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There Is Progress On Combating Sexual Harassment; What Is A Clout Score? How You Can Raise Yours; High Cost Of Higher Education: Is It Worth It?

Aired November 12, 2011 - 09:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, HOST: Is college worth the cost? It's a question so many families are asking right now. We're going to answer it for you once and for all.

Good morning, everyone. I'm Christine Romans.

Plus, my number is 63. What's yours? What do you want your number to be? Do you know what it is? Do you even know what we're talking about? I'll explain and tell you why your ability to influence has become a numbers game.

We begin this morning with a question. Give a co-worker a hug. Is that sexual harassment? Well here is one definition. Sexual harassment is unwelcome verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is severe or pervasive, and affects working conditions or creates a hostile work environment.

In 1990, 6,000 work-related sexual harassment charges were filed; 20 years later, nearly twice as many. It's not just happening at work or associated with politicians. It's even happening in schools. As 48 percent of seventh to twelfth graders experienced some form of sexual harassment during the 2010-2011 school year, either in person or electronically through texting, e-mail and social media.

Rick Newman is the chief business correspondent with "U.S. News & World Report," joining us from Washington, Fatima Goss Graves, she is the vice president of Education and Employment at the National Women's Law Center.

Let's talk first about the statistics, Fatima. The fact that we are now talking about sexual harassment from lockers and lunchrooms all the way up to a presidential race.

FATIMA GOSS GRAVES, VP FOR EDUCATION & EMPLOYMENT, NATIONAL WOMEN'S LAW CENTER: Absolutely. Unfortunately it's the case. The study released just this last week showing that nearly half of boys and girls experience sexual harassment in schools is really troubling. But what was more troubling was that less than 10 percent of them said that they reported it to anyone.

ROMANS: Do you think it shows a culture? A culture where we are using -- we're using this? We're using sexual identity or we're harassing about things that are just so personal, starting at a very young age? GRAVES: Well, you know, unfortunately, this isn't something that is very new. It's been going on for a long time, but I think what's really been good and sort of recent is that the focus that both the media and federal enforcement agencies, and even Congress, has been paying on both harassment and bullying in schools. That focus has been important and hopefully will lead to good policy changes in this area.

ROMANS: Rick, I want to bring you in. Because you cover politics and the economy. You're actually saying this scandal, this sexual harassment scandal, which Herman Cain says he is not guilty of, that he did not engage it.


ROMANS: But it's got us all talking about it. You say, overall it is good for America, why?

NEWMAN: Well, there are a few things I find encouraging about it. First of all, we don't know what the real facts are. We probably never will. Let's just accept that.

ROMANS: This is not an indictment here of Herman Cain. This is a discussion about sexual harassment.

NEWMAN: That's right.

ROMANS: It's in the public square now.

NEWMAN: That's right. And here is one thing we see from this: So we've heard all of these cases about Herman Cain allegedly asking for sexual favors, which he didn't get, by the way. We're used to a lot of cases where something terrible happened and years later people suffered and so on. We find out how badly things went awry. The guy in charge didn't get what he wanted in this case, at least as far as we know. There may be other cases, that are different.

These women also felt comfortable complaining. And these were, for the most part, lower ranking women who worked at the National Restaurant Association when Cain was running that. They felt comfortable enough to stand up to the boss.

And the third thing is that the association took their claims very seriously from what we can tell so far. We don't see any evidence that they just dismissed these women and said, oh, you're overreacting.

In a way, the system worked. Now, again, there's a lot we don't know about that. But this was more than 10 years ago and I think what this shows is, clearly there's a growing institutional awareness that this is a real problem. Don't dismiss women who complain about this type of thing and take it seriously.

ROMANS: In the past 24 months, I want to ask you both, there have been-there was one survey from the Society for Human Resources Management, that said 36 percent of employers reported seeing sexual harassment claims by an employee or employees over the past two years. As many as 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies actually have liability insurance that includes any kind of settlement or claim against sexual harassment.

