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Hosts Stacey Harris and John Sumser discuss important news and topics in recruiting and HR technology. Listen live every Thursday or catch up on full episodes with transcriptions here.

HR Tech Weekly

Episode: 233
Air Date: September 5, 2019


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Important: Our transcripts at HRExaminer are AI-powered (and fairly accurate) but there are still instances where the robots get confused (or extremely confused) and make errors. Please expect some inaccuracies as you read through the text of this conversation and let us know if you find something wrong and we’ll get it fixed right away. Thank you for your understanding.

John Sumser
Stacey Harris


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Good morning, and welcome to HR Tech Weekly, One Step Closer with Stacey Harris and John Sumser.

Hi, Stacey.

Morning, John. How are you doing today? Are you guys enjoying finally not being in the news this week [00:01:00] for the weather and and we’re on the east coast in on in the news again?

[00:01:04] Yeah, what we’ll catch up with you right after the hurricane season comes the real fire season here like the entire town yesterday shut down to have house evacuation drills and safety checks and make sure that everybody’s our cell phones get message when the fires coming so. So we’re just a little bit behind you in the weather now.

[00:01:26] Yeah. I know I’m enjoying myself right now is so far. Nothing is hitting I’m as most people know. I’m located in Raleigh-Durham area, which is about three hours away from the coast. So thing about hurricanes has it’s like watching a very slow-moving train come towards you right? There’s nothing you can really do other than just making sure all your stuff put away in the yard and your windows are all covered up and stuff.

[00:01:46] We and the sky just gave getting more and more severely green yellowish, you know as you’re watching waiting for the hurricane to come so that’s what I’m doing right now. So it’s a good way to spend time this morning to have a conversation I think about hurricane coming. [00:02:00] So, let’s see if we can go quickly to the list of things you want to cover and then get to the gym.

[00:02:05] Yeah, it’s a classic I guess a mix of of conversations going on this morning. We have a couple of appointments new positions going on at organizations unit for which is now headed up by my kettling is notching. A lot of I would call sap, you know past and present in some cases talent and we’ll talk a little bit about some of the new positions.

[00:02:27] They’re the new head of North America as well as the new human Capital Management strategy. We’re. We also have Udacity coming up with the new chief executive officer for those who follow the learning space is actually kind of interesting news because it’s not in the learning space of this person came from probably the biggest news we’ve got going on right now.

[00:02:43] This week is culture and raising 82 million dollars and around Eve funding which raises their total should have money fun total funding they received in the last couple of years to a hundred and fifty eight million dollars.

We can talk a little bit about what that is and what it means. To organizations [00:03:00] who got Investments, but did not give us a mount from private Equity Firm 1 is time, which is an item that chance know a little bit more about earlier this year 60,000 organizations use their workforce management application as well as hirevue which, you know very well they’re receiving growth investment from their new majority investor Carlyle Group.

[00:03:18] We also have a couple of new seed funding so crazing 4.5 million dollars in seed funding to bring open Talent on demand Talent the market freelance and then we have some interesting I think updates on what’s going on in applications will probably get a lot of this at the HR Tech Conference in October, but paychecks is reeling at five new features is quarter.

[00:03:39] I think are worth mentioning and feel softer Scipio added a new custom content capability, which I think is worth mentioning. And their focus of things kind of makes them a little differentiated from some of the other organizations that offer content then I think the one that we really want to maybe start the conversation off with is what we didn’t get to talk about last week, which was an interesting article in The Basque [00:04:00] company that I had the opportunity to come across and then I went out and reach out to the right or just to Richmond about the article who’s running an organization called the visible Collective Foundation or the visible Collective and the article is about the inclusive workplace.

[00:04:14] Still making fat people. Feel invisible and I used the fat word. It’s a very uncomfortable word for me as you might know for those who maybe have never seen me have a little bit of extra poundage on this was a fascinating article and an interesting conversation. And so we were thinking that we start there because I didn’t get to talk about it last week.

[00:04:31] I think this is a bigger topic maybe than just diversity and inclusion as it relates to sort of who should and should not be inside the diversity and inclusion bubble. That’s where my conversation started with this is wait. A factor that should be included in the diversity and inclusion conversation at all.

[00:04:45] What do you what do you think John so I come from a very German family and very large German family my dad. Ten brothers and sisters 66 sisters five of the [00:05:00] six sisters were extremely heavy. And so and so in my world that people are kind of normal, right and it’s something you can you can see it in pictures Generations now that it is another great was a German family a particular particular chunk of German stock and their beef.

