Professionalism at the workplace

Professionalism is a set of instructions and values that employees adhere to, both inside and outside of an organization.   If caught in violation of those values, it will result in a reprimand from one’s superiors or worse, dismissal from an organization.

Professionalism is important because it is a code of socially acceptable behavior that will preserve and possibly improve the image and/or brand of the organization.  People with high standards of professionalism are generally considered to be more credible and more trustworthy.

Conduct unbecoming of an officer


Time reported on December 19, 2013, that United States Air Force Major General Michael Carey is the latest to suffer from an episode of unprofessionalism resulting in his eventual dismissal as “commanding all land-based U.S. nuclear missiles after Pentagon investigators concluded he drank too much and cavorted with “suspect” women last July during an official three-day trip to Russia.”

According to US Air Force investigators, Carey’s unprofessionalism breached the Uniform Code of Military Justice of “conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.”

CNN reported in December 21, 2013, that “he was relieved of duty in October because of loss of confidence in his leadership, the Air Force said at the time without providing specific details.”

Social media and professionalism

Professionalism also extends into social media.  Countless stories have been published about employers disciplining their employees as a result of inappropriate behavior posted on social media networking sites.  A social media policy is a template outlining how an employee should and should not act on the internet.

Firefighters fired

According to the Toronto Star, “three Toronto firefighters have been fired following a month-long investigation into tweets and other social media posts seen as degrading to women.”

In November 2012, Toronto Firefighter Matt Bowman “tweeted a seven-year-old line from The Office: “Reject a woman and she will never let it go. One of the many defects of their kind. Also weak arms.””

As paid employees of the City of Toronto, “firefighters are required to follow the city’s social media guidelines.”

The Toronto Star reported that “Toronto Fire Chief Jim Sales said tweets from three fired firefighters was not in any way acceptable for city employees.”

This incident could have been avoided had the firefighters adhered to the City of Toronto’s social media protocol. The Toronto Star reported that “these guidelines state employees should “not engage in harassment, personal attacks or abuse toward individuals or organizations,” and “not use language that is discriminatory, hateful, or violent towards identifiable groups or that incites others to discriminate, practise hate or violence.””

17 people who were fired for using Facebook

Professionalism is a serious matter.  Reread your company’s code of ethics and social media policy, as not knowing it will ruin your reputation, prospects for promotion, and credibility.

Should employees be given warnings on their first offence?  Where is the line drawn between a reprimand and dismissal?  Let me know what you think in the comments below.


2013 Holiday spending and the workplace

How much will you be spending this holiday season on your partner, family, and friends?  How will your organization be celebrating the holiday season?  Are holiday parties and mixers important?

A stable economy

In a 2013 study by Deloittee, the firm stated that 6.5% of Canadians will be spending more than what they spent in 2012, 34.5% will decrease the amount they spent, while 59.1% will remain the same.  In 2013 “83.4% of survey respondents said they believed the Canadian economy would remain stable or improve in the coming year, up slightly from 80% last year.”   The essence of the study is that Canadians have more confidence in the economy resulting in the expectation of increased holiday spending in 2013.

Canadian-holiday-shopping-2013-infographicSource: Deloitte

Holiday spending on the rise

In a 2013 Accenture survey of 500 Americans, the firm stated that Americans will spend an average of $646US ($686.16CAN) during the holiday season in 2013, up 11% from 2012.   Some of the conclusions this exhaustive study found was that American consumers are increasingly gifting gift cards over other choices, discounts heavily influence purchasing behaviour, a majority of consumers still use cash over credit cards, more Americans are spending more money in 2013 than 2012, and online shopping has increased.  


Source: Accenture 2013 Holiday Spending

Holiday parties at the workplace

In a study by Bizbash and Seamless surveying over 1500 respondents, the report stated that holiday parties have a positive effect on office place morale.  75% of respondents believe that holiday parties build better friendships, 71% better office culture, 67% improved teambuilding, and 18% increased productivity.


Source:  Bizbash and Seamless


How is your organization celebrating the holiday season? Will you be crossing the border with the intent to purchase gifts?  Will you be spending more in 2013 than in 2012?  Let me know in the comments below.

