Posts tagged ‘jobs’

Shop Local? City Governments Should Practice What they Preach

(UPDATE: City of Dayton responds: In a comment on a newly developed Facebook page about the controversy, the City of Dayton Office of Economic  Development responds in a comment )

In September 2010,  the City of Fort Wayne, Indiana hired a PR firm from Chicago, paying them $72000 to teach city employees about Social Media. The local, and very active Social Media community there was outraged. With all of the local talent, why spend taxpayer money out of town? The city said they needed the specialized talents of Carolyn Grisko & Associates, who had worked with other city governments. Fair enough. Still, was there really no individual or company who was up to the task (and might have taken a shade less than $72000?).  I would at least, think so.

Apparently this is widespread. The Dayton Daily News reported on Friday,  April 20, that the  City of Dayton Office of Economic Development had contracted Atlas Advertising, LLC from Denver to create an economic development website that promotes the city to businesses.  Atlas beat 15 other bids, including 5 local companies.

What’s wrong with this picture? Dayton has been hit especially hard by the recession, the closure of auto and auto-related plants, moves of companies that were once local institutions like NCR, which moved to Atlanta; and a talent exodus as people move to find other opportunities.  Dayton is undergoing a rebirth as more technical companies move in, and the city would like to attract more companies and talent.  That’s what the Office of Economic Development is all about.

What does it say about a city when businesses who are thinking about locating there don’t have enough confidence in their local companies to spend taxpayer money with them? Are the needs so specialized that only this Denver company can provide them? Yes, there is a difference between a one-person shop operating in a basement and a large company that can provide sophisticated back-end and database services, but there are several companies in Dayton that can do that.  Did the Economic Development commission even bother asking the members of New Media Dayton for recommendations?

The Cities of Fort Wayne, Dayton, Indianapolis, Knoxville or even Denver have every right to do business with whoever they want. Likewise, firms, including in Dayton,  can and do solicit business from around the country and world.  Still, if you’re the taxpayer entity that wants to tell the world how great your city is as a place to locate your business, why give your local providers a black eye?

When a city preaches about shopping local, but doesn’t do that when it buys city services, it rings a little hollow.

Your thoughts are welcome!


Social Intelligence? Big brother is in charge of your future

March 2012 update: Companies and public agencies are now asking for an applicant’s social media passwords so they can go through your Facebook posts and “likes” to see if you are the perfect, compliant, robot that they apparently are looking for. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Do they get to keep your passwords as a condition of continued employment? We have met the future and it doesn’t look pretty.  Here’s the original post on social media background checks.


The following post may disqualify me from corporate employment for life. In fact, your reading it may disqualify you.

The Federal Trade Commission gave the green light to Social Intelligence Company to monitor Social Media profiles and give reports, similar to credit reports, to potential employers. Social Intelligence acts as Big Brother and finds all of those embarrassing photos, off-color comments and politically incorrect “likes”. They then flag you as “positive” or “negative”, and if negative, your employability may be down the drain. The reports are kept on file for seven years, just like your credit report. Social Intelligence claims that they are not keeping a database on prospective hires, but will pull a new report each time.

One applicant was given a “negative” for “liking” a page that said “I shouldn’t have to press 1 for English” deeming that evidence of racism. (Presumably you don’t go on record criticizing lax enforcement of immigration laws either). Another had a picture of himself holding a gun. This gun collector just might shoot up the place, so the software says. I’m thinking the gun enthusiast is probably less likely to commit workplace violence.

What are the implications and unintended consequences of social media background checks? I don’t remember ever using a social security number to sign up for an e-mail account. How does Social Influence know that it is me that made that politically incorrect post on an online forum? It may well have been me, but how do they know for sure?

Will other companies come on the scene to do a “black hat” service? Perhaps creating fake profiles to “friend” candidates for a peek at their private information (I’m told this happens already)? Using hacking techniques? The possible abuses are endless. Between credit checks,  social media background checks and the usual discrimination that occurs (age being a big one) are enployers telling us only the perfect may apply? Are employers looking for automatons, with no opinions, no passions, no preferences, no life? Compliant beauracrats? Let’s hope not!

If I even could be bothered with a social media background check on someone, I’d remind myself that I don’t want a clone of myself. That person I may vehemently disagree with on religion or politics may be just the person I need on my team. If you were to ever work for me; go a few rounds with me on a business or personal topic. I need your passion, not someone who is a drone.

Is everyone’s employability really going to be reduced to a number? Maybe there will be only four employable people in the U.S.

What are your thoughts?

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