HR directors divided over the ‘seat on the board’ debate

The
UK’s HR directors remain split over whether they need to sit on their
companies’ boards to exert the most influence on the business.

This
issue sparked more debate than any other among the 120 delegates and speakers
at the IoD’s Directors’ Forum.

IoD
chairman Christopher Beale said he was in no doubt that HR belonged on the
board.

"If
HR is ultimately not represented, yet the other disciplines are around the
table, does it not leave the impression that HR is still a support
function?" he asked.

Alex
Wilson, BT’s group HR director, disagreed. A board seat does not mean
"automatic influence or impact" for HR on the business, he argued.

"I
believe the HR professional needs to report directly to the key decision-maker,
not through another function, and should sit where the decisions are made, such
as on an executive committee," he said.

Too
much energy is being spent on worrying about HR’s board role, he added. "I
think we should stop going on about it as a function."

Speakers
Tony Ward, BAA’s group services director, and Vance Kearney, Oracle HR
vice-president, Europe, also took the view that they preferred an executive
committee seat to the board for HR.

Kearney
noted that he did not want to have to attend "more boring meetings".

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