We all know that HR is more than birthday cake and office parties (but sometimes there is free stuff – see the last section). Some days it feels like a slog through some pretty messy stuff. There is a lot of angst around workplace issues – pay equity, sexual harassment, financial regulations, bad behavior by disgruntled employees. But as I said to many people this week, the reason HCM has come last in organizations is because cost-cutting, and process reengineering, and automation were easy compared to people. People are complicated and messy and rarely behave within a standard deviation of statistical probability (nerd speak for “we have no idea what the hell you people are doing”). But it’s also where culture, and ultimately results are shaped. So were talking a lot of law and finance this week. Because sometimes that’s the job. And if we handle it right, we can have serious impact. Fight the good fight my friends, and read on!

Pay Equity Legislation. Over the past year many states have instated or clarified laws around asking for salary history from job candidates. In October, the state of California not only outlawed asking applicants for salary history, but they also require employers to provide pay scale information to those who request it. The law also “reaffirms part of the California Equal Pay Law which prohibits employers from justifying salary discrepancies based on prior salary histories alone,” according to the National Law Review. Which means if you haven’t done it already, it’s time to spit-polish your compensation strategy and get it ready for parade review. I have been saying for some time that conversations around compensation and pay are going to be the centerpiece of HCM in the next decade. I truly hope that the level of transparency these laws are seeking will move us towards results in a more transparent and equitable work environment not just financially, but culturally as well.

Why you should care about the vote on Tuesday. And not just the vote in your state and local elections. Tuesday is the showdown vote between HCM giant ADP and activist investor Bill Ackman. As noted in this New York Times piece, a strong and steadily growing organization like ADP is not the usual target for a move like the one made by Ackman. But Ackman argues that ADP should be moving faster. While I think everyone inside and outside of ADP would like to see innovation, customer success, and revenue grow as rapidly as possible, a focus on the business whose product is profit may cut against the “technology enabled services company” I have witnessed ADP executives building over the past several years. The decision on Tuesday could greatly impact the marketplace, because even if Ackman is unsuccessful, the fire has been lit under the ADP’s leadership, and I can imagine they will be looking to capitalize on their marketplace position and make further inroads with their full suite HCM products.

So, you think you want to buy recruiting technology. Before you RFI or RFP or shortlist, get yourself a copy of Madeline Laurano’s new Index Report on Talent Acquisition Systems PDQ. We’re giving it away for free. Hundreds and hundreds of hours of research, demos, and analysis go into this comprehensive look at talent acquisition solution strategy, technology, and providers. It is our gift to the HCM community, and hopefully it enables better conversations across and between buyers and sellers of technology and solutions. And watch this space for upcoming Indexes, including a completely re-imagined Payroll Index in the spring.

See you next time, when I promise to have cute animals and/or cocktails featured.