Is pay secrecy disappearing in the private sector?

by Michael Haberman on October 22, 2014 · 0 comments

Has pay secrecy finally met its end?

Has pay secrecy finally met its end?

There has been an ongoing debate about pay secrecy versus pay transparency for some time now. The old way of doing business versus the new way of doing business. The old way said that what you made was your business and no one else’s. The new way says that transparency is more egalitarian and helps eliminate discrimination. The tide appears to be in favor of pay transparency winning the battle.

Prime drivers

There are a couple things moving the world away from pay secrecy toward pay transparency. The first of these is just the general feeling that being open about pay will help eliminate discrimination. In a world where the argument is that women only make 75% of the pay men make pay transparency would reveal if indeed in any particular organization that were true. If it was true pay transparency would force companies to clean up their acts. If it were not true it would bolster the company’s reputation as being a “fair” place to work.

A second driver is the recent effort of the National Labor Relations Board to enforce the provision of the National Labor Relations Act that prohibits companies for acting against an employee covered by the Act for revealing what he or she makes. It is against the Act to discipline a covered employee for violating a prohibited company policy. Many companies run afoul of the NLRA by having such a policy for covered employees. You can have a policy but it can only apply to employees, such as supervisors, managers and HR people, since they cannot organize under the NLRA.

The third driver is the effort of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. According to the law firm Ford HarrisonOn April 8, 2014, President Obama issued Executive Order 13665 to address the apparent lack of transparency in employers’ pay policies and practices.” Recently the OFCCP has issued proposed rules for this executive order that will have a significant effect on pay secrecy.

E.O. 13665

According to Ford Harrison “Executive Order 13665 amended Executive Order 11246 to include a provision prohibiting covered entities from discharging or discriminating against employees or applicants for inquiring about, discussing, or disclosing their compensation or the compensation of another employee or applicant.  In plain terms, Executive Order 13665 would prohibit covered entities from maintaining what are sometimes referred to as “pay secrecy” policies.” In this order the definition of a covered entity is any business that holds a contract or subcontract worth $10,000 in a 12 month period. The hurdle for being a federal contractor is not a high one and this will force many companies to be open about their pay policies.

The definition of compensation in the proposed rules is pretty broad and includes just about any type of pay an employee might receive. According to Ford Harrison, “A non-exhaustive list of examples from the NPRM include salary, overtime pay, shift differentials, bonuses, commissions, vacation and holiday pay, allowances, insurance and other benefits, stock options, profit sharing, and retirement contributions.“

Philosophical adjustments

If you are in a company doing business with the federal government, or even many state governments, pay transparency is going to be a way of life. For companies that are not covered by federal rules you may still want to take a look at transitioning. A new generation, growing up in a much more open society, is not all that keen on pay secrecy. It may keep your from getting talented employees or at least cause you problems in court as they reject your philosophy.


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at


The Power of Collaboration

by Michael Haberman on October 21, 2014 · 0 comments

I had the good fortune to be at Dreamforce14 this past week. For those of you who have not heard of Dreamforce, it is the annual conference for It is a huge conference and pretty much dominates San Francisco when it is in session. I wrote about it when I attended in 2012 and the job creation engine the company is in How You REALLY Create Jobs. This time I came away from the conference with a strong lesson in the power of collaboration., of the Blackeyed Peas fame, is not only a singer he is also a technology creator. At Dreamforce he revealed his Puls device, a wrist worn smart device that he insists is not a smart watch. It is so much more. It does have a watch, but it is also a phone, a GPS, an applications platform, music capabilites and much more. It is also attractive and fashionable. You can find out more about the device by visiting here.


While the device is pretty incredible, the story told about its creation was what I paid attention to. He started about two years ago by funding, out of his own pocket, the formation of an engineering team from Bangalore and Singapore. He then sought out AT & T to provide the phone capabilities. He sought out a European telecom company, and a GPS company. He sought the help of people he knew in the fashion industry to make the device more “wearable” and attractive. He got encouragement from Marc Benioff of to bring it to market. He went back to the ghetto he grew up in and worked with high school students to write applications for the device at the same time he was keeping them in school and out of gangs.

Granted, his celebrity probably opened some doors for him, but how many technology companies really would have paid attention to a “singer” if he did not have a great idea.

This story is one of encouragement and collaboration. We can all collaborate; we can all get collections of people around us to work on ideas if we try. How might you use this idea in your business or your department?

Watch this brief YouTube to get a better idea of what this collaboration is about.

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How by doing good you can do right by your company

by Michael Haberman on October 20, 2014 · 0 comments

logo-180w-1xI received an email that started off “What if I told you that you could help 23 million people today?” I knew it was not junk mail because I recognized the name of the company. So it intrigued me and I looked further into this subject. This blog post is the result, because I too would like to offer you the same opportunity.

It is all about employment

It turns out that this email was all about employment, employment of people who have IDD. What is IDD you ask? It stands for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and unfortunately 85% of the people in this category do not have jobs. Talk about an area of woeful unemployment. The Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and Best Buddies International have developed a research report that explores the benefits of employing individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The bottomline of the report is that firms that hire people with IDD see clear business benefits.

How firms gain

The research study, Employing People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, is based on data collected from more than 200 organizations around the world and features case studies from leading employers including Fifth-Third Bank, Natixis, Holland & Knight, Seyfarth Shaw, Silicon Valley Bank, and Walgreens.

