Tag: men

{Random Encounters} On the Road to Alignment and Purpose

Posted on March 6th, by a Guest Contributor in Women of HR Series: Random Encounters. Comments Off

Encounters with your boss aren’t really random, I guess, but I had an unexpected encounter with a boss when I was a young leader moving up in the organization.

I was one of a very few women in the middle management of the firm and was being promoted to the next level.  After accepting the new job and agreeing to deliver the outcomes as described, I praised my boss for being one of two executives in the company who had a track record of developing and promoting women into management positions.

He looked at me like I was a little nuts and said, “Are you kidding? Any time I have a women who is even marginally qualified for a management job I’ll give it to her.  She’ll work twice as hard and produce three times the results – for half the money!”

Heart stopping, right?

Now, he was a good guy. He had hired me and promoted me twice already. I knew he was pretty chauvinistic – what male boss wasn’t in the early 1990’s?  But here’s the thing: he thought he was being complimentary. He thought that telling me that he noticed that I worked harder than anyone else and produced results better than everyone else was a good message.  But you know, all I heard was the “half the money” part.

A few months later I got my bonus. It was fantastic. The biggest check I’d ever seen. But you know what I wondered?  I wondered if this bonus was a “half the money” bonus. I didn’t know what anyone else got and I didn’t know the bonus formula. So even though I thought the check was huge, I didn’t know what it meant.  And I always suspected that, although it was big, perhaps i

t was less than I would have received if I had been a man.

I came to peace with that pretty quickly. He really was a good boss. In the best way he knew, he was trying to acknowledge my performance and contributions. But I’ve always remembered that experience and have used it to be sure I’m clear in my communication with my team – communication about performance, money – and what it means, career opportunity and more.  Making sure that highly valued – and other – employees know I value them for what they do, how they do it, the results they produce and how those dynamics impact their career progress is critical in building manager/employee relationships.

I think back to that time and am glad he promoted me – even if his motive was a little suspect. We all got what we wanted: the organization got a highly effective leader, he got a region that blew out its numbers, and I got higher into management with a larger compensation package. Win-win-win.

Funny how those random conversations can change your perspective forever.  I chose to learn an important management communication lesson that I never forgot.  I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said, “I can learn something from any man – even if it’s what not to do.”

About the author: China Gorman is CEO of the CMG Group, connecting HR to business and business to HR, and author of the Data Point Tuesday feature at www.chinagorman.com.  Connect with her on Twitter as @ChinaGorman.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

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{Women of HR Unwrapped} Chivalry in the Workplace

Posted on December 25th, by Bonni Titgemeyer in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

We are unwrapping some posts from the Women of HR archives for you this holiday season. Relax, enjoy and let us know if there is a favorite of yours you'd like to see unwrapped and run again.

I’m beginning to get a little nervous for my husband’s generation of men.

It is scary to think that his generation is the last of those men who were brought up to behave in a chivalrous manner.

I like chivalry. It is polite and helpful. It is slightly romantic, and I think I hold men who do such things in higher esteem than those who don’t.

My husband holds open doors for me.  He drops me off at the front entrance to the store so I don’t have to walk across the parking lot.  He brings in the groceries from the car.  He makes sure I don’t leave the house without an umbrella. He helps me put on my coat.  When we are dressed up to go out, he helps me get in the car, and he closes the car door for me.  He holds my hand when I walk across icy pavement in high heels.

While I am clearly the object of his affection and the love of his life, I do notice that he behaves this way with other women, e.g. that he is thoughtful. The door opening thing in particular is something he

does for women, but I also regularly see him thinking ahead so that women aren’t inconvenienced.

Unless a guy is disabled or clearly in need of help, I don’t see my husband stepping ahead to hold a door for him. This isn’t expected.

Being married to me, I hardly think he thinks of women as being the weaker sex. I think it is just a part of who he was taught to be, a gentleman.

In this world of workplace equality, I have to wonder what dangers there are in continuing to show a favoritism of this nature toward women. Will it, or has it already been perceived as sexism?

Rather than chastising chivalry, I wonder if the best approach would be to encourage women to be chivalrous, or to take the taboo/weirdness out of men helping men.  In that way, everyone benefits.