[00:05:21] Little beefy. What I know is that I live in a world where anorexic ideals of beauty are highly prevalent and I watched my own daughters struggle tablet with body image problems because they’re also they’re my size more or less and I am just six one two, six two. 270 pounds. I don’t really think myself as fat but I certainly am big and it’s a very strange thing.

[00:05:53] It’s also I think particularly interesting to look at gender differences are people of [00:06:00] my height are generally assumed to have been football players, right? And so there’s the there’s the football player exceptions of that but it’s you know, you don’t hear people use this word and I think it should have 14 to investigate.

[00:06:14] And I know that I have a I have a bias here and I have to think hard to not discount what I’m hearing from somebody who I’ve gotten some conclusion about their moral capacities because they have extra pouch but it requires work and I’m used to people like this if I were a willowy Offspring long-distance Runners, it might be harder for me to see clearly of the.

[00:06:41] It’s a topic that you know, obviously I struggled with my entire life my end very similarly, you know, my family is a mixture of shirt of German and Eastern European and that is by no means saying that it is just an ethnic conversation. It is also a health care and a wellness conversation that goes along with it.

[00:06:57] But you know, I we have this discussion a I go [00:07:00] home to my hometown in Mansfield, Ohio and a lot more people. I feel like I fit in this is this is the culture. I’m from the people that I know and love and I grew up with when I go to most conferences or events or I go out to California or the East Coast generally in an event.

[00:07:15] I am especially on the speaking circuit or in places where you’d have to have more visibility, right? It is very unlikely to find people who are considered.

At overweight any determinant like that the conversation I had with Jessica Richmond, which was really quite fascinating as you know, she looks at this from a very different perspective probably for most of us most of us who are dealing with it or most of us are think who are looking at it from the outside in are looking at it from a perspective of emotions and how you feel and what is it, you know cost you in both your ability to sort of get your message out there and not get your message out there, but she looks at it and it is sort of the same way.

[00:07:52] We look at other diversity and inclusion conversations, right perspective. To your point if an organization or someone is viewing someone who is [00:08:00] overweight as not being good enough as not being able to sort of carry their own in the amount of activity or work that they need to handle that’s talking about 71 percent of the u.s.

[00:08:10] Population 71 percent of population is over the standard BMI number which I didn’t realize that 30% of the world are labeled obese and overweight.

She says that on average we’re saying that not only so if you’re a woman and you’re overweight right that profession woman will likely be paid less than women who are considered traditionally thin and she’s they figure the number would be somewhere in the range of nine to nineteen thousand dollars less per year almost 22,000 dollars annually last for women who are considered basically obese or overweight.

[00:08:39] And she’s also looking at this in the context, which I thought was really interesting of the whole Wellness movement that we’ve had inside organizations. When you talk about Wellness applications for the most part right now a lot of Wellness programs that organizations are running have a factor to do with improving organizational environment.

[00:08:56] So people have to walk more. So there’s more stairs Wellness programs are [00:09:00] looking at your weight and they’re looking at what you eat. They’re not always looking at mental health issues are not always looking at genetic factors. They’re not always. Historical factors they don’t take into consideration any of the other factors that could be causing in some cases weight issues in many case other than just activity which often times is not the primary indicator when it comes to people who have genetically are more disposed to being overweight.

[00:09:24] This is a it’s a topic that I think we haven’t put a lot of science behind but we do have a lot of emotion around right. Well, so let me just double down on this. I read a great article in the new Republic and you can find a link to it. If you go look at my Twitter feed at assumption and it’s called The Scourge of Wellness programs.

[00:09:43] And basically what it says is Wellness programs discriminate against the disabled. I know I know, you know the story of the conference I went to when I was I was in a wheelchair for a little bit and I went to this conference in a wheelchair and anybody who could. Participate in the [00:10:00] walking challenge that day was given a Fitbit and there was all sorts of folder all about Wellness at the conference and it was all that walking and they couldn’t let the kind of insensitive thing that you get and then it turns out that what’s interesting about Wellness is an employee’s getting.

[00:10:17] Well, it was interesting about Wellness as you can in Institute surveillance that allows you to save money, right? And so so so Wellness is across production. Initiative it’s not a wellness initiative. And so you get this to the double speak about what we’re calling it and then what we’re actually doing.

[00:10:36] The answer is right around this great big elephant in the room. So to speak that is is it isn’t it sixty percent of the population is clinically obese has is that the number? Yeah II know the numbers that Jessica has on hers is 71 percent of us and 30 percent of the worldwide. So I guess maybe the average that out is probably somewhere in that 60 percent range of you’re talking about.

