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Exit Interview by Patrick Donegan — Newsletter #99

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

We’ve said it again and again (and yes, again) that the employee experience (EX) is the driving factor for a company’s success. 📈 It shouldn’t be a topic of debate that the people who do the work bring the most value to the company, and their experiences at work largely inform the culture. ✋ 🎤 The leaders of the EX Manifesto understood exactly that, creating an avenue to define the principles of a practical EX design process and make the future of people-ops, HR, and employee experience more accessible. 

It all started when corporate leaders saw the impact — positive and negative — of employee experience on business performance. ⚖️ Under EX Manifesto, big-names in the People Operations and digital transformation space are joining forces to develop guidelines to help businesses craft a stronger culture. These cosigners ✒️ include Airbnb’s former Global Head of Employee Experience, Culture Amp’s former Senior Director of Equitable Design, and, now, myself. 😄🙋

We need to recognize that the employee experience 🧑‍💼 isn’t a talent recruitment or retention strategy — it’s a crucial business function that needs to be prioritized if a company wants to do more than scrape by. I strongly encourage everyone to visit the site and learn more about where the future of corporate culture is heading, then co-sign the manifesto to join the endeavor to make an improved employee experience more actionable for everyone. 👈

Tech Innovation at Work

Think about how much time you spend on your phone. 🤳 Now think about whether or not your company’s application process is optimized for mobile. 🤔 If not, you’re missing out. Mobile-optimized applications and recruiting workflows improve accessibility, expand your talent pool, and position your company for success in an increasingly mobile world. According to hiring solution vendor Harver, 60% of job applications were completed on a mobile device, and that number is predicted to continue to grow. 📈 Since 2020, the number of applications submitted through a mobile device has grown roughly five points yearly. And as Gen-Z enters the workforce, it makes sense that 80% of candidates registering for jobs via mobile devices are below 30 years of age. This is your sign 🪧 to take a moment to see how much of your site’s traffic is coming from mobile — if you’re struggling to recruit and not offering an application process that considers mobile users, maybe it’s time to change that.

IMAGE: FORBES

New York City 🗽 is less than a month away from enacting one of the first major regulations for the use of AI to date. Local Law 144, also known as the AI Law, is a set of guidelines and requirements for using automated employment decision tools (AEDT) 🧠 in hiring and employment. While exciting, many aspects of how and when the law applies will likely still need to be clarified even after it comes into effect on January 2nd. Fortunately, the city did make some progress when it released a proposed set of updates and policies to be included under Local Law 144. 📜 The actual text is, understandably, dense. So here’s an abridged version of what the proposal contains: 

  1. A clarification that the law will only apply to AEDT when the results are the sole criteria relied on when making hiring decisions, are given more weight than other criteria, or have the potential to overrule conclusions derived from other factors.
  2. The expectation of establishing a set of guidelines for how an audit is conducted and what elements it must review. 
  3. A requirement that employers provide clear and conspicuous notice to candidates and employees about the use of AEDT at least ten business days prior to its use (or posted clearly on the employer’s website). 
  4. Definitions for the important terms and benchmarks that will be used in the audit, such as impact ratio — a key measurement for whether groups are disproportionately affected by AI software.

There are still many questions to be answered ⛅, like which entities will oversee enforcement and what alternative options will be available to abide by Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Regardless, though, this is a huge step — not just towards more equitable machine learning but also towards establishing trust in it. 🤝

The Changing Workplace

It’s not a secret 🤫 — over the past three years, holiday parties have been largely nonexistent. While some companies want to say goodbye to 2022 with a rowdy holiday celebration, many are not. 🎉 ⚖️ 😌 According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a consultancy that’s been keeping tabs on corporate holiday parties for nearly two decades, only 56.9% of companies interviewed said they would host an in-person gathering this year. 

Why? Many companies cite unstable 〰️ economic conditions for throwing pared-down parties or simply avoiding them altogether. While these concerns are valid, another issue is driving companies to go the opposite route: resignation rates and burnout. 🥱 HR teams are using the holiday party to try to retain top talent.

We all went through the pandemic — no one expects to return to a traditional party. 👩‍💻🥳 Now is the perfect time to get creative and explore alternatives that cater to your team’s culture and show employees you value them and their work. Check out this link to see how to throw a more modern, inclusive holiday party.

IMAGE: U/SLUSHISQUID124 VIA REDDIT

The beauty industry has a bad rap. 💅 While it can sometimes be perceived as cold or exclusive, some companies are working hard to flip that script. Sephora, for example, is enjoying a well-earned moment in the spotlight for accomplishing a feat few — regardless of industry — have done. 🏆 In the past year alone, the company increased the number of Black employees in leadership roles by 8% and Hispanic leaders by 16%. Pair that with the fact that as of 2022, 70% of all their employees identified as people of color, and you have a company that has said they’re focusing on DE&I initiatives and actually following through with it. 🦾

Sephora isn’t the only company in the beauty industry making moves to create better workspaces. Take some inspiration from these other companies:

  • Ulta Beauty, the nation’s biggest beauty retailer, created the Ulta MUSE Accelerator program to help BIPOC beauty brands in their early stages of development. The company offers mentorship, resources, and more to support diverse voices in the industry. 
  • Target’s B3P (Building Blocks for Better Products) program focuses on co-creating, addressing the opportunity gap that impedes women and BIPOC-owned businesses from succeeding in the beauty industry.
  • The Estée Lauder Companies have made a serious commitment to their DE&I initiatives by launching a training program and detailing their goals for 2023 and onward. These include doubling spending on sourcing supplies from Black-owned businesses and continuing listening sessions for employees to learn from one another.

So rather than judging 🔬 an industry because of what they do, it’s time to take a step back and learn. Leaders in the beauty industry are showing us how oft-exclusionary industries like finance, engineering, and tech 🚀 should be approaching DE&I in a truly impactful and meaningful way.

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Patrick Donegan

Chief Strategy Officer

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