Your HYPER-Local Workplace Culture

micro cultureAmy and Becky have adjoining cubicles in your Midwest Region Customer Care Service Center. They’ve sat within 10 feet of each other since 2002 and together have survived 2 CEOs, 3 Department Directors and 6 Supervisors. Amy took care of Becky’s dog when she and her husband Jeff went to that all-inclusive resort in Cancun for their 10th wedding anniversary. Becky helped Amy’s mom throw a surprise birthday party at Applebee’s when Amy turned 40.

Your Midwest Region Customer Care Service Center is located in Glendale, WI (just a bit north of Milwaukee; lovely suburb) and reports in to the Customer Care HQ located in downtown Chicago which, in turn, feeds up, (through various Regional Directors, VPs and a few SVPs), to the corporate office located in Atlanta on Peachtree Street. Well…one of the Peachtree Streets.

There are 327 FTEs toiling away (Monday thru Saturday; 7A-7P; 6 holidays) at the Midwest Region Customer Care Service Center in Glendale, WI. When it’s baseball season they have a company tailgate at a Brewers’ game. During football season, everyone wears Packer gear on casual Fridays. And when you need a custard fix? Jason on the New Accounts team is your go-to-guy for a Kopp’s run at lunch time.

No one at the Midwest Region Customer Care Service Center cares too much for the folks from Customer Care HQ in Chicago. (”Damn FIBs” as Jason likes to call them).

And those Corporate people from Atlanta? Seriously? WTF is up with them? Who can understand what they say?  Why are they so….southern? Did you know they served grits for breakfast when everyone went down for training?

One company.

Same mission, vision and values.  Same corporate web site and, of course, the same corporate career page with the same branding, videos, stories and “EVP.”

Yet each of these teams and locations has a distinct, specific and unique micro-culture. Heck…Amy and Becky have a vastly different culture than Jason and he’s just located on a different floor of the building in Glendale, WI.

And the three of them are most assuredly not having the same cultural experience that Rebecca and Traci are having down at the Atlanta corporate office.

Yet, as happens in organizations the world-over, when a rising star arrives via their promotional travels at a new location (requisite company newsletter blurb: “Meet Brandon Smith, our new VP of Special Projects! Brandon has transferred from the Akron, OH office!”), there’s tension and friction as s/he struggles to determine what, exactly, seems to be “off” about the culture.

There are different foods and rituals and customs. The Boston office is so ‘formal’ while everyone in the Hattiesburg, MS office is a bit too chummy and familiar with each other. (They call each other “sweetie!” Can you imagine?)

But guess what? Amy and Becky, in their micro-culture comprised of 10 cubicles in Glendale, WI, are not ‘wrong.’

They’re simply living the culture in a different way.

HYPER localized.



image courtesy of Odyssey


If You Can’t Stand the HR Heat…Stay Out of the Kitchen

There’s always fascinating stuff going on where I live but this story has consumed me since I am (1) an HR lady (2) a lover-of-good-food (3) an observer of culturally-significant-moments, and (4) a Louisianian.

In between all the Harvey Weinstein and James Toback and David O. Russell and Bill Cosby and Travis Kalanick and Robert Scoble news…there’s more. Closer to home.

John Besh, native son and famed celebrity chef, has not only been caught with his pants reputation as a business leader/owner down around his ankles, but he’s simultaneously living the nightmare of being sucked into the HR/legal quicksand of EEOC complaints, horrendous Glassdoor reviews, and, more than likely, lawsuits. This story, which broke last Friday with (I’m telling you!) Pulitzer Prize reporting by Brett Anderson, is a gajillion times more relevant to the average American worker than the Weinstein stuff.

Besh is a great chef with numerous restaurants in New Orleans; I’ve dined at 4 and tried a 5th without a reservation so yeah, that meal that didn’t happen. He’s also, apparently, not the most astute business owner.

His restaurant group has been in business for twelve years, has 1,200+ employees, and, until exactly 13 days ago (October 11th), had no HR Department. Not a single HR lady. Not a ONE. You know that’s some BS when the Times-Picayune writes an actual article entitled “Lack of HR in John Besh restaurants seems an anomaly for New Orleans food companies its size.”

