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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: 271
Air Date: June 19, 2020





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: [00:00:00] Good morning and welcome to HR Tech Weekly, one step closer with Stacey Harris and John Sumser. Hi Stacey, how are you?

[00:00:22] Stacey Harris: [00:00:22] Hey, John, I’m doing well. I’m doing well. Sitting in North Carolina still. We are still under our semi partial, I don’t know what you call it, stay at home orders here. They haven’t completely let them all expire, but they are definitely opening them up much more quickly than many people have thought.

[00:00:38] And the sun is shining so we can’t complain. And, uh, doing well. How about you, John? Are you home this week? I am assuming the answer is yes.

[00:00:47] John Sumser: [00:00:47] I am so at home it isn’t funny. This is about, let’s see, this has gotta be day 103 or 104 of solitary confinement and I’m whittling bars of soap into fake guns so that when I get a chance I can break out. It’s crazy, and the really wild thing is it’s a heat wave. And so if you could get out, you wouldn’t want to.

[00:01:13] And the governor just declared that it is the law, that if you are in a public place, you have to wear a mask, which is great news, California, California has had good luck, not having a horror story. And it comes because the governor is a good governor and has helped us stay healthy. So in my estate, after I’m dead and they covered the sort through all this stuff, they’re going to find this amazing array of designer masks.

[00:01:46] Stacey Harris: [00:01:46] Well, it’s nice to know, that you’ve been thinking about after you’re gone, what they’ll find and the masks seems to be a real important thing.

[00:01:51] John Sumser: [00:01:51] I guarantee you the 25 years from now, there will be a huge wall-sized 80 foot by 80 foot quilts made out of masks from the pandemic.

[00:02:03] Stacey Harris: [00:02:03] Yeah.

[00:02:04] John Sumser: [00:02:04] That this time that we’re going through is actually a lot darker than it seems. It seems dark. Sometimes I may be thinking that we should most certainly talk about today is it’s Juneteenth privileged white guy that I am, I don’t know. You say happy Juneteenth or I don’t know what the correct Juneteenth greeting is, but it appears that a lot of the people that I know who are taking Juneteenth off to consider structural racism don’t know what the proper Juneteenth greeting is.

[00:02:34] Stacey Harris: [00:02:34] I will have to say my knowledge is limited there as well. I’m learning about Juneteenth this year. I probably should have known about it beforehand, but I am happy to say that I have several really good friends who have blocked me through the kinds of education that they’re sharing with their children at home this week around what slavery was and what it was really like and how it has been portrayed.

[00:02:55] The difference from what has been portrayed at movies and in stories, in some cases and other things, and that, you know, their focus is very much on education this week for their family, as well as remembrance. And so I don’t know if that’s exactly how everyone else is spending it, but I know that in the conversations I’ve had with several friends, that it’s definitely been part of their ongoing and not the first year, but their ongoing June conversations.

[00:03:17] I think that there is an awareness this year that sadly has been brought about by many, many challenging things that are happening around our country. But as in all very difficult situations, hopefully there is a Ray of light and the light, I think hopefully will be education and awareness. Right. That’s my goal.
[00:03:36] I hope so.

[00:03:37] John Sumser: [00:03:37] So, let me ask you a question that’s been occurring to me recently. I really, really believe that there is systemic racism, that I am a part of it. What I think is interesting about that is everything that I have seen that tries to solve racism as a question or prize to inhibit bias as an idea.

[00:04:03] We’re going to stop hiring managers from seeing pictures of people so that they can’t discriminate. And if my understanding of systemic racism is correct, it’s the system that discriminates individual peoples are actors, but they’re inside of a system that discriminates and I haven’t seen any HR tech tools that attack.

[00:04:29] The processes that have races. Yeah, I don’t hear any HR conversation about this yet. That there’s tons of training as if you fixed all of the individuals, the system would change. And if that were true, then software adoption would be an easy thing to do. There’s something about the system itself that causes and perpetuates a social structure.

[00:04:57] That is deeply racist. And I don’t think we even know how to talk about that yet, really, but I’m starting to wonder just how good it is to make people to inhibit people’s ability to move when it’s really the system that’s the problem. So if you solve person X’s bias habits, you’re just attacking the symptoms, then the problem is the system. Technology solutions that think about solving the system .

