This week’s letters

HR must do best job at all times

Am I am missing something in your news story "Quality of staff slips as
HR cuts cost of hiring" (News 4 December). Why is this news? The survey
findings are worrying and as an HR professional who considers herself business-focused,
I don’t want to be tarred with this brush. Cost cutting should not be a reason
for quality cutting.

Surely all HR professionals should be constantly seeking to cut costs in
both good times and bad, and finding ways of improving their recruitment
methods every time they recruit. It is part of reducing overheads and
increasing the bottom line in whichever organisation you work.

HR is a direct overhead for most organisations. The benefit of maintaining
that overhead should be quantifiable – making tangible savings is a part of
that. The fact that 40 per cent of those surveyed are not doing this does not
say much about us as a profession.

Also ask the fundamental questions – is using recruitment agencies the only
method you can adopt in your industry sector? I work in the IT sector and have
done for 15 years. It is a tough market and you have to be creative – in some
cases recruiting overseas has been the answer.

If HR is to be a business-focused profession and rid itself of the
"cardigan and Kleenex" image, cutting costs while maintaining an
ever-improving quality should be a constant activity – otherwise it’s not doing
its job.

Helen Carless

Why gloss over PC hypocrisy?

The news story "Decent lip gloss a career essential" (News, 27
November) encapsulated perfectly the tyranny that society exercises over
women’s appearance at work.

I’m 24, a graduate from a good university, a size 12, with long blonde hair,
and, yes, I wear make-up. How could I not, being all too aware of the prejudice
and vilification that going bare-faced in today’s business world attracts?

How intriguing it would be to see how willingly the company directors (who I
suspect are male) questioned would wake up half an hour earlier to make up
their faces if it seemed their career prospects depended on it. If they
resisted, how meekly would they bear the accusation that it looked as though
"they cannot be bothered to make the effort"?

I disagree with Khalid Aziz’s assertion that this survey is an issue of
"political correctness". It simply reveals an alarming level of
hypocrisy, lack of integrity, and bad manners at the top of Britain’s

Surely, we should be approaching each person we meet with an open mind and
determination to consider them on their merits, not on some nebulously unknown
quantity of what amounts to beauty.

Sarah Lougee
Remuneration strategy, DLO Human Resources

Pick your victim for cushy number

It is ironic isn’t it? We rail against the Taliban while at the same time
forcing girls to experiment with make up against their will. Then, when they
grow up and throw off these shackles, men discriminate against them –
absolutely typical.

Still, the legal item "Pregnancy offers no bars to fixed term
contracts" (Legal 27 November) is excellent news for women. If I
understand it correctly, a pregnant woman will now be able to apply for a
temporary position, lie about her condition, and, if she times it cleverly,
will not have to do a day’s work.

Further to this – providing the company has a contractual maternity pay
scheme in place not dependent on minimum length of service – she will receive
full pay for the duration of the contract.

Come on girls, what are you waiting for? Just a word of caution, ensure you
pick a company with a commitment to a good gender equality programme.
Opportunity Now will be only too happy to provide you with a list of their

S Jette
Westminster House, Winchester

Editor: Would S. Jette care to reveal his true identity? After all,
he couldn’t possibly be afraid of "make-up wearing girls".

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