Citibank Tells Women How Not to Sabotage Careers: Follow-up

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Read the post that started all the fuss. Read the post that continues it**.

Citi
11. Grow Testicles

[update] Commenter “Jessica” wrote on the previous post:

As a female employee at Citi, I have one of these on my desk. They were NOT handed out by the HR department, but rather by the Head of Diversity, Patricia David, who is no longer with the firm. (Currently at JP Morgan I believe.) They are handed out at workshops geared towards women, often hosted by “Women’s Councils” that exist in various Citi locations.

When a friend who interviewed at Citibank showed me the card above, we shared it among friends and laughed at its ridiculousness on so many levels. I posted a photo of the card here but didn’t think it would get much of a response. I was right. It languished in my sad, little corner of the Internet garnering a only a few hits. Two days ago, a friend who reads the online business tabloid Dealbreaker, told me to send my post to Dealbreaker editor Bess Levin.

You know that post about the tips to women from Citigroup?? If I may, I think you should send a link of that post over to Bess Levin at Dealbreaker. It is perfect for her and if I remember, she has not uncovered that piece of paper yet. She loves to pick up on women in finance stuff AND she likes to make fun of citigroup. She will definitely link from Dealbreaker to your blog, which will get you viewership.

I shot Ms. Levin an hopeful e-mail, and she responded, “wow…is that real??” I said I’m neither creative enough to come up with ten whole bullet points or motivated enough to print and laminate the card. Coming up with something for a birthday card is hard enough. And if the photo was a hoax, don’t you think I’d catch the “therefore you are not get taken seriously” typo in #7. Come on, Citi. Can’t you spare some i-banking analysts from writing prospectus summaries to spellcheck that card?

Ms. Levin agreed to post the photo and link back to my blog. The blogosphere’s response has been, to put it lightly, somewhat loud:

How to write a viral blog post
Traffic to my blog.

It started on Dealbreaker where comments ranged from

#11 -Typically give terrible head in the conference room.

to

Yeah, right? I mean wtf? If I were a competent female Citigroup employee I’d be seriously po’d at this. Totally insulting. A woman doesn’t get ahead in this biz by acting like a douchebag guy with no sense of humor. She gets ahead like anyone else– being good at her JOB.

Being well dressed and hot is also a plus, especially if you’re in a client/counterparty facing role.

-a heterosexual WASP who is amazed he’s actually commenting like this but anyway

Jezebel, Gothamist, Business Insider, Big Think, and even the LA Times blog posted the photo. So I got my first viral blog post. My fifteen seconds of fame in the blogosphere brings mixed feelings, however. Hell, this even provoked a comment from a Citi spokesperson, according to the LA Times:

A Citi spokesperson said, “The material in question is not part of Citi’s formal leadership training or human resources communications. It appears to have been taken from a published book by a noted author in the field of executive coaching.”

My rationale and defense for posting the photo rests on the fact that this card is not confidential information and it’s…thought-provoking. Releasing something like this on the web, the wild, wild west of all mediums, however, has the danger of distortion and exaggeration. Just imagine a game of telephone with thousands of people, some don’t listen carefully while others are just mildly retarded. So I clarified some things with my source who passed me the photo.

According to my friend, this card was on some of the desks on a floor he suspects was the human resources department. It is unclear how these cards fit in with official company training material, how widely and to which employees Citibank distributed them, or the financial institution’s broader policy towards women in the workplace. I personally don’t doubt that Citibank takes its treatment of female employees very seriously and that this card was handed out with the best of intentions.


9/11 Ninth Anniversary: Tribute in Light

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I stood next to Ground Zero’s twin beams of light commemorating the victims of 9/11 a year ago today. Earlier that evening, I had milled around the World Trade Center area with two friends from college. We peeked through construction barricades to look at the reconstruction efforts and listened to bagpipe players playing funeral dirges for fallen firefighters. As my friends and I approached the Tribute in Light installation like moths drawn to a flame, we traced the lights’ origins to Battery Parking Garage at 38 Washington Street.


Wish You Could Hack the MetroCard?

