Compliance Officer. The job title itself sounds like a warning. What exactly is a compliance officer?
Compliance officer: It’s one of the hottest careers today. The guardian of an organization’s good corporate citizenship, the job ranges from creating and enforcing guidelines and policies that ensure a company’s integrity, to promoting ethical standards and values that form strong workplace cultures. Compliance officers are the ones who meet government investigators at the door when they knock.
Is anyone surprised that most compliance officers are women and that these women are the ones who create corporate cultures that actively undermine the strategic goals of the organization and help to ensure those businesses fail? HR officers of all stripes are overwhelmingly women, and their ‘qualifications’ amount to ‘soft degrees in liberal arts’ featuring a lot of cultural Marxism and not much in the way of critical thinking, strategy or math.
It was not always thus.
This is an excerpt from a new book coming out called Death By HR: The Great Slackening, and I am looking forward to this one!
HR departments have in many companies been “captured” by the political forces outside the company that regulate labor, punish violations with fines and public shaming, and pressure companies into paying off diversity activists looking for support for their causes and sinecures for their political allies. The increasing complexity of regulations and government enforcement have, as in academia and hospitals, increased the number of deadweight HR employees needed to handle administration. Like the commissars and parallel political officers of the old USSR, HR functionaries are unconsciously acting not only for managements wanting managers to avoid legal and ethical trouble, but for governments reaching into the organization to achieve political goals and promote government control of private businesses. Smart managements will neutralize these tendencies by paying close attention to attitudes and activities of HR managers and staff. While companies need to avoid trouble with governments, they need the best employees and competitive products and services to survive and thrive.
Deadweights that hector, punish, shame, control, enforce regulations that may or may not serve any strategic purpose…..it all sounds so familiar! I will be interested to see if the author calls out the real problem here: women. Certainly, the book identifies women as key players in the HR landscape:
Stereotypes and generalizations about female-dominated organizations would suggest that they are more emotional, less logical; more safety-oriented and less willing to take risks to accomplish higher goals; more likely to talk about feelings than to act; and more cliquish and petty, and less likely to focus on the larger goals of the organization.
Those stereotypes are more or less true. “Women are more emotional than men” is a polite way of saying women are less able than men to master their emotions. In any given situation, men are just as likely as women to feel a particular feeling – anger, sadness, embarrassment, etc. – there really is not any difference between men and women’s capacity for emotion, but men are able to control those feelings and not allow feelings to dictate actions to a much greater degree. This is why you will often find women crying at work, but not men.
Men consistently display greater affinity than women for logic, rationality and objectivity. Feminists long ago stopped trying to disprove this unfortunate gender difference, and instead switched to insisting that either A) logic isn’t valuable, or B) logic isn’t real, it’s just a tool of the patriarchy. The hilarious irony is that feminists deploy their shaky grasp of logic trying to logically prove that logic isn’t real or doesn’t matter. They could claim decisive victory if only their arguments were logical. It’s an amusing conundrum. Watching Richard Dawkins address the ‘logic’ of feminism in science (called post-modernism) is quite affirmational. Dawkins turns feminist science into a comedy routine, just by citing it. It’s worth a view.
Women are absolutely more risk averse than men, for some pretty important evolutionary reasons. Men take greater risks to raise their attractiveness to mates, and thereby increase the likelihood of reproductive success. Women keep their risks to a minimum, because babies are hard to keep alive without a mother. It’s a straight forward cost/benefit analysis:
…suppose that running a 5% risk of death can move an organism’s fertility from the 50th percentile for their sex to the 90th. For a male, this might pay a Darwinian dividend, whereas for females the cost would be more likely to outweigh the benefits.
Sadly, the stereotypes about women being petty and mean and more likely to focus on the trivial and not the larger organizational goals are also true. Not for each and every woman, obviously, but for women as a group, and those tendencies are exacerbated by women’s tendency towards collectivism and their intolerance for women who break from the pack. The tendency is so strong, psychologist Meredith Fuller has written an entire book on the subject, breaking the Mean Girls down into categories and offering strategies for how to manage these women. Working With Bitches: Identify the Eight Types of Office Mean Girls and Rise Above Workplace Nastiness is a book I recommend men in particular to read. Women reading this book will simply recognize women we’ve been dealing with our whole lives. Men will learn exactly how women operate to punish, control and oppress other women. After reading this book, men will see innocuous conversations and interactions between women for what they are: women abusing their power over other women.
