HRuprise Slack updates and hot takes - Aug 26 edition

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HRuprise Slack updates and hot takes - Aug 26 edition

Quite a bit has happened since we last reached your inbox. How have you been??  Let's catch up!

We've had some great conversations happening in our Slack community recently:

  • A thought-provoking piece about how the popular tenant of "assume good intent" undermines diversity and inclusion caused some serious self-reflection and got us talking.
  • A media story was written about the culture of sexism at Riot Games and we applauded what other gaming companies did in response. 

Not in Slack yet? We don't want you to miss out on the conversation. Send us a note and we'll get you added!

HRuprise Live:

  • We were thrilled with the turnout for our first in-person event: a Townhall meeting with some amazing HR and non-HR professionals. (Let us know if you're interested in hosting an HRuprise event in your town.) The conversations are deep and honest and we left feeling more inspired than ever!  Here are some of our favorite quotes of the night:
    • "We create organizational trauma by not allowing people to bring all aspects of their lives to work."
    • "In HR, we are taught to have a poker face in all ways, at all times. I realize now that it's time to put away the poker face."
    • Why don't we believe the one lone voice when someone comes forward? How are we contributing to the problem when we require everything to be corroborated? Is that the right thing to do?"
  • SHRM certification has become a hot topic on social media recently, with many SHRM members threatening to let their certification lapse over Johnny C. Taylor's alignment with the current White House administration. (The hashtag #fixitSHRM is catching on!)  We want to hear from you! We'll be hosting a virtual townhall on HR certifications  - how meaningful are these major certifications today? What is the impact versus intent of these certifications, and how do they fit in the current HR landscape?  Come join us and share your thoughts. Click here to add the event to your calendar.
  • ICYMI: Co-Founder Rebecca Weaver was on the Hostile Work Environment podcast with Marc and Dennis breaking down the "resigned to pursue other opportunities" email from HR and why you should stop doing it. 

What we've been in to this week:

  • Tesla's Elon Musk has been dominating the headlines the past few weeks. He recently floated the idea, via twitter, of making Tesla a private company, and kicking off an SEC investigation (and now maybe has changed his mind?). Anyway, the New York Times published an interview with Musk where he expressed the ways in which being overworked has taken a toll on his health, family and social life. The reporter noted Musk choked up several times during their conversation. Following the interview, The Atlantic posed a very interesting question "What if a female CEO acted like Elon Musk?"  And we loved this take from The Riveter Founder Amy Nelson called "A Female Founder's Take On The Tears Of Elon Musk."
  • Terry Gross' chats with W. Kamau Bell about the firing of Netflix's communications chief after use of the n-word, Bell's friendship with Anthony Bourdain and his response to men characterizing the #MeToo movement as a witch hunt.
  • Robin DiAngelo discusses implicit biases and the white ego and how both impact workplace diversity training.
  • Rewatching this video that Brené Brown recorded just after Charlottesville and finding it to be more relevant than ever today.  


If you've made it this far in the newsletter, thanks!  We'd love to hear what you'd like to see more of, less of, what's working and what's not. Drop us a quick note and let us know.

Thanks for joining us, and as always:  Let's go rise up!

- Rebecca + Nickolett

HR Uprise
Rebecca joined the Hostile Work Environment podcast!

Our co-founder Rebecca Weaver had the opportunity to join Marc and Dennis on the Hostile Work Environment podcast.  They broke down the memo Netflix CEO Reed Hastings sent upon termination of his head of communication and tackled this question: how do you balance the need for transparency and your employees' right to know that you've dealt with issues against concerns of defamation? 

Rebecca also tells her own #metoo story about why she left her last employer and talks about how that experience led to the start of HRuprise. 

We've been big fans of the Hostile Work Environment podcast since it launched.  Go support them on Patreon and help them continue to tell all the best NSFW stories!

HR Uprise
You’re probably lying to your employees without even thinking twice

“Effective immediately, John Smith has resigned to pursue other opportunities.”

