You may have missed this; I almost did. It was just a page 9 article in our local paper. The title was “Weinstein Co. board fires president David Glasser ‘for cause.’”
I had no idea who David Glasser was; I’d become pretty familiar with the name “Weinstein,” so I stopped to read the article. Here’s what caught my eye.
“New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman singled out Glasser [in a lawsuit filed against the Weinstein company,] accusing him of not responding to complaints to the company’s human resources department about Harvey Weinstein.”
So, it goes on to say…
“The board of the Weinstein Company has unanimously voted to terminate David Glasser for cause.”
Glasser had been on tap to replace Weinstein as CEO – the New York Attorney General apparently had other ideas. The article goes on…
“The COO David Glasser, who supervised the human resources department, did not stop this discrimination, harassment, and abuse, even though he was in charge of handling dozens of shocking complaints.”
Okay, you get the idea. Weinstein was fired for his actions. Glasser was fired for his inaction. This is a momentous occasion in corporate America.
The firing is also somewhat of a vindication for human resources. We have been accused of doing nothing to stop the highly inappropriate behavior being uncovered every day now. Back in December, I was fed up with HR taking the rap, and suggested that they push back responsibility for this horrific behavior to executive leadership and not allow themselves to be put in a position of accountability. Sounds good, but really, how do you do that when the executive leadership is the problem?
Today we see our first real consequence for executive leadership doing nothing to stop illegal behavior in their organization. The article doesn’t say it, but “for cause” typically means the board has no obligation to honor any severance agreements that Glasser may have had. True, he probably has a pretty healthy savings stashed away so that the harm may be minimal. But this is PRECEDENCE.
How can HR take advantage of this precedent?
This is the time to resurrect the data HR may have, either formally or informally. HR has the data. It is either in their employee relations files, chatter within the organization, or it may be lurking in the results of an engagement survey.
If HR raised it before and no action was taken, chances are executive leadership may perk up a little more if it were brought up within the context of the #METOO movement, and particularly David Glasser’s dismissal.
What are the signs worth reviewing?
Unresolved complaints about a manager who is still in the position bear revisiting. Has the manager cleaned up his act? Great. If not, what does his boss intend to do? The boss may have a slightly more open mind to HR’s coaching, given the lay of the land today.
Significant turnover in a department is a red flag. A red flag does not mean something is wrong; it means there is an anomaly; something is happening and it is important to find out what that might be.
If it is a new manager taking over for a lackadaisical team, the turnover may be appropriate. If there is no apparent reason, it bears a little research.
✅ Walk around the department. Are folks open and friendly? Do they look like they want to tell you something, but don’t?
✅ Take a look at the comments on the engagement survey. They may say a lot, or they may be completely silent. Either may be meaningful.
✅ Look at performance reviews. Do you see signs of favoritism? Retaliation?
✅ Talk with the manager. Is he open to your questions and observations? If so, great. If not, and you are concerned, take your concerns up the ladder, with a copy of the Glasser article in your back pocket.
The Glasser situation is a big deal
It is a significant precedent, but one that could easily be ignored. Don’t let that happen. Share the article with your commentary to your fellow executives. Your message is either “We’re in good shape,” or “We are vulnerable.” Back that latter statement up with facts. Then ask them what they are going to do about it.
This isn’t yours [HR] to fix. The responsibility belongs to executive leadership. The responsibility for whether or not executive leaders are clearly aware is yours.
In Glasser’s case, it was NOT doing something that was very, very wrong.