[00:05:31] Stacey Harris: [00:05:31] Part of the frustration. I can’t say it personally, but my understanding and the conversations I’ve had for the black community is that, that is part of the frustration is that it is embedded so deeply in everything that happens in our culture.
[00:05:48] Our processes, our tools, our language, right? In a way that it’s not just about educating yourself about being unbiased, that’s it, unless have to be in the very first step. It is now we have to dig deep and break apart things that are fundamentally broken. So when people are talking about. Defunding the police officers and the authority environment, part of that conversation is because fundamentally, no matter how many changes you make to the personnel, the system of hiring and training and the tools that are being asked to use the language they’re being asked to use fundamentally is racist.

[00:06:30] So even if you put a person who’s not biased in that situation, then they’re going to still come out with some of the same outcomes. And I think it’s a really, really powerful message. And what you’re talking about, you know, I’ve been laid up for the last week because I had surgery on my leg. And so I’ve been spending a lot of time on Netflix, but you tend to do when you can’t move around.
[00:06:49] And probably one of the most powerful things I got a chance to watch was the 13th. It’s a Netflix documentary about the systematic fundamental issues inside of our culture and inside of our historical approach to policing and our circle approach to black communities and how that has built on top of itself.

[00:07:10] All of these horrific layer upon layer, upon layer of racist, things that are happening in the community. I’m honestly not the right person to be talking about all of that. But I think what you’re talking about is those are the hard questions that we as a whole community have to be asking ourselves. So one of the things, the very difficult conversations that I have as part of last week was the association I’m part of Iram.

[00:07:31] Then the national human resource information management association, we as an executive committee and as a, an executive board were discussing what was the messaging that we as association should be putting out to the market and. The conversation really came back to what is our role as technologists in impacting these systemic issues?

[00:07:51] Putting a statement out is not going to have the same impact as putting into everything we’re doing from an education, a discussion, a fundamental way that we think about certification in this area, all those things, making sure that we root out the systemic sizes that are in all of those tools that help train people who are going to be doing systems in the market.

[00:08:11] Those are the conversations that we were having in that association, but it’s tough. Whose role is it to make those changes? And where does it start? Do we go all the way back to HR policies and processes all the way back to the technology, fundamentally for how we do our office management, our financial system that literally have algorithms that discount people because of names it’s whether or not they can get credit.

[00:08:34] How far do you go? And, yeah, it’s very, and it’s necessary that we’ve got to get that far.

[00:08:39] John Sumser: [00:08:39] One last example. I just caught out of the corner of my eye before we got on the show. Somebody was talking about removing bias from video interviewing and I thought to myself, well, the biggest source of bias and video interviewing is video interviewing because it assumes that you have the equipment, the costuming.

[00:09:00] The lighting rewards, video interviewing rewards, people who are better prepared to be media manipulators, which means wealthy it’s code for white. So by itself, video interviewing is discriminatory, regardless of anything else, because not everybody has equal unfettered access to it. And so the idea that you would remove bias from video interviewing means you’re removing bias from an already narrow demographic.

[00:09:30] Stacey Harris: [00:09:30] And I think that’s the hard part about this conversation, right? Is that there is a proponent of our industry. Very well led by the technologist that says the technology will reduce and the technology can get rid of the technology will create an environment that is bias free. That’s the pitch, the sales that the conversations.

[00:09:50] And on one hand, I think it is all of us want to say, yeah, if a person’s not making the decision, it should be more Josh. But what people forget is people who built those systems, those tools, those approaches those processes. And that’s the fundamental challenge with that. And so you really have to go deep to understand what you’re talking about, their right to know that video actually has a lot of other layers to it that goes beyond just the technology and the algorithm.

[00:10:14] John Sumser: [00:10:14] That’s right. It’s what’s accessible to whom, when. There’s a whole non technical layer in which technology is accessed.

[00:10:27] Yeah well,
[00:10:27] Stacey Harris: [00:10:27] you know, the social conversation continues this week beyond the major conversations that we’ve been having about race in our organizations. We also saw this week, our Supreme court tackle some of the most difficult conversations about protected classes in our communities. And so. And I would assume in your household where you have someone who studies law, that this is a lot of others, might’ve been a lot of conversation about this, but our Supreme court said this week that the federal law now protects LGBTQ workers from discrimination. Now, the thing I think that has blown me away for quite some time is that there are a lot of people who assumed. That LGBTQ workers were covered under the federal protection laws, the same way that race and religion were, and age, but they are not.

[00:11:13] And we’re not up until this most recent ruling by the Supreme court, which was just Monday of this, of this week. And. It was phenomenal to see this come down, but the fact that a lot of people didn’t even realize that it wasn’t there already is also somewhat scary and sort of understanding that the knowledge gaps and the education gaps in our market.

[00:11:33] What about in your household, I mean did you guys have a conversation?

