Me Too, Too Many Times

Me Too. Two simple words that, if you are on Facebook or Twitter, you most likely are seeing pop up as the status update on many women’s and men’s pages.

 

Actress Alyssa Milano, in a Twitter post on October 14, shared the idea that anyone who has been sexually harassed or assaulted write the two words – Me Too – with the rationale that the sheer number of us who would do this would show the world just how widespread this issue really is. In two days, hundreds of thousands of us have posted it, and some have shared stories, using the hashtag #myharveyweinstein, to show that this abuse is not limited to Hollywood, industry, or level in one’s career.

 

The revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s deplorable behavior have sparked a movement.  Perhaps we as a culture are FINALLY ready to discuss something that previously we did not share.  Like, really did not share. Last week, amid the shocking stories coming out about Weinstein, my best friends and I were talking and admitted that we had been targeted in the workplace. Keep in mind these are women that have been in my life for nearly twenty years. We know everything about each other…every bit of each other’s history, what our ATM passwords are, where to find each other’s wills should the worst happen. THIS is the one topic we never really delved into, which saddens me. Why do we share everything, even the scariest, darkest corners of our psyche with each other, but feel too ashamed to discuss something that we did nothing to cause?

 

When it happens, you feel completely scared, humiliated, isolated, and guilty. You figure it must have been something you did. You never assume that this is just a hideous human being with predatory behavior. You hide it from everyone, even your very best friends. ,

 

It is time to rip off the bandage that we have all been using to covering up this shame and start telling our stories. In doing so, we take back the power that Weinstein and monsters like him have had over us. In that vein, here are some of my #MyHarveyWeinstein moments:

 

  • A senior HR professional at the firm my father was one of the top people at.  I was 21, in my first job out of college. Dad’s office was two buildings away, so I would sometimes stop by to say hello to he and his Executive Assistant, who is like family to us. On this particular day, Dad was in a meeting, so I was at her cube. I leaned over the cube wall to look at something on her computer, and the guy stopped by to talk to us. As he stood next to me, he began to fondle my bottom. I was apparently green with disgust, because she brought me in to Dad’s office, where I told her what happened. He was fired within hours.
  • A Managing Director at an investment firm. He moved to Boston from the West Coast for the position. His wife and children had not yet made the move east, and he asked me to spend a weekend with him because “my [expletive] is lonely and wants to spend time with you”. I reported this to my boss. She told me that it was probably because he was from another country and had different views of how women should be treated and to drop it. Two weeks later, a highly respected female Portfolio Manager, who had been at the firm for several years, resigned. In her exit interview, she told me that he was the reason she was leaving. He had made comments like “You’re too old to [expletive] so you are of no use to me” and “old women should just leave the office. I want young and hot”. When I met with him to express concern over these comments, he became incensed and told me that he was going to ruin both her career and mine, and that I should have [expletive] him when I had the chance. When I filed an official complaint with Human Resources at our parent company, I was told that, as a Human Resources professional, I am expected to deal with challenging people and that if I could not handle comments like this I should leave. I did.
  • The CFO at a a financial services firm. Over the course of my tenure, he told me that, as a woman, I should be careful about not talking back to him. He told me that I was too pretty to have anything of substance to say, that if I was not careful, he would find a way to get me fired because he was sick and tired of women like me questioning him, and that I needed to put on some weight because men like curvier women. Keep in mind I was his peer, and the only woman on the executive management team.
  • The Founder/CEO of a banking client. His receptionist resigned, so I started looking for a qualified replacement. When I brought in four incredibly competent and qualified candidates, he dismissed them all. When I asked for feedback, he informed that “Unless I want to [expletive] them as much as I want to [expletive] you, they are not the right candidate. And find me one with [expletive] as good as yours.”
  • The Head of Inside Sales with a company I did consulting work for. I had just returned from an amazing island vacation. He came by my office to catch up, and asked how the vacation was. When I shared that we had a great time, he said that next time he should take me on vacation because “you have no idea the naughty things I want to do to you on a beach.”

 

Harassers, abusers, and [expletive] grabbers take note: We will no longer remain silent when you spew your vile words, will not cover up your abuse, and will not live in secrecy one minute longer. Keep it up and “Me Too” and use of #MyHarveyWeinstein may eventually include your names and addresses.

 

In the words of Alyssa Milano, “This is not an uncommon occurrence. This is a sick culture. Men like Harvey Weinstein are around every corner. Men who undermine women and their strength, ability, and intelligence exist everywhere.”  By sharing our experiences, maybe we can prevent the next generation from having to endure the Weinstein’s of the world.

