May 2009 - Human Resources Association of New York

May 2009 - Human Resources Association of New York

Plan. Plan. Plan. This was the key word

echoed at the March 4 Chapter

Breakfast meeting by panelists Robert

Rigby-Hall, EVP Global Human Resources;

Don Welsko, SVP, HR Risk Business, Lexis-

Nexis; Barbara Barra, EVP, Lee Hecht

Harrison; and Peter Moss, Partner, Jackson

Lewis LLP. Joe Quinn, VP, Lee Hecht

Harrison, moderated the lively discussion

on restructuring, merger, and acquisition

activities so prevalent in today’s economy.

Barra stated that the ability to effectively

strategize and implement a restructuring

plan has become a key core competency.

She added that the most cited reason for


Vol. 26. No. 9 May 2009

Being Prepared For Restructuring, Mergers & Acquisitions:

HR Strategic Planning, Due Diligence & Implementation


Editor’s Desk 2

Sexual Orientation 2

Committee Corner 3

Ask the Recruiter 3

Not About Networking 5

International SIG 6

HR/NY Interview: Rhonda Steeg 7

New Members 8

Untapped Dollars in Diversity 9

Save the Date 12


May 6 “Integrating the Best of Online and In-Person Networking to

Build Relationships…,” presented by the Networking SIG

May 12 “Managing Total Compensation for Non-Profits in a Time of

Economic Turmoil,” presented by the Not-for-Profit SIG

May 13 “Unemployment Insurance Administration,” presented by

the Employee & Labor Relations SIG

May 14 “Multiple Realities: Coaching in a Multicultural World,”

presented by the International SIG

May 21 Chapter Meeting. “Meeting the Challenge: Best Practices for

Performance Management and Succession Planning”

(See page 12 for our complete listing of upcoming events)


restructuring is to strengthen a company’s

future position. With this recession, there is

more uncertainty as to what the business

model should look like, and changing

demographics present a different complexity

to HR. To some employees we say please

go; to others, we say please stay. Several

questions need to be answered before moving

forward with a restructuring plan: What

do business needs look like in the short- and

long-term? What core competencies are

necessary to manage the business? What

skills are needed now and what labor will be

in short supply? Is leadership prepared for

the impact? What alternatives are available?

From Yellow Ribbons to

Workplace Violence

On Saturday April 4th at the Westchester

Marriott, I had the privilege of serving

the returning military at one of three Yellow

Ribbon Job Fairs held around the state.

Invited guests were the members of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the New

York Army National Guard and their immediate

family. This Brigade mobilized in

January 2008 for deployment to

Afghanistan to help train the Afghan

National Army and Police. Now home,

many of these soldiers wish to explore new

career opportunities or educational benefits

available to them. Amid this sea of highly

trained soldiers in green fatigues (also known

as bdus or battle dress uniforms), I felt very

safe. I was humbled to sit with a number of

soldiers to try to assist them in transferring

their military skills to ones sought in the

business arena. Imagine making “detailed


Can we do furloughs? Salary cuts? Hiring


Barra said that planning will yield better

results because, often, employees are

angered not at the restructure, but at the

manner in which the restructure is handled.

It is always important to consider the

impact both on the employees who are leaving

as well as the ones who will remain..

According to Moss, businesses tend to

blame the recession and our general malaise

rather than address the real problems of

performance. Welsko said that a lot depends

on whether a company is restructuring the

Continued on page 8

block-by-block search of dwellings for infidels”

into a transferable business skill.

My father, who attended the fair as an

employer seeking employees for our moving

company, noted the confidence level of the

attendees. What personally struck me was the

selflessness of soldiers who asked for advice

on behalf of their spouse, son or daughter, as

well as difficulties they experience with reentry

to civilian life. Many young soldiers

shared that their children did not recognize

them and were reluctant to bond for fear that

their parent would be redeployed.

Workplace Violence

Lately, workplace violence seems to be all

over the news. Three Pittsburgh police officers

lost their lives; in upstate NY, 13 immigrants

and one employee lost their lives

Continued on page 10

MAY 2009


New Beginnings

Recently, I accepted a new position with Christie’s. The first few

weeks have been exciting and challenging. I must admit that

I’m enjoying my new job: the company… the team... the people…

the business. Even though my friends remind me I’m still in the

“honeymoon” phase I am confident I have landed in a great place

and that I will be here for years to come.

Getting acclimated to my new role though has reminded me of the

importance of effective induction programs. The experience is also

reminding me of successes (and failures) I have had in the past when

joining new organizations. Fortunately, at Christie’s, I work for a boss

who has supported me during my induction process. And since this

is not my first time at the rodeo, I have learned a few things over the

years that have also helped me in getting settled.

Both Christie’s and my previous employer, L’Oreal, have excellent

induction programs led by the Learning & Development team. These

programs bring new employees together to learn about the company,

the business, the culture, the products, the people, and so on. The programs

also provide the opportunity to connect with other new employees

in the company and start building successful business relationships.

As an employer, it is important to make sure new employees feel

welcome. Provide time for new employees to connect with peers,

supervisors, business colleagues and others they will be working

within their position. These informal meetings provide learning

opportunities as well as the ability to begin building important relationships

that help employees achieve success.

It is also important to develop a culture that embraces new

employees and helps them feel like part of the family. At Christie’s,

every person I have met with has taken time to explain their role and

how they fit into the business. The business is new to me and the



effort to help in my learning has definitely made a

difference both in my ability to be a business partner and in my

excitement about joining the company.

