Leaders Secretly Hate Succession Planning!

Do you want to know what you’ll never hear anyone on your leadership team say publicly? Well, let me stop before I get started, because there are probably a ton of things leaders will say behind closed doors, off the record, and then open the door and say the exact opposite. Welcome to the PC version of corporate America.

One of the obvious, which always causes a stir is veteran hiring. I’ve written posts about Veteran Hiring many times, in which I state that companies will always, 100% of the time, publicly say they support veteran hiring, but behind closed doors they don’t really support veteran hiring. At best they want to offer veterans their crappiest jobs, not their best jobs.

If they did truly support veteran hiring, we would not have a veteran hiring crisis in this country! If every organization that claims they want to hire veterans, would just hire veterans, we would have 100% employed veterans! But we don’t. Why? Well, it’s organizational suicide to ever come out and say we don’t really want to hire veterans.  The media would kill that organization. Yet, veterans can’t get hired.

Succession planning is on a similar path. Your leaders say they support succession planning. They’ll claim it is a number one priority for your organization. But, every time you try and do something with succession planning, it goes nowhere!

Why?

Your leaders hate succession planning for a number of reasons, here are a few:

1. Financially, succession planning is a huge burden on organizations, if done right. Leaders are paid for the financial success of your organization. If it comes down to Succession Planning, or Michael getting a big bonus, Succession Planning will get pushed to next year, then, next year, then, next year…You see Succession Planning is really overhiring. Preparing for the future. It’s a long-term payback. Very few organizations have leadership in place with this type of long-term vision of success.

2.  Leaders get too caught up in headcount. We only have 100 FTEs for that group, we couldn’t possibly hire 105 and develop and prepare the team for the future, even though we know we have a 6% turnover each year. Organizations react. Firefight. Most are unwilling to ‘over hire’ and do succession in a meaningful way.

3. Leaders are like 18-year-old boys. They think they can live forever!  Again, publicly they’ll tell you they’re planning and it’s important. Privately, they look at some smartass 35-year-old VP and think to themselves, there is no way in hell I’ll ever let that kid take over this ship!

So, what can smart HR Pros do?

Begin testing some Succession Planning type tools and data analytics in hot spots in your company. Don’t make it a leadership thing. Make it a functional level initiative, in a carve-out area of your organization. A part of the organization that is highly visible has a direct financial impact on the business, and one you know outwardly has succession issues.

Tinker. Get people involved. Have conversations. Start playing around with some things that could have an impact in terms of development, retention, cross-training, workforce planning, etc.  All those things constitute succession, but instead of organization level, you are focusing on departmental level or a specific location.

Smart HR Pros get started.  They don’t wait for the organization to do it all at once. That will probably never happen. Just start somewhere, and roll it little by little. Too often we don’t get started because we want to do it all. That is the biggest mistake we can make.

Delta Airlines Charging Unvaccinated Employees $200/mnth! Why?

At this point, if you’re in HR, you have seen news of Delta Airlines charging unvaccinated employees an additional $200 per month in health insurance premiums. Needless to say, there has been a strong reaction from the HR community to this announcement.

It’s interesting for sure as you have most HR pros believing everyone should get the vaccine, but also that corporations should not be charging employees if they do not get the vaccine. Some other reactions have been why should an employee be charged a premium, now that we know the vaccine won’t stop you from getting Covid. And an unlimited amount of other opinions as well!

Isn’t this just the smoking premium?

About a decade ago employers started charging employees who smoke higher health care premiums. Walmart charges employees who smoke an additional $2000 per year in increased health insurance premiums. When this was first done by a small employer in Lansing, MI a decade ago, lawsuits were filed, the HR community became unglued, and we had these huge ethical arguments over whether this was right or not to do to an employer.

What right is it of an employer to charge me more if I want to smoke or not! You’re not charging Tim over there eating a Big Mac and drinking a gallon of soda!?

Delta’s Covid decision is causing similar outrage about the vaccine.

