Archive for the ‘HR’ Category
It’s Halloween and the temptation to wear your costume to the office can be hard to overcome—especially if you’ve invested a lot of time and effort in getting it just right. But when it comes to dressing up at the workplace, those who value their careers should think hard about their wardrobe selection, and consider removing some of the “tricks and treats.”
While many people seem to take on a whole new personality at Halloween, workers should tread carefully when choosing a costume to wear at work—even if it means being forced to choose separate outfits for the office and their Halloween night shenanigans. Even if your company permits masks and costumes during office hours, it’s better to play it safe, and remember that the harassment policy you signed earlier in the year does not magically disappear with the holiday.
“People in costume lose inhibitions and behave as if a tail and mask give them license to act out,” says Vicki Lynn, Vault’s Vice President of Research and Consulting. “It’s important to keep a level of decorum when observing Halloween in the workplace.”
Steer Clear of “Sexy”
“Never wear anything that oozes ‘date’ or ‘sex,’ such as a bunny costume, sexy witch, cow girl, nurse, or teacher,” says Lynn. “If you think it crosses the line, it probably does. These would be costumes that show too much leg, butt and décolletage.”
Wearing provocative outfits could make co-workers feel uncomfortable or lead to unwanted sexual advances, potentially resulting in legal actions—something that no employer wants to deal with. This means that if you wouldn’t normally go to the office in an outfit that would make Lady Gaga blush, you should continue that practice at the office on Halloween. That goes for the guys too: Halloween is not an excuse to come to the office without a shirt on, no matter how much you enjoy those Old Spice commercials.
Watch What You Say With Your Costume
It’s possible to get into costume-related trouble even if you’re only revealing an opinion with your outfit.
“Beware of the signal or message that might be conveyed with your choice of costume—i.e. anything that could be conveyed as offensive to different religions, ethnicities, genders, and/or political leanings,” says Lynn, adding that “the best outfits are non-political masks.”
So, if you were thinking of using your costume to make a point about one of the issues of the day, stop and think about how colleagues or clients may react. Could you open yourself up to a harassment claim or altercation that could carry on past the Halloween season? Even if you’re only poking fun at a political figure, keep in mind that your colleagues may not share your opinions.
If there is even a remote possibility of causing offense, you may want to stick to something tried and true like a vampire. After all, with the way people react to Twilight, yours willl almost still seem cool.
Some Other Halloween at the Office Tips
- Employers should voice their thoughts on Halloween protocols in the office so that everyone is on the same page before the big day.
- Remember that even if you do show up in costume, you still have a job to do. Despite your disguise, the actions you take today will be remembered tomorrow and could contribute to the unemployment numbers next week. Stay in control.
- It’s ok to celebrate but keep noise down and celebration contained to the lunch hour.
- If you are client facing, your customers may not be amused by the costume, so keep it strictly for the lunch party with officemates only.
- Halloween at the office can still be fun. Just pay attention to others around you and leave the more risqué fun, if that’s what you choose to do, for the witching hour.
— Jon Minners, Vault.com
Google. Apple. Intel. Adobe. Intuit. Pixar. Each of these names is known to elicit superlatives for innovation and leadership. Each is also counted among the most desirable employers of Silicon Valley. And yet, as a U.S. Justice Department investigation has revealed, working for one of them could mean your career prospects could be severely limited for the rest.
On Friday, the aforementioned gang of six collectively consented to a Justice Department order to cease a series of clandestine no-poaching pacts. The department alleges that, through much of the past decade, the implicated parties kept do-not-call lists to mark each other’s staff as off-limits for job offer solicitation. In turn, those recruitment restrictions hampered opportunities for rising talent at top companies.
As the government’s resulting settlement describes, “The agreements eliminated a significant form of competition to attract highly skilled employees, and overall diminished competition to the detriment of affected employees.”
For tech professionals, the existence of such policies can only be disheartening. It’s difficult enough to soldier on in the IT field’s current state, as the rise of mergers and acquisitions threatens to consolidate the industry—and squeeze out workers in the ensuing layoffs. To know that employers actively avoid certain candidates can quash not just advancement or competitive salaries, but the perceived value of one’s own accrued skills and experience.
