All the recent headlines – and there have been hundreds, it seems – attesting to some bad behaviors, horrible behaviors and increasingly inexcusable behaviors by powerful men towards girls, women and occasionally young men have put an aspect of our social contract under necessary scrutiny. We have all been complicit, I suspect, in our ‘boys will be boys’ latitude, our ‘locker room talk’ hall passes for the prevailing culture, our tacit willingness to adopt concepts into our vernacular, such as ‘the casting couch,’ without really forcing ourselves to consider implications for one half of our population.
All this inspection and introspection is devoutly to be desired, I believe. The less reported on phenomena laid bare is the seeming collective shrug offered up by human resources professionals throughout the rampaging, testosterone fueled corporate suites that are the denizens of the marauding power elite, aka, for purposes of this piece, men.
We’ve spoken with dozens of people at the pinnacle of their corporate careers in recent months, seeking to clarify the role that human resources, talent management or rose by whatever name it goes. CEOs tell us essentially even if HR is given a ‘seat at the table’ it’s a provisional one: Since they will never become serious candidates for CEO, their voices just are not heard. The corollary is that since they ‘know where the bodies are buried’ they’ll never be fired, either.
We asked these leaders what does make them honestly, authentically, really deal with daunting issues of corporate culture failure. To a person, they agreed on three drivers of change: A complaint to a board member, a sharp and obviously related decline in measured business metrics and a cultural change from the outside world that puts a hiccup in their business-as-usual.
These three conditions are wonderfully attuned to the #metoo moment and its implications for business: Can there be a board which isn’t asking serious questions right now? If we liberated half the workforce from the work-a-day drudgery cum vulnerability of sexual harassment, can there be doubt radical business growth would ensue? Is there any business or businessman not looking inward and back to their own history and attempting to clean up a laissez-faire act?
Now then, to you human resources professionals. What are you going to do differently? This is your moment too. #make a difference.