Here’s the thing…

From the data we currently have, and the recent FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, we know statistically those with the vaccine are much less likely to be hospitalized or die from Covid. The “average” cost of a Delta employee who gets the virus and is hospitalized is $50,000!

$50,000 is not a small cost! Multiply that by hundreds of employees and it’s becoming a major issue. The issue being, on individual employee’s personal decision to not get the vaccine, is actually costing every single Delta employee, with upcoming increased insurance costs!

“Yeah, Tim, but someone made the personal decision to light up a cigarette. No one is making the personal decision to get the Covid!” Ugh…

You know you can’t send your kid to public school in the U.S. unless they have their approved vaccines. Millions of kids each year, go get their vaccines and go to school. We’ve pretty much eradicated all kinds of terrible diseases. An extremely tiny amount of parents have an issue with this. Ultimately, science has proven to be effective in helping our kids stay alive. Yay! Science!

More employers will go down this path.

Already we are seeing more and more employers mandate vaccines for employment. SHRM, the largest HR association in the world, has mandated vaccines for its employees. This isn’t a political statement. It’s actually not a statement of empathy, either, although most PR teams will try and turn it into one. It’s a financial statement of fact. We can’t afford for you to be stupid and play Russian Roulette with the virus.

All of this does lead us down a slippery path. It started out with something we all now know is harmful to our health, smoking. If you smoke, you will pay more for health insurance. Now it’s Covid. If you don’t protect yourself, by getting a vaccine, we will charge you more for health insurance. What’s next?

If you’re fat…don’t think it’s not coming…

Reactions From My First In-Person Conference Since the Beginning of the Pandemic! #SHRMTalent

Out in Vegas at one of my favorite conferences, SHRM Talent, this week. I love and missed interacting with all the TA pros and leaders, so this week was really energizing!

There are so many takeaways from this week at SHRM Talent. It seemed both odd and familiar all at the same time. I’ve been going to conferences for over a decade and very few put on a better conference than SHRM, it’s always first-class, and the 2021 SHRM Talent was at the new Cesar’s Forum conference center which is super nice.

The Reactions:

  • SHRM has opened up their 2021 conferences to be both in-person and virtual. This combination has been unique. After a year and a half of only doing virutual, as a speaker, you have to get back into practice of the cadence of in-person speaking. In virtual, you have very little audience reaction to what you’re saying, so you just plow through the content. In-person you get reactions, so you have timing that you have to be concerned about. Funny line, hold for laughter, wait I actually heard some laughter!
  • At the same time, you still have a virtual audience that you have to engage. What I found, across many sessions, that quesitons from the virtual audience were usually 3-4 times more than the in-person audience. I think in the future, SHRM and others, will figure out a way for people to ask questions all through one format, so those in-person attendees can have the same comfort level of asking their questions as well.
  • Those attendees who chose to be in-person seemed to be very engaged! It’s like these were the folks hungry for real-life interactions and they are making the most of being out in the wild for the first time in long time. Everyone has been very friendly, talkative, welcoming. I think we are all just happy for a bit of back to normal.
  • SHRM has caught some criticism for going back to in-person, but I applaud them for making the hard decision to figuring this out. It’s not going to be perfect, but at some point we must rip off the band-aid and get back to some normalacy, while trying to be safe. Masks were required and you were reminded immediately if you forgot. I was asked upon checking in if I was vaccinated and had to sign off on that. It wasn’t required, but highly encouraged, and definitely tracking attendees.
  • The difficult piece of all of this Covid/Vaccine stuff. You go to breakfast and sit down at a round talbe with four or five peers and all of sudden no one has masks on and everyone is talkign and interacting. You go from your hotel room through a Vegas casino cesspool and into the conference and back and forth. Is anyone really believing that any one is safe? It’s all kind of a game of make believe. This isn’t a SHRM issue, this is an issue every single in-person conference has to navigate. The HR Tech Conference has mandated vaccines, but the same reality will be experienced there as well. The reall world is all around us, just because we protect ourselves some part of it, doesn’t mean the rest isn’t all around us.
  • The content and the practitioners desire to learn and grow is still so inspiring to witness live. To see people really getting nuggets they can take back to the office and make them better, and see a speaker talking passionately to an audience can not be replicated virtually. I think we’ve found that when you can’t do virtual and good second place is virtual, but in-person just hits differently.
  • I don’t think SHRM will ever be able to put the toothpaste back into the tub when it comes to having virutal attendees. I also think this is awesome for those pros who can’t afford the travel, or can’t travel for so many reasons. But it does mean that in-person SHRM audiences will probably be smaller moving forward. SHRM National is rumored to be around 11,000 attendees this year, down from over 17,000 (in-person) for 2019. Also, around 25-40% of those 11,000 will attend virtually. Virutal attendees are very profitable for SHRM, so it’s not all bad to the bottom-line for SHRM. I do think in the future SHRM, and others, will have to figure out some unique things to do for virtual attendees verse the in-person. Transform Recruitment Marketing did an unboxing for their virtual audience, and I can definitely see SHRM working with vendors to put something like this together to help make those virtual attendees feel more connected to the conference experience.
  • Finally, I got some “real” hugs this week from friends I haven’t seen in a long time and it felt amazing! And, yes, we were all masked and vaccinated!