Lack of HR is “an anomaly.”  Yeah.

I call it a damn travesty.

Look…I work in the hospitality industry; we’re cost-conscious and our managers “run the show;” often because we have minimal HR/FTE ratios. Plus, let’s be real, the restaurant/F&B industry is a totally different animal; all you HR gals who work in tech or hospitals or insurance companies have no idea. No fucking idea at all.

Don’t clutch your pearls ladies; the ‘F word’ flows smoothly, just as it did in that sentence, from employee to manager to CEO. It’s the perfect adjective uttered by Executive Chefs and Sous Chefs and Dishwashers and Servers. Seriously – read Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. (Who, by the way, I love!)

But salty language and curse words are one thing; demanding blow jobs and grabbing genitals and coercing people into threesomes for a promotion (“quid pro quo” for those of you studying for the PHR) are quite another.

Lack of HR? Yeah.


I’ve looked up the new HR Director of the BRG on LinkedIn and I’ve sent her an invite to connect; I want to take her out for a drink.

I predict by day 30 she’s going to need one.


An HR Biology Lesson: Menstruation Version

Last month I had the pleasure of speaking at the Ohio HR conference for the second time. Fabulous event (as always) with lots of peace, love and happiness HR-style.

This was approximately a ‘cycle’ ago with a bunch of women (lots of gals in human resources) at a jungle-themed-sexy’ish midwestern resort with (free!) SHRM and vendor-sponsored wine. We probably all got in sync with our menstrual cycles; 4 days at an HR conference is like living together in a sorority house or serving side-by-side in an army platoon or working together in an office – isn’t it? That theory, called the McClintock effect, has been debunked through ongoing studies.

Whatever. I don’t care.

Plus, whether syncing our cycles is real or not it’s still fun to talk about periods in front of a bunch of squeamish men. Kinda because they’re squeamish men. Which……kills me. Do we get embarrassed when dudes talk about their testicle sweat or armpit hair? Well…ok..maybe a bit.


…. menstruation and periods and talk about sanitary products and tampons still makes people (ladies and men alike) squirm. Which has to end.


OK…back to Ohio SHRM.

At this conference I met the absolutely most awesome woman and entrepreneur named Clair Coder – she had a booth and I got pins and we took pictures together (I can’t find them) and she gave me a bunch of tampons.

I just loved everything about Claire and her company so I (1) fan-girled all over her (2) helped coordinate her speaking gig at this past Wednesday’s #DisruptHRCincy and (3) pinned her down for an interview. Here’s what I asked and what she had to say:

You started Aunt Flow in 2016 – what was your inspiration? 

I founded Aunt Flow after I unexpectedly got my period in public without the supplies I needed. I was at an event and was trapped. Surrounded by men and no tampons in the bathroom, I ended up leaving the event early. At that point in time, I decided it was critical to change the world, one cycle at a time. I now ask companies “If you are offering a ping pong table, beer, even toilet paper for free, why aren’t you offering the necessary menstrual supplies?”

One of the cool things you do is donate 10 tampons to an organization of the buyer’s choice for every 100 tampons purchased?  What are some of the groups or organizations where donations have gone?

Aunt Flow has donated 77,000 menstrual products to-date. We work with organizations ranging from Period Menstrual Movement to Mid-Ohio Food Bank and Dress for Success.

Where do you hope to take the business? 

Aunt Flow’s mission is to ensure EVERYONE has access to menstrual products. We do this by selling our products to businesses, so companies can offer them for free in their bathrooms for employees and guests. We are celebrating our 1-year birthday at the end of November. By that time, it is my goal to have donated over 100,000 tampons to organizations across the USA that support menstruators in need. 

What’s your mantra?

People helping people. PERIOD.


OMG I love everything about this!

