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Tesla, Uber, Apple Make HR Headlines

HR made headlines this past week, as big-name tech companies made big staffing changes. Here’s what you need to know:

Tesla’s Dangerous Factory Leads to Fired HR VP

Following damning accusations of labor violations and unsafe conditions, Tesla has ousted its VP of HR, Arnnon Geshuri.

The auto manufacturer’s Fremont, CA factory has a serious injury rate that’s twice the industry standard, with reports from the factory floor of exhausted employees pushed to the point of seizure, collapse and disability.

This isn’t Geshuri’s first brush with scandal. In 2016, he was unanimously voted off Wikipedia’s board of directors due to his involvement in an illegal no-employee-poaching plan while senior recruiter at Google. According to the Justice Department, Geshuri’s actions harmed employees’ earning potential and job prospects. A $415 million class-action lawsuit was awarded.

Tesla engineering HR lead Jennifer Kim and VP of HR Mark Lipscomb were also left amidst reports of unsafe factory conditions.

Tesla co-founder Elon Musk’s response to the labor violations bordered on defensive. “This is not some situation where, for example, we are just greedy capitalists who decided to skimp on safety in order to have more profits and dividends and that kind of thing,” he said.

“It’s just a question of how much money we lose. And how do we survive? How do we not die and have everyone lose their jobs?”

Uber Fires Engineer Charged with Stealing from Google

Uber has been in an HR mess all year.

With sexual harassment allegations, mistreatment of Uber drivers and a quickly declining employer brand. it’s no surprise that nine top executives left the company in 2017 alone.

The latest is Anthony Levandowski, VP of Technology, one of the key players in the race to create a self-driving car.

“Mr. Levandowski, who has dedicated his entire professional life to the study and development of robotics and self-driving research, was integral to nearly every component of the company’s autonomous operations,” reported The New York Times.

Unfortunately, he was accused of stealing driverless car trade secrets from Google, his former employer. Uber fired Levandowski after he did not hand over evidence or provide testimony ordered by a federal judge.

The battle isn’t over yet. Let Uber’s story be a lesson for recruiters, startups and tech companies—you can hire star talent, but you don’t get the rights to protected intellectual property.

While the facts are still being uncovered, this looks like yet another example of startup culture run amok—where the founder’s vision is to be achieved at any cost.

“An entrepreneurial, agile, and performance-driven culture is not a substitute for an ethical, courageous, and people-friendly culture,” said Harvard Business Review.

“They are two sides of the same coin; one cannot exist without the other. HR can and should demand more of leaders, and vice versa.”

Apple Hires First VP of Diversity and Inclusion

Things aren’t all gloom and doom on the tech HR front. Kudos to Apple for naming Denise Young Smith its first-ever VP of Diversity and Inclusion.

Smith will report directly to CEO Tim Cook, a far more influential position on the company ladder than the previous head of diversity, who was only given director-level status.

“Our inclusion and diversity efforts are critically important to Apple’s future,” said an Apple spokesperson. “Denise’s years of experience, expertise and passion will help us make an even greater impact in this area.”

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