Capital Riots: Considerations for Great HR Leaders...

Welcome to 2021 friends! Had a couple of publications reach out to me for comments on employee situations related to the Capital Riots, so I thought I would share the responses I gave to one of them. 

Any time you're starting your response with the phrase, "In a world" in a classic movie trailer guy voice, you know that reality has officially jumped the shark. I can only assume I'll be answering questions about the best way to onboard Alien employees in 2022. Politics

Onto the questions I answered about whether we should term employees wearing Trump stocking caps only, versus those carrying the speaker of the house podium while wearing said hat:

-Beyond legal questions, what kind of ethical and cultural considerations do HR leaders need to think about if they learn an employee participated in the Capitol riots?  

I'm going to start my answer sounding like the movie trailer guy with the great voice that always starts each trailer with "In a world..."   In a world where almost every election of note is a 50/50 split, HR leaders thinking about the Capital riots are going to have to dig deep and do what they normally do related to showing judgement with employment decisions. That includes logic, judgment and common sense rarely seen in social media, and at times in the media cycle.

Great HR leaders will start with the obvious - for the employee in question, what did they actually do? If they were in the Capital on the day of the riots, did they a) participate in some low level demonstrations somewhere around the mall, b) attend the Trump rally at the White House, c) march with the crowd to the capital, d) protest outside the capital and/or e) enter the capital (and if so, did they cause damage)?

This is the world of the HR leader and employment calls. People come to us with a claim, and it's up to us to figure out what actually happened. An employee that was in DC on approved PTO but did not enter the Capital building and wasn't otherwise arrested, etc. isn't a relevant call to term. People will make the case that it is, but assuming the employee is a functioning member of your company and didn't do anything illegal, real HR leaders have to look at the facts. 

That's what the money's for as an HR Leader.  People pay HR leaders to be the grown ups when bad situations happen and calm minds are needed, and the good news is that's exactly what we are.

-What is your advice for HR leaders concerned about action they take looking partisan or political?

Welcome to the world of HR. The more HR leaders have pitched their political beliefs in the past, the less they have the ability to lead in times of crisis where employment calls can be considered politically driven. Note this isn't rationale for HR leaders not to make tough calls, just the reality. The more you've shown you're less than politically neutral in the past, the less you'll be able to make a tough employment call (fire, don't fire) in your company that both sides of the political spectrum will respect and acknowledge as fair. 

-Do you think this event should prompt HR to revisit codes of conduct? If so, what should they look out for or consider including in light of current events?

It's 100% imperative that HR has access to a broad-based "Professional Conduct Policy" that gives them the ability to take employment action across a broad range of unforeseen circumstances. A great Professional Conduct Policy (PCP) not only lists specific things for consideration in the workplace, but includes broad language that suggests conduct and behavior outside the workplace that is inconsistent with the values of the organization may warrant an employment decision by the company, if the company deems the behavior and conduct makes it impossible for the company to more forward with the individual as a member of the team.

Great Professional Conduct Policies provide flexibility for HR leaders, because you can't cover every scenario this crazy world is going to throw at you. 

That said, great HR leaders treat these policies as a last resort for action, only using them if it's apparent the employee can't move forward.

2021 is the best! You know I'm around for the punishing emails. Don't hate me because won't automatically term someone. Great HR Leaders evaluate, consider, then show decisiveness. That's what makes them great.


It's OK to Think a PhD Calling Themselves Doctor in Corporate America is Weird...

Last Friday, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion article regarding incoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, and her use the pre-nominal “Dr.” when she has a doctorate in education, Ed.D, versus a medical doctorate, Ph.D.  The article shared the belief that medical doctors are the real doctors, and broad use of the title "Dr." if you're not looking at my broken toe or an ear problem is inappropriate.

First up, there is no doubt that Jill Biden did the work and received the degree, from a real, actual university. The-Doctor-is-In-

But the reaction was swift! Warriors were mobilized! Part of the world lost their mind that someone would challenge Jill Biden's desire to be addressed as "Dr. Biden".

