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Heard on the [HCM] Hill: TalentCulture

This week’s featured guest is Meghan M. Biro. Founder of TalentCulture and the creator/host of the weekly #WorkTrends Twitter chat and podcast, Meghan (@MeghanMBiro) is recognized around the globe for her accomplishments as an author, analyst, speaker, and brand strategist. Meghan’s thought leadership in HR technology, social strategy, and the future of work has helped hundreds of companies—from early-stage ventures to major brands—successfully recruit and empower stellar talent. She also serves on advisory boards for leading HR and technology brands. Meghan has been voted one of the Top 100 Social Media Power Influencers by StatSocial and Forbes, Top 50 Most Valuable Social Media Influencers by General Sentiment, Top 100 on Twitter Business, Leadership, and Tech by Huffington Post, Top 25 HR Trendsetters by HR Examiner, and is a go-to expert resource for all things talent, branding, HR tech, leadership, and digital media.

Meghan, as someone with such an established brand online, do you think physical events such as trade shows still have a place in the marketing ecosystem?

Absolutely, and for a whole range of reasons. In terms of seeing great innovations firsthand, that’s one of the ways we all come to accept and understand something that really raises the bar for us. We all have a need to see things “in the flesh” and be walked through a new process. In terms of HR coming together as a community, there’s an incredible energy contained in these events. We have different behaviors: we’re more open to new ideas, new products, new tech, because that’s the occasion. I think it’s important to understand that we’re still a social species. And we also process information by sharing it, discussing it, standing together and witnessing it. There’s an incredibly exhilarating feeling about it, like being on the leading edge.

Let’s shift gears to the topic of leadership, which you covered recently in your Forbes column. We’ve seen an uptick in articles about bad behavior. Do you think it’s always taking place but only recently received this level of press coverage?

This is a tough question because it’s a tough reality. On the one hand, I have to say the current climate of executives behaving badly has triggered some of the worst forms of behavior to come out from the shadows. There’s a level of disenchantment with being fair, with diversity, with being inclusive, that I’m astounded by, but it’s a hostility that I think is always lurking beneath the surface. We just heard about that horrible Google memo — the software engineer who wrote it was fired, but it was a ten page screed against diversity and inclusion efforts at Google — and remember this is a time when we are all supposed to be more conscious than we’ve ever been about the ‘isms in tech especially. And that memo went viral. So there’s obviously a lot of dissatisfaction around efforts to be equal. I was disgusted by what I read of it, and disheartened. And as far as leadership, the CEO did fire the memo writer, but only after it had been circulating for days. I don’t think that’s enough of a stance. And in terms of Uber’s leadership and the “bro-hole” culture that made working there so hard for women in particular, remember that started ages before the press got wind of it. That viral blogpost that cracked Uber’s shell did so after a long, long phase of awful treatment.

If you were counseling a client on distinguishing their brand from others – especially in a crowded category such as talent acquisition – what tips would you offer?

It’s all about the story, to me: how did you get started, what core values did you start with? What kind of mission did you begin with and where are you now? One of the amazing things about retail brands is how some of the most successful ones are constantly reaching back to their origin story again and again. We crave authenticity; we crave substance, no matter what the field. It’s a consistent brand that matters. But retail is only a small sliver of the brand equation. In terms of employer brand, you want to project a brand that has always valued people and valued its mission, and the mission isn’t just to disrupt a market and destroy all competitors. It has to be larger, have some kind of social value, and feel authentic. That Deloitte study of millennials in 2016 showed that indeed, social values are important, and employees can and do align with them.

In terms of strategy and talent, I personally love HR tools that can interface with your own company platform and evoke your brand. And I always advise that a company make sure a cohesive, consistent sense of its brand is infused in every touchpoint with any talent. What’s really interesting is the result is a far better outcome for everyone. I’m not saying, make sure you understand your own purpose, I’m just saying, make sure it’s accurately represented and conveyed in your exchanges, your communications, and your materials. But in the course of integrating an employer’s own sense of identity into its talent acquisition and management, that’s what happens. So the brand and the values it represents actually deepens anyway, which is great. And also, it is one way to counter the bad behavior we were just talking about.

Meet Meghan at the 20th Annual HR Tech Conference and read her articles on Forbes.com.