[00:11:36] John Sumser: [00:11:36] Yeah, we’ve been talking about this a lot and the hardest part of this is on Friday last week, the Trump administration made it legal for the healthcare world to discriminate against transgender people. And so, I don’t know if I’ll be able to say this railroad, but imagine that you figured out that you were in the wrong body and that you were in a medical process to correct that.

[00:12:03] And the government came along and said, no, no, sorry. Nope, Nope. They don’t have to treat you this camp. This doesn’t have to be covered. The misery that the current government caused in a single stroke of paperwork is just indescribable. And so the Supreme court case was a little bit of a stop gap, but there are still very scared people as the result of over the cold environment.

[00:12:30] And it said this foundational thing, which is that LGBTQ people are protected now. That’s a good start. But compassion is where we head next. And understanding, or trying to understand is where we have, there are some very, very difficult emotional, mental, and physical struggles that need our support and our empathy.

[00:12:55] And, you know, part of the reason we didn’t know they weren’t discriminated is cause we were looking the other way.
[00:13:05] We’re going to have to look a little harder this direction.

[00:13:11] Stacey Harris: [00:13:11] I think in all areas that if there’s anything that the whole community from HR perspective has to take away from these last few months is that our jobs are to look more closely to have the difficult conversations. If it’s not uncomfortable, then you’re not having the right conversation. Those were the words that probably hit the hardest on the last couple of weeks that was explained to me by a friend.

[00:13:33] She’s like, if you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not asking the questions that need to be asked. And that’s the part. I think that it’s hard when you’re in HR to understand how important your role is inside of an organization to push these conversations. Even in places where it doesn’t feel like you should be pushing them or your executive group doesn’t want to have them, or you know, that the answers aren’t going to be creating for how your company is stressing them.

[00:13:59] That’s your job to have the conversations. So, yeah. One of the other conversations this week that we got was a organization. And you had sent this in and it sort of fits right along with what we were just talking about is that there is a company called 2020 genes system. That is basically like a DNA company that does testing is making available the newly FDA authorized COVID-19 antibody blood test to HR department throughout the U.S.

[00:14:28] Lab testing with AI building data collection, expecting to improve the predictive power of antibodies and is key and helping companies open safely is the language they’re using. And this announcement that they made that this 2020 gene systems company has made you sent this to me. And I immediate reaction.

[00:14:44] I have is, Whoa, wait a minute. How does this fit with my HIPAA requirements? So my own personal privacy or my own, you know, labeling them who I am and whether or not I can work in the organization along with the need to be safe inside of an organization as well. I’m assuming that’s part of why you sent the article to meet this week.

[00:15:03] Are those conversations that you think are, we’re going to have to sort of build into the cigarette part and difficult conversation area as well?

[00:15:09] John Sumser: [00:15:09] I think there are going to be trade offs between what we used to think of as privacy and what becomes privacy in a world where I have to have some way to know whether or not I can spend time with you.

[00:15:22] Now, it’s crazy in this particular case where they are claiming to equip HR departments with antibody tests, when nobody knows if having everybody means, but you’re immune. Yeah, right. Nobody knows what happened. Nobody has the slightest idea what it means to have antibodies. So here is an opportunistic operation.

[00:15:45] Know it’d be my 2 cents that they ought to be banned from doing business in HR, trying to peddle antibody tests. So the idea would be, you must have an up to date, everybody tests in order to come to work. And my guess is that you’d have to have one every day. Yeah. Just because you demonstrate it today, doesn’t mean you have it tomorrow.

[00:16:04] We don’t know that much about it. We don’t know how long antibodies last or what they’re good for. And so there’s a lot of weird stuff that’s about to happen because people are scared and desperate to get the doors open. And this is one of them.

[00:16:18] Stacey Harris: [00:16:18] Yeah, and HR professionals are at the center of this conversation about how do we bring our workers back safely and ensure that our employees stay safe, you know, it’s twofold. And then if they aren’t safe, who’s held accountable to that. That’s a whole other level of conversation. And again, very difficult conversation. And in this environment, I’m not sure that technology is always the answer.

[00:16:42] Science is definitely the answer, but technology may or may not be. So the other thing that we have this week, I was only going to like eight minutes. We should probably mention that along with all the other things that are going on, on a social level and a healthcare level and announced that level in that area.

[00:16:58] We also saw a lot of announcements coming out from vendors. So this week there were three major vendors who did what we call industry events or analyst updates. This week. One is Talent Soft, which is a large talent HR organization out of the European market, probably the largest in the European market that has a quantity, HR, I S element without payroll, but, but has all the ability to sort of keep your sort of contact and your main information and your historical data about your employees.