I'm here to tell you that regardless of that article's tone and spin in the WSJ,  you can think someone with a PhD who wants to be called "Dr." is absurd. It doesn't make you a misogynist, as long as you're consistent across gender and Jill Biden isn't the first time you've laughed at the use of the title, "Dr."

I think most PhDs (and Ed.Ds) who want to be called "Dr." outside of the academic world are being short-sighted as best, and narcissistic at worst.

Let's dig in:

1--If you have a PhD and you're in the academic world and the norm in that world is for people to call you doctor, go to town. I'm not in that world and don't understand it. My son is a research assistant for some PhD candidates this year and he thinks they deserve to call themselves "Dr." in academia if they achieve the PhD. Cool.

2--Once you leave academia, my opinion is that you should demand to be called "Dr." in corporate America at your own peril and it's only occasionally situationally appropriate. PhD in cellular biology and you work at Pfizer? Dr. sounds right. PhD in Labor Relations and you're an HR pro supporting Sales and Marketing and you want to be called Dr.?  Cue the snickering. PhD in English and you're in a corporate comms job?  Less snickering than the HR person, but snickering around you nonetheless.

3--If you know someone from the questionable category that wants to be called Doctor, you know the level of narcissism by whether the following things happen:

--They share a bio that includes "Dr. <insert name> in 48 font letters at the top of the page and continues to refer to them as "Dr. Dunn" throughout the rest of the bio. LinkedIn as well for this measurement.

--They have an email signature that shows their name as "Dr. Kris Dunn" at the top of said signature.  Woof.  That's a lot.

--When you're in a meeting with them, the need for them to be called Doctor has been mobilized in your company to the point where people below them in the org structure called them, "Dr. Dunn" out of respect and in an effort not to make some imaginary shit list.

4--This really comes down to formality vs approachability in corporate America. If you're set on being called doctor and send a bunch of smoke signals out related to what you expect inside a company, you just need to know that you're missing how normal people think. Will 10% of the high rules people love the fact that you're all schooled up? Yes. Will another 10% openly mock you behind your back?  Yes. The 80% in the middle probably view you as less than approachable until they have a reason to believe otherwise. Is that the type of culture you're tying to build? That's the real issue.

The power move here is obvious. Make sure that people know how credentialed you are and the fact that you could go by "Dr.", but don't.  

Jill Biden can request to be called "Dr." and it's fine. But like the male HR person sending an email signature with Dr. before his name, she'll be judged on whether it feels absurd or not based on the circumstances, which is a personal decision by the receiver of that communication/request that cancel culture can't touch.

By the way, lawyers don't call themselves "Dr." (juris doctor, yo) but should stop with the "Esquire" shenanigans in email signatures.

And yes, get off my lawn.  KD out.


California's Affirmative Action Bill Defeat and the Future of Diversity Hiring...

Had the honor of talking to California reporter and resident John Hollon on my podcast (Best Hire Ever) about the November defeat of Prop 16 in California, which would have overturned past bans on Affirmative Action style quotas and preferences in public hiring, contracting and education in California.

Regardless of your position on any of the related issues, America is becoming increasingly multicultural, and there's a lot to unpack and think about with this surprising defeat in the Golden State. Worth a bit of time to consider for sure. #hrleadership #hr #diversityintheworkplace #diversityandinclusion #californialaw

Full podcast rundown appears below - something for everyone, regardless of your politics or view.

----------------------

In Episode 22 of BEST HIRE EVERKris Dunn talks with California resident (born and bred) news editor and professor John Hollon about the defeat of Proposition 16 in the November 2020 election, which would have allowed the reinstatement of affirmative action style quotas and preferences in public hiring, contracting and education in California. Voters in the Golden state rejected it by a margin of 57% to 43%, even though proponents of the bill outspent the opposition by a margin of 16/1. 