Fatima, what does this say about corporate America? It tells us this is part of doing business. They're insuring against it and a third of companies say they've seen it?

GRAVES: Well, unfortunately, what is the case is that even though there has been tremendous progress over the last 20 years, in terms of women being more likely to bring charges into complaint, too often sexual harassment in the workplace still goes unaddressed. And although employers now mostly have policies and do trainings, the fact of the many harassment charges that continue to be brought, really says something about it continuing to be a problem.

And I really think in this economy, there's a concern that we aren't seeing the full range of harassment charges that should be brought, because people probably fear bringing these cases in the first place.

ROMANS: But so many women don't want to even be bothered with all of this, quite frankly. They see it happening around them or they have seen it around, but don't want to be -- someone told me this, this week: I don't want to be that woman. I want to get through this and get my head down because there's always going to be "that guy."

Rick, that's a cynical look at corporate America.

NEWMAN: Yeah. And I -- another thing is, we've seen these protections put in place at the senior level of corporations, where theoretically the most chance ever damage to the corporation. I -- it would be wishful thinking to believe that sexual harassment is being addressed seriously throughout all companies especially in less professionalized environments.

So, I think it is definitely, it's an ongoing problem and it's just going to take, frankly, years of awareness. Not just awareness among young girls and women, awareness among young boys and men, make them aware of the problem, you know, willing to step in as well.

ROMANS: Rick Newman, thank you so much. Fatima Goss Graces, very nice to meet you. Come back on the show again soon. Thanks, guys. Have a nice weekend.

Next, how to bring opportunity back to the United States. Plus -- why your ability to influence others is all about the numbers.


ROMANS: Is America still the land of opportunity, or is it Rome before the fall? You decide.

Cicero is believed to have said something like this in 55 B.C. "The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and assistance to foreign hands should be curtailed, lest Rome fall." Sound familiar with the nearly $15 trillion in debt, still giving nearly $40 billion in foreign aid, will our story end like Rome's? Big government, big promises. Slow growing economy, can't keep all those promises.

Let's bring in John Doggett, he teaches global competition at the University of Texas at Austin.

John, you show your students slides like this. This is the Chinese city of Shenzhen. We are going to show this picture, in 1979 only about 30,000 people lived there. That is it on the left, fast forward to 2010, the same city boasts a population of more than 10 million people. Look at that. I mean, it is a skyline that is unbelievable.

According to the consulting firm, McKinsey, by 2025, China will build the equivalent of up to two Chicagoes every single year. John, in your lectures you tell America to stop whining and start competing.

JOHN DOGGETT, Yes, you know, Christine, the issue is very simple. We have new competitors who are working really hard, doing a great job. And we have a choice. We either complain about them, like we complained about the Japanese and say, oh, they shouldn't compete. Or we accept the fact that these guys are going to do the best job they can to improve their economy, and we have to do the same thing. So I tell my students and I tell people across the country, it's time to stop whining. It is time to start playing some serious ball.

ROMANS: I want to bring in the Alfred Edmund, he is the editor-in- chief of "Black Enterprise" for Multimedia.

How do we get opportunity back? How do we do it?

ALFRED EDMOND, SR. VP, "BLACK ENTERPRISE": Well, one of the things we have to do-and I think Americans are doing-is redefining what opportunity means. It used to be, I apply for a job, go to school, apply for a job, get a job and do a good job. Now it's much broader, much less clearly defined. It means maybe freelancing, it means consulting, it means starting a side business, or a side hustle-and trying to get a job and maintain their job.

ROMANS: This is why people feel so unsettled. They feel there's no clear path for them and then see the rest of the world rising quickly. They see what's happening in China, opportunity in China, and here we're feeling like, what are we supposed to do?