About the author: Bonni Titgemeyer is the Managing Director of The Employers’ Choice Inc. She has been in human resources for 20+ years and works in the international HR arena. She is the recipient of the 2012 Toronto Star HR Professional of the Year Award.  You can connect with Bonni on Twitter as @BonniToronto, often at the hashtag #TEPHR.

Photo credit iStockphoto

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Leadership Communication:To Slam or Not to Slam a Table

Posted on November 29th, by Debbie Brown in Leadership. 15 comments

I have been reading a lot over the last few years about communication and have been fascinated by what the books share as differences between men and women in this area. I have begun to make adjustments and pay closer attention to my habits, like not raising my hand to speak, watching my posture and what I am doing with my hands and my stance.

Yesterday, I slammed the table and stunned the room. Today, I am trying to figure out whether that is me and whether it matters or not. It was a safe place and I was fascinated by the result.

The setting was a non- profit board meeting for which, as a member, I was asked to facilitate. We are an all volunteer team and working on this board has provided a safe place for me to hone my leadership skills. The board is diverse. Of the 4 men and 3 women,  3 were born outside the US. I was facilitating a topic and the conversations were intense and veering off track. This particular conversation needed to move forward. After allowing everyone in the room to have their say,  people again started talking over each other and getting off track. I slammed the table with both hands and said, “Hey, we need to move on.”  The room got silent and we were able to mov

e forward with the meeting.

I never did that before and was fascinated with the result and the feedback.

At the next break, the feedback was very positive from Western (US and UK) colleagues. They said it was effective, it brought everyone back and they thanked me. A Far East colleague had the polar opposite reaction and advised I don't do that outside of a safe environment and went on to tell me to “be myself.” A colleague from the Middle East chimed right in and said, I think it's cultural” and we went on to talk about how America is viewed outside the US. I wondered if it were a man hitting the table whether the feedback would have been the same.

It was so interesting.

What tweaks are you making in your communications at the table these days?

Photo credit: iStockphoto

About the author: Debbie Brown is a Senior Sales Executive in Analytics, Software and Services . The majority of her career has been spent managing people and teams in software and services provided to the HR industry. Debbie enjoys sharing leadership best practices and as an avid reader is always happy to share great book recommendations. You can connect with Debbie on Twitter as @DebbieJBrown.

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Where Your Reputation Preceeds You

Posted on May 10th, by a Guest Contributor in Networks, Mentors and Career. No Comments

Anyone who is of a certain age (or is a fan of the show Mad Men) likely knows how far women have come in the workplace over the past generation. We no longer are expected to work as secretaries and leave the office for good upon giving birth to a child. We no longer are openly belittled and objectified. While we may not yet make the same salaries or get promoted at the same rates, the gaps are narrowing and women have the ability to pursue almost any profession they desire.

But you’ve heard the old saying: two steps forward and one step backwards. That’s how I feel about our progress these days – in the digital age. The gains described above reflect the “two steps forward” that women are making each and every day. But new workplace realities in a virtual world often get delineated, as if by default, along crass gender lines.

A worker’s online reputation is a case in point. As the recent furor over companies asking job applicants for their Facebook password illustrates, no longer is it sufficient to consult references as part of a standard background check. Instead, that background examination now includes a close perusal of a person’s Twitter feed, Facebook profile, Pinterest page, and much more. Employers are also likely to “Google” a candidate’s name to see what comes up. Thanks to this practice, information about you that was public years ago can be viewed by bosses – and, of course, be preserved for eternity online.

What’s your online and social media record? Do you need to go about repairing your online reputation? These are important questions to ask, even if you’re currently employed. And especially if you’re a woman.

Not too long ago, I was working at a mid-sized firm while also being careless with my Facebook use. I didn’t take any pains to de-tag myself from compromising pictures – pictures where I was inebriated – and would occasionally Tweet about my company (although never in a negative way) while at work. If this sounds foolhardy to you, perhaps it was, but I had one strong factor in my defense: the male employees at the firm took no pains to manage their online reputation. I often saw “inappropriate” photos of them on Facebook – photos that our bosses could see, as well.

