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Executive

Google Walkout: Why It’s Up to Tech to Innovate Culture

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Google Walkout: Why It’s Up to Tech to Innovate Culture

The walkout against sexual harassment at Google last Friday turned heads. Following an investigation by the New York Times revealing that Android co-founder Andy Rubin was paid a $90 million exit package after being credibly accused of sexual misconduct, employees walked out across Google’s global offices. The world watched as over 20,000 Googlers demanded better reporting, greater transparency, and the end of forced arbitration around sexual harassment. Their actions carried such weight in the broader conversation that some have called this a “new kind of activism.”

Sexual misconduct has been previously exposed at large and powerful Silicon Valley firms, so what made this event so unprecedented? As a company, Google represents the pinnacle of corporate culture, offering everything from gourmet cafeterias to free time for side projects. So when more than 20 percent of Google’s workforce walked out in protest, they exposed a glaring gap in the company’s culture and shed light on its consequences. While backlash to harassment has often come in the form of lost revenue or negative press, the Google walkouts showed that employers who fail to engage cultural issues don’t just risk customer attrition or litigation. They risk losing large swaths of top talent, even if they’re Google…

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Why Corporate Culture is Far More Valuable Than Perks

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Why Corporate Culture is Far More Valuable Than Perks

Attracting and retaining talent is hard work. For years, employers have tried to understand what helps companies attract and retain top performers. For the most part, they've found that companies with great financial outcomes almost always have happy employees. The research even shows that it's employee satisfaction that results in good performance, not the other way around.

However, this phenomenon has led many companies to confuse the difference between culture and perks. In an attempt to please and attract high level talent, companies are spending more money than ever on perks and benefits believing this to be the key to happiness. Though the increase in company amenities, trips, and material rewards can temporarily boost employee satisfaction, it does little to address any real underlying issues that could be destroying your culture.

If your company offers great amenities but is experiencing low performance or high turnover, then you need to ask why it’s happening. Is it because you need to allocate more of your budget towards perks and benefits, or because your culture has a toxic behavior problem that you need to confront?

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Stop Googling Your Candidates: Why Manual Screening Costs Companies Millions

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Stop Googling Your Candidates: Why Manual Screening Costs Companies Millions

Looking to figure out who’s who in your sea of applicants? If you’re using search engines or social media, you are in good company.

Today, over 70% of employers are manually screening applicants. In other words, over 13,000 large U.S. businesses and 4.2 million small and medium enterprises are searching candidates online, but few have considered the costs. How much will it cost to screen all these candidates by hand? How do you make sure each profile matches the individual in question, and how do you make sure you don’t miss the critical detail that makes all the difference? Manual screening can lead employers to spending thousands of dollars on research, only to misidentify a critical profile or make a costly oversight.

Beyond being a financial and logistical burden, manual screening can also land your business in legal hot water. To ensure full compliance, companies need to adopt a set of best practices for online screening that includes involving the candidate in the hiring process, avoiding protected classes of information, and making principled hiring decisions. If not, they risk getting caught in a storm of mass employment lawsuits. Manual online screening has grown by over 500 percent over the last 12 years. Along with it, FCRA litigations have quadrupled, growing over 400 percent without a decrease in over eight years.

As both toxic employee behavior and employment lawsuits continue to trend upward, applicants are not only wreaking havoc once they get into a company—they are now so highly attuned to non-compliance practices that some will submit defective applications for the sole purpose of litigation before they ever walk into an interview. When it comes to pre-employment screening, companies must find a way to screen at high volumes with rigid compliance or face the consequences…

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Toxic Employees Cost Your Enterprise Over $1.2 Million Per Year

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Toxic Employees Cost Your Enterprise Over $1.2 Million Per Year

Just how costly is a bad hire? It depends on who you ask. If you were to Google “cost of a bad hire,” you’d find percentages, arguments, and even calculators promising to show you the “true cost of a bad hire” while offering little insight beyond the fact that they cost more than the worker's salary and turnover. As a result, the discussion on the direct and indirect costs of bad hires has become somewhat obscured. Some sources cite the “astronomical costs” of an unfortunate appointment while offering few measurable impacts, while others claim that a bad hire costs $240,000 while citing outdated and unavailable sources.

None of these sources tell you how often you’re making a bad hire, making it hard to know how these figures apply to your company. They often don’t tell you how the calculations are made or where the numbers come from, making it impossible to say whether the issue is of genuine business concern. When it comes down to it, they offer vague ideas about how to definitively avoid paying the costs of a bad hire. All of this has led HR to rely on "hope for the best" approaches to personnel management, with no clear insight into their hiring risk or effective actions they can take to manage it.

How much are toxic hires costing your organization? Relative to hiring a standard, non-toxic worker, a single toxic employee on a team of 20 will cost $25,600 per year due to increased voluntary turnover and absenteeism alone. This means that a company of 1,000 employees is losing at least $1.2 million to toxic workers each year…

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The Longer You Wait to Deal With Workplace Harassment, the More It’s Going to Cost

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The Longer You Wait to Deal With Workplace Harassment, the More It’s Going to Cost

What are the costs of sexual harassment?

