My guest this week is Rebecca Weaver, a former HR leader who is now the founder and CEO of HRuprise, a platform that connects workers who are navigating challenging issues with independent HR coaches.
Essentially, HRuprise serves as a two-sided marketplace where people can get personalized, transparent HR coaching by removing the traditional obligations that HR has to a company. Rebecca says that she wants to “democratize executive coaching that previously has only been available to the elite, or the people who have already attained the level of leadership.”
March is Women’s History Month and, all month long, Punk Rock HR will be featuring women who have taken control of their careers and accomplished some badass things. Sit back and enjoy my conversation with Rebecca about the challenges she faced in her career, what she hopes to accomplish through HRuprise and how HR has the opportunity to be part of the solution when done correctly.
Who Does HR Even Work For?
One of the biggest issues with HR is that it’s often performative, with leaders saying that they’re on the side of the employees one minute but failing to uphold that promise the next. Rebecca knows this story all too well. When she witnessed a clear pattern of internal issues that arose with a former employer, she spoke up. But instead of feeling protected during the investigation, she found that she became a target instead — an uncomfortable situation that culminated in her resignation.
To Rebecca, this highlights the fact that during such investigations, HR tends to gravitate toward protecting the company from the victim rather than the other way around. The goes against the held belief that HR functions to protect the employee above all else. Rebecca wants HR leaders to look at their own complicity in upholding systemic issues inside of an organization and to instead be “truly honest with people when [they] sit with them during an investigation.”
Calling for an Uprise With HR Coaches
When Rebecca left that job behind, she was brave enough to quit without taking the severance package. “For a long time, I looked at that as how I had failed my family,” she says. But not taking severance afforded her the opportunity to be public about her experiences because she didn’t sign away her rights to talk. While she advocates for women to explore their options and reminds everyone that it’s perfectly valid to take whatever option is necessary for them in a given situation, she says, “I’m so glad that it worked out that way, because I would not have the ability to tell [my] story as I did.”
Her self-examination of the ways in which she might have been complicit in issues slipping through the cracks in HR motivated her to choose to be part of the solution. “How many ways have I been a part of creating the environment that has allowed this to happen for other people? Of course, never intentionally, but as we well know, intentions really only get you so far,” she says. Her story led her to the creation of HRuprise, a service which began as an Instagram platform and has become a full-fledged platform that gives people access to independent HR coaches that are tailored to individual needs. As the name suggests, this is her way of calling for a much-needed uprise in HR.
The Failures From Being the Model of Efficiency
Rebecca’s journey to the present day didn’t end there. As she was developing the HRuprise platform in early 2020, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Instead of her diagnosis becoming a setback, she switched to observation mode, as great entrepreneurs do. The experience of fighting her battle with cancer served to solidify the idea that a personal touch is needed in order to help others through their struggles.
As she was receiving radiation treatment, she found that her medical team served as the model of efficiency, albeit to a fault. “It just all [felt] very dehumanizing to me,” she says. “We get done, they’re like, ‘OK, we’ll see you tomorrow.’ And I realized I was just a part of them getting through their day.” This left her to further reflect on how many times she made others feel this way when she was in HR. The energy and drive to avoid dehumanizing others became the essence of what HRuprise is all about, as well as a vehicle for Rebecca to pave the way for a revolution with HR coaches.