But that’s where the similarities ended. Although I ran into trouble among co-workers and bosses and was ultimately let go as a result of my online reputation, the men in my office were entirely immune. Nobody cared that they drank at outside functions. A woman, on the other hand, was fair grounds for censure.

Speaking with other women made me realize that this is too often the case. Whether employed or in the application process, fired or simply criticized, our personal lives tend to matter more than the personal lives of male employees. And, since our online reputation is often an extension (or at least a reflection) of our personal lives, we need to be far more cautious about it than the average man.

So my advice for workers: manage your reputation carefully. Don’t let your Facebook profile be viewed by non-friends and err on the side of disclosing less information online, not more. Conduct a Google search of yourself and try to assess the data out there when applying for any job.

And my advice for women: stay vigilant when it comes to discrimination in the workforce – even of the digital age variety. Although tremendous progress has been made new challenges only continue to arise, meaning that it is always important to be cognizant of the situation around you.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

About the author: Samantha Peters enjoys writing on topics that relate to avoiding gender-based discrimination in the modern workplace.  With an ever-expanding accessibility to your personal information found on the internet, managing your online reputation must remain a high priority in order to successfully grow your career.


Men Should Look Nice. Women Should Look Pretty.

Posted on April 5th, by Robin Schooling in Business and Workplace. 17 comments

The Dress Code policy. There are very few managers or HR professionals who haven’t participated in a dress code conversation.

Sadly, in many organizations, when faced with conundrums such as: “How do I tell Sally she needs to wear a bra?” (answer: “Hey Sally, you need to wear a bra.”) or “What are we going to do so that Bob irons his shirts? (answer: “Hey Bob, iron your shirts.”), the easy lazy answer has always been “Let’s write a dress code policy!”

Many years ago, when I was fresh-faced and eager in my new HR career, the organization I worked for felt the need to move from a common-sense (for the most part) one page Dress Code Policy to a FIVE PAGE policy that spelled out everything from the length of one’s skirt to the banning of pants/skirts that had pockets on the back. The enforcement of this policy would have necessitated, more than likely, the hiring of Sister Mary Agnes to join our staff and roam about measuring skirt lengths with her ruler. As it was, we were already a tad foolish, differentiating the proper attire based on what floor of the building you worked on. If you were a female, and your office was on the 2nd floor, you were forbidden from wearing pants. Why? That was the Executive Floor (all-male C-Suite at the time) and, apparently, it had been determined that the gals needed to remember their place in the hierarchy.

Now this was a financial institution with drive-through banking stations in the Midwest and in the winter it was not uncommon to hit (and sustain) temperatures well below zero. And as you may recall from the last time you went to a drive-through banking facility the tellers were f-a-r a-w-a-y from you and you probably could have cared less about what they were wearing.  Nevertheless, back in the day, the company I worked for decided that these employees were dressing inappropriately when they wore cardigan sweaters over a nice shirt or blouse. Never mind the fact that they wore the cardigan sweaters because working in those drive-thru facilities was like coming down the wind tunnel at Lambeau Field in the middle of January.

Sorry Joanie; time to ditch the sweater.  Common sense is no match for our dress code policy.

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The other day while Googling some random HR stuff, I came across the slide deck for a New Employee Orientation circa  2007.

There were a number of slides devoted to what to wear/what not to wear.  (Spaghetti strap tops and athletic shoes were out; pressed khakis and blazers were in).  I guess it was particularly helpful for this organization to point out that while skirts and dresses were always appropriate for women – “Female executives and their assistants may choose to wear suits.”  I wonder what happened when Grace, the lowly mid-level Purchasing Manager decided to wear a suit?  Scandalous!

That, of course, was on the Do/Don’t slide for women. And naturally there was a Do/Don’t slide for men. The headers of these two slides:

Men Should Look Nice” and “Women Should Look Pretty.”

I am not kidding.

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I think about a new employee sitting in a conference room in 2007 (that’s only 5 years ago!) with other newbies. She was excited to start her new job, perhaps even making a bit more money than in her last gig.  She had been through numerous interviews, got a good vibe from her soon-to-be-boss and felt she made the right decision for her career when she accepted the job offer.

