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  • Writer's pictureBlue Bull Recruitment

What lessons can we learn from the movie Erin Brockovich?

Whilst movies can be a great source of entertainment there are also some valuable recruiting and workplace lessons that we can learn from them.

Welcome to my Newsletter where I am going to have a look at the lessons that we can learn from some of the films we know and love, both current and older films. Any film suggestion is welcome so drop me a message if you want your favourite film featured.

An all-time favourite of mine, featuring the formidable Julia Roberts, has to be Erin Brockovich. A fabulous film based on the True Story of a struggling single mum who had the guts and passion to go head-to-head with a large corporation in the name of justice.

IMDb summarises Erin Brockovich as: "An unemployed single mother becomes a legal assistant and almost single-handedly brings down a California power company accused of polluting a city's water supply."

This powerhouse of a film provides a treasure trove of insights into the world of hiring and recruitment. So, grab your popcorn, and let's dive into the recruiting lessons we can get from this unforgettable (and quite shocking) true story.

Erin Brockovich: A Force to Be Reckoned With and the guts to stand up to anyone that says any different

Erin Brockovich, portrayed by Julia Roberts, is a tenacious and determined legal assistant who stumbles upon a groundbreaking case against a major utility company. But what makes her story so compelling from a recruitment perspective?

1. Transferable Skills Shine Bright:

When Erin convinces (some may say guilt-tripped) Ed Masry to give her a job, she doesn't have the typical legal background. However, her resourcefulness, empathy, and exceptional people skills shine through. As she puts it

"I think we got a major case here. They're all signed up. They've all been hurting, and they're all angry"

Her ability to connect with people, investigate, and advocate on their behalf is a testament to the power of transferable skills. She doesn't pretend to be someone she isn't because Erin knows that who she is and what she believes in is enough.

2. Sometimes, All You Need Is a Chance:

Erin's unconventional background and appearance raised eyebrows among the educated lawyers at her firm. But Ed Masry, her boss, gives her a chance, saying, "You got a lot of guts coming here after what you pulled" Sometimes, all it takes is someone recognizing potential where others see none. Ed saw Erin's passion and determination, and it paid off in spades.

Even though there are times Ed and Erin clash he still sees her passion and believes in her. She isn't afraid to tell it like it is and, although her language can be choice, she gets her point across

"Well as long as I have one ass instead of two, I'll wear what I like if that's alright with you"

3. Facing Prejudice Head-On:

Erin faced prejudice from her co-workers and even potential clients due to her unconventional approach and appearance. She overcame these biases by staying true to herself and her mission. In the world of recruitment, it's essential to look beyond stereotypes and give candidates a fair chance.

Prejudice in the workplace shouldn't happen, but it does. This could be Unconscious or Conscious and usually exist around a number of factors such as Age, Sex, Hair colour, Body size, Skin colour, Accent, Religion to name a few.

"Well, um, seeing as how I have no brains or legal expertise, and Ed here was losing all faith in the system, am I right? I just went out there and performed sexual favors"

4. Dealing with Degree-Driven Culture:

Erin's interactions with the degree-educated lawyers were anything but smooth. She had to prove herself every step of the way. In the corporate world, where degrees often take precedence, Erin's success reminds us that practical skills and dedication can trump formal education.

A lot of employers today will look at work experience and the necessity to have a degree is becoming less and less, in favour of experience.

5. Let your Tenacity shine through:

Erin is like a dog with a bone. She tries to understand why medical records are mixed with real estate files, Knowing she is still learning her role, she approaches a colleague who brushes her off

"If you don't know how to do your job by now, I'm not going to do it for you"

Feeling confused but determined, Erin goes on a road trip to find out from the clients themselves. She is resourceful, tenacious, determined and definitely a force to be reckoned with. She brings value to the company but she is also not like the rest of the staff - she brings diversity to the team with different background (both personally and professionally)

6. Know your worth, and negotiate:

Erin has been gone from the office in search of answers but Ed wasn't fully aware and fired her. Ed appears at her door a few weeks later after a phone call from a scientist with test results about the water sample Erin dropped off.

Ed fired her because he assumed she was out 'Having fun' but is now intrigued by the results. Erin negotiates with Ed to hire her back.... with benefits!

She knows her worth, she knows the value she brings to the company and the team, and she believes in her work too. Know your worth! Don't wait for an employee to hand in their notice and offer a counteroffer to stay - the damage may well be done.

If you have employees that you value, pay them what they are worth

Statistics on Prejudice in the Workplace

To shed light on the real-world implications of workplace prejudice, consider these statistics:

  • CIPHR’s survey of 2,000 UK adults suggests that as many as 32% of people have been discriminated against in their workplace, while 34% believe they’ve been prevented from getting a job they were qualified to do, due to discrimination

  • The most common form of workplace discrimination reported is age discrimination, with more than 1 in 10 adults in the UK saying that they think their age has been a factor in not getting jobs they’ve applied for (11%)

  • According to a Glassdoor survey, 61% of employees have witnessed or experienced workplace discrimination based on age, gender, race, or sexual orientation

  • Over three-quarters of HR professionals (79%) feel that they have experienced some form of work-related discrimination. By contrast, less than a third of people working in travel and transport (29%) say the same

We have a long way to go to eradicate workplace discrimination, and I believe we will never truly be gone, but Erin Brockovich is a fabulous example that you can prove them wrong by just being you.

It may not be as true-to-life as every situation but I would say don't ever change yourself to fit a company or a job, find the place you belong and a company that will value you for who you are and what you can bring to the table!

Erin Brockovich's journey reminds us that it's not always about where you come from or the degrees you hold; it's about passion, determination, and the ability to connect with people.

In Conclusion

"Erin Brockovich" offers a captivating tale of a woman who defied the odds to make a significant impact in the legal world.

Her recruitment journey is a testament to the power of transferable skills, the importance of giving unconventional candidates a chance, and the need to combat prejudice in the workplace.

So, as you contemplate your next hire, remember Erin's story and the valuable lessons it brings to the table.

As Erin herself said, "I don't need pity. I need a paycheck." Sometimes, all it takes is one person to recognise the potential for greatness in another.

Now, who's ready for a movie night?

Closing quote from Dr Seuss:

"Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You"

Disclaimer: These views and opinions are my own. This newsletter is for entertainment purposes and is not meant to replace your own hiring processes. Please hire staff based on your company policies and hiring needs.

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