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Women are, very slowly, getting more seats in the boardroom

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NEW YORK (AP) — The number of women sitting at the table in corporate boardrooms across the country is rising very slowly, but it’s rising.

Just over 15 per cent of all director seats at publicly traded U.S. companies were held by women as of Dec. 31, according to a study by Equilar, a corporate research firm. That’s up from 14 per cent a year earlier and from 12 per cent in 2013.

So, the trend is toward more equal representation on boards, but parity won’t happen until the end of 2055 unless the pace picks up, according to Equilar. That’s nearly 40 years away, which may be about when girls born today begin sitting on corporate boards.

Demonstrating how far remains to go toward gender parity, 738 companies still have no women on their boards. Last year, nearly 60 companies that had no female directors since at least 2011 added one or more women.

Even so, it’s still much easier to find a woman in the boardroom than in the corner office, according to a separate, global survey of 3,400 companies by Credit Suisse. While women occupied nearly 15 per cent of board seats at the end of 2015, only about four per cent of CEOs are women.

Companies in other countries have gotten closer to gender parity than the United States, and government pressure has played a big role. Several European countries have set quotas and targets for how many corporate board members should be held by women. That’s why women held 24 per cent of European board seats at the end of 2015, the highest rate in the world.

Investors are taking note. Companies with at least one female director tend to have higher stock returns and better corporate performance than those with all-male boards, Credit Suisse says. Of course, this may be a case of correlation rather than causation, and better-performing companies may be more welcoming to women rather than vice versa.

Regardless, having women in the most senior leadership positions has other benefits, companies say.

At American Water Works Co., the largest publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility, five of the nine board positions are held by women. And that’s something that customers, regulators and employees, both current and potential future ones, see, says BJ Holdnak, senior vice-president of human resources.

“We want to look like the customers and the employees that we serve in our local markets,” she says. “The board, starting in 2012, really began to focus on assuring that they were diverse and looked like and represented the company.”

American Water’s majority-female board is an anomaly. Just 21 of the 3,525 companies in Equilar’s survey have half or more of their board seats held by women. Equilar based its study on the Russell 3000 index, a broad measure of publicly traded U.S. companies.


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How HR can really get to know a candidate

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Cultural fit is increasingly taking precedent over skills and experience yet many employers still trust the traditional interview process – could switching up the location help HR find out who their potential recruit really is?

“Lunch interviews are becoming more and more common across all sectors because it’s not just about professional fit anymore,” says Cheryl Hyatt, partner at Hyatt Fennell Executive Search.

“Now, it’s about how they fit the culture of the organization and the best way to get to know someone that way is on a social basis.”

Hyatt says lunch interviews can be held either one-on-one or in group settings and come with benefits for both the employer and employee.

“From the employer’s perspective, they get an opportunity to see how a candidate interacts with others around the table,” says Hyatt.

“They get a chance to see how the person communicates and how they treat individuals – not only the prospective colleagues or supervisors who are sat around the table but also the wait staff.”

It’s an approach already adopted by some top leaders and Walt Bettinger, the CEO of investment firm Charles Scwab, is one such advocate.

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To Make Your Employees Happier, Lose This HR Policy


Employee reviews are meant to be helpful and constructive, but many workers say that they have the opposite effect.

In fact, a recent study commissioned by Adobe found that 80 percent of office workers would prefer on-the-spot feedback rather than periodic formal reviews. Researchers surveyed 1,500 U.S. office workers and found that nearly two-thirds of employees and managers believe performance reviews are an outdated practice.

Related: 4 Ways to Avoid the Worthless Annual Performance Review and Give Valuable Feedback

For one, they take a lot of time to organize. The researchers found that managers spend an average of 17 hours planning for each individual employee’s review. Talk about a waste of time — especially when more than half of employees say that reviews have no impact on how they do their work.

Performance reviews are also pretty rattling for employees. One in five workers admit to crying after a review, 37 percent say they have looked for another job and 20 percent say they have quit. To avoid the stress and heartache, more than 60 percent of millennial workers say they would switch to another company with no performance reviews.

Related: 5 Positive Ways to Constructively Critique Employees

Both office workers (55 percent) and managers (66 percent) say it’s time to change or get rid of reviews. By doing so, workers believe there would be more flexibility, happiness and collaboration in the workplace.

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9 HR Tech Trends for 2017

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HR technology is undergoing one of the most disruptive periods it has seen in a decade. Investors, seeking the next big thing in breakthrough technology, plunged more than $2 billion into HR tech systems and platforms in 2016, according to CB Insights, a venture capital database. While investment to date is on track for a slight decline from last year, deal activity in HR tech has grown consistently in the last 5 years and at the current rate is expected to increase more than 15 percent over 2015. This amazing investment growth—much of it spent on integrated human resource management system (HRMS) platforms for midsize companies—illustrates the industry’s volatility.

That instability is being driven by the shift from cloud to mobile; the explosion in analytics and artificial intelligence; and the emergence of video, social recruiting and wearables in the workplace. Everything is changing, and quickly—including the types of technology HR professionals use, the experiences those systems deliver and the underlying software designs—making many of the traditional HR systems purchased only a decade ago seem out of date.

With these developments and more reshaping HR, business leaders would be wise to understand the following nine technology trends that will shape the year ahead and beyond.

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