An Über HR Mess

In German, über means being the best or superlative in its class. It also means to an extreme or excessive degree. Car service app Uber literally has an über mess on their hands as a result of a blog post by one of their former Engineers, Susan J. Fowler.

On February 19, she posted a blog, Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year With Uber, an account of her year with the Bay Area firm and her claims of being sexually harassed, discriminated against, and generally being treated incredibly poorly.

Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick, seemed to quickly acknowledge how horrifying and disturbing Fowler’s account was, tweeting twice the day the blog came out. He first wrote “What’s described here is abhorrent & against everything we believe in. Anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired”, and one minute later, “I’ve instructed our CHRO Liane [Hornsey] to conduct an urgent investigation. There can be absolutely no place for this kind of behavior at Uber.” Two days later, Kalanick announced that, in addition to Hornsey, he would engage Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General, Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post and an Uber board member, and others to help with the investigation.

Uber’s decision to make a grand announcement that they brought in luminaries Holder and Huffington is likely meant to demonstrate that Uber takes this situation very seriously, and I have no doubt in their ability to conduct a thorough investigation

Once the dust settles, what Uber will need to focus on is gaining back trust from customers, employees and even future employees. But how?

    • Let employees bring complaints to anyone they feel comfortable with: At some point, Fowler felt that Uber’s human resources team was not helping her, and going to the immediate managers above her was also not successful. Uber, like all companies, should make it clear that employees can go to anyone, up to and including the CEO, if they do not feel comfortable going to HR or their manager.
    • Conduct exit interviews: I do not claim to know how Uber handles employee departures, and in the case of Fowler, the situation may have been too far gone for her to wish to participate in an exit interview, but it is a good lesson. Meet with employees when they resign to learn more about what is prompting the move. Often, employees are hesitant to complain or provide constructive feedback while employed, and once they make the decision to move on will be more forthcoming.
    • Clear communication to employees and customers: We may never know the outcome of this case in its entirety, which is perfectly understandable. These situations require a degree of confidentiality and discretion, but Uber should make both its team members and customers aware of their harassment and discrimination policies. Training should be done across the organization on these topics to ensure that the message is clear to everyone, at all levels, that Uber will not tolerate this going forward.
    • Commit to hiring a diverse team: Part of Fowler’s accusation is that Uber’s team is predominately men, and that the number of women in leadership fell drastically during her tenure with the company. If this is true, shame on Uber. I know from doing executive searches in the Bay Area that finding candidates that reflect the diversity of the Bay Area, particularly women in technology roles, can be a challenge. But it is not impossible. I’ve done it for clients, Facebook has done it, Google has done it. It takes time and effort, and it is not just about finding women and diverse candidates at the leadership roles. It also takes a future-focused effort of having diverse pools of candidates for every role, at every level of the organization, and then ensuring that they have opportunities for training and career development.
    • Become a better corporate citizen. As an Uber customer, I know that they do a lot for charity in their markets, and I applaud that commitment, but now may be the time to do something more significant. Creating a charitable foundation that provides significant financial support to nonprofits focused on bridging the opportunity divide for women and those from diverse backgrounds in the Bay Area (and elsewhere) such as San Francisco Achievers, Year Up, and Girls Who Code, to name but a very few, would help to demonstrate a deep and meaningful commitment to change financially, and would help to prepare women and diverse candidates for careers in technology and other areas where Uber hires.


While Fowler’s experience at Uber may ultimately end up in the history and law books among the notorious cases such as the Clarence Thomas Hearings, Tailhook, and the David Letterman scandal, Uber could very well turn this unfortunate situation into a positive. America, after all, has long adored a comeback story.


Cindy Joyce is the CEO of Pillar Search & HR Consulting. Pillar provides national executive search services for exceptional non-profits and foundations and socially responsible for-profit firms desiring top talent who want an occupassion, not just an occupation.    In addition, Pillar offers human resources consulting services including leadership coaching, human resources audits, handbooks, assessing organizational design, training, team building, and employee communications. A woman-owned business, Pillar is based in Boston, MA, and works on both the local and national level. For more information, please visit or email Cindy at



Beware the Bully Boss

When we were very small, identifying the bully on the playground was easy. They were the ones the other kids were running away from. As we entered junior high and into high school, it was a bit more challenging but no less impossible. They were the Mean Girls (or boys) who left the crumbled self-esteem of their classmates in their wake as they walked the school halls. As adults, workplace bullies are just as prevalent. In the case of working for a bully boss, it is hard to identify easily, as you interview with someone for maybe an hour or two, and accept the job thinking they seemed nice, committed, and professional. You start the job with high hopes, and slowly realize that the Pollyanna that you interviewed with is, in fact, Attila the Hun.


