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HR Risk Management

Leadership Isn't a Role—It's a Series of Behaviors

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Leadership Isn't a Role—It's a Series of Behaviors

Today’s blog comes from executive coach and leadership consultant Julie Diamond, the founder of Diamond Leadership. With over 30 years of experience in the field of human and organizational change, Julie is the author of Power: A User’s Guide, and a co-founder of the Power² Leaderlab, a leadership program for women leaders. At Fama, we’ve discussed how power operates in the workplace, and how abuses of power undermine business success. In today’s post, Julie adds another dimension to this discussion, emphasizing that your success comes down to the day-to-day behaviors of your organization’s leadership.

We know there is a deep connection between culture and organizational outcomes. When culture is done right, it unleashes tremendous energy, harnessing a diverse set of talents towards shared organizational goals. But a culture that is hostile and dysfunctional cripples the organization’s capacity and drives away talent.

While each and every employee plays a role in creating an organization’s culture, it’s the leadership that has the power to make or break the workplace culture. Why? Because “leaders bring the weather.” The things leaders say and do signal to the entire organization what behaviors are permitted, and their impact on employees is so great that the behavior of company leaders is often mimicked throughout an organization.

While the above are flagrant and scandalous examples of leadership gone awry, organizational culture can also be eroded by subtle, seemingly insignificant behaviors, off-the-cuff comments, and even nonverbal behaviors. Leaders don’t have to yell, scream, or engage in unethical behavior to undermine culture. In fact, most of what constitutes culture is tacit and subtle. It comes down to two questions: how does it feel, and how do people relate to each other?

These may seem like soft and fuzzy questions, but how things feel on a day to day basis is critical to people’s ability to do good work and, therefore, to the organization’s ability to meet its goals. As an executive coach, I’m often asked by my clients how they can create cultures of engagement, inclusion, and high performance. The answer? Learn how to effectively use your power.

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The Reason Bias Still Exists at Your University

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The Reason Bias Still Exists at Your University

There’s no underselling how important professors are in our society. We rely on them to shape the next generation and instill the knowledge students need as they prepare to head into the workforce. However, it’s becoming clear that when they’re not careful, their personal biases can overshadow the education their institutions had promised and create a toxic environment for students.

Millions are talking about a professor and administrator at Duke University who recently sent an email asking students not to speak Chinese. The incident, circulated by Bloomberg, The New York Times, and the BBC, has spurred discussions worldwide around bias in higher education. It has left people wondering what colleges are doing to protect students from individual bias and harassment, and just how much a professor or administrator can damage their institution’s brand through the things they say.

Duke will likely withstand this PR incident. However, many institutions see much larger repercussions when a scandal breaks loose. A paper from Harvard Business School shows that colleges that receive long-form news coverage about a high-profile scandal can experience a 10% drop in applications for over two consecutive years. This is equivalent to losing 10 ranks in the U.S. News and World Report college rankings. As a college or university, your reputation impacts both the quality and quantity of donations, enrollment, and funding. Though your school’s overall reputation is made up of many components, it hinges largely upon the administrators and faculty members you hire to build your image.

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The Millions You're Spending on Marketing Could Be for Nothing. Here's Why

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The Millions You're Spending on Marketing Could Be for Nothing. Here's Why

Socially responsible marketing is on the rise. If the recent consumer controversy over Gillette’s ad on masculinity wasn’t enough, everyone in the business world is also talking about the new marketing trend. In the last 12 months alone, Deloitte, McKinsey, and the World Economic Forum in Davos have all noted that more and more consumers are looking to businesses to take stances on important social issues. The numbers are talking as well: 66% of consumers will pay more for products from companies committed to positive social impact. With millennials, this number is even higher. 73% will pay more for sustainable products, and 81% expect companies to take a public stance on social issues.

That means that there is an enormous opportunity at hand. Brands that can properly connect their brand with relevant social causes have grown their audience and revenue by as much as 200%. However, you can spend millions on marketing in hopes of winning favor with the public without realizing that it takes as little as one person to erode the goodwill you’ve built. While socially conscious marketing is helpful and even necessary today, a single revelation of toxic employee behavior can render all of those marketing efforts fruitless. Yes, the numbers say that socially conscious marketing pays dividends—but take a closer look and you’ll see the costs of toxic behavior are even greater.

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Online Screening: The Next Frontier of Insider Threat Detection

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Online Screening: The Next Frontier of Insider Threat Detection

As more and more of our lives move onto the public web, businesses are becoming aware of the degree to which publicly available online information can help them stay ahead of potential risks. Previously, we discussed how online screening can help organizations manage their mergers and acquisitions. However, as the landscape of risk continues to grow, we’re also seeing companies leverage online screening to prevent insider threats—malicious threats to an organization’s security, data, and computer systems that comes from the people within.

Traditionally, businesses have mitigated insider threats by identifying and troubleshooting technical vulnerabilities in the enterprise or responding after the fact. But as more and more employees collaborate with criminal and activist groups, and the cost of the average insider threats reaches $8.7 million per incident, the success of your business can also hinge upon your ability to catch more emotional and qualitative vulnerabilities. How do these “emotional warning signs” indicate a potential attack, and how do you find them before it’s too late?

In this blog, we’ll discuss how employees’ interactions with social media and the public web can lead to costly breaches to information security. From there, we’ll break down the difference between negligent and malicious insiders, and why companies need a sophisticated online screening solutions to safeguard themselves from the full set of potential vulnerabilities.