John and Kris have a wide ranging conversation about the bill, including John's rundown of the history of such legislation in the state and his reaction as a California resident. The conversation then turns to an examination of California's multicultural makeup and the fact it is a preview of the future version of America - and what we can learn about multicultural attitudes towards Affirmative Action and the impact of those diverse views to corporate DEI programs today and in the future.

Please subscribe, rate and review (Apple) and follow (Spotify) to get the latest delivered to you.  Click here if you don't see the player below!

RESOURCES AND SHOW NOTES:

------------John Hollon

John Hollon on Linkedin

------------Kris Dunn

Kris Dunn on LinkedIn

Kinetix

The HR Capitalist

Fistful of Talent

Boss Leadership Training Series

Kris Dunn on Twitter

Kris Dunn on Instagram


Post-Election Skill for Leaders: Making All Feel Welcome & On Equal Ground...

I read this post recently by William Wiggins at Fistful of Talent on Transgenderism. It's a simple, insightful piece on being aware. 

Prior to reading William's post, I finished Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac. It's the story of how Uber rose from humble beginnings to become a Unicorn, then stumbled from the top as it's bro-tastic culture caused it to be tone-deaf to the world around it via PR fiasco after PR fiasco.

Both are highly recommended reading. One is 500 words and one is 80,000 words.

Then of course, like you, I've been through the shit show that is the 2020 Election Season.

There's never been a bigger need for awareness for making all feel like they belong and are welcome than post-election 2020. 

The lesson? Being a leader in modern times is tricky. Consider the following realities:

  1. You're a leader.
  2. You're full of personal thoughts, a specific background and some form of bias. You think how you think. Politics included.
  3. When change comes and you're asked to lead everyone, it's easy to react as if it's a burden or worse.
  4. You can say it's all gone too far you shouldn't be asked to manage people on the far right or the far left. Many will agree with you.
  5. But - you'll ultimately acknowledge the views of the group of people in front of you - everyone - or you won't be allowed to lead anymore. Unless you're in a groupthink organization where everyone thinks the same.

History shows this cycle to be true. Your job is to lead everyone. When you don't engage or find the good in a group of people in front of you, you won't get the results you want or need as a leader in your organization.  When you think about the election we just went through in 2020, it's easy to become polarized and lose sight of this universal truth.

Saying that the vocal people on the left want to ruin America is lame. Saying that anyone that voted republican must be a racist is lame. Both are intellectually lazy. 

What if you decided that rather than be late to the game, you made it a priority to make all feel welcome and on equal ground in your company or on your team as a leader?

What if?

I'll tell you what if, my friend.  If that was your approach, you'd find the people in question - the special class of people currently causing others discomfort (the groups change over time) - incredibly willing to work for you and just as importantly, freed to do their best work.  You'd be maximizing your ability to get great work from the resources you have.

When you choose to lead everyone and not take the polarized bait the world wants to feed you, a funny thing happens. Performance and the ability for someone to do their best work goes up.

None of us are perfect when it comes to the change cycle outlined in #1 through #5 above.  Stop reading things in your bubble and start thinking about the best way to bring everyone on the team into the fold in 2021.

Performance goes up as bullshit goes down.  Just be crystal clear on what's bullshit in this cycle (anything that makes you slow to accept that reasonable people can think differently).


5 Reasons I'm STILL Bullish On America: Election Day 2020...

Election day is here. So many voices shouting, so let me add my thoughts to the mix with a bi-partisan thought that's not said enough these days:

AMERICA: STILL THE BEST THING GOING. Yikes

Let's start with my favorite songs from Hamilton, which you can find on Disney+. If you're looking for a reason to feel good on election day, you could do much, much, much worse.

Yorktown

One Last Time

What Comes Next?

