Category Archives: Culture

Consequences for Inaction. Finally.

You may have missed this; I almost did. It was just a page 9 article in our local paper. The title was “Weinstein Co. board fires president David Glasser ‘for cause.’”

I had no idea who David Glasser was; I’d become pretty familiar with the name “Weinstein,” so I stopped to read the article. Here’s what caught my eye.

“New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman singled out Glasser [in a lawsuit filed against the Weinstein company,] accusing him of not responding to complaints to the company’s human resources department about Harvey Weinstein.”

So, it goes on to say…

“The board of the Weinstein Company has unanimously voted to terminate David Glasser for cause.”

Glasser had been on tap to replace Weinstein as CEO – the New York Attorney General apparently had other ideas. The article goes on…

“The COO David Glasser, who supervised the human resources department, did not stop this discrimination, harassment, and abuse, even though he was in charge of handling dozens of shocking complaints.”

Okay, you get the idea. Weinstein was fired for his actions. Glasser was fired for his inaction. This is a momentous occasion in corporate America.

The firing is also somewhat of a vindication for human resources. We have been accused of doing nothing to stop the highly inappropriate behavior being uncovered every day now. Back in December, I was fed up with HR taking the rap, and suggested that they push back responsibility for this horrific behavior to executive leadership and not allow themselves to be put in a position of accountability. Sounds good, but really, how do you do that when the executive leadership is the problem?

Today we see our first real consequence for executive leadership doing nothing to stop illegal behavior in their organization. The article doesn’t say it, but “for cause” typically means the board has no obligation to honor any severance agreements that Glasser may have had. True, he probably has a pretty healthy savings stashed away so that the harm may be minimal. But this is PRECEDENCE.

How can HR take advantage of this precedent?

This is the time to resurrect the data HR may have, either formally or informally. HR has the data. It is either in their employee relations files, chatter within the organization, or it may be lurking in the results of an engagement survey.

If HR raised it before and no action was taken, chances are executive leadership may perk up a little more if it were brought up within the context of the #METOO movement, and particularly David Glasser’s dismissal.

What are the signs worth reviewing?

Prior complaints

Unresolved complaints about a manager who is still in the position bear revisiting. Has the manager cleaned up his act? Great. If not, what does his boss intend to do? The boss may have a slightly more open mind to HR’s coaching, given the lay of the land today.

Turnover

Significant turnover in a department is a red flag. A red flag does not mean something is wrong; it means there is an anomaly; something is happening and it is important to find out what that might be.

If it is a new manager taking over for a lackadaisical team, the turnover may be appropriate. If there is no apparent reason, it bears a little research.

  • Walk around the department. Are folks open and friendly? Do they look like they want to tell you something, but don’t?
  • Take a look at the comments on the engagement survey. They may say a lot, or they may be completely silent. Either may be meaningful.
  • Look at performance reviews. Do you see signs of favoritism? Retaliation?
  • Talk with the manager. Is he open to your questions and observations? If so, great. If not, and you are concerned, take your concerns up the ladder, with a copy of the Glasser article in your back pocket.

The Glasser situation is a big deal

It is a significant precedent, but one that could easily be ignored. Don’t let that happen. Share the article with your commentary to your fellow executives. Your message is either “We’re in good shape,” or “We are vulnerable.” Back that latter statement up with facts. Then ask them what they are going to do about it.

This isn’t yours [HR] to fix. The responsibility belongs to executive leadership. The responsibility for whether or not executive leaders are clearly aware is yours.

In Glasser’s case, it was NOT doing something that was very, very wrong.

Graphic:  Calvary Chapel Fullerton blog

The subtleties of gender bias

In the eighties, I worked on a project that required me to travel with a team to a site where we had to sign in and wear badges. We went there about once every month for over a year. It drove me crazy because the security guards (both male and female) would hand me my badge and say, “Here you go, Carol,” and then hand the male team member his badge with, “Here you go, Mr. James.”

Today, thirty years later, the same thing happened. A receptionist called me “Carol,” and my husband, “Mr. Anderson.” Dang. Wouldn’t you think we would have evolved, given all of the focus on diversity and inclusion?

In the nineties, I headed a diversity initiative for a bank. One of the elephants hanging around the room in those days was the chatter among female executives who were learning to play golf because they were tired of having business discussion occur on the golf course when they weren’t there. Continue reading The subtleties of gender bias

You’ve got the seat at the table; what are you doing with it?

seat-at-the-tableI have 40 years of experience as an HR executive, authored a book about Repurposing HR, and have a healthy following in social media on my articles related to positioning HR as a business partner. Heck I even got an “HR seat at the table” article published in hbr.org. My experience and study tells me that HR has an opportunity to dramatically influence organizations both in business and in the human aspects of the organization. I don’t think we are doing that; at least I hear that from colleagues.

But I’m beginning to sense that there is a semantics issue for those that do have “a seat at the table.”  I’m pretty sure that the CAO/CHRO for Wells Fargo had a seat at the table. She was actually listed in their proxy, meaning that she is one of the top executives in the organization.

So assuming she had the seat at the table, and held the influence that denotes, why are all the stories coming out about how HR let the employees down, and ultimately, let the company down.  I’ve talked before about the HR role being a dual advocacy – for both the employee and the organization – because at the end of the day, a damaged organization isn’t much good to the employees. Continue reading You’ve got the seat at the table; what are you doing with it?