More than a decade of grousing about product management

Textbook Case: Human Resources Circles the Wagons

artistic rendering of wagons circling

Human Resources circles the wagons: A textbook case of corporate cover-up and retaliation.

A few posts ago, the Dude wrote about how Human Resources was not your friend, that unless you were in the senior or executive leadership team, you can and will be sacrificed to protect the corporation.

Rarely is there ever a concrete example reported, as they are usually buried in settlements and NDAs, but just this morning, a classic example falls from the sky.

L Brands (aka Victoria’s Secret)

You might remember the name from the hullabaloo around the Jeffery Epstein case, where his funds and resources came from, Leslie Wexner, the founder and chairman of the holding company that numbers Victoria’s Secret and Bed Bath and Beyond in their portfolio.

Apparently, the Victoria’s Secrets side of the business is a snake’s den of harassment, and bad behaving executives, with a board that seems to encourage the cover up.

From this NY Times article, we learn that a woman Executive in charge of PR filed a complaint of chronic sexual harassment by a senior executive, and her boss. She filed it not with HR, because she didn’t trust HR, but instead reported it to a long-time board member that she had known for a long time and trusted.

Next thing she knows, a sympathetic person in the organization alerts her that she was on the list of employees whose card key access to the building would be revoked.

You guessed it, they terminated her, for reporting the egregious behavior of an executive above her in the organization.

I encourage you to read the article, but this passage hits home:

Ms. Zucker said it was all too common that companies choose to protect high-ranking executives rather than those employees who bring complaints against them.

“One reason retaliation claims are so prevalent is that it’s human nature to protect the people you know and like,” she said. “The challenge for any governing body is that’s precisely the inclination you have to guard against.”

It’s rare that details of retaliation claims ever become publicly known, though. Such claims, or even the hint of them, raise the specter of a lawsuit, which companies quickly try to head off.

That’s exactly what happened here.

Yep, HR is there to protect a) the corporation, and b) the leadership team. Everything else is just fluff.

Written by

A crusty veteran from the product management trenches. Plenty of salty language, references to cannabis, and a connoisseur of White Russian cocktails

View all articles
Leave a reply

Written by pmdude