33 - Cancel Culture in HR

Alexa and Tyson have an explorative conversation about the effects of politics on People Operations. Should HR be making ethical decisions? They discuss the impacts of the polarization of people in the workplace and why you should take a beat before canceling someone.

[00:00:00] Advert: [music] Morning, this podcast is about the realities of working in people operations. This is not a stuck-up PC compliance-based or employment law podcast about stuffy outdated HR practices. Should will get real here and we assume no responsibility.


[00:00:31] Advert: This is the People Problems podcast with Alexa Baggio and Tyson McKenzie.

[00:00:39] Alexa: All right. Well, how are you doing, Tyson? What's new?

[00:00:42] Tyson: Not too much. One new and exciting thing shocking my baby has a little tooth starting to poke through on her bottom gum, which is insanely early. Okay? She's only four months. That's a fun new development.

[00:00:56] Alexa: Is that just happening early sometimes?

[00:00:58] Tyson: Yes. Honestly, if you look it up the range is like teething can start it anywhere between like three months and nine months. It's like, all right, but four months is pretty early. Yes.

[00:01:08] Alexa: Sweet, well, she's ahead of the curve. Little overachiever.

[00:01:12] Tyson: Yes. [laughs]

[00:01:13] Alexa: Very cool. Anything else new?

[00:01:16] Tyson: No, just him.

[00:01:18] Alexa: Okay. Cool. Well, I have some housekeeping. I don't have anything new other than I'm on the sunny West Coast this week, which is lovely.

[00:01:25] Tyson: Very jealous.

[00:01:27] Alexa: Sunshine gives me life. Yes, I got that going for me. A couple of things we should probably announce to the listeners. First is that we are now releasing our episodes on Wednesday. Sorry, you got to wait a whole extra 24 hours to hear your favorite party mouth. Our second and much more exciting news, Tyson, is that you and I are going to be meeting up IRL, in real life, this year for a couple of events where we are going to record some live People Problems episodes.

[00:01:55] Tyson: I cannot wait.

[00:01:56] Alexa: We'll tell the good people more as we get a little closer, but there's going to be a Tyson-Alexa Fest in 2022. I'm excited about it.

[00:02:05] Tyson: It's so much fun meeting people in real life that you've never met before. I did that with a couple of work people that I'd never met before, and then you see them in real life and it's like, wow, we know each other, but we've never seen the actual human. It's so fun. I can't wait.

[00:02:20] Alexa: Yes, it's going to be a blast. We're going to have a good time. I'm very excited. Maybe I'll get to meet Rosie.

[00:02:27] Tyson: Yes, I know. [crosstalk] [laughs]

[00:02:32] Alexa: Yes, I love it. Cool. Well, very excited for that. Yes, new episodes on Wednesday. Here we go.

[music]

[00:02:51] Alexa: This week pops in the news, we are going to throw it back a little bit and we are going to go back to an article that Thompson Reuters published actually in late 2020. It's about 18 months old now, but that's okay because it's very relevant called "Cancel Culture in the Workplace, New Challenges and Risks for Compliance HR and Boards." It's not a very long article. I'm not going to go through it in a whole lot of detail, but we're also going to use this as our topic today because I think there's lots to talk about and it's a pretty important topic given the industry that we're in.

The general premise of the article is that freedom of expression in the workplace is a continuing issue. People are starting to see this emergence of cancel culture. Obviously, 18 months ago, this was much more an emergence. Now I think it's pretty mainstream. Talking about how to deal with basically employees who do something crazy that gets canceled. Famous example is there was a woman, Amy Cooper, who was fired after she accused a black man of threatening her in New York, Central Park. She was charged with filing a fake police report. I know everyone's heard the situation at this point, but just like a whole thing and the one lost their job because of that. There's lots of examples in the article, just like employees, they could use it under the subheading of like employees under the microscope.