Companies have long known that sexual harassment can lead to costly lawsuits. But since the explosion of #MeToo and the fall of Harvey Weinstein, the costs of misconduct have grown. Today, harassment is no longer just a cultural or legal issue, but a financial and brand issue that reaches every corner of the company. That means that no matter how good your training and reporting may be, they’re no longer enough.

Story after story has shown that when a brand loses authenticity over sexual harassment, they also risk losing their hard-won earnings. Uber has lost nearly 15% of its market share over the two years of its harassment scandals. After it was announced that Steve Wynn had received multiple allegations of sexual harassment, Wynn Resorts lost $3.5B in company value.

Your company should be armed and prepared to deal with toxic behavior as well as the brand damage that results when people hear about it. Companies are owning up to faults and taking action faster than ever when CEOs misuse their power. If you turn a blind eye to identifying and preventing toxic behavior, you’re risking more than legal fees and turnover—you risk irreparable damage to your market share, merger outcomes, and your name…

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Sexual Harassment: An Inflection Point

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Sexual Harassment: An Inflection Point

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the veil has been lifted on the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in the workplace and the numbers are staggering. Millions of men and women have finally been empowered by the #MeToo movement to come forward and tell their stories of being harassed. In fact, 1 in 3 women reported that they have experienced some form of sexual harassment while at work. Unfortunately, this problem isn't limited to a few bad actors either. About 20 to 25 percent of men self-reported participating in sexually coercive behavior, ranging from forced sex to verbal manipulation like guilt-tripping a woman into having sex.

Given the immense breadth of harassment claims that have emerged, it doesn’t seem that there are large enterprises in any industry that can credibly claim that harassment is not an issue they face in their workplace.

That being said, we have begun to learn a lot about the types of companies that are less susceptible to workplace sexual harassment. Organizations with more women in leadership roles, executive buy-in on anti-harassment efforts, and consistent enforcement of corporate policies have proven track records of being less likely to experience workplace harassment (EEOC). Unfortunately, even with all of these efforts, moving the needle on these fronts can still be quite challenging.

This moment has the potential to be a major inflection point in the effort to stop sexual harassment in the workplace. However, if we fail to truly understand the scope of the problem before us, the moment will slip through our fingers. We believe that leaders in technology, law, politics, and HR need to come together to find solutions that speak to the underlying foundations of this problem. Major victories have been won in rooting out some of the worst of the worst but our work is just beginning.

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Fama helps identify harassment at the source and notifies HR professionals immediately to risky behavior. Fama’s web based solution leverages AI technology to identify potential threats before they enter your organization. Call us to learn more.

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Defining Corporate Culture: Google Takes A Stand

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Defining Corporate Culture: Google Takes A Stand

The recent events in Charlottesville have forced companies from small startups to Fortune 500s to ask themselves difficult questions about what they stand for as an organization. This blog is the first in a series spotlighting companies that have had to make tough decisions about what their core values actually mean in practice. Today we take a look at the recent controversy around the released memo written by a Google employee.

This past week, the tech giant fired an engineer who wrote a controversial memo criticizing, among other things, the company's diversity efforts and the role of women in the workplace. The memo spread like wildfire internally and then went viral, causing a massive PR headache for the company. The news story is a setback for Google which has been already under fire for gender discrimination. According to TechCrunch, "The timing of the saga is not good for Google, which was hit by a lawsuit in January to obtain compensation data, ending up with a snafu over gender pay discrimination."

If Google is serious about addressing the real issues of gender discrimination in their organization, then they have some difficult work cut out for them. To do it, an organization must be committed to consistent communication to their employees of the values of the organization and be willing to take controversial stands when those values aren’t upheld.

However, these efforts will likely be futile absent a systematic approach to bringing on board individuals who are aligned to the company’s values and mission. Building a strong corporate culture is hard enough when team members do generally agree on values; it’s almost impossible when most don’t.

If your organization cares about your mission statement being more than just a tab on your marketing page, it will have to make decisions like the one Google recently made. The blowback from Google’s actions were magnified because it had failed to convince the public and its own organization of its authentic commitment to those values. Looking at strength of character in addition to job experience of your candidates is one way to do just that. You may even prevent hiring someone who discriminates against your employees or causes a media scandal for your organization.

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Hired By Twitter, Fired For Facebook

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Hired By Twitter, Fired For Facebook

In the job market and corporate world, it doesn’t matter who you are: your social media and digital footprint are now a crucial part of your public persona. One new Twitter employee learned this the hard way last week. Former AngelHack founder Gregory Gopman had been hired to lead Twitter’s new virtual reality team, but within 48 hours, he was fired. Why? A public Facebook post from two years ago where he denigrated the “lower part of society” in San Francisco, lambasting the city’s entire homeless population in an odd, aggressive tirade.

