HR Executive

HR Executive


Seattle, WA

Female, 39

I'm the head of HR for a leading digital media company. I'm responsible for making my company an amazing place to work - or at least I'll go down trying! In short, I set the strategic direction for the HR function of the organization. I wear many hats: member of the executive team, confidant and advisor to my peers regarding people matters, as well as an advocate for all people that work hard to make our products great. People are what make organizations tick, and my job is to empower them all.

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50 Questions


Last Answer on January 11, 2015

Best Rated

In your experience, which is more important: great upper management, or great middle maanagement?

Asked by Ghost Ryder almost 6 years ago

That one is easy - great upper management. If you have awesome middle management, but the people that run the show are a-holes, you have no hope for a great workplace. At least with crappy middle managers, you can always go to the top for support and inspiration. And hopefully some timely "your fired!" comments...

What do you think about someone being sexually harassed by a Casino Host. As a guest, it was very upsetting and basically nothing was done when I made a formal complaint to the upper management (HR). Want to take legal action against Casino!!!

Asked by JDVegas over 5 years ago

Lame - very lame. And, what's even worse, people typically don't act in a vacuum. If the host was awful to you, s/he likely was to other people as well.

Suing the company is where it gets a bit complicated. First, it depends on where you were that this happened. State laws tend to be a bit different when it comes to harassment law, with California being the strictest and easiest to pursue. It will also depend on the facts of the case. Was the host in a management position? How extreme was the incident? And, do you know for sure the company did nothing? Or, did they discipline the employee, but not make that known publicly - that is actually the typical response, due to privacy policies and laws.

If it were me, I'd actually look for resolution in a different manner - I would escalate the problem with the casino chain of management. I'd find the most senior executive I could, and reach out to them. Customer service organizations fear nothing more than an unhappy customer publicly denouncing services - and ruining their reputation in the process. It's like watching the news and the local customer protection reporter take on the case (in Seattle, we have "get Jesse") It's pretty amazing how quickly those situations seem to be resolved as soon as the story starts to go public. Much faster than a lawsuit, and cheaper than hiring a lawyer to be honest.




What would you say was your biggest HR blunder ever?

Asked by Aya! almost 6 years ago

Ah, so many to choose from... and yet it always comes by to my dating life. It was quite embarrassing to tell my boss that the guy she needed me to fire was the same person I had broken up with two weeks before. And that was far more pleasant than the conversation with the guy. It went something along the lines of, "Remember how I told you it wasn't you, it was me? Well, I wasn't being completely honest. It really is you. And now (the company) is breaking up with you too."

I used to work for a film studio that would not let us leave for lunch, even though it was my legal right to do so. But if I complained, they would've found someone else to do the job who wouldn't complain. How can employees raise LEGITIMATE concerns without feeling like they'll be on the chopping block?

Asked by NED almost 6 years ago

Sad, but true- there are workplaces that exist that are not respectful or observant of employee rights. First, know that you do have legal recourse if you want to pursue that avenue. Assuming that you worked in California (film studio reference), the state is very strict in what employers need to do to be compliant with state laws, and have agencies dedicated to enforcement of these laws. You can always make a complaint to an agency, who then would investigate the situation. If found guilty, the company would be responsible for paying significant penalties and demonstrate a change in policies to be compliant. That being said, many people choose to not pursue this avenue, as it can be costly to them personally. Many people work in small industries and are concerned that if they take action that will cause the company trouble, they will suffer consequences. I've worked in HR long enough to know that this happens, and that while in the long term justice may prevail, the employees in the situation are usually who suffers the most - financially, emotionally and from a career progression point of view. If that is your situation (and it unfortunately sounds like it) I suggest that you start small. For example - do you even know who your HR resources are? Perhaps get to know them through other HR subjects such as benefits or payroll questions, and establish a relationship with them. Learn what the company's grievance process is - some include an anonymous complaint line directly into the legal team, who have an obligation to follow up on the call. Or, if you belong to a union, that would be a good resource for you as well. Unions exist to protect employees and their rights. I'd do everything I can to educate myself on what my internal resources were, and to establish a relationship with the people in those roles. Sometimes just knowing what exists outside of your direct reporting relationship can provide avenues towards issue resolution.

If there's an African-American employee who's doing a poor job and needs to get canned, do you take extra precautions than if it were a white employee? And if he or she plays the race card, what do you do?

Asked by Aya! almost 6 years ago

The short answers is no, I don't take extra precautions. Every employee in that situation should be treated fairly, regardless of any personal characteristics. Truth is, with the passage of many federal, state and local laws, just about any characteristic can be considered a 'protected category' - race, religion, national origin, age, gender, religion, military status, sexual orientation. If almost everyone falls into one or more protected categories, then is anyone really special? Hence my assertion that all employees who are going to be fired need to be treated fairly, consistently and with respect. Plus, it's the right thing to do. If someone raises a concern that they are not being treated fairly because of one of the above categories, then the company has an obligation to look into the concerns. Either HR, Legal or an outside investigator should talk with the employee, understand the issues, gather any additional information relevant to the situation, and make a determination if there is any discrimination occurring and, if so, if it is related to the employee's performance. What is found during that process guides next steps. If there is discrimination, then there are bigger issues than a non-performing employee. If not, then the issue of discrimination has been resolved and the performance process can continue forward.

Does Human Resources actually verify the education of job candidates?

Asked by Lucky777 over 5 years ago

They do - as part of the background check process, many companies verify degrees as well as former employers. It is actually typically an outsourced process - there are companies that all they do is pull background information on people for purposes of employment verification.

I've learned through the termination process of several employees that an executive manager in the company has referred to me as incompetent. My question is, how do I deal with this? This particular exec has said this about a large number of people.

Asked by Ed Hughes over 5 years ago

Well that's sucky. I'm sorry, dude - it sounds like you work with a real jerk. Without knowing the full context, it's a bit hard to give you specific advice. But here's the general gist of what I would do. First, can you talk to your boss or another senior trusted advisor about the situation? It would help to get some context and understanding. For example, are there specific situations from your past performance that is causing this person to say this? Or, is he just a jerk? And, do they have advice for you to address any true shortfalls? You want the lay of the land before doing what I recommend next. And that would be... decide if you want to address the executive manager directly. Many times, bullies are all for disparaging people in situations when they aren't going to be confronted. But when directly and calmly addressed by someone, they realize that they can't bully someone - and they respect boundaries. Think back to the bully stealing a kid's lunch money. He never picks on the kid that's going to push back. You can ask him what his legitimate concerns are with you and what you can do to address them. You can also ask him to direct any concerns with your performance either directly to you or your boss. Telling others, but not you, doesn't allow you the opportunity to fix any concerns. It just makes him a badmouthing ass. (Adjust language as appropriate to the situation.) Finally, if this executive manager behaves as an equal opportunity jerk, and the company decides to not address it, you might be in a situation where you need to decide if you can live with the situation as it is. If he does this to everyone, most people might just write him off as a jerk and ignore him. It does, however, demonstrate a lack of care and concern on behalf of your company. That would worry me more in the long run - it is worth it to work somewhere that people are allowed to behave that way? Maybe. It depends on what you get in return.