Then it goes on to talk about a little bit about obviously the whole topic here, which is focused on the workplace, the blurred lines between a worker being a person and a worker being a worker. Previously, the lines I think used to be very clear, which were that basically what you do at work is not what you do for your-- We've talked about this lot, just culturally in general, the workplace has evolved. It has very much become where the lines are blurred and what you do is who you are versus it used to be like, I don't bring my personal issue to work.

Then lastly, it goes on to talk about the obvious challenges. It doesn't go into a whole lot of depth. It's not a long article, but it talks a little bit about the challenges for management and board saying that basically the whole idea here is that management, compliance, human resources, they're all going to be the ones that have to step in. It's not a great system because the same policies and procedures and ways that you handle things because it's internal basically can be redacted.

This isn't in the article, but let's say, for example, your company puts into place like a social media policy. You can also just redact the social media policy. It's not clear who should be policing this. At least the person who's quoted in the article argues that there should be some potential law enforcement or more formal policies around this. Basically, that this is a cluster fuck and nobody knows how to deal with it.

Curious to get your thoughts, Tyson. I know there's an insane amount of stuff going on in the world around this right now, but we also mentioned this in our last episode so might as well get you why you're feeling fiery your thoughts on cancel culture, and specifically, I think for the purpose of this conversation, cancel culture as it pertains to how this affects the HR world and your ability to actually be effective when all this shit is going on because this is just one of the many things that gets dumped on the HR profession, along with just everything else nobody wants to deal with. What do you think?

[00:06:05] Tyson: I think I started looking into this today like we were chatting about, okay, what are we going to talk about tonight? This came up to me because-- [crosstalk]

[00:06:14] Alexa: No, I want everyone to think that we plan these agendas out [crosstalk] [unintelligible 00:06:17].

[00:06:18] Tyson: [laughs] It was today. [laughs] [crosstalk] [unintelligible 00:06:22]. No, but look-- [crosstalk]

[00:06:24] Alexa: Like an amateur.

[00:06:26] Tyson: Through this podcast, I think it's super important that we talk about relevant topics. Here we are, the day of swinging it, here we go. Okay.

[00:06:36] Alexa: Well, we have guest reschedule, we're not always amateurs.

[00:06:38] Tyson: Anyways, but so this came up for me because obviously everyone knows there's a whole lot of people trying to get canceled and trying to cancel right now. Obviously, when big things happen in the world, I think, "Okay, how is this going to affect me in what I do in the day to day as an HR person?" It's interesting because previously when we talked about the workplace versus the life, what you do outside of work like you said, we did try to keep them separate unless, of course, the company was being slandered in some way, or you were directly linked. Especially like Joe Blow employee, we didn't really care too much about what you did on your personal life. Obviously, there was always like people-- [crosstalk]

[00:07:19] Alexa: Sexual harassment and stuff is probably where that starts to matter, but yes.

[00:07:22] Tyson: Yes, but for the most part it's been very separate. I think what we're seeing now with the polarization of politics, especially is this drive for people to think that they need to take a side or the other side. It's like very us versus them in the world which obviously is going to start leaking into the workplace. Why I find this interesting and challenging for HR is because it really makes us have to make ethical decisions, which is hard.

[00:07:57] Alexa: Which HR they're not fucking ethicists [crosstalk].

[00:07:59] Tyson: We're not, yes. Anytime things get ethical, I guess that's how you say it.

[00:08:05] Alexa: Ethical, yes.

[00:08:06] Tyson: Things get very, very, very gray. Is it taking aside A or B and then if you as an employee, maybe something is simple. I'm seeing things like 'people getting 'canceled ' for something as small as liking a tweet, things like that. People losing their jobs because of that.

[00:08:30] Alexa: Yes. That's where this comes in, which is like I mean, not should you be allowed because that's more of a legal, do we want to pass a law about this question but like do you as an employer and/or someone working with an organization want to be, or should you be canceling people because they like a tweet?

