“To make something good of the future, you have to look the present in the face.”
Simone de Beauvoir
I’m so proud to announce the launch of The Aperta Project, and its first collaborative initiative: The Toronto Tech Study.
As many of you will already know, I’ve been focused on workplace sexual harassment for the last year and half, following the outpouring of stories that the #MeToo movement unleashed in 2017. To me, workplace harassment is not only utterly detestable, it’s an example of the failing of modern management and Human Resources to close the gap between our rhetoric and reality.
For a long-time I took self-doubt as a signal that I lacked knowledge or ability. This was particularly difficult to untangle because early in my career (and at regular intervals since) self-doubt has coincided with a lack of knowledge or ability. But untangling these two things (self-doubt and actual capability) was important, because the relationship isn’t causal, and continuing to believe that it was may have prevented me from capitalizing on the value of self-doubt.
I always loved the show Arrested Development. In fact, after the last US election I vowed to only comment on US politics on Facebook using gifs from the show, to avoid contributing to the vitriolic, overwhelming, and (in my opinion) futile, political debates going on in my feed (as a Canadian I’m truly just yelling into the void about this stuff). Turns out this Jason Bateman gif works for more recent events too.
If you read this blog with any regularity, you’ll know that I’ve been hip deep in a research project of my own making since last year, with the goal to deepen my understanding of workplace sexual harassment as a systemic problem, how HR is implicated in that system, and what we can do to influence it differently.
That project has continued to pick up steam, and I am so grateful to the many, many people who have generously shared their time and thoughts. These include HR professionals at all levels, survivors and targets of sexual harassment, leaders, lawyers, advocates, and even a couple of scientists. When I waded into this I had no idea that this would lead to the array of incredible, humbling conversations it has, and honestly, I’m just getting started…more on that in the weeks to come.
“He’s a rockstar” “She’s brilliant” “He’s a good guy”
Whether we’re dividing people into INTJs and ENFPs, High Ds or Cs, or placing them on a 9-box grid, we love our categories. I’ve been reflecting on this over the last week, sparked by a presentation delivered by Mathieu Baril of DDI at HR Leaders Summit West. Baril’s presentation challenged traditional thinking on High Potential programs, suggesting that we need to broaden our definition of potential and recognize the individual bias at work when we go about identifying so-called Hi-Pos:
“We tend to underestimate the role of context in performance. Performance is less portable then we think.”
Is it fiercely ice-storming here (yes, in mid-April), and it currently sounds like a very determined swarm of bees is hurling themselves at our windows. Our lights keep flickering. There’s nothing left to say about this except that I am so, so tired of wearing my winter coat that I may burn it whenever (or if) Spring finally gets here.
In the meantime, I’m preparing for a busy week: I’m speaking at InnovateWorkTO on Monday night about the need for different thinking about workplace sexual harassment in the wake of #MeToo, then I head straight to HR Leader’s Summit West in Vancouver on Tuesday to join an excellent panel about remote work, and finally head to Whistler for a site visit as we finish planning Actionable’s upcoming Consulting Partner Summit.
Hence, this week’s post is a round-up rather than a new blog, but it’s packed with great stuff:
A good reminder that I married the right person is that he agrees to go to a talk about catastrophic failure in complex systems for date night. This week, Anthony and I heard Andras Tilcsik and Chris Clearfield give an overview of their new book: ‘Meltdown: When Our Systems Fail and What We Can Do About It’.
It’s a fascinating look at how many of the systems we encounter in our day to day lives are becoming increasingly complex and tightly coupled, making them more vulnerable to surprising meltdowns.
Culture. It keeps coming up in the conversations I’m having with HR professionals about sexual harassment right now. After writing about sexual harassment last year and launching a related project for 2018, I’m having a lot of these conversations at the moment.
We should talk about culture when we talk about sexual harassment (which I would like us all to be doing right now, with a new humility and curiosity), as long as we’re doing so in ways that are actionable and specific. It’s far too easy for ‘culture’ to be used as shorthand for “I don’t know why, but that’s the way things are here”.