“Must hire” interns

March 24, 2008

Summer intern recruiting season is winding down!  Once again, many of us in the HR world are faced with the dilemma of “patronage hires” — your boss owes someone a favor, so could we please find a space for an extra intern?  Sometimes these patronage interns are smart kids and good workers, sometimes they are less qualified than applicants who apply without the inside edge. We hire many of our interns into the firm (if they’re good).

As an HR professional, sometimes it’s uncomfortable balancing the needs of the company (honoring due process, EEO hiring guidelines, etc.) with pressure from the boss. If I push back on an unqualified intern recommended by a friend of the president or by a rain maker — will I compromise my position? I do push back when I can by reminding management of our need to have a more diverse workforce (the internship program is one good way to achieve diversity), but there is no getting around it that there are many uncomfortable moments. Diversity can’t be 100% HR’s responsibility.

How can this be done fairly?

I wonder what alternatives we can offer executives who feel pressure to take on their business contacts or clients’ kids as interns?

I am the proud owner of a Roslindale resident parking sticker, which allows me to park close to the Roslindale Village commuter rail station and buys me precious minutes in the morning for last minute chores or reading. Not the most eco-friendly practice, I know (I’m a 10 minute walk from the station). I try and make up for my driving by riding my bike to work more often in the spring and summer months.

Anyhow, I was driving to make the 7:58 AM train to Boston this morning, and was lucky enough to find a space right on the corner of Arborough Road and South Street. I parked back a little ways from the actual corner to allow good visibility and access for drivers and pedestrians turning on to South St or Arborough. I also recall something from driver’s ed about never parking too close to the corner. Another driver approached to park behind me (plenty of room for 3-4 cars in the section of curb we were on).  She stuck her head out of her window and asked if I could move up. I told her I was uncomfortable doing so, because I would be too close to the corner. She continued to try and guilt me out about it by claiming that “many people need to park here today”, and “I don’t want to get boxed in”. I pointed out that there was no one behind her, and that she could leave ample space in front to enable her to get out. I was polite…but man, she ticked me off! I wanted to say — LADY, mind your own business! It’s a public curb, and I don’t need parking lessons!

So, instead of sucuumbing to parking rage in the real world, here I am blogging about it. Does anyone know what the law in Massachusetts or Boston is about parking at corners? Is it 20 feet from the intersection?

On “process fairness”

March 17, 2008

I came across an article by Joel Brockner, “Why It’s So Hard to Be Fair” in the March 2006 Harvard Business Review:

“There is a moral imperative for companies to practice process fairness. It is, simply put, the right thing to do. As such, process fairness is the responsibility of all executives, at all levels, and in all functions; it cannot be delegated to HR.”

What is process fairness? It’s when a doctor who is guilty of malpractice apologizes admits his mistake and apologizes to the patient. It’s when managers tell employees they’re laying off why the decision was made and what alternatives were considered. It’s communicating things that general counsel would probably rather you didn’t. However, studies show the practice of process fairness can save companies money in the long run. Nice to see some data out there that shores up my own intuition.  Article goes on to say that process fairness has to be balanced with outcome fairness — outcomes are what lawyers are usually focused on. Outcome fairness would be using the same severance formula to calculate severance payments to a group of employees.