[00:08:48] Tyson: Right. In the realm of HR, if we're going to say cancel, like obviously cancel, the terminology I think is very social media. It's like getting your YouTube shut down or anything like that but as we're speaking of it from the workplace, that's-- [crosstalk]

[00:09:00] Alexa: I think it has backlash now, it's called cancel culture. It's ridiculous.

[00:09:04] Tyson: Right. If we're talking about it like let's keep this in that HR realm, it's losing your job could be a big one obviously, and then bigger than that, we see companies get and boycotted and companies trying to be taken down for various reasons but if we just focus on the individual here. Backtracking a little bit, yes. Previously, CEOs that level had a much greater amount of pressure on them to obviously hold the line and say things because they really, in everything they do represent the company, whereas like lower-level employees it never was really looked at into as much, but now with everything that's going on in the world, I'm seeing it more that people are whistleblowing for behaviors that people are doing outside of work about their colleagues and trying to shut people down from things that they see.

[00:09:53] Alexa: What is the example?

[00:09:55] Tyson: Going back to a tweet situation, someone liked the tweet, screenshot it, this person liked this tweet in support of X, they don't align with the company values, they shouldn't be part of this company anymore because of their association with whatever it is.

[00:10:16] Alexa: What the fuck.

[00:10:18] Tyson: That is when things start to get really gray. This is beyond a gray zone at this point. It's one thing in the article when we see, for example, explicit racism, for example, or like you mentioned sexual assault. These are reasons why people get fired for cause. [crosstalk]

[00:10:41] Alexa: There were legal implications. For example, Amy Cooper filed a police report as illegal, full stop. I'm sure there's plenty of policies that just say you can't have active felonies or whatever, or active charges because you fill out standard paperwork. For most employers is like, "Have you been convicted of a crime?" If you have, you have to disclose it. It's like yes, there's actually lawbreaking here. That's different than-

[00:11:08] Tyson: That's totally different.

[00:11:10] Alexa: -"We've just decided as an organization, we don't like you."

[00:11:13] Tyson: Right. Or taking a political stance in areas that are very political like what we're seeing now happening in the world, supporting one narrative versus another. Then again, it's that association with someone who might have beliefs that are different from the company values that then can get an individual canceled which is a very new and interesting path than we're head-on.

[00:11:44] Alexa: I think it's also one of these, and I want to be very clear about, I'm certainly not an expert in this. I don't have all the answers to even talk about this probably that thoughtfully but as a very high-level topical conversation. There are degrees of this, there are degrees of, for example, vaccine mandates. That's a fucking shit show right now. There are some reasons, public health included, that society is agreeing on and we're figuring it out in real-time like what the fuck the rules are there and what you should be allowed to do and not do.

We're literally writing history as we do it, but that's super different than labeling co-workers and revisionist, it's not even revisionist history, it's like you're actively revising your take on someone because of shit they did in social media or elsewhere, or thought for a hot second, or indicated a thought associated with by liking that you're now using against them in a professional setting.

There's varying degrees of that. It's hard, I think. One of the reasons that this is an important topic is when you think about the role of people ops and, and HR, it's like we're here every week spouting like, "Hey, this is about people optimization. This is about human performance. This is about driving people together in teams in ways that's high functioning." When you layer this shit in, it gets really hard to do-

[00:13:08] Tyson: It gets really hard.

[00:

13:09] Alexa: -all of that really well because it's so clouded. It's like somebody peed in the public pool and now everybody has to get out. It can be such a derailment for people in HR and in people ops. We see it all the time with pops members, we see it all the time with groups that we work with where something comes up or some big issue happens in the world, and all of a sudden every single person on the forum is like, "Oh my God, what do I do about this? My team is asking me, 'What is our stance?'" "Oh, my God, what do we do about this? We have an employee that wore this T-shirt that said this, what should I say or what should we do? Or we need a policy for it." It's like everyone has to calm the fuck down first of all.

