This Recruiter’s Perspective on DeVos: The Conclusion

Part III of III.

Part I and Part II of this series, respectively,  focused on what the job, Secretary of Education, is and what skills, knowledge, experience and abilities a recruiter might look for in a qualified candidate. The final part of this series focus’ on Ms. DeVos’s qualifications for this role and ultimately my conclusions on her fit for the job.

Upon review of her credentials, it is without a doubt that I state that Betsy DeVos is not qualified for the role of Secretary of Education. Further, had her resume come across my inbox, I wouldn’t have even scheduled a phone screen let alone recommended her for a face-to-face interview with the hiring manager. 

Ms. DeVos’s website, betsydevos.com, provides some insight into this candidate’s past professional experience and is my primary source for the following information. 

  • Education credentials: Ms DeVos has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Calvin College, a private school, in Grand Rapids, MI. Calvin  College is accredited  by the Higher Learning Commission. Though Calvin College does have an education program, her Bachelor’s degree is in business administration and political science. Not Education or Public Policy. 
  • Direct and relevant experience: Ms. DeVos has zero instruction experience. Zero years of instructing any student whether that be in public or private school; primary, secondary or college. 
  • Experience serving in a public or private education administration role: Betsy DeVos has not served in an administration role, ever
  • Experience in educational public policy. Kinda?  Here are my findings. Ms. DeVos’s website states that she serves on a number of national and state boards, including Board Member for the Foundation for Excellence in Education from 2012- present. However a search of the foundation’s website comes up with zero results for Ms. DeVos’s work on this foundation. However, The Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation is listed as a 2016 donor  and 2015 donor in the $50,001-$100,000 donation range. Other Board positions Ms. DeVos has formerly or currently sits on that hold educational reform as part of their mission include the American Federation for Children, Alliance for School Choice, Great Lakes Education Project and The Potter’s House School. Clearly, Ms. DeVos has a vested interest in education as evidenced by the charitable foundations she is associated with. However, when one peels back the layers, you will see that her interest is very narrowly focused on school choice- this is the primary mission of these organizations. One might question her ability to arbitrarily review empirical facts about the state of education if one has spent a ton of money and time serving one cause. 
  • Former or current state Board of Education member. Ms. DeVos has never served on a Board of Education for any public of private school system. 
  • Experience managing a large team of professional employees. Ms. DeVos is listed as Chairman of the Windquest Group, a privately held investment and management firm with a diversified consumer product and service portfolio. The Windquest Group appears to be in the business of investing in innovative start-ups. None of these companies, per Windquest’s website, have any relationship with education, educational technology, etc…Further, there is no evidence that Ms. DeVos manages a large staff in her role as Chairman. 
  • Experience managing a large budget. There is no evidence that Ms. DeVos manages a large budget in her role as Chairman at the Windquest Group. One may presume that as a Chairman or a Board Member that she had oversight of budgets in her roles, but there is no evidence that she had the sole responsibility of a multi-million dollar budget. 
  • Experience managing a debt portfolio in the trillions. Ms. DeVos’s previous experience does not provide any evidence of having had responsibility for a large debt portfolio. Rather, it seems her and her family have only enjoyed managing financial surpluses. 

 

This Recruiter’s Perspective on DeVos: A Series

Part II of III.

In the first part of this series, I outlined what the Secretary of Education actually does.

Now we turn to an analysis of the requirements of the position. 

The biggest challenge and the part that is both equally amusing and horrifying is that there are no actual qualifications for the position of Secretary of Education. I’ve searched the Department of Education’s website and can’t find anything definitive. I think there are more written qualifications for an Administrative Assistant in my company than there are for this position. Using basis reasoning and logic, in addition to reviewing the basic requirements of positions such as Teacher, Principal, School Superintendent and School Board Member, one might reasonably expect that the Secretary of Education hold the following minimum requirements.