 

With personalized service and proven results, Pillar Search & HR Consulting provides executive search and human resources consulting services for exceptional non-profits and socially responsible for-profit firms. A woman-owned business, Pillar is based in Boston, MA, and works on the national level. To learn more about how Pillar can assist with your HR and hiring needs, please contact Cindy Joyce, CEO, at cindy@pillarsearch.com.

Hop or Not?

There are many rewards and risks in job hopping, just as there can be lots of rewards and risks in a decision to stay with a current company. But they are not necessarily the same.  Should you job hop or not?

First, let’s understand why job-hopping has been and still is in vogue. Prior to the 1970s, large and medium sized companies were often considered to be paternalistic toward to their employees, to the latter’s delight, and employees often had a “job-for-life” approach to joining a company. Job security was a prominent reason, while job satisfaction, compensation and benefits vied for second place. By the 1970s, in part due to the Vietnam war, which brought into question the honesty and loyalty of big government and large companies, the olden days’ paternalistic scenarios began to break down, as did other factors: the demise of pension plans, large scale lay-offs in many companies in the chase for stock values, efficiency goals, cost-per-unit, and outsourcing of jobs overseas…and it continues to this day.

Fast forward to 2017. Job hoppers are viewed warily by some hiring managers, though they are embraced by others because they are considered to be adaptable, have seen a range of company sizes and approaches (perhaps even those of your competitors!), and have a larger network of contacts. And hiring managers, take note: millennials change jobs, on average, every 18-24 months, so this trend has no sign of slowing down.

What are the risks and rewards of job hopping?

  • Money:
    • Reward: The reward part seems obvious here! If your current salary/bonus/commission are below market, and your current firm is not willing to bring you up to an equitable rate, it may be time to start looking elsewhere.
    • Risk: Job-hopping for compensation alone is a losing battle. You might get the compensation you want, but not have all the positive attributes your current job provides. Be sure to also factor in your total compensation.       Beyond base salary, bonus, and commission (if applicable), how do benefits match up? Differences in health, dental, 401(k), stock options, vacation, sick time, commuting costs and the like add up, and that pay increase may actually cost you in the long run.
  • Fit with the company culture and mission/vision:
    • Reward: Finding a job with an organization with a strong culture, and with a product or service you really stand behind, or a nonprofit with a mission that you believe in with your heart and soul can be a magical thing.
    • Risk: The “magic” may make you overlook some other key things, like fit with the actual job or chemistry with your manager and colleagues. Be sure to dig deep to ensure that you are not taking the wrong job with the right organization.
  • Increased job satisfaction/more interesting work:
    • Reward: It is a great feeling to have work that satisfies you. Moving for even more satisfaction can help you to grow your skills and hone your craft. Another option: if you are the type who bores easily, you may want to consider joining the “gig economy” and look at doing consulting, where you can work on a project basis and do all kinds of different and interesting work.
    • Risk: If you are really, truly disinterested in the work you are doing, think long and hard about it. Is it really the current job, or is it the work itself? If it is the actual work, maybe you are ready for a larger-scale career change. Going someplace else may be a temporary fix, and once the novelty wears off, you may find yourself bored again. If your intuition tells you this may be the case, take a breather to figure out what type of work will fulfill you longer term.
  • Advancement opportunities:
    • Reward: Feeling like you can grow in your career is something that most people find to be essential, but sometimes you do have to go outside to make a move up.
    • Risk: If a better title is your primary motivator, make sure this career move ^^ is going to check some of the other boxes too…or accept that it may literally be a move JUST for a better title.       Also, consider talking to your current manager. Are there ways to advance within your current role by taking on new projects and honing specific skills?
  • A great manager/team:
    • Reward: Let’s suppose that the best manager you ever worked for calls you and asks that you come to his or her new company to work for them. Added bonus? Some of your favorite colleagues will also be joining the team. Or, suppose that you interview and the hiring manager is dynamic, smart, and easy to get along with, and the team members you met with seem committed, happy, and interesting. Ready to sign on the dotted line? I don’t blame you. Chemistry with your boss and colleagues can be a great thing.
    • Risk: In the case of following a manager to a new role, the risk is that you get there and the manager leaves, be it due to personal choice, layoff, his/her promotion, or restructuring. Or, in the case of joining a new manager, that person who seemed so great is…not so great. Do your research to see who your new boss and team are and what they are all about.
  • A startup that you think will take off in a major way:
    • Reward: Working at a startup can be rewarding on many levels. As it grows, your opportunity to take on more responsibility and learn multiple parts of the business will be there. If it takes off, it may result in a wealth event for both the company and you, especially if you can get equity early on.
    • Risk: Do your research on the market that the startup focuses on and the viability of their value proposition. Ask about funding sources, benefits, and if the founders are looking to grow the company, or are ultimately hoping to sell it…because you could end up working for another firm or find yourself out of a job if that happens!

