This week’s letters

Stand tall amid the prejudices

I was interested to read John Philpott’s article about ‘lookism’ (Comment,
18 June), and would like to see the data that supports the statement:
"tall men earn more than short men".

At a statuesque 5 foot 3 inches, even some ‘short’ men seem tall to me and
when I walk along the street with really tall friends, a mobile phone comes in

I agree that ‘lookism’ can be a significant barrier to the career
progression of many individuals, whether they are short, bearded, bald or

One’s outward appearance should never play any part in deciding or impeding
an individual’s career progression.

And while legislation to combat such prejudices would be impractical, a
sound competency and assessment framework can provide essential guidelines for
eliminating ‘lookism’ from all recruitment and promotion.

Peter Rafferty
Managing director, Fleming McGill HR Recruitment

HR management core part of MBA

I was surprised the study of MBA programmes in the article
‘What about the people’ (Features, June 25) showed that only eight out of 20
require students to study HR management.

People management is a core part of every MBA course I have
come across. I found it easier to accept that only a minority of programmes
offered training on personal development and leadership skills, since this
finding was also reported in a recent government study.

The Council for Excellence in Management and Leadership (CEML)
made a number of recommendations to ensure the content and focus of all
business and management education courses are tailored to the practical needs
of business and employees. Most business schools recognise the need to reform
their MBA programmes.

The CEML report focuses on management and leadership skills
rather than simply knowledge about business. It recommends the creation of a
strategic body to be charged with continually reviewing managers and leaders,
with the development of required competencies.

Organisations should say what capabilities they have in
management and leadership and how it is being developed.

To help with this, CEML has produced a toolkit for measuring
key aspects of capability.

With the steps taken by CEML, the Work Foundation, business
education providers and employers, the overall perceptions and benefits of
business education and management qualifications can be strengthened for the
good of all parties involved.

Professor Stephen Watson
Principal, Henley Management College and chairman of the
Association of Business Schools

Safer to keep an internal focus?

Your Comment ‘Out of touch MBAs add little to bottom line’
(News, 25 June) overstepped the mark.

An MBA is not for developing the capability to trot out the
same business models as those studied, but to allow students to combine several
tools and make informed choices.

You cite the Work Foundation finding that half of MBA graduates
leave their employer within 12 months of graduating. Whose fault is that? If
firms fund people through study and then fail to take advantage, they deserve
to suffer.

Plenty of training activity undertaken by organisations has no
clear outcome, no measurable impact and no demonstrable understanding of the
business benefit. MBA study is no different and the responsibility for change
lies with HR.

Instead of sniping at consultants, look a little deeper. HRM is
one of the most poorly defined and represented business disciplines, and it is
reflected in the teaching of many business schools.

HR managers are not making the effort to get MBAs, understand
the business environment and make a difference. Maybe it is safer to keep an
internal focus, collect CIPD badges and carry on administrating the strategies
of others?

Perhaps the real agenda for change is one that stops HR being
on the outside looking in.

Kevin Ball
HR manager, Endsleigh Insurance Services

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