It's been a rough year in America. Pandemic, George Floyd, second phase of the first wave of the pandemic and now, one of the most disruptive elections in history. The economy is questionable and things have never felt more divisive - which obviously spills over into the workplace, thus the post on something you thought had nothing to do with HR... 

Note that I'm hardcore moderate that thinks both polar extremes politically in the states are 100% crazy.

Here's 5 reasons I'm still bullish on America, with some HR/management thoughts embedded within:

1--We live in a country where you can actually tell the leader to "F off" directly to him/her via his social account. He might even "@" you! I just think it's interesting and a complement that our society/constitution allows for that and people aren't afraid to do it.  Try that in Moscow, Wuhan, Istanbul or Cairo these days, friends.

I don't agree with the decision to tell a leader from any party to F-off publicly. But I'll support your right to do it until the day I die. Side note - be careful with this approach with a leader in your company. Like the Dixie Chicks in the early 2000's, you'll find out that your right to free speech is protected, but the free market can and will remove you from corporate consideration. Also note the Dixie Chicks are now The Chicks, because Dixie didn't survive the cut in 2020 but "chicks" is OK, but as FYI, I've issued an advisory for dudes not to get comfortable using that term. Got it? Cool.

2--We have a history in the USA of being getting fed up, then vocal and moving for change. It's a long history and I could list all the problems America has had through the years - but you're aware of the history. Instead, I'm going to focus on what actually happens over time in America. People are vocal, critical mass is formed and change happens. It's easy to say it takes too long  - it sure does  - but just grab a live look in at St. Petersburg, Tabriz or Shenzhen for perspective. Also noted that it remains very much a work in process - as the George Floyd events illustrate (see my posts on the aftermath of George Floyd here and here, as well as these posts by great writers at my other site (FOT) if you doubt my intent). It's a rough look for the USA right now, but I believe America is 100% going to get this right - both now and in the future.

3--America is still the premiere melting pot of the world.  When I look around at the world my sons live in, I'm happy and proud that their world is more defined by meritocracy via equal opportunity more than mine was growing up. They see race, national origin and gender less than our generation did, and are accepting of people who don't look like them totally kicking a## in various walks of life. Why? America. Also see this map from the Washington Post that is a visual representation of the most and least racially tolerant countries in the world. Spoiler alert: Racism is a problem around the world, and while the USA has so many miles to go, we have some common ground to work from. (Note: I ran this map by some of my liberal friends and they had a hard time processing it. But still, it's the Washington Post on the left and they haven't pulled it down, which to me means it's solid for me to quote).

When I see a Black, Asian or Indian kid/family achieving in America, I'm not threatened. I'm proud they are American. I love it when the melting pot kicks ass. 

4--There's still a role for moderates in America. If you're not feeling the polar extremes of either political party here, it's OK. While the polar extremes are less tolerant than ever of your lack of willingness to commit, you've become the swing voter block that drives both sides crazy. You're also probably uniquely qualified to manage people as you've learned to see different points of view and co-exist with the highest % of people. This just in - the best managers of people are the ones who can get as many people in the bus to where we are going in 2021, 2031 and 2041 as possible. It's hard to do that when you say - as both parties do - you're either with me or against me.

5 - AMERICA ALWAYS COURSE CORRECTS. We've had a lot of dark times in our country and we've made some questionable decisions. What I love about America is that WE ALWAYS THROW THE BUMS OUT. Every. Single. Time. Regardless of party. In addition, just when you think you know what the answer will be, America rises up and pleasantly surprises you. Who saw a 6-3 vote FOR LGBTQ+ rights in a Supreme Court loaded with Republicans? No one, and you'd be fair to be skeptical on why that wasn't celebrated more. So be active, shoot your shot and trust the process. If you don't like how things are going in the USA - all you have to do is wait - we are junkies for change and can't accept too much of a single point of view. (side note - the picture in this post is my 4th of July t-shirt. It says, "YIKES", with subscript that says "England 1776")

Let's dig into that "Yikes" reference to close this July 4th post. This recent article from The Atlantic called "The Decline of the American World" digs into the perception of America around the world, especially in Europe. I found the article to be incredibly balanced and why it certainly focused on some negative perceptions of our country, it also featured hot takes by many that the world needs America to be great.

