WorkHuman 2018- Wow!

Globoforce raised the bar again this year. Wow! And of course, all the amazing HR practitioners to share insights, food, and cocktails with. I would love to be able to share every single thing that happened and all the great insights but. . . I don’t have that much time! I do want to share what made the most impact on me.

Brene Brown was amazing- as usual. There were so many good examples and ideas that she shared. If you have not seen her speak, go find her next gig now. It is awesome. Her wit is what makes me happiest. I will paraphrase one of her comments that made everyone laugh. “If you have never sat in a Camaro, smoking a Marlboro light and listening to White Snake, we can’t be friends.” Interspersed with the funny stories is an underlying message of vulnerability. Vulnerability is actually your strength. Strong back, soft front, wild heart- it makes my allergies kick up every time.  I’m not crying, you’re crying!

I made a decision to focus during the Salma Hayak Pinault conversation and the #metoo panel. That meant no pictures or SM posts. I was there to listen and learn and oh, how I learned.

Salma Hayek Pinault was unexpected. There was so much I did not know about her. I loved her story. I did not know she was the first Latina woman nominated for an Oscar as Best Actress for her role in Frida. This is amazing! No one knows because no one said a word about it. This was one of many missteps by Hollywood and others to marginalize or ignore her work. There is another piece to the story that is harder to think about. She was nominated for an Oscar while being sexually harassed by Harvey Weinstein. There is a line in her NY Times article that continues to ring in my brain. “Why do so many of us, as female artists, have to go to war to tell our stories when we have so much to offer?”

When she was trying to sell Ugly Betty to the networks, no one wanted it. So she did something that any smart business woman would do. She went to the advertisers and shared the data about the buying power of the Latina community. The advertisers realized the potential of this untapped group of buyers. She was able to tell the networks that she had the advertisers. The show happened.

Salma shared something else I found interesting. She is one of the only women to have written, directed, and starred in both television and movies. Again, without any acknowledgement from anyone in Hollywood.

Salma spoke briefly about why she chose to write her story for the New York Times. She realized it was wrong to stay silent.

Salma understands the impact of the work she is doing. The women coming up behind her are watching. She was smart, funny, and real. I want to go have a glass of wine with her and just keep talking. But only after she finishes making the slime for her daughter!

Fast forward to the #metoo panel comprised of Tarana Burke, Ashley Judd and Ronan Farrow. Adam Grant did an amazing job of asking questions and letting them go. Tarana Burke started with the history of #metoo. It was a social movement to help young women (and men) who were sexually abused know that they were not alone. There were few dry eyes in the house as she spoke, including myself and my seat mates. Ashley Judd was amazing and focused on the research on the topic of sexual harassment. She explained the concept of DARVO, that originated with research by Jennifer Freyd. DARVO is a way that perpetrators deny, attack, and reverse victim and offender. She gave the example of Harvey Weinstein forcing her to take a picture with him after asking her for a massage. He wanted to reverse victim and offender and make it seem to the press as if they were great friends.

There was so much intelligence and fortitude on the stage during this conversation. Adam Grant asked the question about what to say to men who are afraid to hug women and be alone in a room with them. Ronan and Tarana shut that down very neatly by calling out what we all need to remember. This movement is not about men hugging women. It is about men who cannot keep their penises in their pants when meeting with a woman. Men are fine as long as they do not think they can pull their penises out during work.

My main takeaway is that as an HR professional, we must always do what we can to make sure that right prevails. The complacency that continued for years is what has been the most shocking. People knew what was going on and didn’t stop it. Whistle blowers weren’t heard. Newspapers decided not to publish stories. Everyone was aware and did nothing. It took these women years to come forward. When they did share, they were locked out of movies and boardrooms. Being the person to call for what is right is hard and scary. We must stand with the victim and build organizations where the patriarchy doesn’t trump what’s right.

People asked me throughout the week how many times I have attended WorkHuman. It was the third time I attended this conference. When asked why, I answered without hesitation. This conference has amazing content that is timely for any HR practitioner. This conference has speakers who are smart in their fields, especially those in HR. This conference helps to build networks and drive conversations with other attendees. It is not about collecting business cards. It is about meaningful conversations over breaks and lunch and while drinking adult beverages! This conference brings together HR folks who I only see once a year (during this conference). It helps foster relationships with smart people. And you definitely stay connected with these folks throughout the year. It is like a huge family reunion when we come together at WorkHuman. Each year your family grows and you realize even more about the intelligence in numbers you have. And who wouldn’t want a family reunion with Tarana Burke, Simon Sinek, and Brene Brown in attendance?

About Katee V.H.

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