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Protocol | Workplace

By the Workplace team
September 6, 2022

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. Hope you enjoyed your extended weekend. For Apple corporate employees and others, the end of summer marks the first real return to the office in our endemic new normal. We can’t wait to see who’s gonna go back as instructed, and what happens to those who don’t. 🍿

Today: why you should always be sourcing talent, tech is still for the young, and the importance of in-person moments, even for fully remote workers.

— Meg Morrone, senior editor (email | twitter)

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Playing the long game


When diversity is one of your company’s four core values, walking the walk is imperative. The recruiting software maker Gem has found success recruiting women to its leadership team, which — with last month’s hiring of Lesley Young as chief revenue officer — is now almost 60% women, twice the national average for the C-suite.

Hiring executives in this market is challenging as it is: Candidates have options, and it’s hard to differentiate yourself as a company. I recently spoke with Gem’s chief people officer, Heather Dunn, about how her team thinks about sourcing executive candidates with representation in mind.

Always be sourcing talent — long before there’s a job opening. You should be building a pipeline before you’re actively searching, Dunn said.

  • This is a balancing act in the startup world, where things move fast and leaders shoulder too many responsibilities. But playing the “long-term game” is a huge boon to recruiting senior talent, Dunn said.
  • “I do think it comes back to really nurturing talent for a long period of time and finding different folks to network with early,” Dunn said. “It’s likely going to be six months, nine-plus months of nurturing and forming relationships there.”

Tap into networks of underrepresented talent. Gem partnered with Black Women on Boards as part of its $100 million series C funding round last year, which Dunn said exposed Gem to underrepresented leaders. Gem has also been working with BossmakeHer, which makes confidential intros to women executives.

Ask people you admire for advice — often. Gem co-founder and CEO Steve Bartel would ask Dunn for her perspective on HR issues he was facing every two months or so, long before offering her a job. He used a similar tactic to eventually recruit Shella Neba, Gem’s general counsel.

  • “It was definitely not an interview, but it was giving him a sense of the strength of candidates he was talking to,” Dunn said.

Prioritize executive recruiting. “I think Steve’s probably the best exec recruiter I’ve ever met, and that’s because when he has an exec search going on, he is brutally prioritizing everything else on his plate,” Dunn said. “We are hiring a CRO, that’s his No. 1 priority.”

— Allison Levitsky, reporter (email | twitter)
Open URL

OK, tech boomer


In 2005, if you wanted to buy a database, options were fairly limited. Now, the floodgates have opened. Alongside the likes of Amazon and Microsoft — which recently took over Oracle as the largest database vendor, per Gartner — there’s a plethora of new options that customers are turning to. For some, it’s a missed opportunity. For example, Adobe gravely underestimated the demand for creative tools among non-professionals, and is now under pressure from upstarts like Figma and Canva. Even Microsoft, a close Adobe partner, is trying to distance itself from the vendor.

Read the full story.

Sponsored content from Upwork


Why on-demand talent could be exactly what companies need right now: If you thought the rise of remote work, independent contractors and contingent workers rose sharply during the pandemic, just wait until the next few months when you see a higher uptick in the on-demand talent economy.

Read more from Upwork

Advice from HR: Continue to evolve


The CHRO job used to be one of paperwork and compliance, but in the past few years the role has changed drastically. We’ve found that the best folks heading up HR teams these days tend to be some of the most empathetic and emotionally intelligent people we know … because they have to be. Each week, we’ll bring you one piece of advice from the human resources desk. Today’s tip comes from Joe Militello, chief people officer at PagerDuty.

“Listen to your employees to understand the appetite for anywhere, hybrid and in-person work, while recognizing not every person has the same needs. Just as ‘the new normal’ has been evolving, optimizations to working environments should as well. Enabling employees to do their best work (wherever that may be) is critical, but so is creating opportunity for connection. For our organization, we aren’t shying away from creating in-person moments that enhance collaboration, team building and connections, but we’re on a constant journey of finding the right mix of what’s best for each person as well as the overarching team.”

Some personnel news


Anyone else having a bad case of Great Resignation whiplash? It’s hard to keep up with which tech companies are growing, shrinking, floating or sinking. We’re here to help.

⬆️Who’s hiring in tech? Techmeme says Automattic, Adobe and Microsoft, for starters.

⬇️Amazon is finally slowing hiring.

⬇️Shopify had another round of layoffs in August, according to The Globe and Mail. It impacted about 70 people.

For more news on hiring, firing and rewiring, see our tech company tracker.

Sponsored content from Upwork


Why on-demand talent could be exactly what companies need right now: The biggest benefit of leveraging on-demand talent is often tapping into the talent and skills that businesses can’t find elsewhere. Upwork’s recent report highlights that 53% of on-demand talent provide skills that are in short supply for many companies, including IT, marketing, computer programming and business consulting.

Read more from Upwork

Around the internet


A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

Zoom might have a solution to hybrid limbo. (The Wall Street Journal)

Don’t chase the dream job. (Sidekick)

Google is spending $20 million to improve computer science education and build a bigger and more diverse talent pool. (The Verge)

Get ready for some post-Labor Day return-to-office showdowns. (Bloomberg)


Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to


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