2017: Year in Review

Human Resources: Who are this year's winners and losers?
By: | December 27, 2017 • 3 min read
Topics: HR Technology

Well, it’s that time of the year again: When we prepare to bid farewell to 2017 and welcome in 2018.

Over the past decade, I’ve devoted my December column to selecting the winners and losers of the past 12 months — and this year is no exception.

As you review the 2017 list, you’ll no doubt notice a couple of themes emerge. One is the Trump administration’s impact on regulations and policies affecting the HR community. A second involves the plethora of sexual-harassment cases that have occupied the headlines as of late.

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Similar to most prior years, I’ve included 10 selections for each category. Feel free, of course, to let me know of others you feel deserve a spot on either of the two.

So, without further ado, here they are, beginning with the losers:

Losers

Foreigners hoping to work in the U.S. and companies in need of foreign talent, as the Trump administration begins to follow through on its promise of shutting off the visa spigot.

Former CKE Restaurants CEO Andrew Puzder, who, following criticism over instances involving domestic abuse and the hiring of an undocumented worker, was forced to withdrawal his name from consideration for the Labor Secretary post.

United Airlines, which came under fire for forcibly removing a passenger who refused to give up his seat. By focusing the spotlight on weakness in the carrier’s corporate culture, the incident dealt a serious blow to United’s brand.

Equifax, a consumer credit reporting agency and provider of workplace solutions, after hackers gained access to the personal information of roughly 143 million people.

Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, following accusations of sexual harassment and creating a culture that tolerates such behaviors.

Teleworkers, after IBM joined the ranks of companies announcing it would bring remote workers back to the office in order to foster greater collaboration.

Signet Jewelers Limited, parent of Jared, the Galleria of Jewelry and Kay Jewelers, after details of a class-action lawsuit emerged in February that accused management of gender discrimination and fostering a toxic environment that enabled sexual harassment to take place.

Former and current students weighed down by loan debt, which surged by 6.25 percent to $1.36 trillion over the past year.

James Damore, who was fired by Google in August as a result of a memo in which he cited biology as a possible reason for Google’s gender gap. (Google also subsequently came under fire for limiting free speech.)

Obamacare critics, who failed in their efforts to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act, despite a Republican-controlled Congress and White House.

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Winners

Sexual-harassment trainers, in the aftermath of highly publicized sexual-harassment scandals involving business leaders, Hollywood personalities and politicians.

Employment attorneys, for precisely the same reason.

Job seekers, as more states and municipalities enact legislation banning employers from inquiring about pay.

Employers awaiting an NLRB decision, now that the agency has regained a 3-2 Republican majority.

HR tech start-ups, as venture money continued to pour into the sector (an estimated $5.5 billion of funds since 2014).

HR software provider ADP, after it successfully fended off a proxy battle for three board seats by billionaire investor William Ackerman.

B-schools, which experienced a rise in applications for graduate business degree programs in 2017. Nearly three in four (73 percent) of graduate business programs with 201 or more class seats reported increased application volumes in 2017.

Artificial intelligence, which was pretty much everywhere you looked on the expo floor of this year’s HR Technology Conference and Exposition®.

Baristas, truck drivers and recruiters, who occupied the top three positions with the fastest pay growth through September 2017, according to Glassdoor Economic Research.

401(k)s, which, as of this writing, remain untouched in any tax bill. (At one point, proposals to tax the benefit to varying extents were being considered by both the House and Senate.)

David Shadovitz is editor of HRE. He is also co-chair of the HR Tech Conference and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. He can be reached at [email protected]

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