  1. 4-year degree from accredited institution in either Education or Public Policy required. Master’s degree in related field preferred.
  2. Instruction experience in a public or private primary, secondary educational institution or institution of higher learning.
  3. Experience in an educational administration role such as district superintendent.
  4. Experience in educational public policy.
  5. Former or current state Board of Education member.
  6. Experience managing a large team of professional employees.
  7. Experience managing a large budget.

Indeed, here are samples of the minimum requirements for various Superintendent roles in Michigan, the home state of Mrs. DeVos.

Superintendent/Principal K-12 schools for the Fairview Area Schools. Requirements include:  Master’s Degree in Education or related field, experience in school administration/staff management, and a proven track history of budget preparation, adjustments, and successful implementation of approved budget.  Applicant must possess excellent verbal and written skills, a firm understanding of a small school environment, and a strong record of high moral, ethical, and professional standards.

To apply for the Superintendent position at Williamston Community Schools in Michigan, candidates must possess the following background:

  • Experience as a teacher, building administrator, and/or Central Office administrator;
  • Master’s Degree plus Administrative Certification with evidence of on-going leadership training;
  • Accomplishments which reflect ability to enhance educational programs and increase student achievement;
  • Experience with Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS);
  • Deep understanding of curriculum and teaching methodologies;

And one more, cause three is better than two. The Allendale Public School District in Michigan publishes a candidate profile complete with required professional background: Master’s plus administrative certificate , Teaching and Administrative experience, Possesses a strong background in K‐12   education, previous Superintendent/Central   Office experience preferred , An instructional leader with previous success   improving achievement for all students,  Successful experience implementing   instructional technology, and experience in school construction preferred. 

Tune in for the final part of this series where we will put Mrs. DeVos’s experience and background under a microscope and make our final recommendation.

This Recruiter’s Perspective on DeVos: A Series

Part I of III

By now, you have probably heard that Trump is POTUS and he has picked his cabinet nominees. Those nominees are now in various stages of confirmation hearings by the Senate. Shortly after the election, Trump nominated Elisabeth “Betsy” DeVos for Secretary of Education. And all hell broke loose- see here.

To try to be as fair and balanced as possible, I decided to look at this nomination from a recruiter’s perspective and to answer this very fundamental question, does Mrs. DeVos meet the minimum requirements for the position of Secretary of Education?  In this three- part series, I’m going to explore 1) the essential functions of the role, 2) the minimum requirements of the position and 3)the candidate’s qualifications and my recommendation.

So, if I’m going to declare myself a recruiter and also use this post to determine the qualifications of others, it behooves me to outline my own competencies so that you know I’m speaking from a place of experience and not relying on alternative facts.

I have 13 years of HR experience, and of those, about 11 of those years have been dedicated in whole or in part to recruiting responsibilities. I have sourced and recruited for staffing agencies and private industry, from entry-level manufacturing employees to skilled professionals and technicians to C-Suite Executives. Each role required a custom-designed sourcing and recruiting strategy to find the best talent available that met the skills, knowledge, abilities, general competencies and soft skills required  for successful execution of that position. My hiring recommendations have always been based on a detailed analysis of the position, it’s responsibilities, the skills and knowledge required of the position and the skills, knowledge and abilities of the candidate based on thorough and deliberate vetting process.

The Essential Functions of the Secretary of Education

There is no publicly available job description for Secretary of Education. After reading the Overview of the U.S. Department of Education, I was able to make some educated (no pun intended) guesses.

The Secretary of Education is required to:

  1. Manage a department that has over 4,000 local and remote employees.
  2. Manage a budget of approximately $50-$60 billion dollars.
  3. Manage a department that has over 200 separate programs.
  4. Establish policy, administer and coordinate Federal assistance to primary and secondary schools totalling over 150,000 schools with 55 million + students.
  5. Establish policy, administer and coordinate Federal loan, grant and work study programs for millions of undergraduate students.
  6. To advise the President and Congress on matters of education policy, programs and activities.
  7. Oversees education research to analyze data for trends that will identify effective teaching techniques and education best practices.
  8. Enforces Federal statutes that prohibit discrimination and adverse impact in education and to ensure equal access to educational opportunity for every individual.
  9. Promotes public understanding of the department’s mission, goals and objectives.
  10. Refrain from establishing schools, refrain from establishing curricula and refrains from setting enrollment or graduation requirements.