[00:10:58] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, [00:11:00] so and as I sit here and think about it, I can only point. To one out of the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of CEOs and sea level managers. I’ve met over the years. I can only think of one who qualified as that I mean really fat and he was brilliant but he was a he and he got away with it because he was a he and there is no evidence that they’re wearing much additional weight is anything but penalizing and forward to from the careers in our culture.

[00:11:32] And it’s not a session I have I mean one of the reasons I have never brought it up a lot as I think personally you may not have had the perspective that it is something that generally you should be able to change you even for my own personal challenges. I that is how I feel and I think there’s there’s a lot of conversation that just can I had about our own personal view of ourselves, right?

[00:11:49] You know when I when I think about other diversity inclusion issues like any color like disabilities like gender and sexual orientation, those are things that you can’t change without some, you [00:12:00] know discussion on.

Are about what you want to it reaches the things you can’t change. So the weight conversation for me seems to be a very it’s fraught with all kinds of both emotional and challenging issues as to how much if it is part of who you are your genetics and your makeup, even though I know to your same conversation, we had earlier that when I was younger, I can remember Family Photos particularly of my great-grandmother.

[00:12:25] In 1932, who was the spitting image of me? I mean, we we could have been sister standing next to each other. Right? Same weight same high at the height of you know, what was considered the Great Depression and her family was dealing with the Great Depression as much as anybody else.

It is definitely part of the makeup of who our DNA is but it’s also something that you know, we have to work on from a health issue.

[00:12:45] We have to work on from a social perspective. It’s something that I think. It is about what you’re taught as well as what your genetics can do and all of those things come into factor with it. Right? So this is classic discrimination, right? It’s a moral judgment [00:13:00] wrapped in a bucket of Shame and that’s how all of the justification for treating people as less than evolved.

[00:13:10] Its well, of course you’re inferior because you can do X. Or because you are a y and this idea that weight constitutes a moral failing. That is that it’s okay to judge that runs deep in the culture, but it isn’t true. It isn’t true that weight is inherently fixed. Right? It’s a function of a whole bunch of factors from biology to social structure may not be as changeable as the show.

[00:13:43] It was easy to taste it wouldn’t be a diet in history. Exactly. What is it? If it was easy to change there would be a huge amount of money. That would be lost in the industry and the market right for dining room without a doubt. Yeah, we would have a hole in some cases of the infrastructure but ya know you were [00:14:00] correct and it’s very difficult for me to talk about because it’s such a personal issue, but I would like I suggest you’re really a conversation with her reading her article should have gave me I think not just a conversation about through my own personal struggles that I could.

[00:14:14] Now hold on to but also the science the data behind it cuz that’s what drives me. I really want to look at signs and data behind things that I am interested in that type of stuff. I gravitate towards and that’s where she went with this conversation and it was much more about the fact that we are missing out as a community as a you know, business industry as cultural entity because we are discounting the voices from basically more than a half sometimes more than 70 percent of the population.

[00:14:43] Cuz we don’t feel like their voice is as important, right and that’s the case. It’s almost any of the diversity and inclusion conversations on we have room. Yeah, so I want to drag you back to something one of the questions you asked in the beginning of this is should being that the [00:15:00] diversity and inclusion question because it involves something that you can change and the other things don’t inherently involve something that you okay.

[00:15:09] And I’m going to say that diversity and inclusion stuff is all is not about immutable characteristic. It’s about bringing meritocracy back into the conversation and making it not okay that you judge my work badly because there’s something about me that you don’t like. Diversity inclusion is about as is overcoming the fact that there’s something about you that I don’t like it could be your your skin tone.

[00:15:40] It could be your sexual preference. You could be the way that polio affected your limbs. You could be the fact that you need some sort of breathing assistance. The work could be the crazy feeling I have when I see you in a wheelchair could be all the things but they boiled down to. I have [00:16:00] some sort of a visceral response to you and I don’t like you and I allow my judgment about your work and your value in the organization to be shaped by the fact that I don’t like you.

[00:16:11] That’s the problem. It’s not it’s not it doesn’t have anything to do with immutable characteristic really it has to do with allowing judgment about irrelevant factors to shape business decision, right? And those you know, the it irrelevant factors the the fact that we should not take them into consideration as part of any decisions are making about how we’re going to work with someone.

[00:16:34] There’s also another side of that conversation, which is a piece that I had in my interview is Jessica, which is there’s also the fact that we do want to celebrate people differences, right? We want to acknowledge that everyone has a different component to their life and that they may be growing up differently.