Here are some of the results from this report:

  • Firms hire people with IDD for business reasons and are rewarded with business benefits. Nearly 60% of survey respondents stated that by hiring people with IDD, they gained dependable, motivated employees who are good talent matches. Additionally, 44% said they have also increased customer satisfaction as a result of hiring people with IDD.
  • The profile of a worker with IDD reads like that of an ideal employee. Descriptors of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities include: dependable, engaged, motivated, great attendance, attention to work quality, and high productivity.
  • Positive reactions from employers abound. Nearly 75% of employers report this hiring has been a positive experience. Nearly one-third said that hiring people with IDD has exceeded their expectations.
  • Challenges are fewer than expected and resources are greater than anticipated. Employers find that challenges were less than they thought, and resources needed are, indeed, available.

The campaign

The campaign to make employers aware of this potential source of candidates is called “I’m in to Hire”. More information about the campaign can be found at or at their Facebook page

You can download the entire report HERE and see what benefits your company might gain by participating in this effort. It won’t hurt you to read more.


This is from the archive and was very popular when first published.

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A friend and colleague, Bill Ramsey, asked me the other day what I would tell a high school senior, who had expressed an interest in human resources, about what they should be doing to prepare for a career in HR. He thought I would be challenged by this since I write about future HR. So here is what I think the top # things should be.

Core competencies

A lot has been written by SHRM in conjunction with Dave Ulrich and others about the competencies necessary to be considered to be a professional. These include strategy, business acumen, global awareness, technical ability, relationships, and more. Let’s face it if I tell this to a high school student they will be overwhelmed. Many HR practioners are as well. So I am going to skip that and get to my list.

Foundational education

The importance of a strong foundational education cannot be over emphasized. This doesn’t mean necessarily that you need to go get a degree in human resources, though there is nothing wrong with that. A business degree will certainly help. But more importantly the mix of subjects to study is more important. In the mix should be the following:

  1. Finance – Understand the language of business
  2. Sociology – Understanding how people interact with each other within society
  3. History – The tools change but how we interact with them and each other doesn’t necessarily
  4. Programming – everyone should understand how to code, especially as it relates to mobile devices. The logic and problem-solving is important.
  5. Robotics – Robot technology will be such an important part of HR you had better understand them.

The problem with this is that you will not be able to find this mix in any college program. So you are going to have to engineer this yourself.

Additional skill sets

Learn how to be a speaker. Yeah I know you don’t like being in front of a crowd. Get over it. In HR you will have to make presentations. If you want to progress in your career this will be critical.

Be a reader and read more than business. Eschew business books in favor of novels. If you want to be in the “people” business novels teach you much more than business books. Novels are all about how people interact with each other. Novels tell you much more about emotion and relationships than do business books. Novelists are much more observant than business writers. Sex, romance, pain, deceit, friendship, leadership, engagement and more are found in novels. History is a good second choice. You learn from other lives. Here is a list of CEO’s favorite books.

Learn to think for yourself. Yes, there is safety in being part of the herd, but in reality it is not the leader of the herd that gets consumed. It is the follower the lions pounce on.

Last piece of advice

My last piece of advice is DO NOT start in HR right out of school. Get a job in sales or operations or accounting. Learn about management, leadership, dealing with people, authority issues, discipline, hiring, and terminations by actually doing them. Believe me it will make you a much better HR professional.


Why you should banish the word “would” from your interview vocabulary

by Michael Haberman October 16, 2014

Tweet I long ago became a fan of what is called behavioral interviewing. It is based on the premise that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. While not perfect, I feel it is the best method to help you determine if someone has the behavioral skills you are looking for in order […]

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From the Archive: Why Unions Are Bad For Companies, Employees and Customers

by Michael Haberman October 15, 2014

Tweet This post is from June 2009. It still attracts attention and comments. It is based on a study by the Heritage Foundation. Since unions are more active than they have been in the past several years I thought it was relevant again. If you have ever read my blog you know that I am […]

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5 Investments To Make Employees More Productive

by Michael Haberman October 14, 2014

Tweet Today’s post is brought to you by I particularly like the library idea. Short of whips and other devices not used since the dark ages, you cannot force employees to be productive. Productivity comes from within and is related to self-efficacy and subjective well-being, reports the China Safety Science Journal. When workers are […]

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Good documentation pays off! Not once but TWO times.

by Michael Haberman October 13, 2014

Tweet Document, document, document… it seems often that this is all HR people in the “trench” ever say. Supervisors and managers get tired of hearing it and, face it, we get tired of saying. Generally nothing ever happens with that documentation given the thousands and thousands of time it is said. Just occasionally we get […]

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Future Friday: The impending leadership cliff

by Michael Haberman October 10, 2014

Tweet Demographics don’t lie. A well-known fact is that baby-boomers will be gone. Some may hang around longer than others, but the inevitable fact is that they will be gone and with that many leadership positions will go vacant. This leadership cliff is a major threat to the success of many an organization. Leadership talent […]

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Five mistakes: Incompetent employees are the business’ fault

by Michael Haberman October 9, 2014

Tweet I am helping with a situation that is not all that uncommon. I am sure this has happened to you as well. A manager wants to let someone go. Naturally there is no documentation. So I ask the question “Why?” “Because he is incompetent, he just can’t do the job.” I sigh and begin […]

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