Moreover, Silicon Valley is a climate that thrives on migration. For decades, the industry has been characterized by the ability of its workforce to roam amongst market leaders and scrappy startups alike. It is this viral spreading of knowledge and talent that bolsters progress. The actions of Google et al risked stifling that dynamic, at a time when new ideas were so vital to the market amid a dire recession.
But even after striking a blow against the major players, this may only scratch the surface. In announcing its settlement with the six conspirators, the D.O.J. said it “continues to investigate other similar no solicitation agreements,” raising questions as to the scope of this practice. It may be minimal: while leaders such as Microsoft and IBM were implicated at the investigation’s inception, they were ultimately omitted from the settlement. But given the industry’s interwoven dependencies among firms, it’s not hard to suspect that many alliances have included deals to prevent poaching.
A statement by Google (thus far the only party to publicly respond) bodes particular ill: Assistant counsel Amy Lambert assures on its Public Policy Blog that Google “abandoned our ‘no cold calling’ policy in late 2009.” But by acknowledging “a number of other tech companies had similar ‘no cold call’ policies,” she seems to imply that the company followed an established trend, rather than marching to its own drummer. That’s not what you come to expect of an innovator.
— Alex Tuttle, Vault.com
A dispatch from the uglier side of the modern workplace: complaints about discrimination against Muslim workers have risen by 20 percent in the past year—and by 60 percent since 2005.
According to the New York Times, complaints from Muslim workers run the gamut “from co-workers calling them “terrorist” or “Osama” to employers barring them from wearing head scarves or taking prayer breaks.”
The likely reasons for the upsurge in complaints are all too predictable: the Times piece cites 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and “the erroneous belief, held by many Americans, that the first nonwhite president is Muslim” as problems. Additionally, the brouhaha over the proposed Islamic center in Lower Manhattan (aka “the Ground Zero Mosque”) was listed as a factor, but the report noted that “complaints were increasing even before frictions erupted” on the issue.
Most distressing of all, as complaints by Muslim employees are higher now than at any time in the past ten years—including right after the 9/11 attacks. And complaints from Muslim workers now make up a quarter of all religious discrimination claims, despite the fact that the group comprises just two percent of the US population.
There’s a question—also reflected in the report—of whether the incidences of discrimination have risen, or whether people are simply reporting the incidences more. Either way, the figures clearly show that there’s a problem. The only real question, then, is what can be done about it.
Have you witnessed or been a victim of this kind of discrimination? Do you have any thoughts on what causes it or what can be done about it? Post your comments below.
For the 11th straight year, industry insiders named Goldman Sachs the most prestigious bank in North America in Vault’s latest ranking. In hindsight then, all the public mudslinging of recent years has done little to upset the bank whether it’s in attracting the biggest deals or the best talent. And according to our survey, bankers continue to want Goldman on their resume.
Ironically, a day after the rankings debuted, the bank’s prestige is under attack by three former female employees who charge, according to The Wall Street Journal, that “The investment bank practices a system in which women are paid less, promoted less and ‘systematically circumvented and excluded.'”
What’s astounding about the allegation is the repeated emphasis on intent, i.e., that the bank has a system that almost formulaically excludes women from getting promoted and compensated on par with their male counterparts. While the bank has called the suit without merit, stating that, “People are critical to our business, and we make extraordinary efforts to recruit, develop and retain outstanding women professionals,” it seems it is yet again in the red with the public.
Comments from our Banking 50 survey—culled from responses submitted by over 1,300 banking professionals earlier this year—provide further perspective:
“Supportive and respectful management”
“They could do a better job of promotion as well as placement into areas that are a good fit and utilize skill sets…”
“Having come up through the ranks, from a junior trader to now an experienced one in fixed income products, I must say that I’ve been very pleased with the level of training, support and guidance that I’ve received over the years from the firm…”
“I’m a firm believer in the culture at Goldman Sachs. The firm is team-focused, emphasizing integrity and personal development within the industry.”
