Black Women and Irish Women

By Jean Mavrelis - 06.04.2009

“Irish are the Blacks of Europe, and Dubliners are the Blacks of Ireland”…goes an opening line from The Commitments, a movie about a rag-tag group of Irish rockers bent on playing Wilson Pickett music in Dublin.

As Xerox CEO Ann Mulcahy, an Irish woman, prepares to pass the baton to Ursula Burns, an African American woman, I’ve been reflecting on the things these two women of different cultures have in common. The two have worked side by side for years, guiding Xerox through some of its darkest hours.

Betsy Morris of Fortune magazine reported: “ they have developed the kind of parnership that can only emerge from a trial by fire. They read each other’s minds, finish each other’s sentences, debate R& D spending, and then consult each other about the wisdom of buying one of their kids a cellphone.  They can resolve disagreements no matter how heated – and they can get pretty heated.” Read more »

Without Truth There Can Be No Peace

By Jean Mavrelis and Thomas Kochman - 05.27.2009

For our first blog topic we decided to focus on President Obama and how his style of communication is not only individual, but also culturally influenced.

President Obama’s willingness to confront controversy directly is no secret, but beyond individual style, is there a cultural explanation as well?

Obama most recently demonstrated his willingness to deal with controversy head on again at the recent University of Notre Dame commencement in talking about abortion. Rather than deal with the polarities he asked both sides to approach the issue collaboratively looking for common ground with respect to the other’s position despite basic disagreements with it, and generally not shying away from things that make us uncomfortable. Read more »