Women are the main sources of misogyny in our culture. Nowhere is that more true than in the workplace, where actual things are at stake.
Now imagine working in a field like HR, completely dominated by women. Here’s Ben, to give you a hint:
I can still remember the first time I walked into a NASHRM event and looked around. There were about a hundred people in the room. Of that number the six guys (including me) stuck out like sore thumbs. It kind of made me laugh, because I’ve never worked in a job where the men outnumbered the women. It doesn’t really bother me, but I’ve always been a little curious about why the imbalance occurs.
I don’t want to lay any blanket statements on the ladies out there, but my little experience seems to point to most of them focusing on compliance and how to keep things “safe.” More of the males, however, seem to be focused on how to keep the goals moving forward and holding onto the strategic focus.
Like I said, I don’t like blanket statements and generalities, because I’ve certainly met dozens of female HR pros with a high strategic focus. However, due to the high percentage of women overall, there certainly are a lot of them who are doing that compliance work…
Women love creating rules and then forcing others to comply. The pettiness of it matches the pettiness of women’s orientation towards the world. Women don’t see the bigger picture. There is no forest, only trees. This, of course, is precisely the orientation we need women to have in order to raise newborns to functioning, productive adulthood, but that is not what women are engaged in doing in the corporate world.
Let me remind you of feminist scholar Carol Gilligan who wrote a book called In A Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development in which she posits that women and men have very different understandings of what constitutes a moral decision. For women, morality is always contextual, situational, and dependent upon the particular situation and the relevant players. For men, morality is universal, objective, and applies to everyone equally regardless of circumstances. Women’s morality is designed for the domestic sphere and men’s morality is for the public sphere. And this makes perfect sense. In the public domain, for example, men might create moral rules about the distribution of food that apply equally to everyone. In the home, those rules make no sense. Newborns eat no food and the age and activity level of each individual will dictate how much each person receives and this is both reasonable and moral in that context.
When you ask women to transfer their sense of morality to the public sphere, chaos, injustice and unfairness reign, and women double down on their pettiness to try and make their situational morality work where universal rules are required. Women lose sight of the larger organizational goals and it does not surprise me in the least that HR is rarely a path to the C suite, unless of course, the HR director has operational experience.
Among the few CHROs who do know, I almost always find a common distinguishing quality: They have worked in line operations—such as sales, services, or manufacturing—or in finance. The celebrated former CHRO of GE, Bill Conaty, was a plant manager before Jack Welch brought him into HR. Conaty weighed in on key promotions and succession planning, working hand in glove with Welch in a sweeping overhaul of the company. Mary Anne Elliott, the CHRO of Marsh, had had several managerial roles outside HR. She is overhauling the HR pipeline to bring in other people with business experience. Santrupt Misra, who left Hindustan Unilever to join Aditya Birla Group in 1996, became a close partner of the chairman, Kumar Mangalam Birla, working on organization and restructuring and developing P&L managers. He runs a $2 billion business as well as heading HR at the $45 billion conglomerate.
Operational experience is precisely what universalizes the role – operational experience allows you to understand the universal goals and strategies of the business and get past petty departmental power struggles. Women rarely have that experience.
What I find most interesting about the women in HR phenomenon is what impact the clustering of petty tyrants and dictators has on the male workforce. Does the presence of female compliance officers affect whether men get hired, promoted and enjoy their work? And do female compliance officers represent the beginning of measurable declines in stock prices and overall returns.
In other words, does giving women this kind of power result in women abusing that power over men (we already know they abuse it over women), and does that lead to sinking the whole business? I’m guessing the answer is yes and yes. Women compliance officers absolutely use their power to abuse the workforce, both male and female, and the more women in HR, the more likely a company is to tank on the market.
I’ll get this book when it comes out and report back to you on what it says.
Should be interesting.
Lots of love,