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Exit Interview by Patrick Donegan — Newsletter #89

By: Patrick Donegan

For some time, I’ve been looking for one “source” that curates modern takes on HR Tech, perspectives from the people who build it, and its impact on enterprise — something that’s tailor-made by professionals for decision-makers.

I never found it — so I decided to build it.

Every week, I’ll be sharing fresh insights on tech platforms, design, data, and the future of work — straight to your inbox.

My Thoughts

When was the last time your job posting got 9,000 applications?

That’s the average ratio Patagonia says they see whenever a new listing is posted. That number is from 2020 — who knows how high it’s climbed after last week’s announcement. 🤷

Patagonia has always been a cut above the rest when it comes to purpose-driven capitalism. 💸 🌍 But news agencies and economic researchers say Yvon Chouinard and his family’s decision to give up ownership of Patagonia and move all funds into a trust dedicated to fighting climate change have gone above and beyond. This time, they’ve truly changed the game.

Employees and customers from today forward have a new expectation of what companies are actually capable of when it comes to fighting for the things they care about. 💚 Even the future consumers of the world, like my daughter, have some idea of how Patagonia and Chouinard are working to fight climate change — she showed me an article about the donation in Teen Vogue. People like her will grow up to see the impact of Chouinard’s actions and understand how impactful an organization can be if they 1) Find what they care about, and 2) Commit themselves to making it happen. The same goes for employees — with the majority of Gen Zers indicating that they only want to work for organizations that take meaningful action to fight climate change and other social issues. ✊ Companies that don’t start looking for ways to change may struggle in this new world of work.

PHOTO: NEW YORK TIMES

Tech Innovation At Work

Virtual reality training gets the stamp of approval from another Fortune 500 megacompany. 💯 Bank of America 🏦 has announced that its employees are on course to complete 700,000 VR practice sessions this year. The initiative has been led by Mike Wynn, senior vice president and innovations design manager at Bank of America’s L&D branch. The Academy has grown to include 900 simulations ranging from customer conversations to robberies. 💰 “When it comes to VR, here’s what I am hearing from people: excitement, energy,” Wynn said in an interview with HR Executive. After switching to VR training, Wynn reports that employees are so engaged, they’re telling those around them about the experience, increasing content retention. Read more about Bank of America’s program here. 👈

Twitter’s 🐦 latest feature is making the feed more accessible with the ability to turn on prompts to add alt text to images. It’s a good reminder for employers that platforms of all shapes and sizes are still working towards comprehensive accessibility functionality. As we inch towards Q4 and strategy planning for the new year, it’s a great opportunity for leaders to prioritize creating a more inclusive work environment — especially as we learn that remote work may have adverse effects on employees with disabilities. 😨 If you want to uncover more about disability in the remote workplace, check out my Forbes article

Speaking of innovative tech, next week’s section will feature some exciting news from SEI. Stay tuned! 🙇

The Changing Workplace

Global cloud communications company Twilio 🖥️ 📱 has announced that it will be laying off 11% of its workforce. 📉 In a memo to employees, CEO Jeff Lawson identified the reason for the layoffs as an effort to invest more strategically in the company’s most important areas. The memo notes that laid-off employees will receive at least 12 additional weeks of pay, full value of the company’s next stock vest, assistance with applying internally for other positions at Twilio, networking opportunities, and additional support for those working in the US on employer-sponsored visas. 🏆 The company estimates total costs attached to layoffs to be at least $70 million.

Rounds of applause are in order for this thoughtfully-crafted and compassionate layoff plan ( 👏 👏 👏 ) — especially considering some of the less-than-stellar stories we’ve covered recently. 👻 Most of note, though, is a statement Lawson made about their process for deciding which roles would be affected: “As you all know, we are committed to becoming an Anti-Racist/ Anti-Oppression company. Layoffs like this can have a more pronounced impact on marginalized communities, so we were particularly focused on ensuring our layoffs – while a business necessity today – were carried out through an Anti-Racist/Anti-Oppression lens.” So far, that’s all the details we have on Twilio’s layoff process. 🤔 Their initiative to prevent a very prevalent trend in layoffs is being regarded as one of the first of its kind, and with it comes the anticipated praise — as well as criticism. 😐 Over the next few weeks, I’ll keep an eye out for stories about the aftermath of these layoffs and whether this approach will be challenged in court. 👩‍⚖️

On the other side of the DE&I spectrum this week is Wells Fargo, which has commissioned a third party to audit 🔍 🧐 its practices regarding diversity and racial equity in hiring. Early in Q3, the company was accused of padding its diversity efforts by interviewing people of color after a position had already been promised to another candidate. Now, as the bank’s CEO prepares to appear for a congressional hearing, Wells Fargo and its rival banks, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, 🏦 have agreed to allow law firm Covington & Burling to audit the company’s racial equity practices to “serve diverse communities and promote a diverse workforce.” The third party expects to publish its findings towards the end of 2023, meaning the bank is likely facing a very tense year. 

The weather’s getting ❄️ colder, but CEOs are getting…hotter? 🌞 Those are the internet’s words, not mine. And according to the internet, gone are the days of the Dad Bod; in are the male CEOs struck by the [new] Bezos Effect. It’s a trend WSJ has dubbed the rapid rise of washboard abs and glamor muscles 💪 🏋️ 🦵 among top male executives, including usual suspects like Ari Emanuel and Strauss Zelnick. It’s easy to argue that, after decades of professional women enduring objectification and unfair beauty standards, men are simply getting some long overdue comeuppance. But advancing the world of work is not a tit-for-tat endeavor. ⚖️ If the gender roles were swapped in this article, it would be canceled faster than you can say intermittent fasting — which I think is a pretty good litmus test for what should and shouldn’t be discussed in business.

GIF: NBC VIA TENOR

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Patrick Donegan

Chief Strategy Officer

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