The article is highly recommended. I can't let you go without sharing the close of the article with you, focused on what Charles Dickens found in America:

"Over America’s history, it has had any number of crises—and any number of detractors. Le Carré is just one of many who have delved into the conflicting well of emotions that the United States manages to stir in those who watch from outside, part horrified, part obsessed. In his travel book, American Notes, for instance, Charles Dickens recalls his loathing for much of what he saw on his adventures through the country. “The longer Dickens rubbed shoulders with Americans, the more he realised that the Americans were simply not English enough,” Professor Jerome Meckier, author of Dickens: An Innocent Abroad, told the BBC in 2012. “He began to find them overbearing, boastful, vulgar, uncivil, insensitive, and above all acquisitive." In other words—it’s the aesthetic again. In a letter, Dickens summed up his feelings: “I am disappointed. This is not the republic of my imagination.”

Dickens, like le Carré, captured America’s unique hold on the world and the fundamental reality that it can never live up to people’s imagination of what it is, good or bad. As it watches today, it recoils but cannot stop looking. In the United States, the world sees itself, but in an extreme form: more violent and free, rich and repressed, beautiful and ugly. Like Dickens, the world expects more of America. But as le Carré observed, it is also, largely, an aesthetic thing—we don’t like what we see when we look hard, because we see ourselves."

Translation: The bumper sticker for America could easily be, "AMERICA: WE'RE MORE EVERYTHING THAN YOU ARE".

Which is why we'll be back. Happy election day, America. You are imperfect, dysfunctional, and at times, hard to look at.

But you're still the best thing going. Regardless of the outcome this time around, I believe you'll get this right, as you've gotten so many other things right.

See you at the cookout. 


Talking About Glassdoor's New Diversity Ratings with Joel Cheesman...

In Episode 18 of BEST HIRE EVERKris Dunn chats with Joel Cheesman, founder of Poach and Ratedly (as well as a co-host of the aptly-named Chad and Cheese Podcast) about the addition of Diversity Ratings on the Glassdoor platform. 

Joel and KD discuss the new rating and what it means for company reputation, the complicated relationship between Indeed and Glassdoor and how smart EB/Marketing/HR/TA pros can use the DEI focus to grow and protect their careers in a recession.

Please subscribe, rate and review (Apple) and follow (Spotify) to get the latest delivered to you.  Click here if you don't see the player below!

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS

1:25 - Joel breaks down his work at Poach and Ratedly. Poach follows employee sentiment and tells you when to reach out to great talent at a company that's thinking about jumping. Ratedly aggregates review sites so you can track what's being said about your company without logging into 15 review sites.

4:40 - Joel covers and outlines new Glassdoor ratings in the area of DEI and Diversity. Are you ready for your employees to rate your company on diversity?  Sure you are...

8:30 - KD and Joel talk about the number of ratings needed at a company for the diversity rating to appear - a disadvantage for SMBs.

9:30 - KD breaks down big company current DEI ratings on Glassdoor and Joel reacts.  It's complicated.

12:05 - Joel breaks down the complicated relationship between Indeed and Glassdoor, which are owned by the same PE firm. The companies had a 28% drop in revenue during the COVID period.

14:50 - Joel and KD talk about who has more leverage in the world of HR and TA - Glassdoor or Indeed. 

16:40 - KD asks Joel about the potential to show Glassdoor ratings on the Indeed platform, etc.

19:20 - Joel breaks down the challenge specifically for Employment Brand and marketing pros during the downturn, and how DEI branding presents an opportunity for them to survive in a pandemic flavored recession.

