This Donald Sterling stuff I find interesting. Not that he’s a racist, I mean you’ve got a super old dude with a mistress and a billion dollars, it doesn’t surprise me he’s off the rails mentally. You looked under a rock and found an idiot, congratulations. No, what interests me is the implications for recruiting and HR. Specifically, see this article and my comment.
That Sterling is an asshole is a statement for which there is abundant evidence. From a recruiting HR perspective though, we have to consider what it must have been like to hire for this guy, and for people to work for him. He is a prime example of a less than stellar personality getting to the top of an organization and dribbling his poison on the whole thing. He is a case study of the fact that sometimes the boss/owner/CEO, or whatever, is the fucking problem.
We live in a society, and I’m talking about the US here, that is essentially fascist at heart. It’s soft fascism, we’re not dealing with Mussolini here. But our economy is highly managed and for the most part in favor of businesses, generally medium to larger ones, with some small scale businesses also benefiting. Labor has been manged into a perpetual surplus, and various other aspects of the economy, such as anti take-over legislation like Williams and Sherman and various state statutes, that make it easier for mediocre to incompetent C level execs to stay in charge. I recall a talk show once where I believe T. Boone Pickens was on a panel with some such execs, and I believe the host asked one of them what they would do if they knew Pickens was checking out their company. Their answer was of course that they’d look at their company and make sure it was operating as efficiently and as well as possible. To which the obvious retort is: why the fuck weren’t you already doing that?
By choking off opportunity at home the re employment of the unemployed is delayed, and a permanent labor surplus results, driving down the cost of labor from where it would be in a less managed market. This lets people like Sterling stay at the top in regular corporations because the employees are not in as strong a bargaining position as they would otherwise be. They can’t demand the pay, benefits, time off, etc., that they would otherwise command.
However, people adjust. They will, if they feel they are under compensated, adjust their output downward as much as possible while still maintaining their job. In the end the market rules, and you get what you pay for. And there is a limit to the amount of shit the US worker will take before he collectively tells the entire economy to go fuck itself. C level types beware, information gets out and people know what your company is like now, they don’t have to rely on your marketing hype. Simply saying your company is A Great Place To Work! doesn’t cut it when your Glassdoor and Indeed scores are below 2 stars. The era of bullshit is over, the era of information has begun. Get your act together and treat your employees well, or you run the risk of being the next, somewhat less sensational Donald Sterling. You may not make the evening news, but people will know you’re an asshole, they will know you run a shitty company, and they will not want to work with you.