Shout out to the SHRM staff for putting on a great event under a lot of uncertainty. As always they handled it with class and professionalism, and I’m sure it was a great trial run for them to get ready for the upcoming annual conference!

SHRM Annual Conference is happening on September 9-12th and I’ll be back in Vegas to present to a live audience again, and I’m so excited to see how this goes as well since the numbers will be much larger, and then soon after back again to The HR Technology Conference in Vegas on Sept 28 – Oct 1. Come join me!

The Dance We Call Work.

I read a statistic the other day that said on average a person works about 6 hours per day, Monday through Friday. The number of hours worked per day has actually decreased during the pandemic. It’s interesting because when you ask people how many hours per day they work almost all would say at least 8, or more.

But, do we really “work” eight hours per day?

Prior to the Pandemic when most people went into an office, you definitely “worked” at least eight hours most days. Or at least you were present in your office environment for eight hours. How much work you actually did during that time varies widely!

The Pandemic hits and people work remotely and we begin to hear a different narrative around work. The conversation switches from “hours” to what actually got done. Let me be clear, this should have always been the conversation, but culturally we still have so much “asses in seats” management going on it was tough to break through.

When people started “working” remotely they began to have the flexibility to integrate all of their life at one time. No longer did you have to shut down one part of your life to go to work. You could now seamlessly start a load of laundry on the way to fill up your cup of coffee and still make it back in time for the beginning of your sales Zoom meeting. It all just kind of made sense, for those who could do it.

All of this now makes “The Dance” we do in the office seem a bit silly!

I’ve always been a giant fan of set solid productivity goals and if someone hits those goals, I could care less if it takes them 10 hours a week or 60 hours a week. You make life decisions on how you work at the office, at home, etc. If you are super productive and kick out your job in 32 hours a week, but still get paid a full salary, you’re winning the game! If it takes you 50 or 60 hours a week to complete your job, you need some development to help you, or to find a new job/career!

You show up at the office at 8 am, dink around a bit, catch up with co-worker-friends on what happened in the 12-16 hours since you saw them last, do some stuff until lunch, do some more stuff, wait until 5 pm, then run off to do life stuff. Rinse, lather, repeat. The Dance is never-ending.

But something cool happened during the Pandemic and now everyone wants to dance a different dance! It’s not that everyone wants remote. If you say that out loud, just know I’m judging your intelligence! Everyone doesn’t want to work full remote. A lot of people love working with others and seeing them face-to-face, many on a daily basis! You might not like your co-workers, company, job, etc., but actually, most people do.

The New Work Dance is really about finding ways to add in some flexibility.

A little bit goes a long way! “Yeah, but Tim, our jobs don’t allow flexibility! We open the doors at 7 am and customers start coming and we need our workers there!” Yep, I get that. You can’t have someone make coffee at home for customers who come to your location to buy coffee! But that doesn’t mean you can treat your employees like adults and allow for some flexibility.