RESOURCES AND SHOW NOTES:

------------Joel Cheesman

Poach.ai

Ratedly

The Chad and Cheese Podcast

Joel Cheesman on LinkedIn


------------Kris Dunn

Kris Dunn on LinkedIn

Kinetix

The HR Capitalist

Fistful of Talent

Boss Leadership Training Series

Kris Dunn on Twitter

Kris Dunn on Instagram


Trust vs Performance + BlackRock's New Intimate Relationship Policy (The HR Famous Podcast)

In episode 35 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Tim Sackett, Kris Dunn and Jessica Lee discuss their favorite Halloween candy, dig into BlackRock’s recent policy change that mandates employee report all romantic relationships, including those with all company partners and vendors, and wrap it up with a discussion on Performance vs. Trust via a famous Simon Sinek video. 

Listen (click this link if you don’t see the player below) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)!

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS

1:30 – Halloween is right around the corner! JLee is modifying the normal Halloween routine for her two young kids. She’s excited because her kids are getting into Star Wars and they’re doing a Star Wars family costume.

3:00 – Tim’s family is doing a Michigan vs. MSU football/Halloween neighborhood tailgate. He is trying to decide if he wants to be Biden or Trump for his costume.

4:15 – What is your favorite Halloween candy? Tim is team Reese’s pumpkin because of the peanut butter to chocolate ratio. KD likes the bite size (better known as fun size) Snickers. JLee likes a classic Kit Kat.

6:45 – First topic: BlackRock is now requiring all employees to disclose any sort of romantic relationship with anyone in the company or anyone related to the company, including all vendors and partners, which includes 1/5 of the known world by definition. The company may make alternative work arrangements depending on reporting from employees. 

8:00 – Tim, the HR Famous workplace harassment expert, thinks that this new policy is stupid because it limits so many romantic or sexual relationships.

9:30 – JLee doesn’t want to know every possible relationship between employees from an HR perspective. She says it’s TMI!

10:30 – KD says that this policy follows a few scandals with relationship reporting at BlackRock involving high level employees. 

14:30 – The gang suggests a hashtag for Blackrock – #sexlessnation

15:00 – JLee tells us what questions would have to be asked about these relationships. 

16:20 – The HR Famous crew wishes the best to the BlackRock HR crew with this new policy. #sexlessnation

19:30 – Second topic of the day: Simon Sinek’s video Performance vs. Trust. In this video, Sinek talks about the Marines and how value trustworthiness vs. high level performance.

22:40 – JLee thinks that this is a hard lesson for a leader to learn because you often only learn you can’t trust someone once someone has made a mistake.

23:30 – Tim brings up Malcolm Gladwell’s most recent book Talking To Strangers and how humans tend to default to trust when often people are not being trustworthy.

26:00 – Shoutout to Ed Baldwin and the book The Thin Book of Trust by Charles Feltman. He defines trust in his book as sincerity, reliability, and competence. 

27:00 – KD and JLee would love if Simon would button up his shirt one more button!


Faking It vs. Being Authentic at Work: A Primer...(with Podcast after post)

I'm on the record that I like people who have the ability to "fake it until they make it".

Of course, there's a lot to unpack in that statement, namely whether people can do more harm than good with that approach - not only to their organizations, but also to themselves.

A different and more important question surrounds the ability to bring your authentic self to work, vs. being in an organization where you feel like you have to "fake it" to survive and thrive. That's different than "faking it until you make it" (which is more knowledge, skill and ability based), right?  

Faking it to survive in an organization is no way to live. If you can't be you and have to proactively hide the real you in a professional setting, that sucks.

Take a listen to the podcast below with industry expert and friend Jason Lauritsen as we talk through the benefits of bringing your authentic self to work. Turns out, it's a process and harder than it looks, but I learned a lot from the conversation with Jason below.