[00:13:54] Tyson: Yes, and I'm just going to call on one thing you said is what's our stance. There's a higher expectation of the workplace to take a stance on these things now, I think which--

[00:14:05] Alexa: Companies are going from what were previously just paychecks and box-checking and a thing that you did to, "We now expect you as an organization to have a soul and have a thought and have a conscience." It's a fucking organization, it's not human.

[00:14:21] Tyson: I am very much like, "It's rude to talk about politics at the dinner table and it's also not necessarily.

[00:1


4:30] Alexa: You're not mad at that.

[00:14:31] Tyson: It's also not appropriate I would say in a lot of cases, depending on your company to be taking various political stances. I don't know. Call me old school, but I think who you vote for, it's nobody's fucking business except your own. I think I should provide context in that I'm currently sitting in Ottawa in a city that is going through one of probably the wildest protests, political backlashes that we've ever seen. Not to derail this conversation, but just so people understand where I'm coming from and my context, I've never seen anything like this happen before, to be honest. Anyway, going back to cancel culture, one of the other issues I have with it is that it can be really super arbitrary and it can be very much like flavor of the week.

[00:15:20] Alexa: Yes, for sure.

[00:15:20] Tyson: Today we're canceling people who are anti-COVID. Last year we were canceling people who liked various tweets. You know what I mean. A few years ago it was the Me Too movement. We canceled all the people who did sexual offenses.

[00:15:33] Alexa: Some of the problems here is that it starts to be, I don't know what the right way to say it is, but like The Boy Who Cried Wolf, it becomes the problem because eventually, everybody's going to get canceled for something. I'm sure we're all subject to that, but at this point, you can't cancel me for talking about cancel culture. Fuck you. I have enough to cancel so basically fuck it. It's fascinating because we don't have clear boundaries on this as a society. I struggle with this concept of organizations are supposed to have souls. I don't believe that.

I believe that the humans that run those corporations do. A lot of entrepreneurial and capitalist [unintelligible 00:16:17] guys just gotten to this idea where we talk about comp


anies as entities, where there's this cult of personality problem that's like, "Oh, the CEO and the organization are supposed to take this stance." The answer is, "That's not ever going to fucking work either because someone's stance is going to rub someone else wrong." If you've got a co-worker that you find out in more depth, has maybe done something personally that doesn't jive with your vibe, it's your decision to draw those lines where you want to draw those lines with that person.

What I would encourage and implore everybody to think about is, does this affect my ability to work with this person? Does it actually affect what we do day to day at this company together? I'm going to venture to guess for 90% of those conversations and those relationships, the answer is fucking no because most of what you are doing as a business and your day-to-day job and operation it's not actually touching these topics.

It's very, very dangerous to start fleeing things where you're like, "Oh, I just--" It's like mean girls in high school. It's like, "Oh, I just don't talk to them anymore." It's like, well, maybe just slow the fuck down, calm down and actually remember for a second that you do do things in common with that person. As much as you might want to cancel them, they made their way into the exact same lobby, job level, and company as you did in your life. Maybe you have common than you have a part.

[00:17:


40] Tyson: Yes, and that's where cancel culture fails is it completely eliminates dialogue.

[00:17:44] Alexa: Completely eliminates dialogue, but also how is an organization? If we bring this back to HR and HR teams, how the fuck are people like managers supposed to corral that. I, as a manager, cannot control what the fuck you are offended by, right?

[00:17:56] Tyson: Right. Or it's not your job as a manager to be looking on everybody's Instagrams and everything because what if we have someone who's like, "Oh, I saw employee X post this thing that's really inappropriate and they support X political view but someone else has posted something even worse and they were never caught."

[00:18:16] Alexa: Perfect. What's worse? It's all fucking subjective. What's worse?

[00:18:18] Tyson: That's it. I think that's where I want to make this really clear is-

[00:18:21] Alexa: It's so subjective.

