SumTotal Blog

The City of Light Shines on HR

October 28, 2016



I have just arrived home from Paris for the HR Tech World Congress, an event that has grown exponentially in both size and significance since the first one back in 2011. It has been a busy affair, with lots of great speakers, and tons of companies using the shared venue and opportunity to demonstrate and showcase all manner of HR solutions, applications and platforms.

HR Tech World Paris

When I come to these types of events I am always curious about two things – the takeaways and the food. Thankfully—this being Paris—I am happy to report that the food has all been excellent. The content of the conference was equally good, and I’m pleased to bring so many gems, nuggets of brilliance, and insight back to the office.

So, what is on everyone’s lips – apart from crumbly, flaky, buttered-to-perfection croissants?

  • Employee engagement: We still have not comprehensively or conclusively solved this challenge, and it continues to be a growing concern and priority for everyone.
  • Staying power: Since employees  now average 2.75 years in one job, companies need to up the ante to do everything they can to retain staff and prevent both talent and investment walking away to a competitor.
  • Analytics: Lots and lots of talk around this, particularly surrounding output of your LMS.
  • On the go: Everyone wants to reassure everyone else that all their solutions and platforms are mobile-friendly.

SumTotal Demo at HR Tech World

In truth, anyone in HR is already very familiar with these issues, and there was a slight sense of déjà vu about some of the presentations.

Seeking out something new, I attended the Women in HR Tech session, presented by Pascale van Damme, Managing Director, Dell Benelux; Naomi Bloom, Managing Partner, Bloom and Wallace; Kim Wylie, Change and Transformation Lead, Google for Work and Leighanne Levensaler, Senior VP, Workday.

When it comes women in the workplace I like to hear practical, pragmatic, constructive advice. I want to know what we can do to make changes. With this in mind, here are the top 5 takeaways I gathered from this session:

  • Women are still underrepresented in tech. To redress this you must actively pursue and recruit women. How? By offering a workplace that works with women, not against them. By using language in job specs that women connect with, by offering flexible work schedules and by providing defined career paths and opportunities.
  • Hire a diverse team. To do this you need a diverse hiring team. Both men and women are more likely to hire a man over a woman, so ensure your team has undergone conscious bias training, to prevent (or at least highlight) bias.
  • Review current practice. Kim explained how Google has changed the way the company promotes internally. The old method was based on self-nomination and since very few women actually do this, fewer women were promoted; but once they changed the process, the numbers evened out.
  • Start benchmarking. How can we determine if progress is being made if we do not have the data to measure it?
  • Network, network, network. Find a mentor or a sponsor and keep learning. In short – stay involved.

If you attended HR Tech Paris this year, I’d love to know what you thought—share your comments below.

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