Of course, I have a stake in the process too. If you are starting a

new job, there are key things to remember. My first important piece

of advice is to build relationships. First, build relationships as they

are essential to success in every job. People love to talk about who

they are and what they do. While asking questions, you are also

learning about the business. Which is my second tip for success as

a new employee—know the business. Regardless of what role you

are in, you need to know the business to be successful. My last

essential tip for new employees is to be patient. You do not need to

know everything your first day. You also do not have to make an

impact in your first week. Take the time to learn the lay of the land

before trying to make things happen.

These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg in getting started

at a new company but they are a great starting point. Since each

company is different, one final suggestion I have is to make an

induction plan, regardless of whether you are the employer or

employee. As part of developing the plan, solicit insight and input

from others to make sure you are on the right track. New beginnings

can be challenging, and sometimes a bit scary, but taking steps

to make every new beginning as great as possible can lead to success.

– Brian McComak, MSM, PHR

Editor, Inside HR/NY

AVP, Human Resources, Christie’s

Sexual Orientation: Unique Issues in Diversity & Inclusion

The Diversity SIG hosted its second event of

the program year, Sexual Orientation:

Unique Issues in Diversity & Inclusion, on

March 19th at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

LLP. The event was moderated by Diversity

Co-Chair Bill Drewes, and featured a distinguished

panel comprised of Dr. Bradford L.

Motta, Executive Minister of Middle

Collegiate Church; Lester Hoffman, PhD,

one of the nation’s foremost experts on the

multi-dimensional impact of bias in the workplace;

and Murray Schwartz, Esq., Managing

Partner of Schwartz & Perry LLP, a NYCbased

law firm specializing in representing victims

of employment discrimination.

Sexual orientation is a protected class

under some state and local statutes and, as

such, everyone, including heterosexuals, is

afforded protection against discrimination.

Full inclusion of LGBT employees in the

workplace often conflicts with the perceived

rights of other protected class members, for

example, adherents to some religions. The

panelists discussed this and wove in other

aspects of sexual orientation discrimination.

Schwartz stated that case law has established

that one employee’s religious right does not

outweigh another employee’s right to his/her

sexual identity. He advised employers to

accommodate both employees as reasonably as

possible. Schwartz described NYC as having

the most inclusive coverage for sexual orientation,

and recommended that employees seeking

remedies for discrimination do so under

the New York City Human Rights law which

provides broader relief than New York State.

While the federal government does not

yet address sexual orientation, the expected

passage of ENDA (Employment Non-

Discrimination Act) will address this.

Schwartz also expects that once ENDA has

become law we will see a surge in sexual

orientation discrimination cases.

Motta, who directs and coordinates

Middle Church’s RISE, the Lesbian, Gay,

Bisexual, Transgendered, Intersexed (LGBTI)

ministry, provided program participants with

a personal view of his own experience when

he chose to be authentic to his nature. A married

minister with four children, he spoke of

his experience within the church and the

challenges he had as he began to be viewed

differently by family, church members,

Continued on page 10

MAY 2009


The Economy’s Impact on Your

Organization’s Healthcare Costs

In today’s economic climate HR practitioners

are in a seemingly never-ending struggle

to streamline costs as much as is feasible.

With this in mind, it is important to be

aware of some current health insurance

trends that are affecting the bottom line.

The impact of ARRA and the COBRA

subsidy. Although it is a positive thing that

more people can now afford health insurance

if they are not working, keep in mind

that this will simultaneously result in higher

utilization of your medical plan. People

who purchase COBRA usually use it.

Trend is starting to increase. Because of

reduced workforces, health insurance companies

are getting fewer dollars in premium.

This, combined with under-performance of

investments, is resulting in employers having

to absorb some of this cost. Consequently,

while the trend in NYC over the past few

years has remained stable at 12%, renewals

are now being released with higher numbers.

Proposed increases under the NY

Deficit Reduction Plan. The current NY

State budget includes a proposal to pass $600

million in costs onto employers, in the form

of an additional tax on the GME (Graduate

Medication Education, a surcharge currently

included in healthcare costs). If this proposal

passes, it could result in an increase of 1-4%

to employers’ healthcare costs, depending on

the number of employees they have in the

state. Note that Empire Blue Cross/Blue

Shield is already charging their clients this

effective May 1.

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How can you alleviate the impact of

these changes?

Now more than ever, it is imperative to

take a careful look at your organization’s

renewals. If you are not community-rated,

you should understand your loss ratio (annual

premium divided by claims incurred). The

larger your organization, the more this loss

ratio (also called experience) impacts your

renewal cost. As a rule of thumb, an insurance

carrier’s breakeven point is approximately

an 80% loss ratio. So, if your loss ratio

is running better than 80%, it is reasonable

to anticipate a renewal increase that will be

less than trend (12%). Conversely, if your loss

ratio is higher than 80%, your increase will

likely be more than trend.

Other factors underwriters consider are:

plan usage comparative to previous years;

changes in employee demographics; average

contract size (number of dependents per

employee); and the number of employees

enrolled in the plan. Organizations that

have had favorable loss ratios for a number

of years should also consider self-insuring.

Investigating creative alternatives.

Additional approaches to seriously consider

include HSAs (Health Savings Accounts),

HRAs (Health Reimbursement Accounts),

Split Funding, Dual Option, and

Minimum Premium plans. While not all of

these strategies make sense for everyone, it is

important to understand how they work

and the impact they would have on your


If considering implementation of a wellness

plan, investigate how it would integrate

Health Risk Assessments (HRAs), biometric

data, claims utilization and health coaching.