All in all, job-hopping is a bet – but recent statistics show that most professionals will change jobs 9-10 times or more over their working life. Identifying the risks and mitigating them will help you be successful, whether you hop or not.

 

Cindy Joyce is the CEO of Pillar Search and HR Consulting.  With personalized service and proven results, Pillar Search and HR Consulting provides retained executive search and recruiting services as well as human resources consulting to for exceptional nonprofits and socially responsible for-profit organizations.  To learn more, please visit www.pillarsearch.com.

 

 

 

It Takes a Village to Raise a Career

In the 1990s, Hillary Clinton released the book It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us.  The premise of the book is that many individuals/entities have a responsibility for raising children: parents, family, teachers, employers, religious organizations, nonprofits, government, and others.

I know of two friends who are currently in job search mode, and it got me thinking that it takes a village when in a job search. One is currently employed, and the other just learned that their job is being eliminated. Both have reached out to people in their “village” as they start their searches: personal, professional, and LinkedIn networks, executive search consultants, professional membership organizations related to their fields, and current/former colleagues. In the case of the friend being laid off, his package includes services with a well-regarded outplacement firm, so he has that resource as well.

Each part of the village in your career trajectory is crucial, and it is important to maintain these connections in good times and in bad. The village offers continuous encouragement, open and honest feedback, and inspiration.

Now, take a look at your career village. Whether you are content in your job or actively looking, is there an area where you could strengthen those connections? Make it a point this week to add connections to your LinkedIn network, reconnect with a former manager or colleague that you have lost touch with, or get involved in a professional organization for people in your field…because while it takes a village, Rome was not built in a day!

Hire the best!  With personalized service and proven results, Pillar Search & HR Consulting provides retained executive search services and human resources consulting for exceptional non-profits and socially responsible for-profit firms. A woman-owned business, Pillar is based in Boston, MA, and works on the national level. To learn more about how Pillar can assist with your hiring and human resources needs, please contact Cindy Joyce at cindy@pillarsearch.com.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Yep, I went there. Teamwork makes the dream work. A bit of a tired cliché, but frankly, teams are the very essence of most organizational cultures. We know the benefits of working in teams: enhanced employee engagement, improved relationships with colleagues, more creative solutions, gaining an understanding of different perspectives, and the list goes on. Whether it’s a new team that comes together during a merger or restructuring, to tackle a specific project, or a collaboration between different departments, these steps can help turn that new team into a dream team.

 

Establish a team leader. In some teams, this will be the person managing the individuals. If this is a cross-functional team, it still helps to have the team assign a leader or two who keep everyone on track.

 

Leverage Diversity: Diversity can mean a host of different things. When it comes to a team, yes, having people of different backgrounds and genders is critical, but diversity can also mean including people with different skill sets and business expertise and levels of experience. Look at the boards of some of the most successful companies and you may notice that there is diversity of expertise. Take a cue from them when assembling teams.

 

Establish ground rules. While it may sound simple, establishing expectations, deliverable dates, and responsibilities up front will help the team in the long run, as this way each individual understands the importance of their contributions to the larger group.

 

Course correct: It would be lovely if teams came together, did what needed to be done, and all got along swimmingly. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but it rarely happens! Personal agendas, office politics, challenging personalities, and egos so often get in the way. When that happens, have open conversations to remind people that this is a group effort and that everyone’s input and efforts are important to the outcome.

 

“R before T” (relationship before task): I credit this tip to my favorite professor from graduate school, who started each class with a time for us to share personal updates and catch up. It did bring us closer, and helped us to understand each other beyond our studies and view each other as human beings!

 

Celebrate team success: It can be something as small as a round of applause, a personal thank you note to each team member, a team lunch or happy hour. Marking milestones is crucial, as it lets the team know that they are on the right path or have accomplished what they set out to do.

 

 

Hire the best! With personalized service and proven results, Pillar Search & HR Consulting provides recruiting/search services and human resources consulting for exceptional non-profits and socially responsible for-profit firms. A woman-owned business, Pillar is based in Boston, MA, and works on the national level. To learn more about how Pillar can assist with your hiring and human resources needs, please contact

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 www.pillarsearch.com or email Cindy at cindy@pillarsearch.com.

 

#UberHR

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 www.pillarsearch.com or email Cindy at cindy@pillarsearch.com.