[00:16:49] Their backgrounds may be different the things that they’re dealing with may be different. Except that is part of who they are coming into any conversation that we’re having with them. So we think there’s two sizes that picture to which is not judging [00:17:00] people. We’re not deciding you’re going to serve judge their work based off of what you’re perceiving.

[00:17:04] Do you’re seeing when you’re looking at them but also understanding that you are going to celebrate what they bring the different to the conversation right, which we often times overlooked that person part of the diversity and inclusion conversation as well. Yeah, so let’s pick two a couple of notes and let me say that next week.

[00:17:20] I just got a paper this morning that I haven’t had time to finish but it is a very high-end peer-reviewed published presentation from people at Cornell in the Human Resources wing of Cornell Erasmus University in Rotterdam in the University of Virginia. And I think it says that they can’t find the correlation between diversity and inclusion practices and business results.

[00:17:44] And so I’ll have it’s 50 days. I’ll know I’ll have to Justice next week and maybe we can tackle the other side of this country actual area. Exactly. Yeah. So for anybody real quickly who is interested in reading the article or maybe visiting what [00:18:00] Jesse’s talking about Diaz at the visible

[00:18:03] So we’ll put that note on the HR examiner and environment as well when we put out the notes for the radio show, but there’s still a lot of stuff talk about this week besides our own personal things that we’re dealing with. Is a lot of stuff going on in the tech basis well unit for appointing two well-known people from the HR technology industry Thomas otter.

[00:18:22] Most of us probably know who used to be a well-known analyst in the other spaces as well as used to work at previously with other large HR technology firms as now been placed in charge of human Capital Management strategy over at unit 4, we also saw that. Justin joon’s, we didn’t mention this last week, but I thought was interesting is we’ve got both of these two new appointments unit for my Gatling also appointed and Ibrahim not going to say his name correctly who used to work at sap and sap success factors and also at Anna plan and has now come over take over unit for his role in North America, which means that I would assume I can’t link has he plans to [00:19:00] really push unit for according to our mask some Financial elements as well as other HR applications that go along with the greater Memphis area.

[00:19:08] Into the US market, which they previously have not really done other than a couple of Education areas. So this I think is interesting just to keep an eye on them. That’s all. Yep. Yep. He is Staffing up with X sap people. Is that a good idea? I mean, I love Thomas on it. I was on her maybe the smartest person in the industry, but do you really build a new company out of sap people?

[00:19:30] Well, my cat leaves obviously got a lot of experience and background there and sap is I think made the cross from being a European organization to also a US based organization pretty effectively and that sounds like what might get links lines you will obviously get more if we get a chance to have a conversation with them, but I don’t know II think they do we want to be an sap light and I’m hoping that’s not the direction they’re going so, okay.

[00:19:55] Okay. Well, so the one that blew your mind was culture of raising [00:20:00] 82 million dollars. And they in a series a investment Round And if you don’t follow investment the higher the leather number the least the less likely you are to get funding. I think this is one way of thinking about it. I’m sure you can all just get it as the core idea is so good that investors have been willing to continue to invest in spite of the fact that profitability hasn’t arrived yet.

[00:20:26] But 82 million dollars bringing the valuation on a engagement and Performance Management Company to a billion dollars. A lot of money right culture has been sort of The Little Engine That Could they have kept at it and I have I have tried and tried and tried and tried to see the value. And happened to be able to hear they go a billion [00:21:00] dollar valuation.

[00:21:01] Hi, you know what had a lot of conversations held rampant, and I’m not completely I think as much as you are sort of in the engagement platform through headphones are making a big give a lot of impact and they and they change a thing how organizations open up lines of communication with your employees.

[00:21:16] What I thought was interesting at what made me pay more attention and called ramp was there last year acquisition of zoo. God has you got it was a small Performance Management company that had been watching quite some time who is rethinking the idea of Performance Management as a. Team process as a sort of cultural conversation.

[00:21:32] So it fit really well with the call Tramp conversation, right and it gets to a lot of things. I think we’ve been talking about for a while that there is some shift taking place inside of the business World in and of itself, which is has to do a bit with understanding what your employees are trying to achieve understanding what’s working and not working for them.

[00:21:50] Your employees are making the difference in so many cases as to whether or not your organization is sustainable. Right? Is it going to be more important or less important in the next [00:22:00] 10 years going forward that we have very sophisticated tools to listen and to gain feedback from our employees and if that’s really what these organizations are betting on by investing in us, right?