EDMOND: I happen to think we do ourselves a disservice when we worry about the rest of the world. I tell people, run your own race. What's happening in China impacts you, so you should be aware. But it shouldn't be what you're thinking about as you're trying to decide what is the best way for me to provide for myself, provide for my family, and to seek out the opportunities for the future.

ROMANS: Start it for yourself. I mean, you're really into entrepreneurship.

EDMOND: Definitely into entrepreneurship. We have the "Black Enterprise" Entrepreneurs Conference every year. Which, amazingly, or maybe not so amazingly, does better in bad economies. More people either by force or choice say, there's this thing I always wanted to do. I'm not working, now's the time for me to do it.

ROMANS: Maybe that's the silver lining.

John, you point out also boomers in your lectures that boomers lived through the glory days in this country, and now they are sort of desperate not to lose any ever the promises they've been granted in this new period of American austerity. I don't mean to blame the boomers but the boomers really had it good and want to make sure they keep it.

DOGGETT: Well, I'm a boomer and I'm going to blame my generation. We took the government's credit card and spent it up to the max, and then broke the credit card. And now are saying, the government's broke. We have all this debt, but don't touch our Social Security. Don't touch our Medicare. Don't touch any of our entitlements. And that just doesn't make any sense.

If we're going to turn our economy around we boomers have to take part of the responsibility for getting us into this mess. And right now I'm not hearing that from boomers.

ROMANS: You know, Alfred, we look to government for solutions, but some of the promises that have been made, you say look to yourself but don't look for the government to help you out here at this point?

EDMOND: Don't rely on the government. Our generation-I'm a boomer, too-and our parents' generation, really trusted institutions whether it was government or the big company they worked for, to kind of provide for them. Now we know we can't rely on them. Doesn't mean we shouldn't expect anything from them, but we have to adopt a model of personal responsibility, in addition to institutional support. And I think that that's really going to end up being a good thing in the long run.

I agree with John. The greatness of America, we made decisions good for us today but always thought about future generations. Certainly in the African-American community that was a big part of our culture. We thought about what was best for future generations. If we are going to return to greatness we have to do that again.

ROMANS: Are Rome before the fall, Alfred?

EDMOND: No, we are not even close that yet.

ROMANS: John, are we Rome before the fall?

DOGGETT: There is no way. We're America and we can turn this thing around. But we have to be responsible to the younger generation. And we have to stop whining and we have to understand that what made this country great was entrepreneurship, if we don't get back to that, then we are going to have some real problems.

ROMANS: All right, guys. We'll have you back and we are going to talk about solutions and keep going. because this is such a fascinating, fascinating conversation.

John Doggett, Alfred Edmond, thanks, guys.

DOGGETT: Thank you.

EDMOND: Thanks a lot. Appreciate it, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, my number is 63. Anderson Cooper's is 81. Justin Bieber, 100. These aren't just numbers. They actually mean something about your influence in social media. We'll tell you all about it, next.


ROMANS: Kim Kardashian. She's a 93. The White House, it's a 79, and George Clooney? He's a zero. What do these numbers mean? It's their clout score on Twitter. That's right. We are now measuring how influential you are in social media. It's so much more than how many friends you have, or how many times you Tweet.

Joe Fernandez is the founder and CEO of Clout. He's a 65, by the way.

Joe, people are suddenly talking about this number that is the way they measure how influential they are on social media. How do you measure how -- how do you measure influence? How are you doing it?

JOE FERNANDEZ, FOUNDER, CLOUT: Yeah. I mean, it's definitely a big challenge. What we're looking at is all the content you create on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, wherever. And understanding how people react when you create that content. So if I talk about what movie I saw, how many of my friends are likely to see that content, and go see the movie? If you're talking about the company you're starting, what impact, what ripple effect does that have through social media?

ROMANS: All right. Jeffrey Cover, I want to bring him in. He covers media and technology for "Forbes". I checked. You have a score of 58.