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Why Mergers & Acquisitions Have Become HR's Worst Nightmare

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Why Mergers & Acquisitions Have Become HR's Worst Nightmare

Mergers and acquisitions are at an all-time high. In the last five years, the total financial value of mergers has increased by 250 percent and there are no signs that things will slow down in the coming year. While this is good news for dealmakers, it puts HR teams in a precarious situation. As an HR leader, you are more likely to deal with an acquisition than ever before. Additionally, you’re also up against the fact that 20 percent of dealmakers cite cultural alignment as the root cause of failed mergers. This means that even though mergers and acquisitions (M&As) are decided largely on financial projections, your department carries a disproportionate amount of responsibility for its ultimate success or failure.

The good news is that a collective 34 percent of dealmakers now consider effective integration and sound due diligence as the most important factors in achieving a successful M&A. But even though study after study shows that success in mergers and acquisitions hinges on people, culture too often gets lost in the shuffle. As an HR leader, what can you do to make a case for an effective cultural audit and steer your company towards success?

In this blog, we’ll break down why culture has historically been an afterthought in M&As, why that can no longer be the case, and how online screening can help ensure cultural fit with the speed and specificity executives rely on at each stage of a merger or acquisition.

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The Rise of the Emotionally Intelligent Enterprise

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The Rise of the Emotionally Intelligent Enterprise

The last 18 months have been transformative for the way companies do business. As people pushed corporations to adopt new policies through movements such as the global walkouts at Google, companies that were once driven purely by sales and revenue are starting to change. They are beginning to realize that they will need to take a stance on issues such as harassment and bigotry to remain in good standing. In an age where authenticity and accountability are key, empathy has become a driving force for business success.

However, as sexual harassment lawsuits and global anger reach record highs, and headline after headline continues to rock corporations across industries, the fact remains that companies must actively prove to consumers and employees that they care.

Today, employees and customers look to companies to understand where they stand on major social issues. Many businesses have responded to this trend with well-intentioned PR statements around their corporate culture and policy. However, the bar today has been set far higher than before. Customers and employees often feel that companies can’t gauge their emotions and are increasingly frustrated by well-meaning statements with little follow through. That means that to assuage consumer anger and combat a growing possibility of reputational loss, companies need to demonstrate emotional intelligence, not just a political stance.

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No More Silos: How People Risk Will Change Your Department in 2019

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No More Silos: How People Risk Will Change Your Department in 2019

In the age of social media, anyone can be a journalist. In a recent article about bad employee behaviors gone viral, Erik Deutsch of the LA-based ExcelPR group said that the ability to post anything in real time and make it accessible to the entire world has forced companies to rethink risk management. “If someone was mistreated in a store 15 years ago, they might make a scene and tell their friends, and that would be it,” he says. “Now, they post it online and it can become a sensation.”

As this year’s headlines around workplace harassment, bigotry, and violence suggest, individual departments are struggling to mitigate people-based risk on their own. HR is overwhelmed with paperwork. PR is scrambling to react quickly enough to control the narrative when bad news breaks. Security teams are often ill-prepared to handle allegations that boil down to “he said, she said” disputes. IT is asked to manage a growing set of channels not necessarily optimized for security. The new reality of people risk is exposing major cracks in traditional organizational structures. Unless companies adopt new approaches to people risk management (PRM), it will be increasingly difficult to stay ahead of potential threats.

So what’s on the horizon for people risk management? Moving forward, we will see significant shifts in structure, process, and technology to promote deeper collaboration between HR, risk, digital communications, and IT. While organizations will take a variety of approaches to mitigate these new threats, we predict three general trends…

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Enterprise Risk Is Changing: The Case for Continuous Screening

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Enterprise Risk Is Changing: The Case for Continuous Screening

In July 2018, Uber announced that it would begin conducting continuous background checks on their drivers. Although the company has had a difficult history when it comes to culture issues and passenger safety, this particular decision moved Uber ahead of the curve. It showed they understood that whether caused by executives, employees, or independent contractors, enterprise risk stems from individuals whose behaviors can change over time—and that after years of negative press and internal shocks, they were finally doing something about it.

Like Uber, many companies today are starting to recognize the limits of traditional background checks and looking to recurring, real-time screening solutions to manage employee risk. Nearly half of employers today are scrambling for ways to identify high risk behaviors in their employees, but according to the Society for Human Resource Management, only 11 percent of companies formally screen past the initial hire. This means that nearly 9 in 10 companies are depending on pre-hire background checks to keep their organizations out of the headlines.

In this blog, we’ll discuss how enterprise risk has changed in the last decade and highlight why companies today must extend their screening practices beyond the initial hire.

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How the World’s Top Companies Build a Digital Screening Workflow

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How the World’s Top Companies Build a Digital Screening Workflow

For many organizations, online screening has become central to successful talent acquisition. Shown to identify high-risk behaviors and save some of the world’s biggest brands from the headlines you’ll never see, online screening has become a new frontier of employee risk management. However, it is often an entirely new part of the hiring process, and can introduce significant operational hurdles, especially if your company is hiring at scale.

While it’s possible to integrate online screening into your organization in just a few steps, it can also seem daunting when you’re just starting out. Identifying which behaviors pose a hiring risk and when to take further action on a report can already be challenging. Imagine doing this for every single person in a large enterprise and it becomes clear that when screening in high volumes, maintaining speed and quality can seem nearly impossible.

How do you make sure that gathering and acting on this information doesn’t slow down your hiring process? The key is to help your organization create a digital screening workflow. It is an end-to-end, fully customized set of instructions that has helped countless Fortune 500 companies reduce logistical overhead and increase the quality of hires while screening candidates online.

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