[00:17:24] But also has all of the elements of account management systems. So a little bit more along the lines of a cornerstone did a big announcement about some of the changes and investments they’re making in the market. We also saw SAP has their annual Sapphire event, which also included a success connect component to it for their success factors application.

[00:17:42] And we also saw the end of this week was ADP, did their analyst event having all three of them in one week gave a little bit of an opportunity to sort of see who did well and who did not. I will have to say, as far as just sheer production value goes, ADP seemed to do that in pulling together a very cohesive briefing for analysts and the market as a whole.

[00:18:03] But I was really, really pleasantly surprised also with what was going on over at talent soft. So talent soft has been one of those sort of quietly growing organizations. Been working to get a lot of their customers off of a on-premise older environment, into a new cloud based product. And they’re investing heavily, I think an area you and I have talked to him, which is talent and skills matching, and same time that they were talking about their events.

[00:18:27] They were also announcing an acquisition that they made of a small company called Presti, which is a French nature of tech. Startup specializing in talent development, which really was a company that had invested heavily in artificial intelligence, in field categorization and matching that with open jobs and employee capabilities.

[00:18:45] And so we are starting to see some of these conversations we’ve had here in the state ramp up pretty quickly in the European market. And I think talent soft is going to be a real competitor on that particular space. Did you get a chance to see any of these other analyst events as well? John.

[00:19:00] John Sumser: [00:19:00] So I think the ADP thing was as good as it gets.

[00:19:04] And why was it good? It was good because it was only 90 minutes. It was good because they had some audience interaction. But I gotta tell you, I think in some ways the analyst business is dead because the idea, I think I told my joke last week. The joke is when my grandma was getting older, she was sitting in her park, lounger, PV.

[00:19:27] She was a trendsetter because now that’s what I do for a living. That’s my experience of going to these virtual events. Right. I get that are with badly produced infomercials. And I don’t think that’s going to last, it’s an adjustment that people made, but the whole idea of there being an analyst community, to whom you broadcast hour long or two hour longer day-long videos that are one sided views of the world.

[00:19:56] I don’t think they’ll last very long. ADP did an extraordinary job. ADP has a crackerjack team of talent at the top. And they covered the broad base of the topic area. They did pretty well with the short amount of time.

[00:20:11] Stacey Harris: [00:20:11] And I think what was most interesting about what they did is they didn’t try and talk much about how they’re strip fixing the whole world.

[00:20:17] They focus very narrowly on what they had accomplished, the data. They had an insight they could gain from the last two to three months. And with that, they then offered a very clear demo of how their services combined with their tools and Carlos is different. And it was very clear that it was this combination of both had helped very specific customers manage the last three months from a crisis perspective.

[00:20:38] And so they did that. And then they brought in four customers who walked through the same exact thing. So it was a very clear message, very succinct. I think that was part of what made it so well done.

[00:20:48] John Sumser: [00:20:48] Yep. It was an interesting week. I imagine we have another interesting week coming up. The Supreme court gets to issue opinions until the end of the month.

[00:20:58] And there are more in the pile. We still have the president’s taxes and abortion to tackle and I imagine those are going to be interesting moments.

[00:21:09] Stacey Harris: [00:21:09] Yeah, well, if there’s nothing else you can say 2020 will live on for the amount of thinking and conversation it created. I have had more deep and important conversations in the last several months then I can say probably in the last year I’ve had with a lot of people. So it’s definitely a time for really taking a step back and trying to figure out what do I need to learn? Where do I need to invest my energy? Where do I need to invest my time? And I think all of our technology companies, all the organizations that we work with on a regular basis are doing a lot of the same thing.

[00:21:43] You know, we didn’t talk much about the Sapphire events or what was going on with SAP. They had some technical difficulties, but the messaging that they came out very loud and clear from their event was we’re focusing on industry. We’re focusing on artificial intelligence. This is who we are. It was very much about taking a new look at who SAP is, whether or not you agree with that look, I think is yet to be seen. The market had a lot of commentary about whether or not they had set the right tone or had actually addressed the right thing. But I think every company is reassessing who they are and where they stand at this point in time. And that’s a tough place for any company to be.

[00:22:21] John Sumser: [00:22:21] Yeah, love it. I Iove it! So, thanks for doing this and we will see you all back here at the regular time next week. Thanks for tuning in. You’ve been listening to HR Tech Weekly with Stacey Harris and John Sumser. Bye bye now.

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