Companies that exploit women do so at their peril

Women still make less than 80% of what men do when doing the same jobs. The Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963. The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009. Yet we still have discrimination in compensation against 50% of our population. Legislation will not close this gap. Enlightened management will. Managers need to recognize two things. First, when people are doing the job, regardless of gender, pay them what the job is worth. Second, there will be a backlash against companies that discriminate in this manner. And as skilled workers become harder to find, as they will, the companies that have maximized their profits at the female workers expense today will find it nearly impossible to make any in the future.

As detailed in this article from BusinessWeek, in the past three years, wages for women in comparable jobs to men has clawed its way from 78 cents to 79 cents for every dollar men earn. What will women do with all this extra cash? While there are a few positions in which women actually out earn men, this is not the norm. And it is not acceptable.

This is the real storm threatening our economy.

Wisdom lost, and gained

I had a wisdom tooth removed this week.  I know this is something you usually do when much younger, but I never had a need to. Until now. I spent the day of the extraction in a pain-killer induced haze, and was back at work, albeit on a limited basis, the next day. Two days after the surgery, I hit the desk early to continue catching up and get fully back up to speed. In fact, that’s when I’m writing this, less than 48 hours after the surgery.

I bring this up not for sympathy but to make a point. My 21 year old daughter had the same surgery less than two weeks prior to mine. Same oral surgeon, same tooth, same procedure. And she was out of work for six days. She was swollen and could not have solid food for five days after it was done. I had crusty Italian bread with dinner last night.

The lesson here is that people are different, even those in the same family. We reacted completely differently to the same experience. Managers sometimes make the mistake of thinking that all workers can be treated and managed the same. They do the same job, work in the same place, have the same goals. But just like my daughter and me, everyone reacts to a set of circumstances differently.

When given a new task or protocol, some workers will latch onto it immediately and others will be loathe to give up the old way of doing things. Some people are willing to learn by trial and error and others need to read the manual and feel completely comfortable before they try something the first time. People are different.

This is perhaps the greatest challenge of managers: pulling together a disparate group of people and getting them to work cohesively toward a single goal or set of goals. And you don’t get to do it the way you’d like to all the time. You don’t get to manage them the way you’d like to manage, you must manage them the way they need to be managed. And invariably, you are asked to manage different people in different ways at practically the same time. It’s enough to strip your mental transmission. The best way to keep your sanity is to remember, and this is the phrase I used as my mantra when managing, one size does not fit all.

Build it or buy it

Turning away from better managers, let’s take a look at another facet of HR.


I saw a discussion recently about how recruiters make hiring decisions or recommendations and for me it comes down to the age old question of “build it or buy it.”

We’re talking about speed [to hire] and skills [to do the job]. Recruiters have to know their organization’s philosophy of “buying,” hiring someone with the skills to hit the ground running who will get up to productive speed very quickly but will cost you more at the outset versus “building,” hiring someone with less experience or skills but with the potential and willingness to learn. The latter will take longer to reach “productive flying altitude” and will cost less to hire, but the cost will be expended in training. Bottom line is you have to know where your organization likes to spend its money. This often means where the management team sees a greater ROI.

To work effectively with hiring managers and best serve your organization, you have to know your organization’s operating philosophy.

Next post, I’ll talk about how to most effectively work with the hiring manager.
Til then,
Only the best,