[00:18:22] Tyson: -is the escalation of cancel culture is what's really concerning to me because again, I want to double click on the fact that if you are making hate hateful comments, some of the things that we've mentioned before, like an illegal thing--

[00:18:36] Alexa: A lot of which is usually bad enough that we have laws around it or--

[00:18:40] Tyson: "You get canceled. If you break the law, you're getting canceled." Okay, sure, whatever. It's more so this escalation of the size, the polarization. I was listening to the Simon Sinek podcast and he said something that I thought was very interesting. It's this idea


that, again, going back to losing dialogue, losing empathy for one another, this polarization of people. I talk a lot about how I hate virtue signaling and how oftentimes people will just like post stuff or companies will post, they'll make their profile picture the pride colors, but really they have nothing to do-

[00:19:14] Alexa: They haven't done anything.

[00:19:15] Tyson: -otherwise. Right. Nothing else or whatever that is.

[00:19:17] Alexa: Don't care. Don't know. Don't try.

[00:19:19] Tyson: Yes, they don't try. One thing that he said so elegantly, he said empathy has become self-congratulatory versus actually being true empathy. I love the way he puts that. It's more self-congratulatory-

[00:19:32] Alexa: It's very performative.

[00:19:33] Tyson: -but very performative. I thought that that was interesting. Again, where I'm looping this, I'll make my point here in a second, is just this idea of cancel culture, which is we're just going to make a rush decision, let's say, to fire someone because they didn't agree with a certain narrative but we feel good that we've done something right. It's self-congratulatory because we've canceled that person who could have done whatever without any further investigation or giving the time or energy into actually making the right decision which makes sense for the business.

[00:20:09] Alexa: Yes. It brings up a bigger I think conversation which is like-- I saw so many groups even after George Floyd and all these things that the world gets fucking whiplash around things right now. Because of where people teams sit in organizations, and because of Thank God, something that we promote all the time on this podcast is they're increasing visibility to the C-Suite and connection to the C-Suite. They are constantly getting fucking gobsmacked into dealing with this shit and hopping on these bandwagons of like--

Th


e reason for that is that we've started to conflate branding and-- We talk a lot about branding on this, I'm a huge advocate for employer branding, but mostly because I just think the bar is really low, and the baseline is really bad. The other side of that spectrum is all of a sudden you have organizations that are like, "Oh, my God, the brand of my organization is being looked at publicly for all these reasons. I guess I have to chime in on this conversation." The answer is like, I'm not sure that you do. I don't have a hard opinion on this yet. I'm obviously working some of this out in real-time. I'm glad that we're talking about it.

I'm not sure I need your company to have a stance on social issues. In fact, it worries me that we are treating organizations as if they are speaking on behalf of all of our employees. I don't think someone should be saying all 400 of my employees align with this. Because again, outside of the really bad really fringe stuff, it's impossible to police. It's insanely subjective. It just opens everybody up to a much bigger shitstorm, which winds up being the HR team's fucking problem, which is not fun.

Nobody wants to sit here and write policies about social media posting, nobody in this profession s doing that shit. It's a waste of everybody's fucking time to infantilize you and teach you, you have to have guardrails on all the time, or we won't hire you. It just creates this false sense to your point like virtue at the organizational level, which is not where virtue should be placed. Right.

[00:22:17] Tyson: Right. Let's say we have this expectation.

[00:22:20] Alexa: I don't need all 400 people that I work with to have the same fucking opinion of something, that scares me.

[00:22:24] Tyson: No. Okay, yes.

[00:22:26] Alexa: Oh, disagree with me. It's okay, you and I disagree on this podcast all the time. I still you, we stay friends.

[00


:22:30] Tyson: All of the time. I'm happy that this conversation has gotten to this point because again, going back to our-- We just quickly touched on it loses dialogue. It also creates a space where people feel like they can't say shit without getting canceled or-

[00:22:44] Alexa: Yes, everybody is fucking terrified.

[00:22:46] Tyson: -everyone's terrified. Even, let's be transparent here.

