Saturday, May 12, 2007

H/R is not your friend.

I just read this soundbite at (By the way, if you haven't checked out Cathryn yet...well, she is...a genius!)

H/R takes care of its own. They're not covering your ass, they're covering the company's ass. End of story.

At my last job, The Company Which Shall Not Be Named, I had a friend in the H/R department. She was a cool chick, nice, fun to hang out with. And MAN, could she dish up the hot goss. She knew who the married guys were cheating on their wives with. She knew that the girl in her own department who got fired? Got fired because she was skimming money out of the vending machines that was supposed to go to the "Employee Fun Fund". Oh, and for changing her status within the computer system, showing that she had paid for her portion of the health insurance. Which, in fact, she hadn't.

When our department went through a leadership change, things basically fell apart. The same source informed me that out new department head had worked for the company for over a decade, and she had previously been in charge of other departments. Both times, everything went to hell. Our department was the third try. Why, I don't know, but we all saw the writing on the wall. The new boss was a finger pointer and a blamer if things went wrong...but if we got accolades, they were all because of her.

First, the middle managers went to H/R. Then the graphic artists. Six months later, those middle managers and artists were gone, but the problem was still there, cheery, obtuse, and wearing really unflattering miniskirts. The men in our department were all favored over the women. She'd invite the guys into her office, shut the door, and joke and laugh with them. The women who were shut out would just sort of look at each other and shrug. Let's hear it for reverse sexism!

A few more months came by. My phone started ringing off the hook. I was getting requests from people I shouldn't even have been talking to...regional VP's, and their salespeople, who all wanted to know why they could never get my boss on the phone.

Things started heating up in the department. Mistakes were made on ad copy, and of course, the "minions" in my department were blamed- not the manager of the department, who had signed off on the proofs.

I went, not to H/R, but to my former boss, who was now working directly with the president of the company. He basically told me, bluntly, to get used to it, or get out.

I settled in for the long haul. I called H/R. Twice. And I never even got a call back.

Finally, someone upstairs noticed that our department had shrunk by 50 %. And they informed us that as soon as a suitable replacement was found, our fearless leader would be reassigned to her former duties. Which is a fancy way of saying "demoted."

Three months went by. Let me just say that having a boss who is irresponsible is bad enough. Having a boss who knows she's been demoted, and what else can they do to her? Oy vey.

At the six month mark, I finally bailed. My contacts inside the company tell me it took a year to replace her, and it's even worse now.

The company before that?

I worked there for two years without a blip. One morning, I was late to work. I had overslept! I made it in, and managed to pull it together and get things back in line before the start of the newscast.

My boss called me in, and I expected to be in trouble. And I acknowledge that I deserved to be written up.

I was suspended without pay for two weeks.

In contrast, a guy in the same situation? Was chronically late. I had never heard that he was ever penalized in any way for it, and in fact, he often wouldn't even make it in until after the news show had been airing for 30 minutes!

Talking to more women around the station, I came to realize that my boss (who once again, had been with the company for years) was notorious for penalizing women. Women also got slotted into more of the lower-paying jobs (like graphics) where men were encouraged to pursue camera work and jobs in the newsroom.

The worst part was, the bias was tacitly recognized among the higher-ups, but nobody ever did anything about it.

I thought about it. I had also been denied two week's vacation (for which I had the time on the books) to take my impending honeymoon. I had repeatedly asked for a full-time position, while working 50 hours a week, and was told that they could only guarantee me 39.5 hours, which didn't qualify me for full-time.

Yeah. I took my 2 weeks off, and found another job. I gave my notice the day I was supposed to be back at work.

When I went into H/R, the director hugged me and said, "I'm so sorry about this."

To this day, I wonder what exactly she meant by that.

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