And then she learned what this company considers important for the success of its female employees when she’s told She Should Look Pretty.

I wonder how long I would have lasted?

Photo credit iStockphoto


Be The Captain of Your Own Ship

Posted on December 13th, by Paul Smith in Women of HR Series: 6 Rules to Break. 1 Comment

This is the second post in a series where Women of HR writers share their thoughts and reactions to a manifesto, Six Rules Women Must Break In Order to Succeed.

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As a gay man, I am often confused by the notion of striving for equal rights. It is not the equal part that is confusing. It is the striving.

On one hand, there is a need to identify with a cultural brand, e.g. gay. On the other hand, there is a quest for rights that everyone else has. With that, is also a quest for opportunities, and the subsequent success and power that others possess.

These two forces contradict each other. For example, I noticed when reading about a Mr. Gay America pageant, one of the organizers alluded that if straight females can do it, so can we.

My response, is why do you want to take your unique culture and mirror it against another? Does this create equality or does it create following? If it’s following, is this disguised abdication?

Giving the benefit of the doubt, perhaps there are no original ideas to create or original identities to own. Hence, outside of discriminating factors, such as sexual orientation, race, religion, color, or genetic indicators, we are all human with the same needs. Therefore, all notions of equality are universally the same. If this is the case, then there is no box to break out of outside of the one we create for ourselves. If this is true, then it does not matter what discriminating trait you carry. Each of us individually has to strive for equal rights and opportunities on our own terms. Each of us decides our own definition of success and power.

These were my thoughts after I read the manifesto, The 6 Rules Women Must Break In Order To Succeed.

Moreover, I felt a little confused. I can’t escape the notion that their definitions of power were built upon structures of power already in existence, and success was based on having more power. Also, it seems the very structure they claim is holding them back is the same one they want to embrace. Thus, I found instead of creating truly new rules, they are suggesting to follow rules already in place.

I don’t disagree with the six rules for someone seeking their definition of power. However, I had difficulty not applying their rules to anyone who was seeking this power regardless whether they were women or men. I agree, for example, one should not “focus on everyone else” or “expect hard work to be enough” or “fall into extreme thinking.”

However, I do think the rules are limiting. I am not one to tell someone else what success or power is. Both of these are individual choices. Hence my negative criticism of the manifesto is of the narrow band of which success is defined. I read nothing that illuminated the internal beauty of feeling free to choose your own level of success. For me, that is when true power comes into play.

Frankly though, I was hoping to discover some true insights into some different rules for women. Going into it, I was anticipating something iconoclastic like Patti Smith. Instead, I was left with Pat Benatar. Neither bad. Simply, one was the captain of their own ship and broke the rules, the other one was a captive of the ship and followed the rules.

To me, if you wish to truly create new rules, take charge of yourself, create your own definitions of success and power, and be the captain of your own ship.

Photo credit iStockphoto


Chivalry in the Workplace

Posted on December 2nd, by Bonni Titgemeyer in Business and Workplace. 4 comments

I’m beginning to get a little nervous for my husband’s generation of men.

It is scary to think that his generation is the last of those men who were brought up to behave in a chivalrous manner.

I like chivalry. It is polite and helpful. It is slightly romantic, and I think I hold men who do such things in higher esteem than those who don’t.

My husband holds open doors for me.  He drops me off at the front entrance to the store so I don’t have to walk across the parking lot.  He brings in the groceries from the car.  He makes sure I don’t leave the house without an umbrella. He helps me put on my coat.  When we are dressed up to go out, he helps me get in the car, and he closes the car door for me.  He holds my hand when I walk across icy pavement in high heels.

While I am clearly the object of his affection and the love of his life, I do notice that he behaves this way with other women, e.g. that he is thoughtful. The door opening thing in particular is something he does for women, but I also regularly see him thinking ahead so that women aren’t inconvenienced.

Unless a guy is disabled or clearly in need of help, I don’t see my husband stepping ahead to hold a door for him. This isn’t expected.