[00:22:48] Alexa: People are terrified enough of HR, like do we really need to be--

[00:22:52] Tyson: People are already terrified. I just think that if we lose that ability for people to have a conversation, then it's just, what kind of workplace is that?

[00:23:02] Alexa: Yes, this works directly against everything that people ops movement is trying to accomplish-

[00:23:06] Tyson: Yes.

[00:23:07] Alexa: -which is more dialogue, more nuanced, more directs--

[00:23:09] Tyson: Psychological safety, these types of things.

[00:23:13] Alexa: Yes, more intensity and direct conversation with less consequence, less boundary in a healthy way.

[00:23:20] Tyson: Be open-minded. Encouraging critical thinking. Literally, this is my biggest issue.

[00:23:26] Alexa: How can you do that in an organization when your CEO is everyone here believes the same thing? How the fuck can you say that? Like little drums.

[00:23:32] Tyson: Right. Exactly. Yes, and that's--

[00:23:34] Alexa: Fall in line or get lost? I'm sorry, where else have I heard that? [laughs] People are yikes.

[00:23:41] Tyson: Yes, exactly. Yes, it's interesting times for sure.

[00:23:44] Alexa: It's tough. I'm glad that were brave enough to bring this up as a topic. I'm glad


that we're having this conversation. I'm not saying that we have any answers but I do think it is-- I will say you and I've talked about this before and would love to get one of these guys on this podcast as a guest in the future. The 37 signals CEO, for example, I forget his name off the top of my head. That guy came up publicly and was like-- I mean, grands only 60 employees. We talked about the summit early episode. He just came out and was like enough. Like, no, you are not an--

[00:24:15] Tyson: No politics.

[00:24:16] Alexa: Yes, no politics at the office, he got a ton of fucking backlash for it. You know what? His company is still fucking standing and some people left and that's fine. I would venture to guess that everybody who left and everybody who stayed had a minute where they went, "Yes, maybe he was right. Because this is fucking crazy." You want to surround yourself with just people that are just like you, then you can't work in a large organization, or the world is just going to want to work in cults because this is silly, right?

[00:24:41] Tyson: Right.

[00:24:41] Alexa: There's lots of things that you disagree on, on a project or-- We're not the first people to talk about nuance and healthy disagreement. This is not the shit you want your


workplace focused on.

[00:24:53] Tyson: Absolutely. [crosstalk]

[00:24:54] Alexa: If you want to enjoy your workplace.

[00:24:55] Tyson: It takes away not only time and energy that people are putting into work. I've seen things this just go off on public, in public company spaces, and it's like, we shouldn't be putting our energy towards this right now. This is a workplace.

[00:25:12] Alexa: You liked on fucking Instagram six months ago probably has nothing to do with you and me getting this thing done by the deadline we need it done by or treating this client the right way or building this widget fast enough or doing good in the world as an organization, potentially. Everyone wants emotional and cultural and ideological purity. I just th


ink like, first of all, fuck off, because none of us can accomplish that. Everyone is a walking contradiction. Also, let's stop putting this on companies because companies are not real things. Companies are not people, they don't have souls. Truthfully, your CEO probably should not be speaking personally on behalf of every one of your employees.

[00:25:59] Tyson: Right.

[00:26:00] Alexa: That's a pretty dangerous situation as well. I think it's time for people to just stop and also for people to take a minute and realize how much this is two steps backwards. In a workplace culture that is trying really hard to move forward.

[00:26:18] Tyson: Yes. I would say, my advice then to the HR people would be if a situation like this comes up on the employee level, specifically, take the time to really look into the situation, don't allow it to be emotional. It's really hard when stuff like this comes up to not let your own bias come into the situation like, "Oh, yes, that person should definitely be fired because they did X or Y." Really look into it, fully investigate it. Consider intent, I know assuming positive intent is sort of very 2019. I still think there's a lot of value to that.