These programs also have more impact

when the program proactively reaches out

to employees and engages them.

The more you understand the impact

these factors have on your organization’s

bottom line, the more impact HR has in the


– Jim Glock,

Chair, Benefits SIG

Director of Account Management,

Corporate Synergies Group



The Recruiter

Ask the Recruiter

Goes Live

W hen the Financial Management

Association International was planning

for its annual Leaders Conference, at a

New York City venue for the first week of

March 2009, they “asked the recruiters” to

lend their expertise to the two hundred plus

Student Chapter Leaders attending the conference.

The Finance Leaders’ Conference is

the only international conference catering to

the specific needs of undergraduate and

MBA level students.

HR/NY Staffing Committee members,

Tina Ruark, Director of Strategic Solutions,

Lloyd Staffing; and Allen Geller, Managing

Director of Raines International, led the

program called “Presenting the Best

Possible You,” a job search roadmap from

beginning the search to closing the deal.

Given the current economic environment

that is shaping the employment landscape

for new graduates, the timing of this presentation

was critical for students seeking

permanent employment opportunities. The

program was developed to clarify and

inform as to all the aspects of the interviewing

process from attire and attitude to selling

yourself and receiving an offer of


Two of the critical points of the presentation

were: it is never too early to begin to

learn how to network effectively; and the job

search process is an exercise in selling, specifically

selling yourself to others. By understanding

these points, the successful interviewee

will help the buyer (hiring manager) have

good reasons to initiate a positive conclusion.

After the presentation was completed an

active Q&A session followed.

Do you have a specific sourcing question

that revolves around leaping past the usual

sourcing suspects, or a question about recruiting

and staffing? Ask HR/NY’s Staffing SIG.

The Staffing SIG is made up of dozens

of recruiting professionals with decades

of experience. Please send questions to and please be sure to put

“Ask the Recruiter” in the subject line. We

will publish answers in an upcoming issue as

space allows.

MAY 2009

Tattoos and Piercings in the Workplace

Like them or not, tattoos and piercings are here to stay. While

they hold a certain stigma for baby boomers, their popularity

exploded in the 1990s as a common expression of individuality

among younger generations. How should employers deal with this

trend, and what legal rights does each party have?

Who has them?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, among

18- to 50-year-olds, 24% have tattoos and 14% have body piercings.

Among Gen Y (18- to 29-yearolds)

48% have either a tattoo or piercing.

Clearly, it is impractical, and nearly

impossible, to have a workforce free

of tattoos and/or piercings.

What are an employer’s rights?

Tattoos and body piercings are gaining increasing acceptance, but

employers have a right to ban their workers from showing them. An

employer has the right to set a dress standard for the company, as

long as it doesn’t violate discrimination laws, which protect employees

from discrimination based on age, disability, national origin,

race, religion, or sex. However, if the employee can prove that the

tattoo or piercing is related to religion, it is protected. Still, this is

difficult to prove. A discrimination lawsuit brought by a Costco

cashier stated that she was a member of the Church of Body

Modifications, and that her 11 earrings and eyebrow piercings were

a form of religious expression. The court sided with Costco.

However, it is in the best interest of both the employer and employ-



ee to avoid a legal battle. Although employers may be legally permitted

to ban them, it is not always in their best interest. An employee

who feels accepted and is allowed to express his or her individuality is

more likely to be a dedicated worker.

What should an employer do?

1. It is important to have a written policy on tattoos and piercings.

Create a consistent policy and be sure to communicate it. The

policy has to be applied uniformly and to all employees, or that may

be a form of discrimination.

2. Try to get buy-in from the employees, rather than making unilateral

directives. Discuss audience awareness with the employee.

How, when and why might it affect interactions at work? Perhaps it

is okay to show your body art around the office, but not so when

meeting with a new client for the first time.

3. Consider the impact on co-workers or clients. Does the tattoo

distract or harass others? Tattoos that create a hostile work environment

should be banned. A Winnie the Pooh on your ankle? OK.

Swastika on your neck? Not OK.

4. Get over it. As an employer, it is important to ask yourself

what, specifically, you are opposed to. If it is just that you personally

do not like tattoos or piercings, is that a valid reason not to hire

someone? Are you letting skilled workers get away because of their

body art?

– Lauren Supraner

HR/NY Newsletter Committee

President, CAL Learning












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MAY 2009

It’s Not about Networking – It’s About Relationships!

On March 4th Barbara Safani, Vice

President of Membership of HR/NY,

introduced Allen A. Geller, Managing

Director at Raines International Inc. Geller

presented “Proven Networking Strategies

for Difficult Times” to a packed room with

representatives from four generations. One

Barbara Safani and Allen A. Geller

of Geller’s goals was to present alternate

methods for networking that he calls

“RelationshipWorking” or nurturing your


Geller explained what RelationshipWorking

is and why we must start now if we are not

already practicing this. He advised that we

select a road map and take the Directed

Search Approach. Instead of finding a job

opportunity, we should create our own job.

The safest way to do this is to seek out people

you have successfully worked with in the

past and to do this for a couple of reasons.

There is less risk involved for you, for that

person and for their company. A person

who knows you will more likely offer a better

job with more stretch and greater opportunities.

This is more difficult to accomplish

when you meet someone for the first time,

but certainly creating your own job opportunity

can be done.