[00:22:13] Yeah, yeah, and so so I would I would highly recommend that anybody listen to this take a look at my current article and HR executive magazine, which is about new ways of thinking about how to look at culture and it would be it would be my strong view that employee sentiment is such a typical thing that basing decision-making on.

[00:22:39] Employee sentiment is not the right way to think about what it is that you want to measure inside of an organization. And so that’s a it’s a much longer conversation. I don’t think that what they measure is culture and I think that what they measure is the consequences of the work and that’s a different [00:23:00] that’s a different question and whether or not the employee is like the work that they do which is what you get is an employee sentiment is.

[00:23:06] Subject of interesting debate. I think it’s lower than an ongoing conversation and and definitely think a space where we’re going to eat more conversation. My take is that Paul Tramp will be at the Forefront of the conversation at this additional rounding, you know funding rounding May signal some changes and their leadership.

[00:23:25] I don’t know that the ongoing conversation to see what that’s going to look like. But I think the bigger thing is is that you’re going to see people take sides on some level about how important and what is the cultural conversation which is where you’re talking about. The I think it’ll be very interesting and maybe just as a last element of our conversation.

[00:23:42] It’s probably good to note sort of along these lines. That we’re seeing a lot more investment. I would say Sir almost private Equity investment doing on time last got private Equity investment and hirevue got private investment as well. Is that anything that people should be noting John? I mean, we we see a lot [00:24:00] of public investment oftentimes don’t open sources of investment but these are private Equity firms that are investing and becoming Partners is that something people should be wary of when their companies get medically investment.

[00:24:11] What’s this number? But I believe that the total number of publicly held companies in the United States has fallen. All right, 50 percent something like 38 hundred companies that you’ve been invested in the stock market. The rest of the companies are owned by private equity and it means that we don’t have the transparency that the stock market brings do.

[00:24:37] Debt ratios and actual profitability of the organizations in the culture and so a big risk associated with private Equity as we don’t really understand what’s going on the economy and the longer that said private Equity is a more effective approach to steering the consequences of an investor. So if you buy shares [00:25:00] of stock or you’re an Institutional Investor in a company.

[00:25:04] You get some input and they are used to bad when their institutional investors bail on them. But the but the decision-making has to be that extreme in a private Equity company private Equity own company. The private Equity people are on the board as they make operational decisions. And so there’s a tighter feedback loop between.

[00:25:25] Essentially the bank and the borrower and the question is private Equity the word private Equity Investments 10 or 12 or 15 years ago was junk bonds, right? And so so the question here is are we heading towards another junk bond prices because of the degree to which private Equity is invested the government’s it’s more likely like in the case of hirevue hirevue.

[00:25:53] Have you had a great first mover advantage in the marketplace, but they could never [00:26:00] really get traction with their ideas and a company like the Carlyle Group. It has an eye towards a broader. Play is able to move more quickly to do mergers and Acquisitions simple things together. So it’s a very mixed analysis about what the private Equity is a good thing.

[00:26:19] But in these sort of short-term probably a really good thing and in the long term, it may be a very scary. Yeah, and and from the buyers perspective, I think you know these kind of announcements. Sometimes they may have no impact on will their decisions but there is a lot of conversation these days.

[00:26:33] I think when companies are going for the buying cycle as to the longevity of some of these applications because especially when you’re in the cloud there is a conversation about where is my data and if the company there goes belly-up or if it gets by someone else or you know, our service changes you can we get out of those contracts.

[00:26:50] The idea was that it was supposed to be easier in the cloud. I don’t know that our data showing that these days we’ll. If that actually comes fruition through those are part of the buyers conversations as well these days.

Yeah, I [00:27:00] think this week is going to be a pretty interesting pretty interesting conversation because I’ll have finished my research you’ll have put your research that I believe it will shut will start have stories to tell about what’s in.

[00:27:12] Exactly. Yeah, so it’ll be it’ll be good week to listen in and preparation for what you’re planning on your own HR Tech Fall conference scheduled. So which are coming up quick very quickly for all of us. So good conversation done.

Yeah. Thanks. It was a great conversation today Stacey and thanks for bringing up the hard topic. [00:27:30] It was a good thing.

You’ve been listening to HR Tech Weekly, One Step Closer with Stacey Harris and John Sumser. It’s been fun having you with us and you can tell we certainly enjoyed ourselves. We’ll see you back here [00:28:00] next week and Thanks again Stacey.

Thanks John, have a good day everyone. Bye.


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