Now that we have set the foundation for what the Secretary of Education’s charge really is, stay tuned for my next post detailing the minimum requirements we can probably all agree would be reasonable for successful execution of this role.

 

 

2017 HR Trends

‘Tis the time of year when you read all of the lists, the Top 10 of this, the Worst of that, the Best of whatever. You have probably also seen more than your fair share of trends for 2017; tech trends, political trends, etc… Following suit, here are my thoughts on the 2017 trends for the HR profession.

  1. HR Practitioners particularly of the Business Partner or Generalist variety must strive to demonstrate both their business acumen and also their HR and employment law knowledge. In 2017, HR Practitioners should stop asking whether certification is required to practice HR (it is not, but) and start getting certified. The profession as a whole needs to own our sphere of knowledge. If any professional thinks they also can be HR-savvy and we in no way differentiate ourselves, the farther our occupation fall towards obsolescence. Further, certified HR practitioners needs to broaden their business acumen by pursuing an MBA or pursuing industry-designations.
  2. HR Professionals should begin to learn the basics of programming, data analytics and become social media experts. These skills are no longer the future of the job, they are are the present and current needs of HR practitioners. As more and more of our profession can be automated combined with the rise of artificial intelligence and augmented reality, bots will be able to do  the tactical stuff we do now as well as interface with employees directly. Additionally, HR should stay abreast of all technology trends and how they may apply to disrupt the HR profession.
  3. Heightened emphasis on the Employee Experience. For several year now, we have been in an employee-driven marketplace. As I do not see this changing in 2017, companies will be challenged to compete for talent based on the employee experience and HR has to take the lead on this. From the time a candidate enters our company vortex to the time they terminate and even beyond, HR needs to review all of its processes, policies, physical space and operations and ask themselves how it positively contributes to the employee experience at their company.
  4. HR will have to take the lead or involve themselves closely as we continue to see the rise of and evolution of the Digital Workplace. HR has to step up and consider how the Digital Workplace challenges traditional notions of management, organizational structure, communication and how we understand the basic concept of work. These ideas should be generating out of HR, we have to become the innovators of the workplace.
  5. Federal deregulation is likely under the Trump Administration so HR will see a lot of change (as usual), and will have to respond accordingly to the repeal and possible replacement of the ACA and how that impacts benefits offerings and health insurance plans. While the Federal government is deregulating business, be prepared to see a lot of activity impacting the business world and workplace at the State-level particularly with respect to the minimum wage, requirements around eligibility for overtime, parental leave laws, deregulation and/or legalization of recreational marijuana, sick leave laws, and more activity around protected classes specifically sexual identity, national original, criminal history and compensation history.
  6. Strategic talent acquisition. Each new role within a company deserves a very specific and strategic recruiting plan, not a one-size-fits-all post and wait for them to come strategy. Employee referral programs and social media recruiting should be maximized to find the right candidates.
  7. Personal Time as a right and not a privilege. The right of the employee to disconnect without adverse employment actions. Recently France passed a Right to Disconnect law, giving employees the legal right to ignore work email when they are off the clock. As wellbeing research shifts to understanding the negative impact to employees of being “on” all of the time, there will be more and more social pressure on companies to enact policies setting boundaries around work time and non-work time.

 

Trump and the ACA

Hold on to your hats people. All the stuff you learned to do to implement the ACA will be methodically undone. And that’s if we are to believe Trump’s campaign rhetoric. For some of you, okay most of you HR folk, this will be a blessing because we all know that implementing this hot mess of a thing was stressful.

To recap, all of this started in 2010 with the passage of Obamacare as our GOP friends have so endearingly referred to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The very utopian goal of the ACA was to provide access to affordable and quality health care coverage to all Americans regardless of age, income or previous health conditions, reduce the number of uninsured Americans and reduce healthcare costs overall. And then congress got ahold of it and made the ACA’s actual mechanics more complex  and nebulous than the instructions of a shitty piece of Ikea furniture.