Geller explained that we each have three

networks: a primary, secondary and tertiary

network. Our primary network is made up of

the people we know well and are comfortable

with. They are our family, friends and close

associates. This is our smallest network with

a small reach and the least amount of time is


needed to nurture this network.

Our secondary network is a larger group,

composed of who our primary contacts

know that we either do not know well or do

not know at all. Remind this group who

you are and then tell them what you want

from them. Our tertiary networks are the

primary and secondary people in

your primary and secondary networks.

This is your largest networking

group. Your goal is to elevate

people in your network from one

group to the next higher one—nurture

your network.

Reach out to your networks on a

regular basis. Remind them who

you are. Keep notes of your conversations

so you do not start over

again, and remind people of your

prior conversations. You will

impress others that you remembered

them well. Whenever possible,

turn a “cold call” into a “warm

call” by using the name of someone

that connects you to each other. Let the

other person know that you have something

of interest to offer. Be able to bring something

to the conversation by asking what

you can do for them.

Geller believes that it is in people’s natures


to want to help. So how do we do that for

each other? Instead of asking “do you

know” ask “who do you know?” Ask a colleague

“what headhunters have you

worked with” instead of “have you worked

with headhunters?” Remember to bring

something to the other person that will

help his or her search or work. This is nurturing

your network so it works for you.

E-mails are easy to delete and are impersonal.

Phone calls are significantly better,

and face-to-face meetings are preferred to

make the best impression and one that is

lasting. Geller stressed that whenever possible

make an appointment to meet, even if

just briefly. That brief meeting can turn into

a job or a productive connection to new

things and people.

A member of the audience added that

networking with your professional organizations

is an excellent way to build relationships.

Being involved in your profession

offers the opportunity to give while

trying to get. So here is my call to become

more involved in HR/NY as the first step

in nurturing your own networks!

– Roberta Jackson, SPHR, GPHR

Newsletter Committee

Navigations for Leadership, LTD.

Your Foundation @ Work

Research on Human Capital Challenges

The SHRM Foundation recently released a study that concluded that finding and

retaining the best talent is the most critical challenge facing America’s chief executives

and their organizations. The results of this study are being used by the SHRM

Foundation to design tools and resources to help organizations address many of the

future challenges that research participants identified. The research revealed that the

five most significant future challenges facing companies (regardless of size, location, or

industry) were: 1) succession planning; 2) recruiting and selecting talented employees;

3) engaging and retaining talented employees; 4) providing leaders with skills to be

successful; and 5) rising health care costs. Visit the SHRM Foundation website to read

the full report (

The SHRM Foundation: 40 Years of Advancing the HR Profession

MAY 2009

International SIG Addresses Timely Topic of Immigration

Managing an in-house immigration program poses a challenge

for even the most seasoned HR professional. This complex

topic was covered on March 10 in a clear and concise presentation

at the International SIG workshop, Managing Your In-house

Immigration Program in a Changing Environment. The workshop

was presented by Michael D. Patrick and Ethan E. Kaufman, partners

at Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP (Fragomen), the

leading provider of corporate immigration services worldwide.

Kaufman serves on Fragomen’s national executive committee. He

specializes in corporate immigration law and is a mentor in employment-based

immigration for the American Immigration Lawyers

Association’s National Mentor Program. He has served as Co-Chair

of AILA’s Corporate Practice Committee, NY Chapter, and is listed

in the current editions of Best Lawyers in America and Super

Lawyers for New York City.

Patrick serves on Fragomen’s national executive and finance

committees, and is General Counsel for Risk Management and

Co-Chair of Fragomen’s Corporate Compliance Committee.

Before joining the firm in 1990, Patrick served as a Special

Assistant United States Attorney and chief of the immigration unit

of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of

New York, and was an assistant corporation counsel for The City

of New York.

Kaufman and Patrick offered a comprehensive overview of

employment-based immigration laws, explanation of common

business visas, the process for employment verification and compliance,

as well as strategies for how to manage the in-house immigration


Common business visas covered included business visitors (B-1);

students on practical training (F-1); intracompany transferees (L-1);

new hires (H-1B, E-3, TN & O-1); treaty traders and investors (E-

1 & E-2); and trainees (J-1 & H-3). Discussion covered who can

receive these types of visa, for what purposes, and for what length of


Interim and Permanent HR Staffing

Now more than ever, HR Dynamics can respond to your Interim and Permanent HR Staffing needs better than

any other company.

When you engage a temporary HR professional, you engage our entire HR Dynamics consulting team behind

them. Our practice leaders are experts in every field of HR, and we provide the HR professional assigned to your

company with the tools, cutting edge expertise and resources to quickly respond to all your human resources

needs. That’s the HR Dynamics’ difference.

When you need to hire a permanent HR professional, there’s no better place to go to get the best candidates than

to a company that specializes in HR Consulting and Staffing.

Whether it’s an interim or permanent HR Director, Manager, Generalist, Recruiter or other HR professional that

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Ethan E. Kaufman (l.) and Michael D. Patrick, partners at Fragomen,

Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP

time, as well as problems associated with misuse. Other common

issues covered included the green card quota backlog, the H-1B visa

cap, and compliance issues that flow from diverse personnel actions

such as reductions in force, salary reductions, mandatory paid

leaves, and changes in job duties.

The speakers also discussed the changes in immigration law post-

9/11, as well as effects of the economic downturn on immigration.