No doubt your organization has its own version of this email.  (Fun fact, at a previous employer we called it the POO message for someone who was said to be "Pursuing Other Opportunities.")  In fact, if you work in HR, odds are pretty good that you've sent this email yourself more than once.  It’s typically sent when your company doesn’t really want to get in to the details as to why someone is no longer with the company.  There are lots of reasons that people leave the company and you’d rather not go in to it, but the most important is when you've finally fired someone for harassment. 

You are lying to your employees when you send this email. Stop doing that.

I recently gave a talk at a SHRM conference on harassment and when I suggested that we stop sending these emails, an audible gasp when up.  We in HR like to say we’re all about transparency (“it’s even in our company values!”  we say), and yet, when it really counts, we revert to old patterns and the worst part is, we’re protecting the people who don’t deserve protecting.

After the gasp at that conference, someone asked “So what do we send instead? We’re not going to send out all the sordid details of an investigation.”  Of course not. But we can certainly say “John Smith has been terminated, effectively immediately.”  I've done it. And we can also include a message about how providing safe environments is our top priority.  I've done this too. You don’t have to go in to details but people will certainly connect the dots and that's what matters most.  

Want an example of real transparency? This past week, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings fired his top communications executive for using the n-word repeatedly.  (You've been around long enough to know I can't make this shit up.)  But in his memo to employees, he does include all the sordid details of the investigation, and I applaud him for it.  (It really is worth reading. Check it out at the link above.)  For the rest of us, covering up and hiding behind the lawyers only protects the people who don’t deserve protecting. 

How else will your employees know if you're actually dealing with harassment?  How else will they know to trust you to do something about it when it inevitably happens again? 

No more keeping secrets in the name of "confidentiality".  It starts with a simple change: let’s stop lying with our termination emails and start telling more of the truth.

Rebecca Weaver
We should make it easier to talk about hard things

One of our most important roles is to make it easier for people to talk about hard things.  A few weeks ago, we learned of the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.  I reflected back on my own experience with depression and took the opportunity to talk about it with our team. My theory was, if by telling my own story (which would have terrified me in the past) I could make it a bit easier for someone else to talk about their struggles if necessary.  I shared the letter internally, but also with some friends who also work in HR.  I had a few ask if they could "borrow" the language from my letter to send to their own teams. In the spirit of being open-source, I'm sharing it here with you as well.  Feel free to borrow and modify for your own use.

We don't all have to bare our soul on a regular basis (especially if you have not healed enough to share), but being willing to be vulnerable is critical for leaders. 

Here's the letter:

Sent: June 8, 2018

Dear team,

This is going to be a heavy topic. Hopefully you know by now, that I don’t shy away from the heavy topics. And the news this week has been weighing on me and I think it’s really important to create space to talk about hard things.

This week we saw the announcements of the deaths of two huge icons - Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain - who committed suicide. At the same time, the CDC announced that across the US, suicides are on the rise pretty significantly. These announcements have weighed heavily on me for a number of reasons. Perhaps it is because I personally enjoyed the work of these icons so much.

Perhaps it’s because of what they represented. But it’s also because they are two people who had all the resources in the world and yet still made the choice to end their lives.

In the year before I joined my last company, three people connected to the company committed suicide. One was an employee and two people ran companies that we invested in. I wasn’t there when it happened, but I saw the impact of the company’s response, which was to brush off the hard questions and not to talk about it at all. Afterward, employees felt that it was not okay to ask questions and that it was not okay to discuss how they were feeling about it. They also received the message loud and clear that talking about struggles and certainly mental illness were totally off- limits. I vowed at the time never to allow that kind of iron curtain to be set down in any company I worked for. Life is messy and we have to be willing to wrestle with the messiness sometimes.

I think it’s our job in People + Culture to help make it easier to talk about hard things if that is necessary, so that’s what I hope this email does. If I can make it easier for anyone to talk about their struggles, then I’ve accomplished my goal. So with that, I want to share a few things I’ve learned in my own journey with depression at various points in my career.