The ACA eliminated lifetime maximums, eliminated denials of health care coverage due to pre-existing conditions, put limits on annual out-of-pocket maximums, raised the age to 26 for covered dependents and mandated free, no-cost preventive health exams amongst other things. The Individual Mandate of the ACA requires individuals and their families, with some limited exceptions, to have minimal health coverage or incur a penalty. To further this agenda, the ACA’s Employer Mandate required companies of a certain size to offer comprehensive, affordable group health insurance to covered employees.

It’s no secret that the GOP hates Obamacare and decries it as a symptom of a socialist government. Republicans have alleged that the program would actually increase health costs and result in death panels, whereby government bureaucrats would actually decide the life or death fate of those considered uninsurable.  The GOP painted a picture of the ACA as the final nail in the coffin of small businesses in the U.S., another example of over-regulation of business and yet another obstacle to free enterprise.

And even when the GOP was too busy dragging their feet in protest to just about everything the Obama Administration attempted to do in the last 8 years, they pledged to find a sliver of time to offer an alternative plan to the ACA. But hence, it was not meant to be, as we sit here today, they have not presented their alternative. And that is why Trump is in a world of shit now trying to figure out how to dismantle this thing while somehow safeguarding the millions of Americans who are now insured on the health care exchanges made possible by the ACA.

 

Here is what I think.

Don’t hold your breath. This thing is gonna take a lot of time to figure out. What was built in the past 6 years can’t be undone in one year. Trump states he will repeal and replace Obamacare. With upwards of 20 million Americans in jeopardy of losing coverage with the repeal of the ACA, I think Trump would have to think twice about pulling the rug out from under that many people.

I think the individual mandate is dead. No longer will all Americans be required to have health insurance and no longer will individuals who opt-out have to pay penalties. I think this is likely to be one of the areas of the ACA that is repealed quickly. Thus no more 1095 administration.

I think the employer mandate is dead. However, many medium to larger size companies had comprehensive and affordable coverage long before the ACA as a means to attract employees. For those companies, this won’t cause much ripple. For smallish companies that did implement a health care plan- they will have to decide to keep it to remain competitive in job market that is employee-driven.

Trump and the GOP are going to introduce some sort of Health Savings Account whereby companies are either required or strongly encouraged to make contributions. Ultimately this looks like a stipend that employers give to their employees to buy health insurance. They are also going to allow coverage to be sold across state lines which theoretically increases options and decreases premium costs.

Based on Trump’s 100 day plan, what’s clear is how fast he will act to repeal Obamacare. What’s not clear is what he will replace it with. And if I’m reading between the lines, I don’t get the warm and fuzzies that affordable, comprehensive health care coverage for all Americans is even a priority for Trump.  And this is scary because I am confident that healthcare costs will continue to rise, that the sick will get sicker and proper coverage will be out of their reach. But for someone born with a silver spoon in his mouth, who probably has the privilege of a personal physician available to meet him in his gilded tour at the onset of tummy ache, health care coverage for all just wouldn’t even register as a thing.

 

Trump and the FLSA

****So…. news flash…. remember when I said there were several attempts to block the rule to no avail. Well, about that. Within mere days of the 12/1 comply date, a Federal District Judge in Texas has put a halt on the new overtime rules. Twenty plus States had filed suit stating the DOL had no authority to revise the FLSA rules and the Judge has sided with them pending further investigation into the law. Stay tuned folks, this should get interesting****

The U.S. populace has voted, and Trump is President- Elect.

Now HR folk are wondering what will become of all of the stuff we have had to implement within the last 8 years from health care reform, to newly defined protected classes to the FLSA. Let’s chat for a sec on the FLSA.