According to the Workplace Bulling Institute, “bullying is a systematic campaign of interpersonal destruction that jeopardizes your health, your career, the job you once loved. Bullying is a non-physical, non-homicidal form of violence and, because it is violence and abusive, emotional harm frequently results. You may not be the first person to have noticed that you were bullied.” Their 2014 study on bullying found that:


  • 27% have current or past direct experience with abusive conduct at work
  • 72% of the American public are aware of workplace bullying
  • Bosses are still the majority of bullies
  • 72% of employers deny, discount, encourage, rationalize, or defend it


It has happened to me twice, and I would have thought that I was not a bully’s mark. While a schoolyard bully will target those they perceive to be weak, I am a leader, social, and competent. I am outspoken, and not afraid to stand my ground. It turns out that my profile, according to the Workplace Bulling Institute, is exactly what an adult bully targets, because in reality they are threatened, insecure, and jealous.


Bully Boss A was maniacal, verbally abusive, and would ask for one thing and then scream at me when I delivered the results, insisting she had asked for something else. If I took vacation, she would assign huge projects two days prior, telling me that if I did not complete the work, I was not allowed to leave. It was like working inside an active volcano. At least I did not take it personally, as she was public in her bullying, did it to most of us, and her entire senior management team left within four months of each other when we collectively decided that the situation was intolerable.


Bully Boss B operated in a subtler but no less sinister manner, conducting her psychological warfare in one-on-one meetings in private conference rooms or scathing emails. While I had great success in the role, she would constantly question my process, telling me it was not how she would do it. When I would ask for suggestions, she would wrinkle her nose, sneer at me, and tell me that I was too stupid to figure it out, yet in front of the rest of the team would say that I was doing a fantastic job and that they could learn a lot from me. Two days after one of my best friends died unexpectedly, Bully Boss #2 informed me that my mourning had better not interfere with my work (truly, she should be afraid of the bad karma from that comment alone). Veteran employees told me that she always had a target, to be patient, and that eventually it would fizzle out. When I stood up for myself in our private meetings and pushed back, she would beat a hasty retreat (as bullies do when confronted), saying that I was good at my job, she loved the quality of my work, and I needed to stop being so sensitive, but soon it would start up again, as cycles of abuse do.


Eventually, my significant other sat me down and suggested that I resign, with the advice that life is too short and I had too much to offer.  It was affecting my relationships, my health, and my happiness. I was weepy, twitchy, and in a constant state of panic. To escape quickly, I found two consulting roles to keep me engaged while figuring out my next move. Sadly, during my notice period, I saw that she had moved on from me and found another target, the newest person on the team. Bullies certainly have patterns.


The advice to leave was some of the best I have ever received, because I was never going to change her, and the only way to protect my own sanity was to remove myself from that toxic situation. If you are in a situation with a Bully Boss, get out as soon as possible. You did nothing to cause it and do not deserve this pain. Trust me, there are plenty of well-adjusted, wonderful bosses out there who will value you and your contributions.


Cindy Joyce is the CEO of Pillar Search & HR Consulting. Pillar provides national executive search services for exceptional non-profits and foundations and socially responsible for-profit firms desiring top talent who want an occupassion, not just an occupation.    In addition, Pillar offers human resources consulting services including leadership coaching, human resources audits, handbooks, assessing organizational design, training, team building, and employee communications. A woman-owned business, Pillar is based in Boston, MA, and works on both the local and national level. For more information, please visit or email Cindy at

Major Gifts Officer Pro Bono Posting for Celebrity Series of Boston

The Celebrity Series of Boston is the region’s leading presenter of the world’s finest music, dance, and family entertainment. Over its 78 year history, the Series has introduced Boston audiences to some of the greatest performing artists of our time, including Sergei Rachmaninoff, Martha Graham and Company, Marian Anderson, the Bolshoi Ballet, Dizzy Gillespie, Luciano Pavarotti, Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman. Today, the Series pursues the following mission: to present world-class performing artists who inspire and enrich our community. We believe in the power of excellence and innovation in the performing arts to enrich life experience, transform lives, and build better communities. We envision a community of Greater Boston where the performing arts are a valued, lifelong, shared experience – on stages, in schools, in homes – everywhere.