Being married to me, I hardly think he thinks of women as being the weaker sex. I think it is just a part of who he was taught to be, a gentleman.

In this world of workplace equality, I have to wonder what dangers there are in continuing to show a favoritism of this nature toward women. Will it, or has it already been perceived as sexism?

Rather than chastising chivalry, I wonder if the best approach would be to encourage women to be chivalrous, or to take the taboo/weirdness out of men helping men.  In that way, everyone benefits.

Photo credit iStockphoto


The Intimidation Factor

Posted on May 9th, by Shaun Emerson in Leadership. No Comments

Tuesday night, I was perusing my Twitter stream and I started casually following Talent Culture’s #TChat. The dialogue was entertaining but things really got fired up when someone mentioned HR getting a “seat at the table.”  

This phrase reminds me of my whining tween daughter pleading to escape the kid’s table and eat with the adults. Yet, I realize that interpretation may not be fair. Many HR organizations are under-appreciated and under-leveraged. Good people want to have as big an impact as they possibly can and HR folks battle some difficult stereotypes in having that impact. But what if there is something else at play? For some reason, Tuesday night, I had a new thought as I followed the chat.

Could it be that HR doesn’t have a seat at the table because women intimidate men?

As the supposed stronger sex, most of us would never admit that we feel threatened by a woman. Take the small dust-up a couple of months ago when Jennifer Wright posted an article at the Gloss, a site for the modern women, entitled, Smart Men Tell Us Why They Date Dumb Women. After reading an article in the New York Times about changing gender roles, Ms. Wright interviewed nine male friends to get their perspective on dating smart/successful women. These “alpha” males provided Ms. Wright with mostly self-serving explanations for their “preference.” Reading between the lines, the group feared abdicating control in the relationship. They appeared to be intimidated by accomplished women.

Who are they going to date? Women are more accomplished than ever. Today, females represent half our workforce. Census numbers released recently show that women now exceed men in gaining both bachelor and advanced degrees. Dumb women? Additionally, women-owned businesses contribute close to $3 trillion to the U.S. GDP, according to the Small Business Association. Yet, rather than embracing the positive strides these statistics represent, men are intent on keeping the male power structure in place.

Will there ever be a truce in the battle of the sexes? I recognize that we focus on the statistics above to celebrate women’s progress in a male-domineering culture, but it would be nice to end the fight over who is wearing the pants. Hell, I was recently surprised to find that there is an ongoing argument about which sex is funnier. Initiating the debate, men such as Jerry Lewis, John Belushi and, most notably, Christopher Hitchens, in a Vanity Fair article, claimed that women aren’t funny. Are these guys just pot-stirrers, keen-eyed social observers or another example of males attempting to maintain their superior status and revealing their unease with, what one author calls, the “Age of Female Empowerment?” None of these explanations would justify the attack, but if the latter one is most prominent, it may explain HR’s absence from the table.

Only 11 women hold CEO spots in America’s 500 largest companies. With men still ruling the executive suite and women employed in approximately 80% of HR positions, may HR still not truly have an equal “seat at the table” because women intimidate men? If men are insecure about entering into personal relationships with smart, accomplished women as various studies have concluded, will they not carry that insecurity into the workplace?

Photo credit iStockphoto


Adam, Eve and Silent Observations

Posted on January 14th, by Robin Schooling in Business and Workplace. 4 comments

There are many belief systems, religions and styles of observing or celebrating one’s faith.  It’s a subject that comes up in HR when we’re tasked with evaluating a request for religious accommodation or we consider how we’ll handle an employee relations issue when Employee A feels harassed by Employee B’s proselytizing in the work place.

Now I’m by no means a religiously observant person.  I do, however, find it fascinating to read about different religions and belief systems.  From a historical and social perspective, it’s endlessly interesting to me to look at the connection between different religions and see how they’ve shaped and continue to influence the world in which we live.  One group I’ve been trying to understand is the group of Christians who live by directives set out by the Apostle Paul in the Pastoral Epistles of the New Testament (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus).

In the King James Version of the Bible, 1 Timothy, Chapter 2 (v 11 – 13), we read:  “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.  For Adam was first formed, then Eve.” 