For example, Under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP),

employers must now show good-faith efforts to recruit U.S. workers

for H-1 positions, and must show that no U.S. worker was displaced

by an H-1B worker for an equivalent position. In addition,

they touched on the complex issue of employee verification, giving

overviews of employers’ responsibilities

under Department of Homeland

Security compliance and enforcement

initiatives targeting the I-9

arena, anticipated expansion of E-

Verify, and preparing for an audit.

The presenters offered complex

and detailed information in an easily

understandable and practical format.

The material presented not only facts

and data, but useful strategies for

managing in-house immigration


– Lauren Supraner

HR/NY Newsletter Committee

President, CAL Learning

MAY 2009


Rhonda Steeg: Helping Create an HR Resource

As Senior Vice President, HR and Administration for the national

trade association, American Association of Advertising Agencies

(4A’s), Rhonda Steeg’s position encompasses many aspects of HR

administration. “4A’s serves as an HR resource for agency members

who may not have a dedicated HR function.”

4A’s has about 90 employees, divided among the NYC headquarters

(about 60%), and offices in Charlotte, NC, Los Angeles,

CA, and Washington, DC. “In the course of my 35+-year career,

I’ve flip-flopped between working for the Association, and advertising

agencies,” Steeg says. “In 2002, I returned for my second stint

at AAAA.” Steeg’s extensive experience has helped her in dealing

with a combination of business and creative staff. “This combination

brings a unique set of HR challenges.”

Steeg comments on the dramatic changes in the scope of HR

since she first entered the field in the 1970s. “Of course, there’s more

regulation now. But much more has changed. Onboarding once

meant simply having employees fill in two slips of paper: a Blue

Cross/Blue Shield form; and a tax form. The process has become

more complex.”

Career Development has taken on greater importance in the

workplace—one reason she completed NYU’s Certification

Program in Career Coaching. However, according to Steeg, the

biggest change in HR lies in a workplace that no longer separates

work from personal issues. “The generations coming up in the


The MSLIR Students engage in a

rigorous investigation of various

topics. Listed below are the courses

that currently constitute the


• Labor relations

• Organizational Behavior

Human Resource Management

• Applied Statisical Analysis

• Developing Managerial Skills

• Training and Development

• Employment & Labor Law

• Compensation

• Collective Bargaining

• Topics in HRM (e.g., employee

selection, work/family)

• Topics in Labor Relations (e.g.,

union recruitment, comparable


• Capstone Project





workforce are looking more closely at a company’s work/life policy.

As a result, HR has adjusted in many ways, including broadening

benefit plans and work/life balance programs.”

Steeg joined HR/NY at the beginning of her career when the

Association was still called the American Society of Personnel

Administrators (ASPA). “Back then, I considered it a wonderful

resource for vendors. Today it has grown into the leading

HR organization in the Metropolitan area, similar to SHRM,

the leading HR organization on the national level.” Steeg

encourages colleagues to increase their professionalism by pursuing


For a brief time, Steeg served as Co-Chair of the Workforce

Readiness Committee, under Lorrie Zelman’s presidency. “I look

forward to finding more time to get involved.”

Steeg says she has always had a seat at the table in very strategic

ways. “I’ve been fortunate to get many opportunities to show senior

management how HR can add value to the organization.”

Steeg admits to having difficulty saying “no.” She is very active in

various social service outreach efforts sponsored by her synagogue,

and as a volunteer for “Caring Community.” Cooking is her creative

outlet, and she enjoys theater and dance performances.

– Linda Simone

Managing Editor, Inside HR/NY

Our MS in

Human Resource

Management and

Labor Relations

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MAY 2009


Philip Alonso • Erik Amaral, Success Factors • Kevin

Andreosky, CheckPoint HR • Atyoa Bailey, Baruch

College • Rachel Bender, Pfizer, Inc. • Liz Block,

Ferguson & Shamamian Architects LLP • Danette

Brown, Queens Library • Rob Bujan, Group Health

Solutions, Inc. • Margot Campbell, McGraw Hill •

William Chase, Media Planning Group • Yvette

Chen, Perkins & Will • Cora Claus • Vicki Cowan,

Manhattan College • Stacey Dattorre, MetroPCS

New York • Carol Davidson, Styleworks of Union

Square, Inc. • Pat Drew, Pat Drew & Company •

Fabricio Drumond, Gallup Consulting • Henry

Dubro, Douglas Elliman Property Management •

Betsy Eyring-Young, UPOC Networks, Inc. • Anton

Faron, Hay Group, Inc. • James Flood • Eileen

Friedberg • Courtney Graeber, Ipreo • Sharyn Green-

Miller, Milano – The New School • Sara Hafele, IIR

USA • Steven Halvorsen, Coalition for the Homeless

• Vicki Hobson, Related Management • Sarah


Continued from page 1

core business or integrating one business

into another.

Panelists were in agreement that communication

is key during times of change.

Rigby-Hall stressed how crucial it is to create

a story around the restructuring that is

open and honest, and he suggested that

companies stop blaming the economy and

engage the workplace in the company’s

decision-making process.

While avoidance of litigation and concern

for treating people with respect is at top

of mind for many CEOs, companies must

work to meet the needs of all stakeholders

by developing a succession plan as well as a

talent recruitment strategy. The ideal solution

includes putting together a cross-functional

team that represents HR, Legal,

Communications, Public Relations and

Line Management expertise to work out a

communication plan, to keep to project

timelines, and to meet business objectives. It

is imperative to train all managers, especially

the ones who have to deliver the tough

messages to the exiting employees.