To recap, in March of 2014, President Obama issued a presidential memorandum to the Department of Labor to simplify and modernize the FLSA rules that govern exempt versus non-exempt status, provisions that were last reviewed in the 70’s. The DOL issued final rules in May of 2016. The new rules stated that any employee making $47,476 (from $23,660) or less had to be non-exempt regardless of his or her job duties. Further, the salary threshold would be reviewed every three years (next time: 2020) and would be indexed against the 40th percentile of the lowest wage region of the country. These rules are effective 12/1/2017. (Note: Trump does not actually become President until his inauguration on 1/20/2017) The utopian goal behind the changes was to stop greedy companies from working their employees 70 hours a week  whilst still paying them dirt-cheap salaries and not paying an extra dime past 40 hours. Good for the American worker, right?

Everyone proceeded to lose their shit, because if there is anything crusty CEO’s hate more than regulation, it’s overtime. God forbid that an employee be paid for putting in a little extra time on behalf of the business and expect to be paid for it. Employees can be so greedy sometimes, geez. So anyways, there were several attempts to block the rule or delay it but to no avail.

Here is what I think:

  1. Companies who are subject to the FLSA still have to get compliant with the new law by 12/1, that’s in less than 3 weeks from now. So get your shit together and do the right thing. Remember Trump will not be sworn in until January 20th.
  2. If I am to believe anything Trump said on the campaign trail, which was minimal on content and more about fire and brimstone rhetoric, I think his sights will be set on blowing up the ACA and deporting illegal immigrants rather than the DOL changes.
  3. However, the new overtime regulations could just be the low hanging fruit that his administration feels would get him a quick win with corporations, small business owners, the aforementioned crusty CEO’s, etc…
  4. The DOL will NEVER go away and neither will the FLSA. The FLSA has been in place since the 1930’s and no presidential administration has challenged its existence. And if the FLSA doesn’t go away, the DOL will still be around to enforce it.
  5. Since the FLSA is sticking around, the salary test will still be a thing. I think if Trump focuses any attention on this matter at all, he will likely reduce the salary threshold but I do not believe he will roll it back to the original salary of $23,660. Trump still wants to appear favorable to blue-collar American workers. Artifically suppressing salaries would not fare well for him and his loyal followers, if their behavior at his rallies is any indication, will be very vocal in their displeasure.
  6. I believe Trump’s administration will leave intact the duties test as a means for businesses to use these tests to justify “gray” area positions as exempt. This will enable companies to better defend their classifications in the unfortunate event of a DOL inquiry.
  7. The reaction of #7 above could be that certain states pass their own “labor standards act” which defines exempt versus non-exempt status based on a higher salary threshold than that of the federal FLSA law.
  8. Or, the States, in an attempt to simplify the duties test could pass laws that define a certain percentage of non-exempt tasks that would govern the exempt or non-exempt status of a position. For example, the State of California, mandates that for (most) job roles which contain 50% or more “non-exempt” tasks, those roles MUST be classified as non-exempt and are then subject to overtime.
  9. The DOL has been preparing to ramp up classification enforcement. I don’t think Trump will limit or reduce the DOL’s authority, but I think he will minimize the department’s resources (i.e. staff) to the point that the DOL would no longer be able to go full-force.
  10. One of the likeliest things to go away under a Trump administration is the review of the salary threshold every three years. I think there will be a one and done change to the salary threshold and that’s that.
  11. Let’s get real, most companies have been hiding behind the duties test for quite awhile knowing full well they would not be able to successfully defend a position’s exempt status. I think the overtime rule changes have given companies a window to “make it right” without becoming the target of a DOL audit or wage and hour suit. So, irrespective of what The Donald does or does not direct his team of monkeys to do, treat your employees and the law (as it stands today) with some respect. Give the role’s the proper classifications they deserve, put some limitations in place with respect to employee overtime, and focus on other things that matter, like what the hell happens with the ACA.

 

 

If Hillary Becomes President

Hillary Rodham Clinton

My post last week, If Trump Becomes President, hypothesized the impact of a Donald administration on the work world and HR. Historically, Democratic administrations have used the courts and their own executive powers to pass final rules and regulations that keep us HR folk very busy (see: ACA, FLSA, FMLA, ADA, etc…).