KD

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In Episode 16 of BEST HIRE EVERKris Dunn chats with Jason Lauritsen on the always hot topic of Faking it at Work vs Being Authentic at Work. Jason and KD discuss what being authentic really means as a candidate and an employee, the risks and rewards of being authentic, and the zombie-like existence of those who choose a life of faking it at work (whether by choice or via tough economic circumstances). 

KD and Jason also discuss building teams as a hiring manager on the recruiting trail via authenticity.

Please subscribe, rate and review (Apple) and follow (Spotify) to get the latest delivered to you.  Click here if you don't see the player below!

SHOW HIGHLIGHTS
 
1:43 - Jason and KD talk about his current focus - speaker, writer and consultant in the world of HR and healthy workplaces, and he's currently ramping up online courses for that domain.  He's also learning the harmonica, KD actively envisions him breaking the harmonica out is pocket and jamming with a house band. Which. Is. Awesome.
 
4:00 - Jason and KD set the stage by talking about a post he did this month on being authentic at work vs faking it.  Jason reacts to someone who encouraged people to fake it at work, defines his view of being authentic in the workplace and why it's so valuable.
 
10:35 - Why do people feel compelled to fake it in the recruiting process or the workplace?  Jason and KD chop it up.
 
12:13 - KD and Jason talk about how average level opportunities go down when you're authentic, but the intensity of opportunity across what remains goes exponentially up.
 
15:27 - Jason and KD carve up definitions of fake it, fake it until you make it, being authentic and more related to the workplace.  Turns out being authentic isn't just letting your freak flag fly, it's hard work and intentional, and protects relationships rather than destroying them.
 
23:40 - Jason and KD talk about being authentic on the recruiting trail, breaking down what it means for candidates and hiring managers.  How does it differ from employees already working for a company? Jason/KD discuss.
 
Along the way, Jason and KD discuss the expert definition of being authentic, as well as some of the greatest advantages and risks to anyone in the workplace who focuses on being authentic.
 

If You Work From Home, How Bad Do You Miss the Commute?

I've been blessed to have mostly worked from home over the last 10 years. When I did commute weekly, it was a doozy - 3 hours, one overnight and then back the next evening.

And you know what? As hard and shitty as that commute was going in and out of the ATL, I miss it a bit. Atlanta-traffic

A commute is a great time to get quality calls in. It's a great time to throw on a podcast. And of course, it's a great time to turn Drake or Metallica up to "10."

If you continue to work from home, who's going to help you with this intro or outro to your day (the commute) you'd never thought you'd miss?

How about Microsoft? Some of you just replied, STFU, right? I get it.

More from the Wall Street Journal:

"Microsoft's latest idea for Teams, though, may give many pause for thought.

As my colleague Mary-Jo Foley reported, one new feature of Teams -- coming in 2021 -- seems to be the Microsoft Virtual Commute.

I can already feel your shoulders rising toward your ears. Is Microsoft really going to make you sit on a virtual bus, while virtual passengers listen to actual loud music while cutting their virtual toenails? I very much hope not. The intentions here seem pure enough. This is an attempt by Microsoft to protect your mental health.

"The virtual commute feature is designed to help people mark the start and end of their working day, a more difficult prospect for those working at home."

It is, indeed, difficult as employers are taking liberties to squash the (remaining) liberties of employees. Microsoft itself discovered that more than half of company IMs were being sent between 6 pm and midnight. (And somewhere, Bill Gates smiles.)

I'd like to believe this, of course. But when I look at traffic jams at commute time -- they're building up again here in the Bay Area -- I worry that commutes tend to resonate with stress rather than its opposite.

More troubling, perhaps, is what Microsoft would actually like you to do during this virtual commute. Kamal Janardhan, general manager for workplace analytics and MyAnalytics at Microsoft 365, told the Journal that users will be asked to write a list of things they expect to accomplish during the day.

The Journal added more details. The virtual commute helper "will ask how users are feeling before they start work. If they say they are feeling overwhelmed, the virtual commute assistant will ask if they want to block time off in their calendars to focus on work or de-stress."