TechCrunch, who broke the story of Gopman’s old post, criticized Twitter for hiring him: “For a company with such an abuse problem from trolls, it might initially seem like a double win that they’ve hired Gopman, a ‘VR expert’ who’s also voiced his passion for dealing with ‘degenerates.’ That is, until you realize that the ‘degenerates’ he’s referred to as a “burden and liability” were SF’s homeless population.” It seems as if Twitter did not know about Gopman’s post before hiring him and, sensing a firestorm of bad publicity, fired him almost immediately after the release of the article. This situation begs the question: is the blame on Twitter for not doing proper vetting in the hiring process? Or, should Gopman have kept better track of what he posted and what he made public? In any case, it is a company’s prerogative to terminate an employee once news like this comes out. Given Twitter’s issues with harassment, trolling, and virulent language on their site, it’s no wonder they wanted to avoid a potential publicity nightmare. But, by not doing their due diligence, this still caused quite a firestorm.

Gopman had already received flak for the 2013 post and had apologized for it, which really sheds some light on Twitter’s hiring process; if this was already public information, how did it not come up? Gopman deleted the post years ago, but it didn’t take much for TechCrunch to dig it up. In a move of personal PR recovery, Gopman has issued multiple statements blaming TechCrunch for writing a “smash piece” on him. The lesson to be learned here is one of due diligence: on potential employees being mindful of what they post online, and of recruiters and companies being careful in screening their candidates and their history on social media, especially those in the PR-sensitive social media industry. It is also important to remember that anyone is susceptible to the same level of social media scrutiny and that regardless of seniority you need to be careful what you post online.

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The Inaccuracy of Criminal Background Checks

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The Inaccuracy of Criminal Background Checks

The most recent episode of HBO's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver included a segment on credit reports and background checks, highlighting some of the most pressing challenges facing those industries today. The central thesis of the segment revolves around a single phrase that Oliver mentions about nine minutes in:

"If you are going to use a criminal background check to make decisions, at the very least, they should be accurate. And frequently, they are not."

Oliver goes on to offer a number of anecdotes around mistaken identities - including background checks that falsely returned show-stopping red flags such as "sex offender" or "terrorist." He even shares a story about a person whose background screen mentioned that she was deceased. Clearly, these sorts of misidentifications dismantle public trust in background checks, and require that employers re-think their approach to candidate screening.

We agree: background checks can be inaccurate, and if an employer is not strictly following the guidelines of the FCRA, the inaccuracy of these checks could forever damage the course of an otherwise outstanding job candidate's career.

One second, John Oliver.

Oliver missed one key point in an otherwise entertaining nineteen minutes of dialog. The problem with background checks today is foundational, emanating from the largely manual and non-electronic method in which criminal records are accessed and stored.

When we started working in this space, most of our team thought that every American citizen's criminal record was accessible from a master database. We imagined a database buried deep under the Pentagon that could be immediately accessed by any background check company, offering results with a high degree of accuracy and clarity.

We were wrong.

While there is a National Crime Information Center (NCIC) hosted by the FBI, it only contains 50-55% of all criminal records available in the US. So how do background check companies access criminal records that sit outside the database? The process looks something like this:

  1. The background check company receives information on a candidate from an employer (their client) that the candidate herself has contributed. This is an important distinction - all of the information provided comes from the candidate.

  2. While some clients pay to access the NCIC alone, most want to make sure that their candidate isn't going to post a risk to the business. So the client asks the background check company to ensure that the candidate has not committed a crime in the counties in which that candidate has lived, moving beyond the NCIC. So they employ the background check company to visit the county courthouse or federal district court where a crime may have been originally prosecuted.

  3. Background check companies don't have satellite offices in every county in America. So, on behalf of the background check company, a 'courthouse runner' will visit courthouses in some or all of the counties in which this person has lived (depending on the commercial package the employer selects), armed with the information that the candidate provided in the screening process.

  4. Many courthouses don't have electronic record systems, requiring these runners to access a dewey-decimal style database, looking up records with inconsistent data points. For example, some courthouses don't attach DOB or SSN to a person's criminal record, leaving this 'courthouse runner' trying to make an informed guess about whether or not a criminal record belongs to a person in question.

  5. Once the 'courthouse runner' thinks that they have found something, they mail a paper copy (ever seen a fuzzy Xerox?) to a background check processing center which is then digitized and placed into a candidate's file for an employer to review.

These foundational issues make maintaining accuracy tremendously difficult.

This inaccuracy is well known amongst risk management professionals and HR leads across the country. This inaccuracy, this buildup of scar tissue around background checks, is what leads people to look for other methods of assessment, including social media screening.

In our next post, we'll discuss how the FCRA tries to alleviate some of these inaccuracies, and why following its guidelines are so important.

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