Rigby-Hall stressed the importance of

identifying whether a downsizing is costbased

or strategic-based, and urged atten-


dees to consider contingency- and scenarioplanning.

How would the company handle

potential leaks and/or lawsuits and how

would it determine if restructuring is costbased

or strategic-based.

With respect to a company performing

its due diligence, Moss suggested identifying

the strategic vision—what is the goal—

how will it be accomplished and what is

the next step after it is achieved? What will

the impact on the organization be if the

company goes through with drastic—or

even less than drastic—measures? Do we

have to take into account certain laws such

as the WARN ACT, which requires different

notice periods for downsized employees?

How will we re-engineer the work?

Are we aware of severance packages,

COBRA issues, and all new legislation?

How will we choose who will be downsized,

and is there a possibility of adverse

impact? How will we retrain the remaining


The panelists pointed out that, while

organizations may need to consider new

hiring even during downsizings, they must

do so with discretion and sensitivity. Best

practices include involving key talent in

restructuring discussions to move the company

forward; understanding motivations


Hoffman, J. Mendel, Ltd. • Debra Hudnell,

Silverstein Properties, Inc. • Carolyn Jones • Lori

Kohn, RGE Monitor • Lisa Mankin • Edwin

McGuinn, The Alan S. Harris Group • William

McKendree, The Clarion Group • Courtney

McKenna, Grand Hyatt New York • Kaoru Misaka,

Mainichi Communications USA, Inc. • Charece

Newell, GABS Staffing LLC • Ruth Pope, Success

Factors • Dave Popple, Corporate Insights •

Katherine Prieto, Odyssey Networks • Jennifer

Roman, PricewaterhouseCoopers • Shane Roy,

Success Factors • Brian Ruina, The Abacus Group •

David Shriner-Cahn, David Shriner-Cahn, Inc. •

Charles Simone, THHB • Linda Smith, CLS UK

Intermediate Holding, Ltd. • Robert Stafford, USI

Insurance Services • Tiffany Suluki • Valerie Tavana,

Wall Street Access • Maggie Tomecko,

PricewaterhouseCoopers • Jessica Udairaj, Baruch

College • Margaret Walsh, DTCC

and appreciating key people to keep them

tied to the organization; and considering

restructure groups properly, avoiding hasty


Throughout the restructuring process,

clear and frequent communication on all

levels is crucial. Barra recommended hiring

a career transition consultant to facilitate the


From an HR perspective, there is no substitution

for having a seat at the table, participating

in and understanding the rationale

and objectives of restructurings. This is

key to understanding the different types of

management and figuring out the best way

to integrate and determine how leaders will

be selected in the combined organization, as

well as structuring technology and transactions

in the new organization. The possible

formation of labor unions may also need to

be a consideration.

Looking toward the future, HR will continue

to be a vital strategic partner in the

new organization, attracting and retaining

talent, engaging the workforce, and impacting

the bottom line—all factors that will

give HR leaders the opportunity to shine.

– Janet L. Riesel, MBA, SPHR

HR/NY Newsletter Committee

MAY 2009

The Untapped Dollars in Diversity

Can companies really afford not to use every possible

business resource to its full potential to help them

survive and thrive in today’s economy? There is one

resource that most companies significantly under-leverage:

their Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).

ERGs (or affinity or business resource groups) have

long been sources of community for women, people

of color, LGBT, differently-abled, and other defined

groups in companies. These groups have been great

drivers of engagement for employees. I have even

heard employees describe their ERG as their

strongest link to their companies.

Yet, difficult economic times can mean that so-called

“non-essential” priorities like ERGs lose attention and senior

sponsorship. And, employees avoid participation out of fear of

being seen as having time on their hands for such “non-essentials.”

Contrary to recession-driven conventional wisdom, here is why it

is a good time to nurture and grow your ERGs:

• ERGs are great sources of engagement for employees. Diverse

staff who feel included and supported are 20-30% more productive

than those who aren’t. 1 Compare that to the more than 80% of

employees in a typical company who are passively or actively disengaged

from their jobs. 2

• ERGs are pre-existing functioning teams that could be deployed

to manage projects that might otherwise be delayed or deferred.

Expanding the business role of ERGs in this way exposes them to a

broader cross-section of the organization, which enhances visibility

and supports inclusion.

• Strong ERGs help companies maintain robust talent pools,

enhance retention and support supplier diversity levels that clients

demand, all of which can contribute to a company’s reputation as a

great place to work. HR can play a pivotal role here.

Best-practice ERGs, from companies like IBM, Citi, 3M, Clorox

and GE, function as both social communities and powerful business

resources that enhance the bottom line.

• IBM ERGs all have a common goal of helping IBM meet its

business objectives, and all share best practices with one another to

meet that goal.

• Citi ERGs sponsor yearly diversity education events on a range

of issues, including the business case for diversity. Management

committee member compensation is partly tied to diversity initiative


• 3M ensures that ERGs serve the company’s business objectives

by assigning each ERG to advise one of the company’s product

development groups.

• Clorox uses its ERGs to host recruiting events and evaluate



“ Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines

whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.

– Stephen ” Covey


prospective hires. This helps the company reduce the need

for additional recruiting staff.

• GE enjoys very high participation in its ERGs. Each

group must have a mission, senior executive support, a

national champion, and a business plan. 3

While many companies’ ERGs provide employees

with a sense of community and some level of talent

development, the majority has not yet leveraged their

ERGs for direct business growth or support like these

best practice examples. It is time to start.