[00:26:55] Alexa: I'm sorry, one of the things I was going to say is the problem the few times that I've seen big flare-ups around this stuff in the last couple of years is it's going to sound as backwards, I don't mean it to, but if you want to cancel me, fuck it. The problem is that sometimes a bunch of the CEOs that are making these calls are also white dudes. It's like, "My


CEO is not doing anything like, oh, cis-gendered, middle-aged white male." I'm like, "Okay, it's probably not that the guy is also in charge of making sure you all have paychecks. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt if you worked for him for a while you did join the company and believe in the culture otherwise. Let's remember for a second that not--

[00:27:33] Tyson: I don't want a cis-white male representing me.

[00:27:37] Alexa: Exactly, I don't--

[00:27:38] Tyson: I don't want his opinions to represent me, He isn't my--

[00:27:40] Alexa: Also, why do you want him to represent all of you at any-

[00:27:44] Tyson: That's what I mean.

[00:27:44] Alexa: -point other than for what's going to continue to make you all successful together and keep you employed?

[00:27:48] Tyson: Right.

[00:27:50] Alexa: Let's remember that sometimes inaction and saying, no, we are not going to take a stance on this is not ignorance. It's not being lazy. I would much rather take the company that's like, we are not making a public stance on this. We are not going to immediately react we are not going to have a knee-jerk reaction here versus the one that-- I saw it a ton of times and I had people call me multiple times in the last few years. Then go on and make public statements about what they're doing and how they're changing and they don't do fucking anything.

[00:28:23] Tyson: Nothing. Not a single thing.

[00:28:25] Alexa: Instagram videos and LinkedIn posts.

[00:2


8:29] Tyson: Fucking hate it. It drives me nuts. It's my biggest pet peeve.

[00:28:31] Alexa: All bullshit.

[00:28:32] Tyson: It's bullshit.

[00:28:32] Alexa: It's bullshit. It's bullshit. The problem is we're doing this everywhere right now. This is happening everywhere, we are signaling and we are bringing shit up to say that we care and, oh, look how much I have empathy and, oh, look how much I know about this other culture and this other person and this other way of doing things. It's all fucking bullshit because it comes from the wrong place, which is like let me look I care instead of actually fucking care.

[00:28:53] Tyson: Right. It's completely self-congratulatory. It's--

[00:28:57] Alexa: I don't think I need my company to care about all this stuff. I just need it to build the products for the clients that it does really well and don't be a fucking asshole. Don't pour acid in the river. That kind of shit. I don't need my company to be a moral temple of purity.

[00:29:14] Tyson: That's it.

[00:29:15] Alexa: Because [crosstalk] you're going to do that, everybody disagrees on things.

[00:29:18] Tyson: That's exactly it. Here's our full-circle moment. It's that need to be ethical, which is very, very, very hard. It's hard for individuals, it's hard for the company especially going back to my recommendations, as the HR person. You can't necessarily be that ethical compass, right? You need to be able to figure out--

[00:29:3


8] Alexa: Do you teach your fucking ethics when you get your masters in HR? [laughs]

[00:29:40] Tyson: No, they don't. I can tell you right now, I've never took anything in ethics, not even in my bullshit psych degree. Okay, I've never taken an ethics course.

[00:29:49] Alexa: This also different feed being ethical as an organization and saying, "Yes, we don't pour acid in the river, we don't poison the water." Being like, "I'm expecting every single person on every issue as the world changes."

[00:29:59] Tyson: Yes.

[00:30:00] Alexa: "I need this organization to believe in the same values as me." Like, no. [crosstalk] It's unrealistic. It's just a fucking recipe for failure.

[00:30:06] Tyson: I know, I feel like sometimes I'm so naive. Everyone just be a good person. [laughs]

[00:30:13] Alexa: My last thought on this is that what it takes away from Tyson is the ability to actually support people individually, maybe in a more meaningful way. Because there is no way that you as a company are going to attack some of these issues in a way that-- You know, it's Black History Month. Right now, it is Black History Month. For those of you that forgot, February is Black History Month.