  1. Let’s de-mysistify a natural human function
  2. Let’s treat the biological needs of both genders on an equal basis
  3. Let’s ensure women and girls the world over have access to basic necessities
  4. Let’s take care of all our employees – stocking tampons is as common sense as stocking toilet paper
  5. Let’s remember that (as Aunt Flow tells us) – “Many of the 26.4 million menstruators living in poverty in the United States must resort to plastic bags and dirty socks to stop the flow. No one should ever be forced to choose between food and tampons.”



Follow @GoAuntFlow

More cool stuff about Claire:

The Founder of Aunt Flow on Why Everyone Should Have Access to Tampons – Teen Vogue

This 20-Year-Old Entrepreneur Wants You to Get Free Tampons – Glamour

This gender-neutral period company partners with businesses to make tampons as accessible as toilet paper – Yahoo









Sexy HR: The Stuff My Mother Never Told Me

Some of my friends think I have one of the most fascinating jobs ever as the HR leader at a casino; gambling! free drinks! the-fresh-scent-of-crisp-dollar-bills! B-girls! Craps on demand!

Now I admit I totally have the best stories from my life living HR on steroids; the real-dealio that is definitely not for the faint of heart. Yet, let me point out, I also work in one of the most regulated industries imaginable; massive oversight from local jurisdictions, IRS, state gaming regulators, and auditors of every stripe. We make sure we account for every person that passes through our turnstiles and every penny that lands in our slot machines. We’re also damn good at that accounting stuff. I, personally, have never had to attest to and sign more stuff with name-rank-serial-number. We take this accountability seriously.

Not totally new to me of course; this is my second casino gig and my third in the gaming industry. My theory is that if I can ever manage to work for a liquor distributor and a cigarette company (I did interview with one back in the day) I’ll have all the major vices covered. Well…except for one.

I would still need to work in the sex industry to gain the HR hat trick. Bow chicka-wah-wah and all that. And, I’m telling you right now, I am incredibly curious about what that that day-to-day would entail. Because, of course, these people exist.

Playboy has a CHRO; her name is Kendice Briggs. (She started her HR career in banking just like me. I could have this job!). According to her LinkedIn profile she handles all the typical HR stuff like comp, benefits and recruitment.  She also, bless her heart, oversees payroll. I sure wish that when I get to work in a really sexy industry I get to put payroll where it belongs…in finance.

The HR leader at Adam & Eve (#1 Adult Toy Superstore) has been with the company since 2014; according to her LinkedIn profile she’s very good at employee relations, recruiting and HR policies. (note: what I wouldn’t give to read that employee policy manual….). As for the recruitment bit I dunno; they only accept faxed resumes or walk-in applicants (North Carolina y’all!) or encourage applicants to “Cut and Paste your resume in to the body of an email.”  That might work I guess; they probably want to discourage photos, selfies, and dudes sending their resumes wrapped in rolls of paper towel………

Empire Labs, “the worldwide leader in do-it-yourself penis casting kits,” does not have an HR leader. Then again, it appears they only have five employees. And these five employees, based on my internet sleuthing, all appear to be male and approximately 25 years old.  They’re too young to appreciate the need to have an HR lady on staff but they’ll learn.

A few months ago I hung out for the first of several times with the super cool HR Manager of three (not 1…3!!) strip clubs here in south Louisiana. If you’ve visited New Orleans and were in search of either a watered down/ridiculously expensive drink or a lap dance, chances are you wandered into one of her establishments. Oh hell y’all….you think my HR stories are good? She even made me blush.

Look…we all take for granted that hospitals, insurance companies and manufacturers have HR departments filled with soulless bureaucrats who process benefit enrollments, deal with employee relations issues and trot up-and-down the hallways in their nice-little-HR-suits.

But imagine running an HR department in the porn industry. What are those worker’s compensation renewal meetings like? Think about the annual strategic planning meeting at a dildo making company. What sort of 2018 budget dollars does one set aside for employee engagement activities? Are there regular planned team building activities after the crew shuts down the injection-molding machine for the day? What about compensation and pay structure? Piece meal for every plastic penis that rolls of the conveyor belt or is there base pay with some other sort of variable or incentive?

These are the things that keep me up at night.

Sexy HR. The sort my mother never told me about.













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