Structured as more of a business resource, ERGs can

help not only develop their own market niches, but also support

initiatives completely outside of their own communities. As an

example, the African Americans group at a pharmaceuticals company

could lead a project team working on product development of

a new drug. Or, the LGBT group at a media company could sponsor

research on new online ways to reach customers.

These initiatives indirectly benefit these ERGs by increasing their

visibility and inclusion, and contribution to the business. They foster

greater engagement among ERG members, allies and other

employees, and help organizations realize ERG value beyond headcount

and diversity policies.

HR can take the following steps to help maximize ERG value and

further integrate them into the company fabric:

1. Encourage company leaders to clarify and communicate where

diversity in general, and ERGs in particular, fit into business priorities

in the current economy. This will help employees feel "safe"

spending their time with an ERG.

2. Help company leaders to cultivate and leverage allies for each

ERG from the broader community.

3. Through coaching and team building, ERG leaders and members

need to strengthen their own muscles as business resources, not

only sources of community, and help their membership deliver on

this new part of their mission.

– Steven J. Salee, PCC, LMSW, MPA

Founder and Managing Partner

WildFire Strategies

Steven Salee is the founder and managing partner of WildFire

Strategies, a workforce engagement consulting firm that helps organizations

optimize business strategy, develop leaders who inspire, and create

vibrant communities where people want to work.

1Harris Interactive, 2006

2The State of Employee Engagement 2008 – North American Overview. 2008.

BlessingWhite, Inc..

3Handbook for Network and Affinity Leadership. 2008. Diversity Best Practices.

MAY 2009


Continued from page 1

pursuing—or helping others to pursue—the

American dream. This raises the question:

what can we as HR professionals do to keep

ourselves and our workplaces safe?

HR/NY recently devoted an entire program

to workplace violence. As more and

more people lose their jobs and the competition

becomes stiffer for available jobs, I

fear we will be witnessing more of the same.

So how can HR professionals impact our

workplaces positively in this area? Of course,

there will be cases that are simply unavoidable.

However, we need to have a finger on

the pulse of our organizations. Keep your

ears and eyes open to the quiet chatter.

Check in with managers and supervisors

from time to time to assess the overall mood

of their staff or team. If there are signs of

distress, it could be a good time to reach out

to your EAP, offer some workshops, and

provide other resources for stress reduction.

Perhaps you can partner with a community

group to provide a seminar on debt reduction

and financial literacy. And share realistic

information with staff, so they know the overall

status of the company. Employees need to

know if things are dire, otherwise a reduction

in workforce (RIF) will come as a real shock.

Speaking of RIF, I read an alarming sta-

DIVERSTIY Continued from page 2

and the church hierarchy. Motta recommended

that HR professionals have offices


tistic about the large increase in the number

of law firms (I trust not employment and

labor firms) in violation of the WARN act.

How a Tweet Can Twitter Away a

Job Offer


SPHR, Esq., at

told of a job offer from Cisco that caused

a flurry of web activity. In addition to

demonstrating possible perils of social

media, it “seems that a recent job applicant

tweeted the following from her twitter

account: ‘Cisco just offered me a job! Now I

have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck

against the daily commute to San Jose and

hating the work.’ Needless to say, in a

nanosecond, the tweet was read all over the

web, including by staff at Cisco. The

result? Not good. In addition to watching

a great job disappear in such a difficult

economy, the candidate had now become

the subject of a website,,

which nearly brought down godaddy’s

servers (obviously created by someone with

a mean streak and way too much time on

his or her hands).”

Programming Committee

Once again, we are forming a Programming

Committee to determine HR/NY’s

that reflect their openness to hear and see all

people. He also suggested that companies

have meetings on benefits and retirement

Give your star tar employees


a Sightseeing seeing Tour

or a Fishing ing Charter




Unique Incentive &

Recognition Rewards


major programs for 2009-2010. All are welcome

to join us as we embark on this worthy

endeavor. If you wish to share a great idea for

an event or serve on the Committee, please

email Heather Evans at

Annual Legal Update

Once again the Annual Legal Update proved

to be one of our more popular programs


June issue). I would like to comment on feedback

from the evaluation forms. (Remember, I


feedback was fabulous; no one rated the program

less than good. However, a few attendees

commented that the program focused too

much on the Employee Free Choice Act


employers in NYC are not unionized. Again I

want to sound a warning: if EFCA comes soon

to a country like ours, many employers will be

unionized in the blink of an eye. So it pays to

stay informed and be prepared.

Stay in touch!

– Jeanne A. Stewart, SPHR

President, HR/NY

President, HR on the Move, LLC

for married, LGBT, and single employees so

they can discuss their unique concerns in

comfort. Finally, Motta suggested bringing

in an expert when issues surrounding transgendered

individuals arise.

Hoffman detailed how everyday language

embodies bias and how careless usage in the

workplace can engender EEO lawsuits. He

presented numerous examples of subtle and

more blatant bias in language, and also

introduced the concept of gratuitous specification:

calling unnecessary attention to a

person’s sexual orientation or other protected

class attribute when referring to them,

especially when mentioning an achievement

or position. Examples include female doctor,

articulate Black student, etc.

Our next event is May 7th. Check page

12 for event details.

– Gail Stewart-Evans

Chair, Diversity SIG

Manager, Human Resources

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

MAY 2009


Contact one (or more) Committee and SIG Chairs and Co-Chairs to see how you can help.