It takes away from the ability to do some things that matter for the people that it matters most to. And maybe on an individual level with some nuance, that's where that happens. If you're trying to constantly posture on a company level, it just feels inauthentic and it breaks down. It's silly. People see through it and they call bullshit on it and it doesn't work, and it just winds up making everybody angry and annoyed and people waste time. I think we've just got to-- it sucks because it feels like if you're in the position of HR and you feel like your C-Suite is getting pressured to have these things, it sucks to be the voice in the room that's like, "No, I t


hink we should hold steady. Take a deep breath and not necessarily do anything."

I don't view that as the harsher role here. I actually view that as maybe the smarter, more long-term practical, maybe more thoughtful approach to make everyone you work with more safe and more-- and I just wish for this profession, and for all the good work that the people ops movement, and the people in places like pops, and the people ops society have work towards is that we stop making this like a flash-mob HR problem because it's fucking not.

[00:31:46] Tyson: Yes, this is one of those situations in HR. If you're faced with it, do not react right away. Stop-

[00:31:54] Alexa: Deep breaths.

[00:31:54] Tyson: -and bring in other people to help. Definitely, I would always suggest to bring in legal, that's huge. Or if you have someone specifically in your organization that's actually an ethics person. I've worked for a lot of organizations that have ethics hotlines. Those are your friends. I just don't want people in HR to feel like this whole burden of [crosstalk] political crisis is on them all the time. [crosstalk] It's really hard. It's a really, really, really tough thing to go through.

[00:32:21] Al


exa: But I think this is a really important thing to be on the same page as a leadership team about. [crosstalk] You don't have to share everybody's views about everything. You just have to be on the same page as a company. Very early in your time with them. If you're sitting regularly in c-suite meetings with a group, or even a board, and everyone is not on the same page about how the fuck you handle this shit. Like crisis response, basically. You need to that risk management assessment right now.

Because this is reputational risk, there's all kinds of risk. Some people plan for floods and fires, and they get insurance for different things, and they talk about what happens if [unintelligible 00:32:59] policy, if the CEO dies. People talk about his stuff as a business all the time. So the other question is, what's your stance on this stuff? The populous tides will change, and if it's not, one thing this year, it will be another thing next year. And you got to decide where your organization stands. It's like playing fucking moral whack-a-mole. It's like, "Why?" It's just a fucking distraction. And you really want the team, your people team, focused on the things that regularly, day to day, every day, across the organization matter. Because there are things humans have in common like child care and sleep and a lot of other things that we have in common aren't all this crazy shit, so.

[00:33:43] Tyson: Yes.

[00:33:38] Alexa: Tyson, you're a gangster for bringing this up and being brave enough to talk about it.

[00:33:42] Tyson: It's tough.

[00:33:42] Alexa: I


f anybody still listens to this.

[00:33:44] Tyson: [laughter] Yes, this is a really complicated issue, so.

[00:33:49] Alexa: It is.

[00:33:53] Tyson: Have empathy, have grace. This is just a conversation that I think people need to feel comfortable having because it's something that HR people absolutely face with these moral dilemmas and you're not alone, so.

[00:34:06


] Alexa: Yeah, it's not easy. Nobody makes these decisions lightly.

[00:34:10] Tyson: Yes.

[00:34:12] Alexa: All right, well. On that happy note, see you next week. Bye-bye

[00:34:16] Tyson: Bye.

[00:34:17] Alexa: This episode was executive produced by me, Alexa Baggio, with audio production by [unintelligible 00:34:20] of Pure Harmonies. Original music was also produced done by the wonderful [unintelligible 00:34:23] of Pure Harmonies. You can find more information about us and future episodes at peopleproblemspod.com or follow us at people problems pod on all things.

[00:34:32] [END OF AUDIO]


#hr #nothr #hrpodcast #humanresources #notHR #peopleops #peopleopssociety #besthrpodcast


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