Bringing HR Back: Seven Seconds


No matter what you see on the Twitters, HR’s reputation is in jeopardy right now. We got issues. We are taking a beating with all of the #MeToo stories of sexual harassment and even rape that goes on in the workplace. The latest organization is the Dallas Mavericks, according to articles and reports, women should avoid working there. And the interesting thing in that situation is that the players were and are not at fault, it was the Team President and Head of HR.

As one lady who used to work there put it, “I dealt with players all the time. I had hundreds of interactions with players and never once had an issue…they always knew how to treat people. Then I’d go to the office and it was this zoo, this complete shitshow. My anxiety would go down dealing with players; it would go up when I got to my desk.” (source) No one took the time to stand up to this behavior.

This troubles me that HR could let something like this happen. Harvey Weinstein, don’t forget his name, when you read the allegations and stories regarding Harvey Weinstein, he had an infrastructure – a paid infrastructure to help him harass and intimidate women that he has assaulted and raped. No one stepped up and did the right thing for decades – I’m looking at you Hollywood and HR at the Weinstein Group.

Let’s switch to pay. HR folks are quick to demand equality when it comes to pay but slow to act. EVERY HR PERSON in the world knows who earns what. They know. We know. We know who is making more than the other. We make excuses for the descrepancies; “He has more experience than her” or “She has never made more than $60,000.00” even though the salary range is $70K to $80k, you offer her more than $60K but less than $70K because, well you can and of course she will take it.

Shame on you, shame on us. I am over lip-service and you should be too.

Recently, I worked with two black men, on separate occasions and companies, to evaluate potential candidates for employment. Two things struck me while working with these black men, the first was that they don’t judge a candidate in seven seconds like most of us in HR. In fact, they were rather dismissive of the resume and wanted to have phone screenings with their top choices to get to know them a bit more before making a decision.

The second thing I noticed was that both had already decided that they would pay more than the minimum salary.  For instance, one guy had an open position that paid between $20 and $24 per hour and when I asked how much was he planning to pay (because I am nosey and want to know if his company was going to lead the market or lag the market) he said, “I am going to pay $22 per hour to whomever I hire” – just like that. The other guy had a part-time position which paid between $15 to $20 per hour and he informed me that he would be paying $20 per hour to his choice. Equal and fair.

Neither of these guys are in HR yet instinctively they both have better HR instincts then most HR “in the trenches” today!

What is this article about? Is it about sexual misconduct? Is it about pay equality? Well yes but ultimately this article is about making solid decisions – how long does it take to do the right thing?  When equality and fairness is in your DNA it doesn’t take you long to call out racism, inequality, sexism, and discrimination. If you have to stop and consider how to treat someone fairly then you have a problem.

In seven seconds or less we (HR) decides if we are going to hire someone, what we are going to pay them, and if we are going to speak up or out.

Seven seconds is all it takes to make a decision – good or bad.