Benefits SIG:

Jim Glock

Linda Caffin

Career Planning & Professional Development SIG:

Leslie Willmott

Winnie Corton


Jack Shein, SPHR

Jennifer Loftus, SPHR

Compensation SIG:

Edwin Artuz

Randi Glinsky

Directors’ Forum:

Arlene Newman

Janice Florence

Diversity SIG:

Gail Stewart-Evans

Bill Drewes

Employee & Labor Relations SIG:

Linda Carlozzi

Khristan Heagle

Financial Services SIG:

Brian Fagan

Kathy Tignor

International HR SIG:

Susan Farwell

Ariel Boverman

Legislative & Legal:

Colleen Sorrell

Jennifer Pleva

Managers’ Forum:

Danielle Dorter

David Emerson

Submit to Inside HR/NY


We welcome your submissions!

To contribute to future issues, please

e-mail articles of 500 words or less

(as a Microsoft Word attachment—

not a PDF) to Brian McComak at

Please put “Newsletter

Submission” in subject line of the

e-mail. And please adhere to copy

deadlines and word count guidelines.

Copy deadline for the June 2009

issue is May 4.



Marketing & Promotions:

Edwin Artuz


Barbara Safani

Mental Health SIG:

Liisa Semp

Wendy Brennan

Networking SIG:

Barbara Safani


Brian McComak, PHR

Not-for-Profit SIG:

Lynne Plavnick, SPHR

Grace Beasley-Matthews, SPHR


Barry Manus

Public Relations:

Jacki Friedman

Kevin Johnson

SHRM Foundation:

Debbie Cibelli

Staffing SIG:

Charles LaManna, SPHR

Anne Hunt-Doherty

University Relations:

Jennifer Patterson

Shannon Pill

Women’s Issues SIG:

Merrie Singer, SPHR

Grace Protos

Workforce Readiness:

Kathie Malinowski

Stephanie Steinberg

Are You in Compliance?

In these challenging economic times, organizations are

turning to “creative” compensation practices. Many

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MAY 2009


May 6 “Integrating the Best of Online and In-Person Networking to Build Relationships, Quickly, Easily and

Painlessly,” presented by the Networking SIG. Speaker: Liz Lynch, networking strategist and author.

12:00-1:00pm. Location: Lee Hecht Harrison, 200 Park Avenue, 26th Floor (MetLife Bldg.). For information

or to register, please e-mail +

May 7 “Religious Accommodation – New Perspectives & Regulations,” presented by the Diversity SIG. 8:00-

10:30am. Location: Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett, LLP, 425 Lexington Avenue. For information or

to register, please e-mail +

May 12 “Managing Total Compensation for Non-Profits in a Time of Economic Turmoil,” presented by the

Not-for-Profit SIG. Speakers: William Brown, VP, Executive Compensation Consulting, ORC Worldwide;

Vincent Gandolfo, SVP, Employee Benefits, Wachovia Insurance Services; Curtis Grund, VP, Global

Development, ORC Worldwide; and Sydney Robertson, Executive VP, ORC Worldwide. 8:30-9:00am,

breakfast & networking; 9:00-11:00am, presentation. Location: Volunteers of America, 340 W. 85th

Street (between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive), 1st Floor. Approved for 1.5 recertification

credits. For information or to register, please e-mail +

May 13 “Unemployment Insurance Administration,” presented by the Employee & Labor Relations SIG.

Speaker: Todd Cohen, MBA, Principle, IUI. 8:30-9:00am, breakfast & networking; 9:00-10:00am,

presentation. Location: Bank of America Tower, One Bryant Park (6th Avenue between 42nd & 43rd

Streets). Approved for 1.0 recertification credits. For more information or to register, please e-mail, +

May 14 “Multiple Realities: Coaching in a Multicultural World,” presented by the International SIG. Speaker:

Susan Farwell, President, The Executive Communicator, LLC. Location: Proskauer Rose, 1585 Broadway,

26th Floor (between 47th & 48th Streets, West side of Broadway). Approved for 1.0 (Specified-

International) recertification credits. For more information or to register please e-mail, +

May 21 Chapter Meeting. “Meeting the Challenge: Best Practices for Performance Management and Succession

Planning.” Speakers: Alicia Whitaker, Principal, Whitaker Associates; Per Wingerup, VP Learning &

Development & International HR, CBS Corporation; & Julie Casella-Esposito, Managing Director, HR for

CCMP Capital Advisors, LLC. 8:00-8:30am, registration, breakfast & networking; 8:30-10:30am, presentation.

Location: Club 101, 101 Park Avenue (between 40th & 41st Streets). Approved for 1.5 recertification

credits. For information or to register, please visit

May 21 Member Orientation. We invite all members to join us, especially

new members interested in knowing more about HR/NY. 10:30-

11:15am. Location: Club 101, 101 Park Avenue (between 40th &

41st Streets). For more information or to register, please e-mail +


+ denotes complimentary event for HR/NY members.

Please visit our website and click on “Events”

for more information or to register.

Inside HR/NY is published 10 times a year by

and for members of the Human Resources

Association of New York. Newsletter Editor:

Brian McComak, PHR; Managing Editor: Linda

Simone; Graphic Design: Karen Cohn.


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NOTE: This newsletter is provided by HR/NY as

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and is not and should not be relied upon, or

regarded as, legal or other professional advice.

HR/NY disclaims all liability with respect to any

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