time for Black student athletes to know how much power they have,” says Dr. Harper, an expert on racial issues in university athletics, “and to leverage that power … in the interest of Black students overall.” 

For Mr. Hobbs, the call to action was sparked by a text message in June from his friend Dylan Boles, a Stanford University football team defensive end. The two men are both natives of Iowa, where Mr. Hobbs grew up in Cedar Rapids watching his father, a veteran of Iowa University and NFL football, compete in rugby.

Courtesy of WSU Athletics

Dallas Hobbs (98), a defensive lineman for Washington State University, plays during a game against the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon, Oct. 29, 2019.

“I was always playing, no matter the season,” he says. “Most of my life has been in sports.” Family vacations often revolved around his sister’s basketball and volleyball tournaments. His mother also played sports, and is such an avid booster of Mr. Hobbs that when he enrolled at WSU she relocated nearby so she could attend all his home games.

The text from Mr. Boles lit up Mr. Hobbs’ phone at his Pullman apartment just as summer training was starting, but it wasn’t about football. It was about COVID-19. Soon, Mr. Hobbs found himself on regular Zoom calls with Mr. Boles and a growing contingent of Pac-12 football players, comparing notes on the uneven testing and safety precautions that threatened to put them at risk.

“There was this inconsistency, and nothing was truly enforced,” he says. “There were no safe standards to protect us.”

The players created an informal Pac-12 unity group with the hashtag #WeAreUnited, and in August released a list of demands related to ensuring health and safety standards, assisted by allies such as Andrew Cooper, a former WSU cross-country runner working on his master’s thesis at the University of California, Berkeley, about racial injustice in college sports.         

“It opened my eyes,” Mr. Hobbs recalls. “We put our bodies on the line every day, and we don’t know what the outcome is.”

Meanwhile, the college athlete activism was spreading nationwide. A group of players from other conferences had launched a #WeWanttoPlay movement, and one of them, Trevor Lawrence, Clemson University’s national championship-winning quarterback, texted Mr. Hobbs about their plan to save the college football season.

In a Zoom call, the two groups decided to join forces. They asked Mr. Hobbs, an honor roll student, to create a graphic of their demands. A digital technology and culture major recognized last year for his 3.81 GPA by the College Sports Information Directors of America, Mr. Hobbs was well prepared for the task. The challenge? He only had 30 minutes to do it – racing to tweet it by midnight Aug. 9, before anticipated decisions by football conferences about the season.

Mr. Hobbs’ eye-catching graphic created a sensation the next day, publicizing key demands of athletes from the Power 5 football conferences: They wanted NCAA-wide policies to adopt common health and safety standards, allow players to opt out without losing eligibility, and give players a voice at the table through the establishment of a college football players association.

“It was a big moment,” says Mr. Hobbs, talking over a fruit smoothie and burrito outside a WSU cafe one recent fall afternoon.

His new activism has not come without pushback and pressures. At one point in August, he thought he’d been dismissed from his team, although he says it was a misunderstanding and was quickly cleared up.

Still, he’s forging ahead, excited to combine his digital arts skills with advocacy – both for the football players and in his role as creative director of the WSU Black Student-Athlete Association.

Progress so far has been encouraging, he says. Already, the NCAA met two of the player demands: requiring rigorous player COVID-19 testing and standard health protocols, and guaranteeing an additional year of eligibility. “We count that as a win,” he says.

Yet Mr. Hobbs expects a long, tough fight for the weightier demands he’s advanced with other Pac-12 football players. These include requests for six years of health insurance postgraduation, and that the Pac-12 channel 2% of its revenue to aid low-income communities, and 50% to players to build “generational wealth.”

“We are grateful for what we do get,” he says, “but a lot of people come from backgrounds where their family is struggling to make ends meet – a lot of my teammates are on that spectrum,” he says.

Training hard, wrapping up a double major, and preparing for graduate school and a career as a creative director, Mr. Hobbs is undeniably busy – but there’s no turning back on his newfound activism, he says.

“A lot won’t be solved with this generation of athletes,” he says, “but if I can stand up and show we do have a lot of power, maybe down the road college athletes will have that voice to create change.”

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Venture capital, private equity transactions reach HUF 9.5 bln in H1 | The Budapest Business Journal on the web

 MTI – Econews

 Friday, October 23, 2020, 11:30

Venture capital and private equity transactions in Hungary came to HUF 9.5 billion in the first half of 2020, down by around 50% from the same period of last year, Hungarian news agency MTI reports, citing a report by the Hungarian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (HVCA).

There were a total of 63 transactions in H1, including 47 incubation and seed investments, HVCA said.

The average transaction size was HUF 151 million, down by around 30% from a year earlier.

Most of the investments were in the business and industrial services and products sectors, IT and consumer electronics, and in communications.

HVCA said 33 exits took place during the quarter.



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vacmet ltd: PE fund Rabo Equity sells 21.7% stake in Vacmet

MUMBAI: Rabo Equity Advisors, the food and agriculture-focused private equity fund, has sold its 21.7 per cent stake in Vacmet back to its promoters, making around 2.5 times returns on its investment.

Almost a decade after the fund invested Rs 50 crore in the company, it has exited through buyback from promoters over two tranches, the fund said in its release.

Vacmet Ltd is a maker of flexible packaging material, producing BOPP Films, BOPET films and other specialty films at its three plants in Chatta (Mathura), one at Agra and Mathura each.

The company is backward integrated and makes its own resin for films. It also adds value to the films by vacuum metallizing and lamination and supplies to large converters and actual user corporate across India and over 70 countries. The films are consumed largely in food and agri sectors.

“Vacmet has been growing at over 20 per cent each year and from a revenue base of Rs 257 crores in FY 2010 when the Fund invested, it has reached a revenue of Rs 1,848 crores in FY20 with an EBITDA of Rs 363 crores,” the release said.

The company is managed by Dinesh Chandra Agarwal and his family.

“It has been a very pleasant journey with Rabo Equity with Rajesh Srivastava leading his team. His insights and all-round support have been a major reason for our best practices and strong growth. We have established ourselves as a professionally run company clinching all milestones in operations and governance,” said Agarwal, chairman and managing director, Vacmet.

“Vacmet has been a great investment for us. We always looked for companies where we could add value through our superior sector knowledge and outreach, associating with strong yet receptive management. Our returns get notionally notched up when the company espouses sustainable best practices for the long term. Vacmet is a clear winner here. We have proud to have partnered Vacmet in its growth,” said Rajesh Srivastava, executive chairman, Rabo Equity Advisors.

For Rabo Equity, this is the seventh exit out of its ten investments made in India. “..the remaining three (exits) are estimated to be secured by early next year. The portfolio has been well spread across agribiotech, vegetables, packaging, dairy and nutraceuticals and has already returned the principle and a decent return to its investors,” Rabo said in its release.

Rabo Equity Advisors Private Limited is a 51 per cent Rabobank held company with the senior employees of the company owning the balance 49 per cent shares with offices in New Delhi and Mumbai.

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