The Major Gift Officer reports to the Director of Development and is responsible for, but not limited to the following functions:

  • Identifying, cultivating and soliciting major gifts
  • Develop and manage a major gift prospect portfolio with a goal of carrying 75 major gifts prospects in an active solicitation cycle
  • Oversee all aspects of the major gift prospects relationship and timely movement through the solicitation cycle in coordination with other team members as appropriate
  • Monitor all prospect contacts to ensure positive and purposeful communications
  • Lead and/or attend donor cultivation and solicitation meetings
  • Plan and execute campaign cultivation events
  • Work collaboratively and strategically with Celebrity Series staff and Board members
  • Participate in and contribute substantively to organizational strategy and planning sessions
  • Maintain donor records and timely reporting in the database

  • Bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 5 years of related development experience
  • Proven record of success in fundraising, particularly in major gift solicitation
  • Highly organized, self-motivated with strong written and verbal skills
  • Ability to work on multiple fronts and meet frequent deadlines
  • Creative and strategic thinker with an ability to manage and present relevant financial information
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint)
  • Proficiency with Tessitura software is a plus
  • Some night and weekend work is required

To apply:
Please send a resume and a cover letter outlining your interest in this position to Celebrity Series of Boston, Inc., 20 Park Plaza, Suite 1032, Boston, MA 02116 or by email to

Executive Director Pro Bono Posting for SLAM! Program Los Angeles

SLAM! Program Los Angeles, a project of Community Partners, is a nonprofit, school-based program whose mission is to provide students from underserved schools with accessible, contemporary and tuition-free music instruction.  Our program is delivered through a network of volunteer college students, creating opportunities for mentorship and professional development through a shared experience of music. Our program offers a variety of classes at each partnering school, including Piano, Guitar, Percussion, Voice, Music Production, Songwriting, and Rock Band.


Core Values

  • Self-Esteem: The arts build community, which directly enhances students’ self-esteem.
  • Learning: Learning music is not a privilege, but a necessity for a well-rounded education.
  • Access: Every student deserves access to quality and affordable music instruction.
  • Musical Expression: Students need a voice that transcends language and dialect.


We believe that a strong student-teacher relationship has the power to change lives.


Starting out as a small pilot program in 2011, SLAM! has since grown into an expansive network that serves more than four hundred students across eleven Los Angeles middle and high schools, supported by one hundred volunteer instructors matriculating at the University of California, Los Angeles, University of Southern California, and Musicians Institute in Hollywood. In March of 2013, SLAM! became a fiscally sponsored project of Community Partners in order to support growing demand for SLAM! programming at additional schools. SLAM!’s Advisory Board recently completed a formal strategic plan which will guide the organization’s strategic priorities and financial growth from an operating budget of $170,000 to a projected $300,000 budget in the coming three years.


Executive Director Job Description 

The Executive Director of SLAM! Program Los Angeles is responsible for partnering with the Advisory Board to develop and implement the overall vision and strategic objectives for the organization. The individual will report directly to the Advisory Board, currently comprised of 9 members, and supervise 3 full-time and part-time staff members who oversee the delivery of our program model at each of our university chapters and middle and high school partners.


SLAM! offers a unique opportunity for an entrepreneurial, high-energy, and self-directed leader to build the foundation for growing our movement. The ideal candidate for this role is a passionate, committed organizer who can drive the impact of a lean and high-performing start-up organization. S/he will bring experience managing a team, executing against an agreed upon strategic direction, and familiarity with the broad education landscape in Los Angeles. The Executive Director’s responsibilities include: Fundraising and Development, Program Operations and Management, Board Governance and Strategic Vision, and Marketing and Community Relations.


