3 evolving HR topics in media

Author Brad Law
October 3, 2017

On October 4th, Maximum Management & Frazer Jones hosted our 2nd annual HR in Media Breakfast Roundtable. The HR executives in the media sector tend to be an incredibly charismatic, well-networked and collaborative bunch, which always makes these roundtables fun and insightful. Topics discussed were “pay equity legislation,” “diversity & inclusion strategies,” and “addressing the varying needs of a multi-generational workforce.” These were very similar to ones we discussed in our 2016 roundtable, but we noticed a real evolution in the dialogue.

The Implications of the New York Pay Equity Legislation on HR
With several states adopting pay equity legislation, and New York City’s recent pay equity law taking effect October 31st, this topic was top of mind for our attendees. We were pleasantly surprised that the media industry has embraced the legislation and put measures in place to get ahead of it. Although C-suite roles in the industry are still male-dominated as per our Global HR Report, the higher ratio of female to male employees in the sector, may play a role in this receptive attitude.

The laws have taken the discomfort out of having “the comp conversation” with candidates during an interview, much to the relief of our HR participants. While the legislation is only established in certain states and local municipalities, our industry clients are adjusting their practices to accommodate the legislative trend on a national level, getting ahead of the curve. The intended effect of the legislation is working, as several participants expressed that while historically, applicants who were earning well below a budgeted pay range might have received an offer below the range, they are now strictly adhering to the budgeted range when extending offers. Highly compensated job seekers used to be automatically eliminated by the Applicant Tracking System algorithm if they earned above the budgeted range, even if they were willing to make concessions. The change in practice is also having a beneficial effect on this population.

The only regret expressed was that in markets where pay for certain roles is evolving rapidly, having access to real time market comp data from recruiters enabled HR organizations to be competitive in their pay practices. Compensation consulting firms only offering annual survey data may need to reconsider current practices, addressing the void this legislation creates in real time “pulse data” for high demand/low inventory roles in certain markets.

The Continuing Evolution of Diversity & Inclusion Practices
Diversity & inclusion dominated our discussion. Some HR leaders are driving results by directly linking diversity objectives to management bonuses. While this practice has resulted in a quick turnaround, it drives impact without embedding the true value of diversity to the business. Demonstrating how diversity positively impacts the bottom line of the business created the most sustainable adoption of these practices. Some of our participants are also directly linking Diversity & Inclusion practices to management and communication training.

Where starting salaries pay in the mid $30K range for certain roles in the industry, the feeder pool for diverse talent is self-limiting. With cost of living in urban markets being high, most early career professionals in this space are recent college grads who can’t afford to make ends meet. By adopting better pay practices for early career professionals, the media industry could shift towards a more diverse qualified workforce over the next few years.

The media industry is rapidly evolving in their data capabilities in the D&I space. In just one year, our participants are dicing and slicing the data to explore both issues and solutions in a more sophisticated way. Disability, both physical and mental, is an area for improvement in the D&I space, as is ageism. Our participants also have seemed to move away from just trying to address the diversity void through improved race & gender statistics, towards challenging traditional, arbitrary employment practices that hinder a diversity of thought in the workplace. There’s a greater appetite and push from our HR leaders in this sector for cross-industry pollination.

In an inclusive work environment, employees are encouraged to bring their whole selves to work each day. Many of our HR leaders expressed being challenged by employees who view this concept as an opportunity to openly express discriminatory views in the workplace. It was agreed that inclusion in the workplace is still largely governed by employment laws and a code of conduct, which inherently creates limitations.

Shifting from “Millennial” to a Wider Intergenerational Conversation
We wrapped up on the topic of HR’s need to address an array of intergenerational gaps. Attracting and retaining Millennials is still a hot topic. However, the “Millennials” term is starting to become blase’. As employers in the sector embrace inclusiveness, they’re realizing that lumping employees into a category contradicts the objective of inclusion. The conversation shifted away from “Millennials” to the progress that the new generation of workers is bringing to the workplace through challenging traditional notions of work. Many of our participants are revamping their reward and recognition programs to reflect a more socially conscientious workforce. Employees in these organizations can now choose between a personal gift on their milestone work anniversaries, or having their employer donate to a chosen charity. The workplace has become much more dynamic as a result of having multiple generations in the workforce and this new generation of workers is fostering a healthier, more productive working environment for all generations of employees.

We thank our roundtable participants for such insights. If you’re an HR or a Talent Acquisition Executive in the New York Metro media industry who would like to be invited to participate in our future roundtables, get in touch. Our next event is November 1st, 2017. We look forward to connecting with you.