Let me share an example. I have a friend who manages a retail chain. She’s a really good manager. A single mom who works her tail off to make ends meet. Her child is starting to play sports and on Saturday mornings for an hour, she wanted to go watch him. She was told she couldn’t have every Saturday off, so she would have to miss some games. She said I don’t want to take off every Saturday. I’ll come in, open up, run over to the game, run back, and the other workers said they’ll cover for me. Adults working out a solution.

What happened? You know! Nope, you can’t do that, because if we allow you, then everyone will want to start doing stuff like that!

Yes!!! They will, and if it works out, fine, that’s okay! Adults being adults, making adult decisions and solutions. Let them Dance! Find ways to give them a bit of flexibility in a mostly inflexible world. They’ll be happier, perform better, feel good about working for you, etc.

Will it always work out? No. Real-world, some folks will take advantage of the situation and those are the people you don’t want working for you. But, we have to change the dance. We have to find more dances that work for more people. We will not find one for everyone, but we can find more.

My hope is the Pandemic taught us one thing. This dance we call work is a fraud. 8 hours, 40 hours, whatever it is, it’s not about time, it’s about results, it’s about getting a job done well. I want to hire people who think about how to get the job done well in less time verse hiring people who want to show up and dance for forty hours a week.

How Realistic Is It for Your Entire Company to Take Collective PTO? #SummerShutDown #HRFamous

On episode 70 of The HR Famous Podcast, longtime HR leaders (and friends) Tim SackettKris Dunn, and Jessica Lee come together to discuss the 2021 Summer Olympics, the concept of collective time off and entire companies shutting down, and the lack of women returning to the workforce.

Listen (click this link if you don’t see the player) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)

Show Highlights

2:30 – The Olympics are here! Tim’s wife is Olympic-obsessed and watches anything and everything.

4:00 – KD’s favorite Olympic sports are men’s basketball and the decathlon. He loves seeing some bigger dudes struggling with the run at the very end. Tim is a swimming and track-and-field fan.

6:45 – JLee is more of a winter Olympics fan, but she loves watching archery during the summer. She loves watching the Koreans kick butt in archery at the Olympics.

9:00 – To help combat burnout, companies have started to implement the concept of “collective time off,” where the entire company shuts down. Bumble recently decided to give their entire staff a week off at the same time.

11:00 – KD is skeptical of the concept — calling it Privilege — since a lot of companies cannot afford to let all of their employees take off a day like that.

14:00 – JLee mentions that at her company, Marriott, they cannot afford to give every employee time off since they are a 24/7 operation and that opens them up to controversy and criticism.

17:20 – JLee asks Tim if this can be used as a recruiting tactic. When he was working at Applebee’s, he found himself working an HR job on Black Friday even though there was nothing to do. Then they got a new CEO that changed the mindset not to treat everyone the same.

22:45 – There has been some more data released recently about women in the workforce. JLee mentions how it might not be an option for some women to return to the workforce now. Tim recently found a data point that said there are 2 million people that still have not returned to the workforce.

27:45 – KD thinks this isn’t an issue that HR can fix on its own. It can be a lot of work, but it can be very worthwhile since it’s one of the biggest untapped segments out there.

30:00 – JLee remembers seeing two moms that job-shared and thinking how progressive and seamless it was.

32:00 – Tim mentions how his brother-in-law is a teacher and only took home $10-15k a year after paying for childcare.

Why do managers hold on to bad hires for so long?

I’ve been very public about my philosophy on hiring. I do not hire to fire. In no way do I hire someone thinking “I can’t wait until the day I fire them!”, I don’t think any of us really think that!

I hire someone believing that with the right training, development, and support, they will be wildly successful! I own at least half of that equation, the person I hire owns the other half. Many times it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

The problem with my philosophy is “Sunk Cost”.

Sunk cost is an accounting philosophy that means a cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered. So, you’ve already sourced, recruited, and trained an employee. You’ve gone beyond training working to develop them. All those costs are now spent.