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Worried about the MTA raising their fares? $99 to $104 for a monthly pass that may not even have unlimited rides? Don’t you wish you could hack into your MetroCard and get free rides for life? That’s exactly what four MIT students did in 2008. They found multiple ways to bypass security mechanisms in Boston’s subway passes. For example, one can buy a 5-cent pass, a $150 card reader, and re-encode the card to hold over $600.



Mark Bittman Is Ruining My Social Life

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This post was submitted by a friend of mine who’s desperate to have his voice heard and his grievance aired. Naturally, this person chose my blog as a platform. Due to the sensitive nature of this issue, I’ve chosen to not to reveal his/her identity. Instead, I’ll just refer to him by the pseudonym ”Jonathan Maimon.“ For Mr. Maimon’s sake, I sincerely hope Mark Bittman will notice just how many lives he’s destroyed. Help Jonny out. Send an e-mail to Bittman at bitten@nytimes.com.

Mark Bittman is really stressing me out. I have his book “How to Cook Everything.” There are so many recipes. I estimate that it has 3,000 recipes. What am I supossed to do with 3,000 recipes? I can’t sit down, look at it, and figure out what to cook because there are 3,000 recipes to sort through. Even if I cooked a new recipe every night, it would take me 8.2 years to finish the book. I might not even need to cook by then. I could be married or homeless. Those are the two most common reasons for someone not to cook.

You know?


How Accounting Should Be Taught

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I had a very good lecturer for my accounting class while at Columbia University. He was a Columbia Business School associate professor who used to work for Arthur Andersen, one of the Big 8 auditing firms. This professor was a big improvement over the previous undergraduate accounting lecturer, a middle-aged woman with a dry teaching style who wore athletic sneakers under an ankle-length dress.

My accounting professor made the subject interesting by stressing how not one single number on any financial statement besides some cash flow figures can be verified. Pretty much everything from balance sheets’ assets and liabilities to income statements’ revenues and expenses is subject to managers’ (sometimes “creative”) interpretation. In publicly-held firms, financial statements are important to shareholders who use them to assess the performance of their investments. This requires management, however, to report financials that reflect reality. In truth, management can use accounting concepts such as depreciation, asset securitization (aka CDOs), and expense capitalization to distort a firm’s performance or just straight-up lie.


Creative Ways to Say “Happy Birthday”

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Ever feel like “happy birthday” is overused and cliché and just plain not creative? Feel lost when handed a birthday card to sign and don’t want to be the 30th person to write a bland “happy birthday”? Then the list below is for you. Cut and paste onto the walls of Facebook friends you hardly speak or even work up the courage to say some of the more off-color examples to their face. You might lose some friends, but at least you had the gall to go out in a blaze of awkwardness.


Asian Vegetables vs Western Vegetables

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No wonder kids in this country won’t eat their veggies. Most grocery stores in America sell vegetables that are simply not tasty. I’m getting sick and tired of western1 vegetables like collard greens, kale, and Swiss chard that taste like the fibrous end of a nasty stalk of celery. They’re tough not tender, bitter not sweet, dry not juicy. Eating vegetables I buy at my local Fairway (with the exception of broccolini) is like receiving an enema if you’ve got fecal impaction. It’s not pleasant, but you have to do it. Asian vegetables, on the other hand, are yummier, sweeter, and tenderer.


Why Being John Malkovich Is Most Bizarre Movie I’ve Seen

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Being John Malkovich is one of the most bizarre movies I’ve ever seen. It’s the story of a couple who compete over traveling into John Malkovich’s head in order to use his body for sex with a callous woman with whom they’re both irrationally in love. Craig Schwartz starts out as an unemployed  pupeteer who’s married to pet store owner Lotte. At the nadir of this unhealthy love triangle is Craig and Lotte’s love, Maxine, Craig’s female colleague at his new job.


Recalled Eggs and America’s Food Problems

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Follow-up post: “Debunking Organic Food Myths.”

Tom Ashbrook’s “On Point” program on National Public Radio several nights ago discussed the current nation-wide effort to recall half a billion eggs suspected of being tainted with salmonella. I’m usually skeptical of Ashbrook’s Chicken Little routine (grab attention by making a situation sound like the sky’s falling) but this time I agreed. The US industrial food system is in serious need of reform.