Or, in a new translation – “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.”

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Some scholars and writers have taken great pains to point out that these scriptural verses do not mean that woman is inferior to man.  After all, they point out, there are other verses which speak to the woman being permitted by her husband to have authority over the domain of the household – to “marry, bear children and guide the house.”  However, many are in agreement that these edicts DO let us know that woman is subordinate in rank to man.

There are some who point out that this is primarily within the context of teaching or worshipping within the confines of the Church; after all, this is a basis for some denominations to not ordain women pastors or priests or to allow women to be religious leaders.  But even if this IS only within the context of a religious service or religious teaching – how can a viewpoint like this not permeate the rest of society?

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There are a number of religious bloggers who discuss their faith.  I recently read a blog post where the writer made very clear that “it is my husband’s policy that I not engage men in discussions” and “I will not respond to comments from men, especially questions which could put me in a ‘teaching’ position.”   

Now I fervently support individuals having the ability to freely believe in and worship whatever deity, deities, or non-deities they wish.  And to live by whichever commandments or teachings they believe are imperative.  But I can’t help but wonder how the men who believe that women are subordinate handle their interactions with women in the workplace. 

How do the sons, raised in these households, move out into a society where they will have to take directions from a woman, or be taught/instructed by a woman?  If a male employee has a deeply-held religious belief that a woman is not to be in a position of authority over him, what happens if his newly-hired manager is a woman? 

And would everyone, perhaps, view things just a tad differently had Eve arrived on the scene before Adam?


Do We Really Need Women of HR?

Posted on November 15th, by a Guest Contributor in Leadership. 20 comments

This guest post is authored by Tim Sacket, SPHR. Tim is the EVP of HRU Technical Resources in Lansing, MI. Tim loves everything talent acquisition and believes every corporate recruitment department in America can and must get better. 

Women of  HR. Really?

When did we get to a point in our society when the majority thought it was a good idea to start a specialty group and brand themselves as a minority?

The only thing women in HR are minorities of is, maybe, a paycheck. Ouch. That one probably hit a little too close to home and my wife said I’d better be nice on this piece.

Seriously, I think Women of HR is almost the anti-SHRM in that they are a collection of mostly women that get HR.  The Women of HR get the business of HR and how to use the people practices of their organization to drive organizational results - not just HR results.

Men Of and In HR

You know what might work out really well?  Men of HR. Oh wait, that didn’t go to0 well the first time around and might be the single most disturbing (and at the same time the single funniest) HR related activity by HR ”pros”  that I’ve ever seen. The Men of HR is what happens when you put men in charge of trying to put together a voice of a minority group in the HR world – a miserable failure.

What actually might work is for the Women of HR to start a “brother” group, ran by women, who just tell the men what to write and say. It’s probably closer to the reality of what actually happens to most male HR pros in their lives anyway.

Words of Advice

One small word of advice to the Women of HR, if you’re going to jump –  jump all the way.

Lose the dudes and  embrace all that is female. You’re women,  you’re in HR and that’s what we want to hear. We don’t want to hear from a dude who wants to write about what women might think they’d like him to say.

Put up more posts on chocolate and cats and Dancing with the Stars.  I want to see posts on why the day after the Dancing with the Stars final airs is the best day to hire. That’s riveting stuff.

Actually, I take back what I said above. You need one guy to allow you to say crap about men but play it off like you’re just bantering with the one male writing member on staff (perception is reality) and my advice is that you get a guy so emasculated that it’s almost like having another chick on staff . Not one like the Diet Coke guy but one more like Perez Hilton with some HR background. Sorry, I’m too busy to accept. (Actually, I’m not too busy - my wife just won’t let me.)

Keep Up The Fight

Remember, keep branding yourself as a minority in the majority world. People really don’t pay attention so it will work. Please, no Women of HR calendars. The last thing we need is to see Laurie Ruettimann with cats covering certain parts on the month of February. And skip all the dudes  – except one.

Keep fighting the man and by the “man” I mean the 7% of male HR counterparts you have in the industry.

Photo credit iStockphoto