Fundraising and Development (40%)

  • Provide organizational leadership in all aspects of fundraising and development, establishing personal relationships with key funders and donors in order to facilitate the creation of new and renewed sources of major gifts and philanthropic support
  • Work closely with the Advisory Board to develop annual fundraising plans and resources, consistently meeting or exceeding established goals
  • Work with relevant staff members to prepare grant proposals and reports, identify new grantmaker prospects, and meet all grant compliance requirements
  • Develop a robust individual giving program to cultivate existing donors for ongoing support and seek new and diverse donor prospects
  • Identify and maintain strong relationships with key community partners to diversify and expand the organization’s donor base


Program Operations and Management (25%)

  • Communicate and collaborate consistently with Community Partners, SLAM!’s fiscal sponsor, regarding all financial management, human resources, and legal counsel needs
  • Provide guidance, coaching, and supervision to the staff team in the high quality implementation of the SLAM! program model at all university chapters and partner schools
  • Oversee the school outreach and intake process as a liaison and ex-officio member of the Advisory Board in alignment with the organization’s projected growth
  • Execute a rigorous, timely, and professional hiring process for any available staff positions
  • Orchestrate the purchase, storage, and upkeep of a comprehensive equipment and supplies inventory across all SLAM! partner sites and central storage facilities
  • Encourage staff satisfaction and retention by fostering meaningful opportunities for their professional development and growth
  • Review position descriptions, ensuring they are up-to-date and that compensation is current with industry standards, and complete annual professional performance reviews
  • Appropriately address job performance issues in a timely and direct manner
  • Supervise financial activities in consultation with Community Partners’ Finance team to ensure that all revenues, obligations, reports, and filings are collected, paid and submitted



Board Governance and Strategic Vision (20%)

  • Provide visionary and inspirational leadership to all board members, staff, and volunteers, helping to build an innovative, entrepreneurial and nimble organization that is responsive to the needs of volunteers, school partners, and broader community
  • Establish strong working relationships with board members during and outside of board meetings, encouraging all members to participate actively and facilitating their involvement beyond board meetings
  • Provide the board with appropriate materials prior to each meeting and inform board members of any critical issues that need to be addressed
  • Oversee the annual preparation and monitoring of the budget in consultation with the board
  • Identify new board members whose talents, background, interests, experience, and commitment will further the mission and expand support


Marketing and Community Relations (15%)

  • Create and implement a comprehensive marketing and communications plan including: brand consistency, social media engagement, online communications, and related activities
  • Provide leadership and guidance to staff members and board members responsible for supporting marketing and communication efforts
  • Develop and distribute consistent digital communications to all organization stakeholders
  • Actively participate in the Los Angeles arts and education communities, attending conferences, receptions, workshops, and events to boost the organization’s visibility
  • Increase widespread knowledge of SLAM!, ensuring that the public as well as current or potential partners and funders understand its value and potential




Qualified applicants will have:

  • A deep passion for arts education, youth mentorship, and leadership development
  • A minimum of 5 years experience in a leadership role within an organization
  • Demonstrated track record of fundraising or business development through corporate and private foundations, event planning, and individual giving
  • Demonstrated ability to inspire, empower, and uplift others in a professional setting
  • Expertise in planning, organizational development, and team or culture building
  • Ability to balance day-to-day demands with big-picture vision and strategy
  • Familiarity with the Los Angeles school system and education policies specific to after school program providers
  • A broad network of contacts and potential partners eager to move the mission forward
  • An entrepreneurial mindset and interest in social entrepreneurship
  • Strong attention to detail and ability to balance multiple priorities
  • Excellent organizational skills, strategic thinking, and problem solving orientation
  • Strong interpersonal communication skills, both oral and written, with individuals across a variety of developmental and professional stages
  • Strong technological fluency (Microsoft Office Suite, Google Apps for Nonprofits, Mailchimp, WordPress, and database management, etc.)
  • The ability and flexibility to travel to partner schools across Los Angeles and work remotely with consistent access to:
    • High speed internet
    • Personal laptop with current operating system capabilities
    • Quiet and professional environment for phone or online meetings
  • A bachelor’s degree, master’s degree preferred


Compensation and Benefits

Position can be structured as a full or part time role. A comprehensive compensation package commensurate with experience is provided through Community Partners and includes full medical, dental, life, and long-term disability insurance benefits. SLAM! Program Los Angeles, a fiscally sponsored project of Community Partners, is an equal opportunity employer. The organization will consider qualified applicants with criminal histories in a manner consistent with the Los Angeles Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring.


For more information, please visit and


To Apply

Please submit a resume and cover letter to with your name in the subject line and all attachments. Applications accepted until position is filled.