Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

Report: Working Moms Have More Successful Daughters and More Caring Sons

The guilt many working mothers confess to may be real, but it’s looking less and less warranted.

According to a working paper (pdf) published June 19 by the Harvard Business School, daughters of working mothers are more likely to be employed, hold supervisory positions, and earn more money than the daughters of women who don’t work outside the home. The researchers also found a statistically significant effect on the sons of working women, who are likely to spend more time caring for family members and doing household chores than are the sons of stay-at-home mothers.

Analyzing data from two dozen countries, the researchers concluded that the daughters of employed mothers are 4.5% more likely to be employed themselves than are the daughters of stay-at-home mothers. While this number may seem small, it is statistically significant at the 99% level, meaning there is less than a 1% chance that such a result is due to chance.

Even more surprising, says Kathleen McGinn, a professor at Harvard Business School and the lead author of the study, is the effect that working mothers have on their daughters’ chances of being a supervisor at work. “We did expect that it would...

For More Workplace Diversity, Should Algorithms Make Hiring Decisions?

Humans are biased decision makers. One well-known and troubling example of this is the tendency for interviewers to hire candidates who remind them of themselves, resulting in workplace homogeneity. In the tech sector, this homogeneity has been particularly extreme: Google’s first ever diversity report, released last year, reported only 2 percent of its staff are black, and 3 percent Hispanic, for example. Facebook recently announced that it’s going to try the NFL’s “Rooney Rule”—which requires that NFL teams interview minority candidates for coaching positions—in order to expand its staff beyond white and Asian men.

One proposed solution is to try to remove some of those biases with systematic analysis of data—or in other words: Use an algorithm. Companies administer personality tests to candidates during screening, then use data analysis to determine its ideal hires. While the algorithm depends on what a company is looking for, common variables include using the data from personality tests to predict whether a candidate will quit or steal on the job

Algorithmic hiring has been on the rise in recent years. Google used an algorithm to staff up quickly, employing an elaborate survey to zone in on candidates who...

Driving Results in Cities Could Influence Federal Performance Efforts

Federal efforts to increase the use of data in performance management and evaluation may soon cross paths with a parallel effort at the city level. What Works Cities, a new $42 million, three-year initiative launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies in April, will be helping 100 mid-sized cities build out their data capabilities, but its reach may extend to the federal level, too.

One of the principal barriers to better federal agency performance is the federal system itself. The work of the largest federal programs is often done by states and local governments. Cities in particular are responsible for a vast range of issues, including education, housing, transportation, law enforcement, and many others.

Unfortunately, many of those on the front lines need help to make the most of their data. The new Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative has placed a bull’s-eye on this problem.

James Anderson, head of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ government innovation program, said the idea for What Works Cities came from the organization’s previous work, which showed cities were "incredibly hungry to get better using data and evidence."

(Image via zhu difeng/

The initiative will focus on cities with populations between 100,000 and 1 million—cities large enough...

When Your Team Is Silent

You’re leading team meetings regularly and you’re frustrated. Even though you consider yourself a collaborative leader, you’ve noticed that when you invite your team to participate in discussions you’re often met with silence. They stare back at you. Not much is coming out of their mouths’ that’s helpful to the issues you want their input on.

There are also issues that you should know about that your team isn’t bringing to you. You’re finding out about them from unexpected sources. You’ve told your team you need more information from them, yet nothing is working to assure that you have the information you need to properly lead your organization.

I hear about these frustrating situations from the leaders I work with, and they often blame their team. There will always be some missteps in communication. However, when you notice the kind of withholding described above that prevents you from effectively leading your organization, ask yourself:

“What’s my role in this situation?”

You need to look to yourself for a cause and a solution.

Have you let them know what kind of information you need? Be specific in informing your team about what...

3 Ways to Make Government a Smarter Shopper

It is time to rethink federal acquisition, particularly as we move into a new era of governing—one that is focused on delivering public service for the future. There is a groundswell of energy around making procurement a more efficient and outcomes-driven process.

Forward-looking agencies are not simply improving the acquisitions function, they are strategically aligning acquisitions with the organizational strategy, creating holistic business units focused on a highly engaged workforce, total cost of ownership and predictable outcomes.

 Taking three major steps can help agencies fundamentally transform federal acquisition:

1.  Align acquisition with outcomes

Agencies that demonstrate high performance in acquisitions are those that are able to mobilize the acquisition process to achieve business goals. They understand and document the outcomes they want to attain and prioritize their buying criteria to meet those targets. Less concerned with “lowest price/technically acceptable,” which can ultimately be more costly, they align their acquisition targets with bottom-line goals.

Simply realizing cost savings is not the desired outcome if agencies are not achieving real value. Lowest price, technically acceptable contracting, for example, can sometimes skew cost-to-value ratios. A survey conducted by Deltek/Centurion Research Solutions found that a majority of contractors—79 percent—said...