“I think we do a good job at getting women and diversity candidates in the door, but for real success we need to work on better retention.”
“The firm’s commitment to diversity is evident at the most senior levels and is driven down through the firm by way of our seventh business principle: “We offer our people the opportunity to move ahead more rapidly than is possible at most other places. Advancement depends on merit and we have yet to find the limits to the responsibility our best people are able to assume. For us to be successful, our men and women must reflect the diversity of the communities and cultures in which we operate. That means we must attract, retain and motivate people from many backgrounds and perspectives. Being diverse is not optional; it is what we must be.”
So where does this leave the banking king: A chauvinistic boys club, truly diverse with a few unintentional victims, or the victim of a ploy to take advantage of its current poor reputation? Weigh in by leaving a comment, emailing In Good Company or connecting on Twitter @VaultCSR.
More reading: The complete WSJ report.
What other banks made the Top 10 most prestigious banks in North America this year?
If there was one thing that stood out from Vault’s recent Job Hunting in CSR series, it was the disconnect between candidates and employers. A recent survey by Towers Watson further indicates that this disconnect might be much more widespread because of a difference in priorities for employers and employees.
A survey released by TalentDrive, the team behind online resume aggregation search engine TalentFilter, now adds yet another layer to the troubling scenario. The report suggests a widening gap between current employers’ expectations and job seekers’ actual skill sets.
In a month-long survey, 79,000 job seekers (86 percent actively seeking employment) were asked to assess their personal skill set and attitude toward the current job market. Additionally, 20,000 hiring managers from Fortune 1000 companies were asked if they had noticed a change in the quality of candidates since the recession’s start.
The results of the survey are unnerving:
Almost three-quarters of the job seekers surveyed were pessimistic about their career search: that’s the number of respondents who indicated that they possessed the required skill set for positions, but were not getting hired. Little wonder, then, that 37 percent of respondents expressed no hope that things would improve.
However, 42 percent of the employers surveyed indicated that the recession had not only increased the quantity of candidates, but that they were finding more qualified candidates than in years past.
So where is the disconnect? When candidates believe they possess the required skill sets, why are they not getting hired? Take into account that 67 percent of those surveyed reported having between one and five interviews per month since the beginning of their job search, and that 75 percent of those had not received a single job offer.
Specialization or general business skills?
Could the disconnect come down to a question of specialized vs. general business skills? According to the report, 71% percent of HR representatives reported that more than half of their open positions were specialized.
Comparatively, 61% of the job seekers’ group considered themselves to be “professionals with broad skill sets.”
Interestingly, my interviews with MBA graduates Ashley Jablow and Geet Singh reveal a flipside to the specialization picture. Having focused on CSR and sustainability at business school, both Jablow and Singh confessed that their job hunts weren’t exactly working out to be walks in the park. However, in their case, partial blame goes to a lack of demand for CSR work. For the respondents of the TalentDrive survey, specialized skills leaned toward more traditional fields like IT and technology.
Job Search Destinations
If there is one area where the TalentDrive survey shows job seekers and employers in agreement, it is where they are finding each other. The winner: Social Media.
An overwhelming 74% of job seekers said the most beneficial job search method was posting a resume on job boards followed by 27% picking social media, for the first time surpassing traditional methods like classified ads, professional recruiters and networking events.
Agreement was mutual with 27% of employers saying the highest response for most effective search method was social networks, followed by resume sourcing technologies.
For the types of positions your company fills, what skills/activities make an applicant stand out?
Differs for each position: 55%
Longevity with past employers: 21%
Advanced degrees/MBA: 5%
Extracurricular work/Volunteer work: 3%
What category would the majority of your open positions fall under?
Mid level/management positions: 67%
Entry level: 16%
Director/Executive positions: 14%
Since beginning your active job search, how many interviews have resulted in an offer?
No offers: 75%
Less than half: 21%
More than half: 3%
All interviews resulted in an offer: 1%
Given the current job market, how willing are you to transfer fields or change your skill set to adapt to a new work environment or industry?
Not willing or interested: 11%
Somewhat willing, depending on the opportunity: 44%
Very willing: 45%