BUT – because you’ve ‘invested’ those costs into an employee, you are less likely to let them go believing you are more likely to get a return on those costs. In reality, there is absolutely zero evidence that shows you’ll get any return for future investment into that employee, but we really struggle to give up on them based on what we’ve already spent.

This is super common in the management of people resources!

Well, I’ve already dropped $50K into Tim, I guess another $10K isn’t that bad. When in reality that $10K is actually way better spent on another employee, and you fire Timmy!

I’ve known about Sunk Cost for a long time, but now there is actually scientific evidence to back up the fact we should be firing failing employees sooner:

“Sunk costs are irrecoverable investments that should not influence decisions, because decisions should be made on the basis of expected future consequences. Both human and nonhuman animals can show sensitivity to sunk costs, but reports from across species are inconsistent. In a temporal context, a sensitivity to sunk costs arises when an individual resists ending an activity, even if it seems unproductive, because of the time already invested. In two parallel foraging tasks that we designed, we found that mice, rats, and humans show similar sensitivities to sunk costs in their decision-making. Unexpectedly, sensitivity to time invested accrued only after an initial decision had been made. These findings suggest that sensitivity to temporal sunk costs lies in a vulnerability distinct from deliberation processes and that this distinction is present across species.”

This scientific study showed both humans and rats basically do the exact same thing. If we feel we have already invested a ton of resources in a task, we are more likely to continue pursuing this task even when all the evidence to that point has only shown failure!

This is Poor Performing Employee Management 101!

-You hire an employee.

-The employee gets trained and should have the skills to perform the job.

-The employee doesn’t perform the job, so you give more resources to help get them up to speed.

-The employee still doesn’t perform.

-The manager decides not to terminate the employee, but to continue to give more resources and chances.

Why do we do this?

You hired 3 employees before the failing employee and all three completed training and did the job successfully. We know the process works. So why do we not fire the employee?

Sensitivity to Sunk Cost. We are as dumb as rats when it comes to investing our own resources into failing employees. We act the exact same way!

It has nothing to do with the employee and our desire to give everyone a fair shot (I don’t hire to fire). It has everything to do with our own internal drive of not wanting to lose, what we feel we’ve already invested, even when all the data tells us future investment is akin to burning a pile of cash.

So, don’t hire to fire, but also don’t be as dumb as a rat and not fire someone who shows you they can’t and won’t do the job you hired them to do!

2.9 million Americans have been unemployed for at least a year! Why?

When I saw this number released this week, I was shocked. This month that number increased by almost 250,000! The 2.9M number represents 29% of all unemployed workers. I found myself asking, Why and How? How can someone who wants to work be unemployed for one year?

Being someone who is in the business of hiring people my gut reaction wants to say, “well, these people must not really want to work!” But that’s a cop-out and mostly ignorant way to think about it. The truth is, there are 2.9 million reasons why 2.9 million people remain unemployed for a year or more!

If we could easily go to each of these 2.9 million people who have been unemployed for at least a year I think we would start to hear some common reasons:

  • Pandemic related reasons: They have medical issues that make it very dangerous for them to return to the type of work there were doing prior, and possibly they are also concerned over an experimental vaccine that could protect them, or even that the pandemic shuttered the work they do, and it still has not come back. Childcare issues do to normal school and after-school programs not running as usual.
  • Pivot Reasons: We talk about “Reskilling” all the time but we don’t truly talk about the logistics of truly reskilling yourself. I was employed as an “X” and because of whatever reasons I left the workforce to reskill because I now want to be a “Y”. Maybe this was of their own doing, maybe this was pandemic related, etc. Some probably are unemployed because they lost their job and decided to go back to school.
  • Executive Positions: There is a lot of data around how long it takes someone to find a job the higher up in a company or your salary is. At a VP level for large organizations, on average it takes six to twelve months for people to find their next position after a job loss, at that same level. This is simply do to the fact that very few of those positions come up, so there’s a waiting game that takes place.
  • Retirement: For a number of reasons I made the decision to retire, but because it’s to my benefit to not actually retire, and claim unemployment, I now get this soft landing going into retirement by taking advantage of extended unemployment benefits, etc.
  • Stimulus and Extended Unemployment Benefits: Let’s not be naive and act like this doesn’t have an impact as well. It does, but probably not to the extent that most people believe. If I can make more money not working than working, well many people will decide to ride that out as long as possible. Some would even find that you know after doing this for 6-9 months, maybe our family can actually live on one income for a while, etc.
  • Habitual poor performers: Have you ever noticed that some folks just aren’t good at working, any job, ever! For whatever reasons, these folks just are not wired to work. They constantly get fired, and eventually it’s really hard for them to get a job. Could be cognitive issues, mental health issues, drug and alcohol issues, etc.