Privacy and social media

The Canadian government has decided to monitor all forms of public social media in the country.  CTV news reported that “soon tweets, public Facebook posts, and YouTube videos could be subject to scrutiny round-the-clock by the federal government.”

According to a procurement notice, Supply Arrangement with Public Works and Government Services Canada seek a “supply arrangement with Public Works and Government Services Canada to provide a range Media Monitoring Services to meet the needs of Federal Government Departments and Agencies on an “as and when requested” basis.”  The Federal government will examine the content of each social media post and predict the outcome of their influence.  The project will run from February 2015 to January 2019.


CBC News reported that “Big Brother is watching you — on just about every social-media platform you can imagine.”  Digital public affairs analyst Mark Blevis of says analysing social media acts as an “early warning system” to inform agencies of potential criminal activity.  “But then on another level, it’s open data, it’s open information. If it’s publicly accessible, why should the government have any less privilege accessing it than anyone else in the public eye?”

Canadians and privacy: survey

In an April 2013 report by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, “Canadians are increasingly anxious about privacy in the face of new technology.”  The study surveyed 1,513 Canadians from October 25 to November 12, 2012.  With regards to online privacy, the study found that “a majority of Canadians are very concerned about posting information online about their location, contact information, personal photos and videos, information about social activities, and personal opinions.”


Source: Canadians and Privacy Survey, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Level of personal privacy

Interestingly, Canadians stated that they are extremely troubled about their level of personal privacy.  “Concern about privacy protection (scores of 6-7) was higher among women (45%), college (46%) and university graduates (44%), and Ontarians (48%) compared to Quebeckers (39%) and British Columbians (35%). It also increased with age (from 27% of those under 25 to 46% of those 55+).”


Source: Canadians and Privacy Survey, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Justified cause for concern?

The American government has been monitoring the Internet for several years now.

Wolf Blizter, journalist and CNN television news anchor, says “that the scope of the American government Internet monitoring programs is immense.”  It is a program designed to examine and evaluate threats to national security.


Source: NSA Spying By Political Cartoon Gary Varvel

On the one hand, Ari Fleischer, former White House Press Secretary for U.S. President George Bush, states that the American surveillance programs are generally designed for a sweeping overreach of the online system.  Fleischer says that the general public and the media have misinterpreted the true intent of the monitoring program.

The government will only act when something has gone terribly wrong, in much the same capacity when officials reacted after the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013.  Fleischer admits that TV surveillance following everybody may be an infringement of our liberties, however “when trouble hit, it was because of that technology that we [law enforcement] were able to only target those who committed the crime and catch the killers.”

Runners continue to run towards the finish line as an explosion erupts at the finish line of the Boston Marathon

Source: Boston Marathon Bombings

With regards to online monitoring, Fleischer describes the monitoring as a satellite system that takes “pictures of a predictable river patterns.  The government will only react when a large [objects] disturbs the [natural] flow of water in that stream.”  Fleischer believes the American government has done the right thing by monitoring all activity and that any action will be done when America’s national interest is threatened.

However, according Jim Walsh, Research Associate at MIT Securities Program, the federal government should not be collecting information from law abiding citizens.  Walsh suggests that social network analysis is the government’s attempt to understand and decode social network patterns .   He states that that even if the government is not reading individual emails or listening to telephone calls, the fact that agencies know who we email and call should make people feel nervous.

Privacy is a modern phenomenon

Privacy as we know it now 2013 is a modern phenomenon.  Vint Cerf, Google’s chief internet evangelist, stated that “it’s the industrial revolution and the growth of urban concentrations that led to a sense of anonymity.”  According to Peter Nowak, reporter for Canadian Business, privacy issues are a modern and “relatively new invention.”  Nowak further states that the modern definition of privacy has been misunderstood.  “The earliest people huddled together in caves and therefore had no expectations of it (privacy). Each successive technological invention that affected how people lived increased that (privacy) expectation slightly, to the point where we now consider it an alienable right.”  The notion of privacy is social constructed and deserves further study and investigation.


