Staffing Management

MiniBios: Honoring HR’s Female Influencers

By Michelle V. Rafter

Jan. 10, 2017

Diane Gherson

In February 2016, IBM joined multinationals such as Accenture and GE in tossing out yearly performance reviews, with Diane Gherson leading the way.

wf0117_womenofhr_200pxwideUnder the senior vice president of HR’s direction, IBM dumped a contentious, 10-year-old system where employees set annual goals and checked in with managers twice a year.

After crowdsourcing ideas from its 380,000-person workforce, IBM created an app called Checkpoint that employees can use to set short-term goals and get more regular feedback. Instead of a single score, employees are judged in five areas, including skills, personal responsibility to others and innovation.

Insider’s note: In 2013, Gherson and eight co-inventors were granted U.S. Patent No. 8600847B1 for a predictive analytics process titled, “Optimal service fee discount management.”

Patty McCord

No list of modern HR pioneers would be complete without Patty McCord, Netflix’s former chief talent officer. Over 14 years, McCord’s unorthodox people management practices made her a trailblazer and set the stage for HR policies at countless tech industry startups.

Among them: doing away with formal performance reviews and letting salaried employees take time off without having to ask for permission. Since leaving Netflix in 2012, McCord has consulted on leadership and corporate culture for clients such as Warby Parker and HubSpot.

Insider’s note: A PowerPoint deck McCord and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings created to explain how they reinvented the company’s HR, “Netflix Culture: Freedom & Responsibility,” has been viewed more than 5 million times.

Cindy Robbins 

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff got most of the credit for spending $3 million to boost salaries so men and women at the cloud-based software platform company had equal pay.

But the idea for the all-hands salary audit that led to the change came from Cindy Robbins, Salesforce’s top people person, who holds the title executive vice president of global employee success. In all, 6 percent of Salesforce’s 17,000 employees got a raise to bring them on par with their peers.

The initiative led the Obama administration to tap Benioff in 2016 to support an equal-pay rule that takes effect this year.

Insider’s note: Robbins and Leyla Seka, head of Salesforce’s customer support division, hatched the idea for the salary audit when they teamed up in a Salesforce-supported women’s empowerment circle.

Click here to see the other Women of HR.

— Michelle V. Rafter


Michelle V. Rafter is a Portland, Oregon, business reporter and Workforce contributing writer.


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