I can probably sum up a Hillary Clinton presidency like this: “more of the same”. While Hillary has her own agenda and plans, she will continue the policies and programs passed by the Obama administration.

Headline: Clinton Administration Creates “Good Paying” Jobs for Americans. Like Trump, Hillary promises to create jobs for Americans. She promises “good-paying” jobs  in an effort to strengthen the middle class. Based on her platform, Hillary intends to create jobs in the public sector, in the energy and tech sectors and also by increasing American manufacturing. Extrapolating further, Clinton’s initiatives to build and reinforce the country’s infrastructure signal a potential increase in construction jobs. And yes, these will be union jobs HR folks because, as Hillary states, “When Unions are strong, America is strong”. For those HR professionals already experiencing difficulty filling those energy and tech jobs due to a lack of skilled talent, Hillary hopes to increase your talent pool by “creating a life-long learning system better tailored to 21st century jobs”.

Headline: “HillaryHealth” expands ACA, Medicaid and reduces Americans out-of-pocket health spending. Will we still refer to the Affordable Care Act as “Obamacare” when he’s no longer in office? No? Then I propose “Hillary Health”. If Hillary plans to shore up and expand the Affordable Care Act, she will have her hands full as insurers stage an exodus from state-run exchanges. In a Hillary-led world, perhaps she will make administration less complicated both on those who need health care but also on HR professionals and Benefits Administrators.

Headline: DOL Goes Gangbusters on FLSA Enforcement. The FLSA’s new overtime rules are passed by Hillary and crew but, to throw a bone to small businesses, are implemented in a phased-in approach that also offsets the automatic indexing provision. The Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division commits additional resources making overtime compliance its number #1 priority. HR departments around the country must get smarter on the FLSA and begin to document the reasons why jobs are classified exempt or non-exempt. These changes force HR professionals to strategize on compensation with a future-facing approach and use “non-traditional” workers (i.e. gig workers, part-time and job shares) to reduce company expenditures.

Headline: Within 4 years, Clinton Narrows the Pay Gap . Hillary narrows the pay gap by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act. Wages and pay decisions become more transparent. All private employers are prohibited from asking job applicants about prior salary history and are prohibited from verifying wages via references. Further, HR drives employers to compliance by creating compensation philosophies, conducting annual compensation surveys, reviewing compliance annually and recommending salary adjustments based on internal equity. HR Departments create forms and documentation to back-up pay change decisions. HR Professionals support publishing salaries of employees to further transparency. HR Departments across the U.S. should boost their comp knowledge and prepare to invest in internal data analytics around discretionary and non-discretionary pay.

Headline: Paid Family and Medical Leave for All U.S.-based Employees. While Trump promises to pass paid maternity leave, this proposal seems to reinforce archaic gender stereotypes and familial roles. Hillary promises paid Family and Medical Leave for working Americans, and thus families no longer have to choose job or family member or their own health. While a triumph indeed for all Americans, it will be long overdue. Out of the 193 countries in the U.N., the United States is the only high-income, developed country without paid parental leave.

Headline: The Expansion of Federally Protected Classes. Under a Clinton administration, I highly anticipate the addition of federally protected classes and continued empowerment of the EEOC to enforce anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-retaliation laws. HR Professionals would be served well to brush off that harassment prevention training and deliver it annually.

Headline: Hillary Nominates Obama as Replacement for Justice Scalia. Considering his political and legal career, Obama seems like a likely nominee to replace Justice Scalia. This will get interesting. There is a current contingent of Republicans that are in favor of ticket-splitting, they will vote Clinton for President but split the ticket, voting for Republican House and Senate Candidates. Republicans hope this strategy will moderate Hillary’s “liberal agenda”. A left-leaning Court + Executive Branch could equal a very active 4 years for HR departments across the country.

Hillary has a reputation for getting shit done. So I’m not betting against her. If she is elected President, I suspect that this will be an opportunity for HR practitioners to demonstrate our value to the organization as a strategic business leader and consultant.