Source:  Vint Cerf

The right to privacy emerged as a hot-button topic in the late 19th century, when technology such as the telephone, photography, heating, and electricity, slowly integrated into mainstream culture.  Nowak also states that, “when the telephone came along, it was first deployed as a sort of shared utility. Up until the Second World War, party lines – where several houses would share the same line – were common. Each house might have had a special ring to indicate calls destined for its inhabitants, but otherwise people were free to eavesdrop on each other’s call.”  Moreover, it was the milestone 1967 when the U.S. Supreme court case recognized privacy in the case of Katz v. the United States.  As a reminder, Katz “used a public pay phone booth to transmit illegal gambling wagers from Los Angeles to Miami and Boston.”


How has online privacy affected your behavior on social media?  Do you worry about the government tracking your every move?  What would you suggest be an alternative to the monitoring of online space?  Let me know in the comments below.

The Canadian federal election of 2011 in review

On May 11, 2011, the Conservative Party of Canada won the general election of 2011 to earn a majority government.  Stephen Harper’s Conservative party formed the 41st Parliament of Canada.  The Conservatives captured 166 seats, New Democrats 103,  Liberals 34, Bloc Québécois 4, and the Green Party 1.  Of the Canadians who voted, they felt it was time for Conservatives to have full control over the country.


Source:  Stephen Harper

The main campaign issues  in 2011 were crime and law enforcement, national defence policy, economy and fiscal policy, electoral reform and public trust.  The Conservatives gained a total of 23 seats from 2008.  The last majority victory for the Conservative government was in 1988, when Brian Mulroney defeated Liberal leader John Turner and NDP leader Ed Broadbent.


Source:  Canadian Federal Election of 2011

The other parties

Jack Layton and the NDP increased their presence in the House of Commons by gaining 67 seats, mostly from the Bloc Québécois.  The 2011 election was a landmark achievement for the NDP, who formed the Official Opposition for the first time in Canadian political history.  Interestingly, Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe resigned from politics after losing his seat in his home riding, while his party suffered a loss of 43 seats.


Source: Jack Layton

All the while, the Liberal Party of Canada had lost 43 seats in the election becoming third-party status.  Much of the Liberal seats had gone Conservative, especially in Ontario.  Jean Chretien’s departure devastated the Liberal party.  A series of leadership changeovers , Paul Martin (2003-2006), Bill Graham (2006), Stéphane Dion (2006-2008), and Michael Ignatieff (2008-2011), ruined the image and reputation of the party at the polls.  It becomes clear that between 2003 and 2011, the Liberals were in disarray.


Source: Michael Ignatieff

Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party, was elected to represent the party in the House of Commons.  The 2011 election was a milestone for the party, which had its first elected member sit at the House of Commons.


Source: Elizabeth May


Facebook analystics shows that 5.6M people have expressed in interest in the Conservative Party in Canada, 2.2M for the Liberals, 1.4M for the NDP, 245k for the Green Party, and 135k for the Bloc Québécois.

Conservative  Liberal NDPGreenbloc

Voter participation


How do you think Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada have done since May 2011?  Do the Liberals and NDP have a chance to win at the next general election?  Let me know in the comments below.

The advent of social media

“Social media is more than technology, it is a social science.”[1]    Social media has the transformative potential to change behaviour, to stimulate discussion, and to increase awareness of current events and issues.  Social media has an ability to feed the hungry, quench the thirsty, and bring love to where there was none.  “Realizing this transformative potential requires vision, strategy, engagement, talent, and commitment to moving forward.”[2]


Source: Insideview Social Media Infographic

The world has changed

Modern education

According to the University of Manitoba researcher Christine Greenhow, social media sites “benefits may just outweigh any risks.”  In her 2009 video, Greenhow argues that social media can spark creativity, interest, and change.[3]  Greenhow’s research shows that low income families have an ability to connect with those with influence.  Moreover, social media can help people develop communication skills, which have positive effects on self-esteem.