I’ve learned that depression manifests itself in ways that are not always obvious. It’s likely that my coworkers would have been shocked at the time I was struggling with depression. That’s part of what made it worse - it took an enormous amount of energy for me to get through the day because I was trying to hide it. I would have been absolutely terrified if any of them had found out that, not only was I struggling with depression, but I was seeing a therapist and was on anti-depressants.

The huge irony that I know now is that those things very likely saved my life.

Here’s something else I learned in my battle with depression: the biggest lie that depression ever told me was that I was alone. Now that the fog has lifted for me, I can see clearly that it was a lie.

But it’s far from obvious while the fog is on the ground. I’ve talked to so many highly accomplished people I respect deeply who have shared similar experiences. Depression can be insidious and it is incredibly isolating. My hope with this email is to send the message that, if you struggle with this now or in the future, you are not alone.

Here’s the last lesson I learned: I thought I was the secret exception to the rule. Even at the time, I would have coached anyone else struggling to reach out and get help and I would absolutely have meant it. But I thought I was different. It was both heartbreaking but also liberating when I finally realized I didn’t have to be the exception to the rule. So many of us are willing to help someone else, and yet are unable or unwilling to ask for that same help when we need it.

Reaching out for help is one of the bravest acts a person can make. So, my ask for everyone here is to honor the courage it takes for someone to reach out. Do everything you can to make it easy for the people you love to ask for help. I’m not asking for any of us to inappropriately take on another person’s burden, but we can definitely be here for each other. We can check in on each other. We can recognize that we as humans are both in need of and capable of providing help to each other.

Brené Brown says that “need is the most beautiful compact between humans."

There are also a ton of completely confidential resources available to each one of us - whether you’re struggling yourself or trying to help someone who is struggling:

Our Employee Assistance Program is a really incredible, totally underutilized resource. It’s completely confidential.

  • (US): 800-311-4327 or
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US): 800-273-8255
  • Crisis Text Line (US): Text START to 741741 about any type of crisis
  • Pieta House (Ireland): 1800 247 247 or

Of course, the People + Culture team is always here to help you find the right resources as well. Let us know how we can help.

Thanks, everyone. I’m proud to be a part of this team that leans in to hard conversations.

Be well and take care of each other,


Rebecca Weaver
There's no such thing as "leaving it at home"

HR and leaders: It is impossible to separate “work” and “life”. As Rachel Maddow showed earlier this week, it can sneak up on you too.  

These are unprecedented times we live in and it’s unrealistic and harmful to expect us as humans not to be impacted by what is going on around us. HR, it’s on us to create safe spaces for our employees to process what’s happening. I've had multiple conversations this week with employees, friends and family.  The common thread is that people feel helpless, numb and completely distracted.  This is not about politics.  But this is about understanding what impacts 

So, Dear Leader, here's what you need to understand: There is no such thing as "leaving it at the door."  You no doubt have employees who are: 

  • Immigrants dealing with rhetoric that calls them “insects” and “vile”? Check. 
  • People of color dealing with micro-aggressions that add up every hour and wear their defenses down every. damn. day?  Check. 
  • Parents who can’t help but picture their own children being ripped from their arms and literally can’t think of anything else for days? Check. 

After the Baltimore protests, one of our HRuprise members sat in the cafeteria with a sign that said “if you want to discuss, I’m open to it.” People came and sat down and had a conversation. More than anything, they just wanted to talk. It's what I'm finding all week too.  People just want to talk.  So we talk.  And sometimes we cry together.  And then we walk out the door and try to figure out how to solider on.

Because if we are going to be in the business of humans, we have to deal with each person's full humanity. And our collective humanity. 

None of us can look away. It’s on us, HR.  How do we create safe spaces for our teams? If we can’t do this, nothing else matters. 

Rebecca Weaver