What I know is having 2.9 million workers out of the workforce for a year, is a problem for US companies. We need those individuals, or at least we need those within the 2.9 million capable of working, to return to the workforce in whatever capacity they can!

The unemployment rate currently sits at 5.9% that is still rather high as compared to early 2019, but actually not very high historically. Those of us in HR and TA figure that once you get below 5% unemployment, you have slim pickings when it comes to talent, for many of the reasons listed above. Within that 5% or less, many of those folks just don’t want to work, or can’t work, in the jobs we have open.

Currently within the US today we have one open job for every unemployed worker, but as we all know, those jobs are not aligned in a way that we can fill those jobs with those who are unemployed.

If you are one of those folks who have been unemployed for a year or more, I would love to hear your reason and see if it aligns with mine above. Hit me in the comments!

In HR (and life) the story that wins becomes the truth!

In HR we hear a lot of stories.

We love to tell ourselves we are hearing the truth from one side and a lie from another side, but the reality is both sides are stories with a little truth and a little lie built-in. We then ‘measure’ who we feel is telling more truth than lie, and that side becomes the full truth.

Throughout history, this plays out. The winners of war decide what the truth is, not the losers. One side is good and righteous, one side is bad and evil. Before the war, both sides were just trying to make it through the day and make their society better. Truth.

We fire someone because they harassed another person. That person is a bad person. The person who got harassed is a victim and is a good person. The problem is, that’s not really reality, is it? Many times the person we fire is actually a pretty good person and the victim is a piece of garbage. But, the winner gets to decide the role they want.

We fire an employee because we are told by their manager that they are not performing well. We trust our manager. We have to it’s what our structure is built on. If we didn’t then what are we really doing? The employee claims they weren’t trained properly, they weren’t given good direction, they were put in a position to fail. You’re fired, you’re a bad employee. You lose, you don’t get to decide the truth.

It’s one major reason why I tend not to really care that a person was fired from a job. The reason probably matters. I don’t want to hire someone who embezzled from their former employer or some other major offense, but if it’s performance, let’s talk. I’m willing to talk because I know there are always two sides to the story. It just happens that this candidate lost their last story, but they might win the next.

It’s important as HR pros and leaders we understand this concept, not just for hiring, but also that we understand most times we don’t deal in complete black and white wins and losses. In HR we deal in the middle, in the gray. Once we make a determination, we are making a determination of ‘win’. We are validating one story over another. We like to tell ourselves and our leadership that this one story is the truth, but it’s really just another version of a story.

So be careful this week as you decide which stories will win and which ones will lose. Truth can be a pretty powerful thing even when it’s just a story.

Want to Recruit Better? Hire more Recruiters and less Recruiting Managers!

 

Take a look at what’s happened in healthcare over the past 40 years:

 

In the healthcare industry over the past forty years, there has been a 2000% growth rate in the number of “Administrators” in healthcare, which the number of Physicians has remained relatively flat. Now, some of this growth in administration could be that for decades prior there might have been a lack of proper administration and some of this growth is just catching up, but 2000%!?

And we wonder why the cost of healthcare in our country is out of control!

Healthcare isn’t the only place where this happens! The more successful an organization is, the more mid-level management hires increase. So, in times of prosperity, we tend to want to surround the worker bees with tons of management “help”. Our organizations get bloated with none productive hires all hired believing we’ll make those who actually produce more efficient and effective.

We do this in talent acquisition, a ton!