In their 2012 article, Twitteracy: Tweeting as a New Literacy Practice, Christine Greenhow and Benjamin Gleason argue that “instructors and students can use Twitter to ask and answer questions, brainstorm, focus or extend in-class discussions, help students connect, collaboratively generate information, and learn concise writing styles.”[4]  It becomes clear that social media has become an integral component to modern education.  By neglecting the impact of social media, one can hamstring, if not, impede learning.

In her 2012 video, Greenhow states that social media has changed the way consumers do business.  For example, Greenhow indicates that consumers have more options when choosing a health practitioner.  Patients have the ability to review and rate physician performance, where at one time, they could not.  She clearly implies that the “use of social media affects the means of production.”[5]

Real benefits of social media

At The Economist’s World in 2012 Festival on December 3rd 2011 in New York City, a panel of four experts stated that social media has made life for many people that much more interesting.  The positive effects of social media have transcended the daily lives of many people, even so much as a trip to the grocery store.


Source: Why go social? 

Building communities

Dale Carnegie states in How to Win Friends and Influence People, making friends starts from “a deep, driving desire to learn.”[6]  Essentially, it is “a vigorous determination to increase your ability to deal with people.”[7]  Taking the time to understand what makes people happy creates a foundation and starting point for conversation.  According to Carnegie, what people want are the following:

  1. health and the preservation of life
  2. food
  3. sleep
  4. money and things money will buy
  5. life in the hereafter
  6. sexual gratification
  7. the well-being of our children
  8. A feeling of importance

Social media is a mechanism that helps people achieve belonging, understanding, and enlightenment.   A Facebook analytic search reveals that millions of people have expressed interests in the following topics:

Health 157.3M Food 490.1M
Sleep 86.9M Money 77.7M
Afterlife 8.6M Sex 52.3M
Parenting 54.8M Self-esteem 6.8M

Blog - FB - 1Health Blog - FB - 2Food Blog - FB - 3sleep Blog - FB - 4Money Blog - FB - 5Afterlife Blog - FB - 6Sex blog - FB - 7parenting blog - FB - 8self-esteem

Social media is an instrument for strangers to connect with similar minded individuals.  For example, if one wants information about sleep, one can potentially connect with 86.9 million people on Facebook.  On, a quick search revealed the following statistics:

Health 4secs/mention Food 32secs/mention
Sleep 3secs/mention Money 3secs/mention
Afterlife 23secs/mention Sex 4secs/mention
Parenting 21secs/mention Self-esteem 10secs/mention

Blog - 1health Blog - 2food blog - 3sleep blog - 4money blog - 5afterlife Blog - 6sex BLog - 7parenting Blog - 8self-esteem

The data shows that social media has revolutionized education, communication, and business.  Every 21 seconds, a new post on parenting is available on social networks.  It is undeniably clear that social media fosters the creation of new ideas, changes in behaviour, and brings people and communities together.

Social media in the political process

Social media has transformed the political landscape.  Former leader of the Liberal Party of Canada Michael Ignatieff claims that social media has “increased participation and created communities of voters and activists.”[8]  He argues that “when we use social media to find new methods of developing policies, the best and the most imaginative thinking comes from social networks.  That’s the power of social media.”[9]  By bringing communities together through social media, political leaders can increase voter participation in the political process.

New challenges

Stalking, bullying, privacy concerns, and sexual harassment are real issues, but they happened regardless of social media.  Parents, educators, and individuals have taken precautions to protect themselves from the ills of society for decades, even before the internet.  People need to find ways to adapt to new societal trends or miss out on valuable networking and professional opportunities.


How has social media informed you about people, current issues, and events?  Do you think that social media is overrated?  Why do you think people are afraid of social media?  Let me know in the comments below.

[1] Joseph Ranseth, 2013.

[4] Christine Greenhow & Benjamin Gleason, Twitteracy: Tweeting as a New Literacy Practice, The Educational Forum, 76:4, 2012, 474, DOI: 10.1080/00131725.2012.709032


[6] Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Simon and Schuster: New York, 1936, 12

[7] Carnegie, 12.

[8]  Michael Ignatieff, “Michael Ignatieff on the Impact of Social Media,” January 13, 2010.

[9]  Michael Ignatieff, “Michael Ignatieff on the Impact of Social Media,” January 13, 2010.