Why do we care about this score, first of all? Second, how can we use this kind of stuff to define ourselves, to brand ourselves? And in business to try to show other people, customers maybe, what kind ever influence you have?

JEFF BERCOVICI, STAFF REPORTER, "FORBES": I think part of the reason we care about the score is we just love keeping score in general.

ROMANS: We do that. Why do we do that?

BERCOVICI: I don't know. But when you said that, I'm a 58, and you are a 63. I want to the close the gap now.


ROMANS: How are you going to do it?

BERCOVICI: Hopefully this appearance will help with that.


BERCOVICI: Follow me on Twitter, everybody.

ROMANS: There you go. But I think that when we talk about people putting it on resumes it shows you, people are trying to show how they can harness social media, as a business, as a brand, as an image. This whole new arena. It's hard to figure out how to gauge your influence on it.

BERCOVICI: Absolutely. And I think that companies, it's a great idea to put on your resume or at least to sort of tout it in a job interview. I know people are being asked in job interviews how many Twitter followers they have.

ROMANS: They are.

BERCOVICI: I think a lot of companies are trying to re-invent themselves for this social era. And a lot of times the people running companies are maybe older or are not as kind of fluent in the social language. And so they're extra interested in bringing people into the company who are fluent. And can prove it with something like a Clout score.

ROMANS: Yes. It's interesting you say that because I was talking to a job placement coach recently, who said you have to know what a hash tag is. That's what she does. She is staring to teach, especially 50 something people who are looking to retrain or rebrand themselves. The technology is how you are defined now.

BERCOVICI: Absolutely. I can't tell you how many people I know have left their jobs or lost their jobs, and gone on to reinvent themselves as social media consultants.

ROMANS: Joe, let me ask you, reinventing yourself as a social media consultant, people putting themselves on a resume, for example, I have 300 Facebook friends. But the way you measure influence, it's not necessarily how many friends you have. But how active they are and whether they're acting on what you do and say.

FERNANDEZ: Yeah, absolutely. So we look at your friend count or follower count as a very small aspect of your overall influence. I mean, because you see people out literally buying friends and followers. And -- but what we really care about is the quality of the content you create, and how people react to it. You know, if you say something and, you know, oh, your network gets excited about it, that's important. And that's what the Clout score is all about.

ROMANS: How do I raise it?

FERNANDEZ: The Internet has a short attention span. It's the challenge I have the most. You get busy and you look up and all of a sudden it's been a week since you created any content. So getting in a repetition. And then not being afraid to just be yourself. Everyone is so worried about, oh, no one is going to care about my opinion. But the reality is your friends do care. And as you get comfortable kind of expressing yourself and sharing your feeling, you'll see that the impact of that grow.

ROMANS: We're showing a chart right now called "The Half Life Of A Tweet". Explain that to me. You have analyzed the life of a Tweet. The bigger your score, the more your Tweet lasts, right?

FERNANDEZ: Yeah. So the idea, if you watch Twitter, and it's this stream of information and you generally, when you Tweet something, it just disappeared. But the higher your clout score, the more amplification your Tweets. So the more times it gets re-Tweeted, the more times it spreads across the network. And the longer your thought, your Tweet, your idea lives, that's an important measurement of your influence.

ROMANS: It's just the whole world has changed so much. It used to be you would take your briefcase, your bag, your laptop and went to work, got a cup of coffee, and now there's a whole new arena out there to manage, too.

Joe Fernandez, founder and CEO of Clout. Nice to see you. Thanks for trying to demystify this for us. And Jeff Bercovici, from "Forbes", nice to meet you.

It's a popular money myth at the moment. You've heard it, right? College is too expensive and there aren't enough jobs, anyway, so why make this investment? Ali Velshi is stopping by to answer once and for all, this debate: Whether college is worth it. Next on YOUR BOTTOM LINE.


ROMANS: All right, welcome back to YOUR BOTTOM LINE.