I get asked by HR and TA executives frequently about hiring recruiting leadership. Recently, I spoke with a CHRO who was struggling to attract talent and fill positions and I asked her to give me their TA structure. “Oh, we have a Director of TA, a Manager of TA, and a Recruiter.” So, you can’t hire, but you’ve got two TA leaders and one person actually doing the hiring!?

I told her to fire the director and the manager and hire 4 more recruiters and let the team of 5 recruiters work the openings. I was exaggerating a little, but she got my point. Positions don’t get filled by managing them to death. Positions get filled by recruiters generating activity that leads to filling positions.

Of course, great leadership can help any function be more effective, but having leaders for the simple fact that we believe someone or something needs to be “managed” is short-sighted at best, and destructive at it’s worst. I’ll always choose a flatter structure over empire-building any day of the week. Give me some soldiers and let me fight!

The problem with hiring non-productive employees is what we’ve seen in healthcare. Once you get one administrator/manager every other employee wants to do the same thing. “Wait, I can get paid more and not have to actually produce!? Yes, please!” And soon you have a 2000% increase in hiring folks who don’t actually see patients, who don’t fill positions, who don’t make the donuts.

 

Celebrating #PrideMonth at Work!

I want to celebrate Pride month. I run a small SMB recruiting shop. I’m not even sure I have an LGBTQIA+ person working for me. I mean, I wouldn’t ask, I would hope they were comfortable enough to share if they wanted, but I can’t tell you 100% either way. They would have my support, is what I’m saying.

You see, it’s clumsy for me, and I like to consider myself an ally of the LGBTQIA+ community. Imagine what it’s like for other SMB leaders who don’t have the experience and support easily available.

If I worked for a large/enterprise company I think it’s easy to celebrate Pride month. You know if you have hundreds and thousands of employees, you definitely have some LGBIIQA+ working for you and applying to your jobs, and you want to show them support.

If you’re an SMB it’s a bit harder to determine how to celebrate.

I’ve already seen at least a dozen blog posts from large employers saying how you should or how they will be celebrating Pride Month. It’s awesome stuff like:

  1. Attend a Pride event.
  2. Volunteer or Donate to Pride causes.
  3. Be an advocate.
  4. Educate yourself (I love this one!).

Consider your company’s LGBQIA+ inclusivity.

  1. Become an Ally.

Most companies in the U.S. are SMB. I’m going to NYC this week and Pride month is alive and well in NYC! As it is in most large cities around the country.

If you come to small to midsized cities in most parts of the U.S. you would have no idea it’s Pride month. It’s just June.

So, what can SMB organizations do to celebrate Pride month? (please share your ideas in the comments!)

  • You could raise the flag. Does your company have a flag pole? In June, fly the rainbow flag with pride.
  • Hold an inclusivity event. Pride month is as much about celebrating as it’s about educating. We still have so much education to do.
  • Establish Inclusivity Policies. The majority of SMB employers do not have inclusivity policies.
  • Encourage your employees to show support. Have a day where you all wear signs of support – pins, LGBT-themed clothing, etc.
  • Collect donations for a local LGBTQIA+ charity.

All of this does something in your community. It shows them what and who you value. You are taking a stance that you are inclusive for everyone in your community and welcoming.

But, what if an employee asks why are we celebrating Pride Month when we don’t have any LGBTQIA+ in our company? 

  1. Tell them don’t assume this to be true.
  2. Tell them, just because we might not have any LGBTQIA+’s doesn’t mean we don’t want to attract some to work for us, and celebrating shows that community we are welcoming to them.
  3. Ask them why they think it’s not important, often they are just showing a prejudice they have, and it might lead to some great training opportunities.
  4. Ask them how they think you should support the LGBTQIA+ community?
  5. This is really the same thing as #BLM and Black History Month. You might be a small business and not have any black employees, it doesn’t mean to don’t celebrate. Your employees have black relatives, friends, community members, etc. This is about showing you value all of your community.

I’m no expert. I’m just a dude running a small company who wants to support Pride month. I won’t get it 100% right, not even close, but I’m going to start and try.