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I don’t believe in patting adults on the back for being adults, and I don’t believe in celebrating great places to work.

Are you a great place to work? Fabulous. Congratulations for doing the bare minimum. You’re not a great place to work? Close your doors. You don’t deserve to be in business.

You’re either a great place to work or you’re not.
Your employees love working there or they don’t.
Your working conditions are humane or they aren’t.

It’s childish to celebrate doing the right thing, and I’m done praising companies and leaders for adulting.

What’s worse are those “Best CEOs” lists. I’m especially done with CEOs who extoll the virtue of “culture” and pretend like they’re doing something right when they pay attention to employment issues like diversity, inclusion and the employee experience. Is it ever okay not to be a great CEO? Should I applaud you for doing your job? Are you three years old? Did you go pee pee on the potty? Do you want recognition for showing up?

Besides, those lists are biased. There’s advertising and consulting revenue behind the scenes that may or may not influence where a company is placed on those lists. We don’t know because the selection process is rarely ever transparent.

The world needs role models, but, as George HW Bush once said, the world doesn’t need to celebrate the soft bigotry of low expectations. I love it when companies and leaders treat their workers well, but it’s a sorry state of affairs when, in 2018, companies jump on those “best places to work” lists and make it into a marketing campaign.

Vomit.

Instead of celebrating great places to work, it’s time to flip the switch and use evidence to determine the worst places to work.

Who pays poorly? Where do women and protected minorities struggle to earn equal pay? What companies have the most EEOC complaints? Which hospitals in what part of the country are treating the most egregious safety-related injuries? Which companies and leaders have settled worker lawsuits? For how much?

One big database that tracks employee-related issues. That’s all we need to figure out the companies who are great and the companies who fail their workers.

Want to be known as a great place to work? Is your CEO one of the best? Don’t show us your lists, awards and accolades. Show us your data.

5 Responses to Don’t Celebrate Great Places to Work
  1. Kelly Marinelli

    Inspired by this post-I want to see the relevant employer data enough that I just may start compiling it…

  2. Tim Gardner

    Interesting point. These lists only exist because so many businesses are doing it wrong. Another indication that work is broken.

  3. Kim Henning

    Thank you, Laurie, for this post — that is all I need to say.

  4. Carlos E.

    I found myself aggressively nodding at everything in this post. Even the George Bush part!

  5. Ed

    Let’s start a worst places to work list. This idea has been rolling around in my head for some time. Perhaps sponsored by Glassdoor or Indeed?

    As HR pros we owe employees transparency, good AND bad.

    Thanks Laurie, great stuff.