That's right. Microsoft's version of the end of day commute is to get you to build a list of s**t you have to get done the next day. 

No podcast. No music. No personal calls to bitch and complain to a trusted friend.

Instead, Microsoft's going to put on some classical music and make you build your to do list. Soon, there will be enhancements so you can prioritize your Wednesday and maximize productivity.

Most of us working from home miss the unwind period of the end of day commute. We might not admit that automatically, but there's something about rolling in your car and doing whatever the hell you want for 30 minutes with your time.

No update to Teams is going to give you that release or freedom.

A good, relaxing commute does not have 2-Factor Authentication.

You can quote me on that.


United Airlines Takes a Lawsuit Over Preferential Treatment of Blondes...

A recent lawsuit filed versus United Airlines shows how complicated/dangerous staffing decisions involving customer-facing positions can be.

A rundown of the lawsuit appears below. Embedded in all of this is the perception of what customers want, the concept/definition of bias, and the obligation a company has across employment law when staffing decisions for premium assignments are made in a manner inconsistent with established norms. Flight-attendant-

For years, attractive people (both female and male) have had an advantage in the workplace - that's documented through research. However, there are attractive people across all races and nationalities. Good luck to the organization/company in 2020 that identifies the "right" kind of attractiveness as belonging to young, white blonde females.

The answer to this for United is pretty simple. Work through the lawsuit and work with sports leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL) to ensure inclusivity. Trust me, those sports leagues don't want anything to do with media attention that suggests they're requesting the stereotype outlined below.

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United Airlines Holdings Inc. packs its charter flights for sports teams with young, blond crews and bars older flight attendants from working the plum routes, according to a new lawsuit.

In so doing, the airline bases the value of workers “entirely on their racial and physical attributes, and stereotypical notions of sexual allure,” according to two veteran flight attendants who sued Friday in California.

The attendants -- a Black woman who has worked for the airline for 28 years and a Jewish woman with 34 years of tenure -- say that they both tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to get assigned to work the charter flights.

United Airlines has contracts to provide air travel for some three dozen teams in the National Football League, Major League Baseball and National Collegiate Athletic Association, according to the lawsuit. Attendants who work those flights earn more and are provided with premium accommodations. They also sometimes get tickets to games, including playoff and Super Bowl tickets, and “extremely valuable” infield passes, according to the lawsuit.

Sharon Tesler and Kim Guillory said they were told by supervisors that they were unable to get work on the charters because they weren’t on “preferred” lists that were based on team preferences, according to the complaint.

They said they later discovered that young, white blond attendants -- with less seniority -- were given the assignments. United Airlines “has adopted and continues to implement procedures that are designed to ensure that young, white, blond/blue-eyed, female employees receive positions with the charter program, while more senior, and Black and Jewish employees such as plaintiffs, do not,” they said in the complaint.

The women are asking for monetary, including punitive, damages.

The case is Guillory v. United Airlines, Inc, 20-civ-03889, in Superior Court of California, County of San Mateo.

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Section 7.A.9 of United’s 2016-2021 Flight Attendant Joint Collective Bargaining Agreement (called JBCA for short) holds:

9 . Charters and Special Purpose Flights

a. Charters, extra sections and scenic flights assigned to a Base will be available for use in line construction or placed in open time, unless a particular Flight Attendant(s) has in open time, unless a particular Flight Attendant(s) has been requested by the charter organization.

Note the text in red. Although United’s flight attendant union (AFA) is strictly seniority-based in almost every respect, United’s collective bargaining agreement leaves open a loophole for charter customers to personally request flight attendants.

That's messy. The notes from Live and Let's Fly goes on to share that they've learned the average age of attendants on United charter flights is 46 years old, and United has a higher percentage of Black flight attendants in its sports team charter program than in its overall flight attendant population. Not sure of the source of that info.
 
It will be interesting to track this one.