Many of the money questions we cover on this show every week you can also find in my new book. It's called, "How To Speak Money" and I wrote it with my work husband and friend, Ali Velshi, who joins me now.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And in the book we are showing you how to speak money, because everybody, including the two of us, speak it a little bit differently.

The job market is the biggest issue out there and it has changed dramatically over the past 50 years or so.

ROMANS: That's right. Back in the day, a high school grad was always guaranteed a job with high wages, benefits, paid vacation, retirement, pension.

VELSHI: Pension?

ROMANS: Yes, those days are gone. Anyone looking to enter the job force needs to think about the right education and training and that probably means a college degree.

VELSHI: In most jobs it will now. Some question, though, whether is a college degree is worth it in these economic times. It is one of the most energetic discussions we have with so many of you.


VELSHI: Christine and I agree entirely on this. That a college degree is worth it now more than ever. Let me just tell you about this. The U.S. employment rate, as you know, the official rate has hovered around 9 percent for the last couple of years. But if you break down the unemployment rate by education level, check this out. The higher education level you have, the less likely you are to be unemployed. Only a high school diploma will give you a rate of 10.3 percent. But if you have a bachelor's degree, it falls to 5.4 percent.

ROMANS: If you break down the median weekly earnings by education level, you can see the same trend. If you have only a high school diploma, you're making $626 a week. A college degree, that number jumps to $1,038. These are numbers from the government. Everyone can see them. We'll Tweet them out again. Those are numbers from last year. It's a dramatic difference.

VELSHI: Here is where the argument comes in. College is expensive. Many students graduate with tens of thousands of dollars of debt. That's why it pays to be smart about what you're going to study, where you're going to study it. Pick a school you can afford.

ROMANS: That's right. Private universities cost $25,000 a year. The most expensive private universities are $50,000 a year. That makes for a total tab for your college education if you're just paying $25,000, a 100 grand. This usually means student loans, lots of debt once you graduate. Our rule of thumb, never graduate with debt that exceeds the annual salary that you're expecting to get for your first job.

VELSHI: Many state schools offer an education that is just as good as private school education for a fraction of the price. So you really, really want to do the research on this, as well.

ROMANS: And a lot of people are looking at community colleges for some of the requirements early on so they don't spend five years in public or private school.

Next, you have to choose what you want to study. Both Ali and I are liberal arts majors, liberal arts degrees. And you have to be careful about picking majors and making sure that you have the right set of skills that are going to be-people are going to pay you for it.

VELSHI: Or a road map. If you want to study French or English or religion, you'd better have a road map as to where you're going. If you want to make money, STEM. STEM is an acronym that we talk about a lot. It stands for science, technology, engineering and math. The top 10 majors with the highest median earnings are all STEM jobs. Compare that to the immediate income of say something like counseling, psychology, $29,000 per year. Good job, you help people out, you don't make a lot of money.

ROMANS: Did you know the highest paid English majors are actually technical writers.

VELSHI: Right.

ROMANS: So they are taking that liberal arts education and using it in STEM. And we are not saying that people in STEM shouldn't know liberal arts. We love the well-rounded, but you can choose a school you can afford, study a subject with high earnings potential that you like. You'll set yourself up for financial success down the road.

VELSHI: And this is one of the topics that we cover in our new book, "How To Speak Money: How to make your money work for you and your family". It's in stores now and available on

ROMANS: Good to see you, Ali. Have a nice weekend.

VELSHI: You, too.

ROMANS: Let's keep the conversation going online. I'm Christine Romans and the show is @CNNBottomline. You don't think college is worth it anymore? Make your case for us. What is your best idea for getting opportunity back in America? Tell us that.

And a special quick shout out to our most loyal viewer, a happy birthday to Margaret Hughes. Grandmother to Money unit staffer, Juliet, she just turned 100. 1911, she was born. Bravo to a great lady.

Back to our "CNN SATURDAY" for the latest stories making news. Have a great weekend everybody.